They’re often considered to be the “Oscars” of the toy industry, and on Friday, Feb. 21, 2020, the next Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards will be distributed at the Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City as Toy Fair New York gets underway. After carefully examining hundreds of nominees, a panel of industry experts determined this year’s finalists in 16 categories. One winner in each category, along with the consumer-chosen People’s Choice award and the overall Toy of the Year Award will be presented in February. Now it’s your chance to vote for your favorites.

– Here are the nominees for Specialty Toy of the Year! –

This category honors toys that are distributed through independent retailers (i.e., neighborhood toy stores) and not sold at mass brick-and-mortar stores.  Toys that are sold only online do not qualify.


Airfort | Airfort

Air Fort is a new way for kids to build and play in forts, without the assembly, mess, or cleanup involved. With the flick of a fan switch, the Air Fort fully inflates in less than 30 seconds.
Ages: 3+, $49.95
Buy now on Amazon

Hape Emergency HQ

Emergency Services Headquarters (Hape)

The realistic emergency HQ includes road and rail tracks. Comes with one station building, one opening bridge, one pylon bridge, a fire engine, a police car, three figurines (police officer, firefighter, and criminal), a two-carriage freight train, 14 road tracks, and 10 wooden rail tracks.
Ages: 3+, $99.99
Buy now on Amazon

Central Perk

LEGO Ideas Central Perk (LEGO Systems)

Inspired by the famed locale on Friends, this set includes all the iconic details of the shop, including the orange couch, other seats and tables, a coffee machine, Gunther’s counter and cookie jar, tiny wall decor, and the official logo on the window, and even a stage ready for miniature Phoebe to bust out a round of “Smelly Cat.” The set even includes two TV studio light rigs with light-up elements that can be built.
Ages: 16+, $59.99
Buy now on Amazon 

The Upside Down

LEGO Stranger Things The Upside Down (LEGO Systems)

Based on the Netflix Original series, the Byers’ house includes eight Stranger Things minifigures — Eleven, Mike Wheeler, Lucas Sinclair, Dustin Henderson, Will Byers, Joyce Byers, Chief Jim Hopper, and the Demogorgon — each with iconic deco, from Dustin’s Waupaca, Wisconsin, T-shirt to Eleven’s Eggo waffle.
Ages: 16+, $199.99
Buy now on Amazon 


littlebits Space Rover Inventor Kit (Sphero)

Creative kids build and customize a planetary rover using littleBits electronic building blocks, then transform it by adding out-of-this-world capabilities. Over 30 activities in the free Inventor App guide kids through building and controlling space vehicle inventions, like a space rock collector or an alien life detector, learning STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Mathematics) skills, and drawing inspiration from real space pioneers.
Ages: 8+, $199.99
Buy now on Amazon 

Oombee Ball

OombeeBall (Fat Brain Toys)

Matryoshka with a modern twist, each colorful ball is uniquely textured with fascinating dots, lines, and swirls. Meanwhile, short, safe tethers keep them all connected in a wonderfully wobbly row. But the best part? Each ball opens up and fits snuggly into the next!
Ages: 10 months+, $24.95
Buy now on Amazon

Thinking Puzzle

Toy Insider 2019 Holiday Gift Guide Top Holiday ToysThinking Putty Puzzle (ThinkFun)

In this sensory logic game, players can develop spatial reasoning and thinking skills. They can stretch the included Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty to solve 60 challenges and connect points in the flow puzzle.
Ages: 8+, $29.99
Buy now on Amazon | Toy Insider Holiday Gift Guide Winner



Public voting for the 2020 TOTY Awards is open to consumers, retailers, media, and members of The Toy Association through Jan. 5. For full details, rules, and additional information, please visit Proceeds from the annual event benefit The Toy Foundation in its efforts to bring joy and comfort to children in need through the experience of toys and play.