Sweet Suite 2016

Fourth Annual HoliDAY of Play Lets Adults Be Kids Again

unnamedThe Toy Insider, in partnership with Woman’s Day magazine, hosted the fourth annual HoliDAY of Play event on Friday, October 16, where more than 100 digital influencers and members of the press met face-to-face with some of the top companies in the toy industry to get hands-on experience with the best toys on the market.

Guests were treated to a gourmet brunch while enjoying sweeping views of New York City during this exclusive 2.5-hour event. Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht greeted guests with the one and only Darth Vader, reinforcing the strength of the Star Wars force this year. Schacht then gave guests a full presentation on the Toy Insider’s Hot 20Top Tech 12, and STEM 10 picks, as well as the top toy trends of 2015, which include:

Character Craze: Thanks to the upcoming launch of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, characters will play an even bigger role in the toy box than ever before, From interactive figures like Spin Master’s Legendary Yoda and Thinkway Toy’s 16-inch Darth Vader, toHasbro’s entire line of amazing role-play fun, these toys are easily the hottest of the year. Additional characters that will continue to be mega popular among kids are DisneyFrozen’s Elsa, the pups from Paw Patrol, and new adorable dinos from Disney•Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur. [Read more...]

The Toy Insider Unwraps 2015 Hottest Holiday Toys

Layout 1The Toy Insider unwrapped its 10th annual holiday gift guide today, including expert picks for the hottest toys and kids’ tech items of the 2015 season. The guide is broken out into three lists: the Hot 20, Top Tech 12, and, new for 2015, STEM 10. With many options for boys and girls of all ages, these 42 items are expected to top kids’ wish lists and be hard to find or sold out by Christmas.

“This year’s hottest toys are not only going to ‘wow’ kids this holiday season, but also keep them engaged in hours of imaginary, mind-stimulating, and creative play well into 2016,” says Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom and publisher of The Toy Insider. “This year, we also created a STEM 10 list in response to requests from parents who are looking for great playthings to reinforce important science, technology, engineering and mathematics skills.”

Click here to see the full guide!

COMMENTARY: The Future of Toys Is Boxed Up and Ready to Go

SparkleboxThere was a time when consuming toys required going to where the toys are. That meant the neighborhood toy store, or the big chain retailer attached to the shopping mall. Even with the advent of Internet shopping, buying a new toy still required logging onto an online account, browsing for the item, and clicking a mouse to purchase it.

[Read more...]

The Toy Insider and Woman’s Day Magazine Launch New Video Series

WomansDayVideoThe first entry in The Toy Insider‘s newest Fun with Kids video series launched this week at Woman’s Day. The latest video can be found on the Woman’s Day site’s front page, and the series will run for the next five weeks leading up to the holidays, reaching the site’s 3.9 million unique monthly visitors (Note: The Toy Insider is published by Adventure Publishing Group, which also owns The Toy Book).

In “Toys in Motion,” Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht and Woman’s Day‘s Senior Editor Taryn Mohrman show off this season’s hottest toys that race, fly, and ride. Products shown in the video include: The Rockin’ Rider Patriot Rocking Horse, from Tek Nek Toys; the Air Storm Firetek Bow, from Zing; the Planes Fire and Rescue U-Command Dusty, from Thinkway Toys; the Hot Wheels Street Hawk, from Mattel; the Heli Beast, from Silverlit; the Sky Viper Camera Drone, from Skyrocket Toys; the Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy, from Toy State; the Extreme Beast, from Maisto; the Y Flicker Lift, from Yvolution; and the PowerRider 360, from Razor.

Toy Insider Experts Name Top Holiday Toys in Their Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 Lists

The Toy Insider logoThe Toy Insider has announced its Hot 20 and Top Tech 12 holiday toy lists, giving gift-givers a sneak peek at the must-have traditional and high-tech toys this holiday season. From Doc McStuffins to Elmo, Lego Fusion to LeapTV, each list includes top picks for kids of all ages. Covering a variety of play patterns, including classic toys and high-tech options, the Toy Insider gives parents and gift-givers a head start on finding toys for the holidays.

The Hot 20 and the Top Tech 12 are the kick-off sections of the Toy Insider holiday gift guide, which will appear in the November issue of Woman’s Day magazine, as well as www.toyinsider.com. The guide is broken down by age group (0-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9+) with in-depth descriptions and a unique skill key of developmental needs and interests for each toy.

The Toy Insider Announces Top Toys for Spring and Summer

Layout 1The Toy Insider has released its spring edition online at ToyInsider.com. Featuring six categories of spring and summer toys, the Toy Insider assists gift givers in selecting the best toys for the outdoor and travel season.

“After playing with and testing hundreds of toys, we created a list that is jam-packed with play value and includes something for everyone,” says Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom. She reminds parents and gift givers to look for toys that provide active play or engaging play that will last for hours, and that will help kids “shut down” their devices and enjoy the great outdoors.

The six categories offer products for boys and girls of all ages, and include outdoor toys, water toys, travel toys and games, physical/active toys, nature and educational toys, and entertainment toys.

COMMENTARY: It’s Alive! Cool Tech Brings Animal Toys to Life

Kids are always begging for pets, especially around the holidays. “Can I have a puppy?” “I want a pony!” I’m sure you’re hearing it all. But if you’re not ready to make that huge commitment to a pet and a messy house (and perhaps all of the dog-walking responsibilities), new technology that’s available is truly bringing animal toys to life.

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole

The Hexbug line, from Innovation First, has used new tech to make robotic Hexbug critters that crawl on battery power. Two of the company’s newest lines expand upon this technology to make it even better. The Hexbug Nano V2 critters are gravity-defying bugs that can climb vertically through tubes. The Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole play set, the Nano V2 bugs can climb vertically, horizontally, and around corners. Kids can unleash their creativity by customizing the design and layout of the three-story set. The play set also comes with special accessories including a spiral tube and a black funnel.

The Hexbugs Aquabot line features robotic fish that really swim in water. The micro-robotic creatures have Smart Fish technology that allows it to swim, dive, and change directions. You don’t have to worry about feeding it or cleaning its tank. Aqua bots are available in five translucent colors and designed for kids ages 3 and up. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Toys to Brave the Chilly Weather

Fall is one of the most beautiful times of the year, but it can also start to get very chilly. I know that in New York City, I’m layering my clothes and bundling up, preparing for (an always windy) winter. Fall for kids means back to school and less outdoor play, which can lead to a bummed out little one. Outdoor play is fun because it’s physical—you run faster, the toys fly higher, and of course there’s always the option of shooting water out of most of those toys. But just because the play is moving inside and becoming a little less physical, doesn’t mean it has to be less fun.

The holidays mean gift-giving, and while guides like our Toy Insider 2013 Holiday Gift Guide are packed with a ton of options, including scooters and flying toys, I’ve also got some suggestions of toys to give that kids can enjoy right away—without having to play in the cold weather.

drawsomethingThe Draw Something Party game, from Hasbro, is a great game for the whole family. Based on the popular app, Draw Something Party allows players to draw on the double-sided, glowing drawing screen with their finger or the stylus included. The person drawing selects one of the three words on the card, holds the glowing screen between him or herself and the guesser, and places the card with the scrambled letter facing the guesser. As the screen glows and the drawer draws, the guesser tries to figure out what is being drawn using the scrambled letters as a guide. And just like in the app, the difficulty of the word yields a different amount of coins when guessed correctly. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Tech Toys That Extend Beyond the Screen

TT12This year, for the first time ever, the Toy Insider released a list of top tech toys for the holiday season in its gift guide called the Top Tech 12. This list promotes the belief that we have here about a “well-balanced toy box.” In a world that has new technology each day—and tons of digital, innovative toys for kids—it’s easy to get caught up in buying the newest, most glamorous toys out there without really knowing if it’s the right toy for your kid. The Toy Insider’s goal with this list is to help shoppers sift through all of the options out there for forward-thinking and impressive tech-based toys that incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity, and innovation.

Shameless self-promotion aside, tech toys are becoming harder and harder to sift through, so finding the perfect one for every kid can be difficult.  Of course, many in the industry, wandering the shopping aisles, and generally existing around toys know about Skylanders Swap Force and Disney Infinity, two new innovative video game platforms that mix digital and physical play, but they aren’t the only toys out there with exciting new technology. All of the toys on our Top Tech 12 list are great, but I picked a few favorites that are not only great technology innovations, but they also give kids other options of physical play—so they aren’t glued to a screen all day.

robodog_dalmatian_p9_go_pee_copy (1)Zoomer, from Spin Master, is a trainable robotic dog that is the perfect option for kids that want a pet and parents that want a clean house. Zoomer can be trained to respond to a bunch of different commands and tricks in three different languages (English, Spanish, and French). Zoomer learns kids’ voices and how to respond to these commands. He is adorably cute and lifelike. Left to his own devices, he’ll wander around the room, just like a real puppy. Zoomer’s LED lights blink and react making him seem more alive than your typical robots. [Read more...]

COMMENTARY: Boo! Halloween Toys That Outlast the Season

by Laurie Schacht, Toy Insider Mom

zombieLast year was a pretty tough Halloween on the east coast. Just a few days before the holiday, Hurricane Sandy shut off our lights, devastated our coasts, and in my neck of the woods, pretty much canceled parties and trick-or-treating. So this year I hope to see all our favorite ghosts and goblins make a big comeback.   

Who will you be this year? The Marvel superheroes will be strong sellers. Lets face it: what kid doesn’t want to save the world—and what adult doesn’t want a few hours to be “that hot” at a grown up party dressed up as Iron Man or Wonder Woman!

For little girls, if you haven’t purchased their Doc McStuffins or Sofia the First costumes yet, good luck finding them. I’ve yet to meet a 4-year-old girl that hadn’t loved one or both of these new favorite characters. Boys are loving Jake and his Never Land Pirates, Skylanders, Trash Pack Kids, and Slugterra.

But it’s not just in the costume. There are some great additions to the two hottest video games with Halloween themes this year that I need to share. Skylanders Giants released their special Halloween edition called Eye-Brawl. It’s sports a pumpkin head and a skeleton head at his feet. Disney Infinity will let kids build their own Halloween town in Toy Box mode, with the Pumpkin King throwing pumpkins at other characters, including the newly released Jack Skellington. [Read more...]