Holiday Toy Guide 2018
We found the coolest gifts for your kids this holiday season. Here are our top picks for each age.
Atlanta Parent Favorites
Toddlers who go for a spin on Radio Flyer’s Busy Buggy will love the 17 plus interactive activities including interlocking gears, a fun horn, folding side view mirrors and clicking spare tire. Plus kids learning to walk can push it around. Ages 1-3. $34.99.
Build the K’nex Thrill Rides: Twisted Lizard Roller Coaster Building Set (403 pieces and a motor and coaster car!), then download the free K’nex Ride It! app for a virtual reality experience. Our tester really had fun building the set and playing with the VR app. Ages 7 and older. $44.99.
Real Cooking Mini Tarts, a DIY baking kit, allows kids to make and decorate (and eat!) real tarts, with all food ingredients except milk and sugar. Ages 5 and older. $19.99.
Where do you want to go today? Brio Smart Engine Set with Action Tunnels lets kids decide, using interactive smart technology. Depending on where tunnels are placed, the engine will stop, back up, honk or blink its lights. Ages 3 and older. $89.99.
Snack time takes on a new form with the Hasbro Chow Crown game. Players take turns wearing a musical spinning crown while trying to eat all the snack foods off of attached forks before the music stops. What a creative way to get your fruit and veggies in! Ages 8 and older. $24.99.
Dimpl by Fat Brain Toys is a colorful sensory adventure for toddlers. Press on one of five vibrant silicone bubbles in the plastic frame and pop it to the other side for giggly fun. The toy is quiet, but our baby tester was not when playing with it. Ages 10 months and older. $12.95.
Maxflex RC 300 Combo Race Track from Skullduggery combines flex track and straight track racing for beginner to advanced racers. Our testers loved racing the two Tracer Racers RC cars and rebuilding the tracks. Plus it glows in the dark. Ages 6 and older. $99.99.
Turn out the lights to play the Shadows in the Forest game from ThinkFun. One player moves an LED light around the game board while the other players try to hide their Shadowlings, mysterious creatures who avoid the light. Ages 8 and older. $24.99.
Prepare to be amazed at all the tricks furReal Ricky, the Trick Lovin’ Pup from Hasbro can perform. He can balance a bone toy on his nose then flip it into his mouth; he’ll shower you with doggie kisses; he’ll give you a handshake when you reach for his paw. You can even feed him and he digests the food. Then you can feed him again. Ages 4 and older. $129.99.
Kids can experiment with color using Crayola’s Color Chemistry Lab Set. Try 16 playful experiments devised by real Crayola scientists. An easy-to-read instruction book helps kids learn as they have fun. Ages 7 and older. $24.99.
Baby and Toddler
It’s fun to learn about colors and puzzle problem solving with the Chugga Choo! Game from Peaceable Kingdom. Toddlers match boxcar puzzle cards by color and choose wooden cargo tiles to fit in them. Ages 2 and older. $17.95.
VTech’s Touch and Discover Sensory Turtle is cute and cuddly, with textures, colors and patterns; a sensor triggers playful sounds and music. Tuck in his head and legs and he becomes a rolling ball. Ages 3 months and older. $19.99.
Mindware’s BABU Roller is a modular wooden car set with three bases and six tops for mixing and matching and creating one-of-a-kind vehicles. Our toddler tester loved building and playing with these cars. Ages 6 months and older. $24.95.
Learn about helping others with Green Toys’ Ambulance and Doctors Kit. The set includes everything kids need to play doctor, including stethoscope, reflex hammer and thermometer, and more. Plus, store it all in the ambulance and kids can give teddy a ride to the hospital. Ages 2-6. $39.99.
Build a tower with Fat Brain Toys’ seven Spoolz, and create a colorful work or art – or roll them or race them in the playroom. Ages 10 months and older. $24.95.
Spin the puppy’s nose and find the right shaped block to “feed” him with FIRST PLAY Spin & Feed Shape Sorter by Melissa and Doug. The wooden blocks are also fun to sort and stack, and they store in a tray behind the puppy. Ages 12 months and older. $16.99.
Bright Basics Bath Blocks from Educational Insights lets toddlers build floating castles in the bathtub or underwater scenes. The 20 foam pieces include four sea creatures. Ages 2-5. $19.99.
Tilt the Kid O Hudson Glow Rattle forward or back and Hudson’s spots light up red or green. The rattle’s textured surface makes it a perfect teether. Ages 6 months and older. $24.99.
Watch and help Thomas, Percy and Terence pick up and deliver their deliveries on time throughout Sodor. This remake of Thomas and Friends Big Loader by TOMY set features multiple loading areas and a fully automated engine that transforms between Thomas to Percy and Terence, and back again. Ages 3 and older. $39.99.
Melissa and Doug Fill and Roll Grocery Basket Play Set has everything kids need to shop at the grocery store. The plastic basket can be carried or rolled and is stocked with grocery boxes, and play food cans with pop-off lids. Plus an erasable shopping list. Ages 3 and older. $24.99.
Leapfrog’s Go-with-Me ABC Backpack is a fun way for kids to learn their ABCs. Letter games introduce the alphabet and music games help develop hearing and listening skills. Our tester liked drawing animal letters and playing with all 26 alphabet letters. Ages 3 and older. $29.99.
Pick a Pomsie, by Skyrocket, by Skyrocket can be worn as an accessory or carried around. The toy makes cute sounds and the eyes light up to communicate. Ages 4 and older. $14.99.
Pass the Pup Game by Playmonster is a fun version of hot potato with a cute puppy, but instead of being out when the music ends, kids pick a card and act like a dog by barking, rolling over or scratching. Ages 3 and older. $17.99.
Kids love dress up! My First Game: Critter’s Closet from Educational Insights is a matching and memory game where kids get to dress up animals, see what changes other players have made and more. This game can be played multiple ways, so it never gets old. Ages 3-6. $16.99.
Kids work as a team while playing the Lemonade Shake Up! game from Peaceable Kingdom. Our testers had fun trying to sell enough cups of lemonade to fill a money jar. Be careful – a roll of the dice could mean sour lemons! Ages 4 and older. $15.95.
Klutz Jr.: My Simple Sewing arts and craft kit teaches kids the basics of sewing using a plastic needle safe for small hands. Create a pizza pouch, cookie key chain and a cupcake plushy using pre-punched felt. Look for other Jr. kits like My Egg Carton Animals. Ages 4-8. $14.99.
Vtech’s Digiart Color by Lights is a light-up board that plays its own melodies as it guides kids on which color to use in each section of a coloring page; kids can connect the light-up dots to draw shapes, objects or animals and more. Ages 3-6. $21.99.
Help Olivia give her friends a tow with Lego Friends Service and Care Truck. Our tester enjoyed playing with this set because it includes many parts and it was easy to put together. Play with an Olivia mini-doll figure, Zobo the robot and Rumble the hamster, a go-kart launcher and winch function. Ages 6-12. $19.99.
Teamwork is a must in Gnomes at Night, where players go on a treasure hunt through challenging mazes. Teams give verbal cues to direct which way to move magnetic gnomes on each side of the game board without peeking. Ages 6 and older. $19.95.
OOZ-O’s are sensory fun for all ages. Mix ingredients to create OOZ-O’s base and activator, then mold, squish and pop colorful oozing spheres. Our testers had a blast making their own spheres and squishing them. Ages 6 and older. $5.
Thames & Kosmos Ooze Labs Chemistry Station Science Experiment Kit introduces kids to the basics of chemistry with about 20 different experiments. These include glowing slime, color-changing slime, fizzing reactions, oozing bubbles, rainbow in a test tube, an underwater volcano and more. Younger kids may need help from a parent. Ages 6 and older. $39.95.
Ribbon Ninja from Fat Brain Toys gets kids up and moving. Each kid gets three ribbons on a wristband, and the object of the game is to lunge quickly and grab your opponent’s ribbons before he grabs yours. Ages 6 and older. $19.99.
Botley the Coding Robot by Learning Resources, offers screen-free coding to kids using active play (no phone or tablet required). Botley can detect objects and move around them, follow looping commands, navigate obstacle courses, follow black lines and more. Our testers liked making paths for Botley to follow. Ages 5 and older. $79.99.
Create and build a track with twists, turns, seesaws and more with Magformers 64-piece Sky Track Adventure Set. The track has magnets that click in place when the track is put together. The elevator and spin accessories were a hit with our testers. Ages 3 and older. $129.99.
Water plus pretend play with sea animals makes the PLAYMOBIL Aquarium Building Set a hit with kids. This set can be filled with real water or not. It includes lots of sea animals, figurines and accessories to play with. Ages 5 and older. $59.99.
Crafty kids will love the Kid Made Modern Charm Chest Jewelry Kit. The kit has everything you need to create your own unique charms and transform them into delightful jewelry. Make necklaces, bracelets or backpack clips. Ages 6 and older. $24.99.
Throw a football up to 100 feet with the Helix Power Swing by Yulu. A wire attached to the football lets you wind up for a long-distance toss. Ages 6 and older. $9.99
With smARTsketcher Projector, small or large hands can learn some of the basics of drawing. Use pre-loaded themed activity packs, or download photos from a smart device and start drawing and coloring. Ages 5 and older. $59.95.
Drawing a hopscotch grid was never so easy as it is with Walkie Chalk, which lets kids or adults stand up and draw on a sidewalk or driveway; create games, funny faces or works of art by inserting chalk and using the three-foot extension to draw. Ages 4 and older. $12.99.
Kids can create a zebra, lion, tiger and more, or dream up their own creature with the Go Wild Craft Kit from Kid Made Modern. It has enough googly eyes, pom poms and–– fuzzy sticks to entertain for hours. Ages 6 and older. $9.99.
Water Wow! lets kids water color without the mess, using a water-filled pen and special boards. The coloring toy also has “seek and find” activities using a red lens (included). Ages 5 and older. $4.99.
Lite-Brite Ultimate Classic from Basic Fun lets kids create patterns or their own designs; the new version features a bigger screen, brighter pegs and more templates. Ages 4 and older. $19.99.
Little Live Pets Scruff-A-Luvs by Moose Toys might be a puppy, kitten or bunny – these abandoned pets arrive as a ball of matted fur, but when you bathe, dry and brush them, they reveal their true selves. Ages 2 and older. $19.99.
Laser Chess from ThinkFun combines the strategic maneuvers of chess with the fun of laser beams. Players move mirrored pieces around the board, and at the end of each turn, they use a laser to bounce off the mirrors; if the laser hits a non-mirrored surface, that piece is removed. Illuminate the king to win! Ages 8 and older. $39.99.
ThinkFun’s Cat Crimes logic game lets players think through and solve a crime – which of six cats is involved in the case of the missing bird? The game can be played with one or multiple players. Ages 8 and older. $12.99.
KiiPix from Tomy is a portable instant photo printer that can be used with any smartphone, printing pictures from your phone’s screen from the camera roll or Instagram to share with friends. Ages 14 and older. $39.99.
Build 11 cool machines that whirl, flip, punch and cruise with Lego Gadgets by Klutz. Our tester stayed busy building machines like the gravity drop coaster and spin-o-vision. Ages 8 and older.$24.99.
Create a fizzing reaction, then use a hammer and chisel to excavate six gemstones with Discovery Galactic Fizzing Dig. With an included magnifying glass, you can see the stones’ patterns up close. Ages 12 and older. $14.99.
Gravitrax Starter Set from Ravensburger is a marble run track system that allows users to experiment with gravity, magnetism and kinetics and see how their marble’s journey is affected by curves, freefalls and a canon. Ages 8 and older. $59.99.
Galaxy Sneaker 3D Puzzle from Ravensburger is 108 pieces of challenge. Follow the numbered pieces to put together a galaxy-themed high-top sneaker that can be used as a pencil holder. Ages 8 and older. $19.99.
Klutz Grow Your Own Crystal Mini Worlds lets kids shape unique designs using pipe cleaners and learn chemistry basics. The kit includes 38 paper punch outs and stands to display the three crystal creations (a dragon’s cave, a unicorn’s forest and a seahorse’s coral reef). Ages 8 and older. $22.99.
Putty Scents from Mindware come in a set of three mini tins of putty with scents of sweat treats, winter cheer, spa flavors and more. Ages 4 and older. $10.95.
Open the cleverly packaged Smooshy Mushy Baby and find a smooshable baby character, a tiny “bestie” mini-smooshy, a sticker, name tag and collector poster and “birth certificate.” Ages 4 and older. $14.99.
Collect and play with Playfoam Pals Snowy Friends 2-Pack. It’s a mystery snow globe with two animals from the arctic and enough Playfoam to create the environment your new pals need. Ages 5 and older. $7.99.
CozyPhones’ Kids Character Headband Headphones are comfortable and easily stay on kid’s heads. Choose from many cute designs – a unicorn, panda, fox and more. Ages 4 and older. $19.97.
Kids can set up their own road work using their imaginations and Play Dirt Construction Zone, which comes in a compact jar with 12 ounces of Play Dirt, two road signs and one cone and one barrel mold. Ages 3 and older. $6.99.
Slinky Racers are mini-racers that drive down a Slinky track – just attach the Slinky to a table or shelf, put the racer on the track and watch it go! Ages 5 and older. $11.95.
Pikmi Pops PushMiUps! are full of confetti fun. Each contains a surprise scented plush, a message and a dangler string, and confetti, of course. Ages 5 and older. At $4.99.
Throw Break Away Ballz from Alex Brands against a hard surface and watch them come apart to reveal a bouncing ball inside. Put them back together and they’re ready to throw again. Ages 5 and older. $12.99.
Glove A Bubble from Zing Toys is a mitten full of fun – put it on, dip in the included bubble solution and surround yourself with dozens of bubbles by waving your hands. Ages 3 and older. At $8 for a four-pack.
Give that girl a 57-piece 3-D puzzle for a project that makes a nifty pencil cup with the Girly Girl Edition Underwater Pencil Cup from Ravensburger. Ages 7 and older. $4.99.
Ocean Babies Nature Tube from Wild Republic contains 12 aquatic collectible figures and lots of fun aquatic facts. Ages 4 and older. $9.99.
Reviewed by Felicia Barman, Cindy Ford and Laura Powell. Shop early and check with stores on availability. Prices listed are MSRP.