We’re living in unusual times, and while life is a bit different right now, kids and families are finding new ways to play together at home.
Despite store closures and supply chain disruptions that have had a ripple effect through the toy industry in the first half of the year, kids are still playing and new toys are still hitting retail on a weekly basis. Life changes, but the world — and the industry — keep on turning, and this week our sister publication, the Toy Insider, revealed the hottest must-have toys of the season.
The Toy Insider‘s 2020 Spring & Summer Gift Guide features nearly 230 toys across eight different categories, hand-picked by the team behind one of the most influential and trusted resources for parents and gift-givers. The Guide highlights the latest and greatest in toys that energize, teach, and keep kids busy; screen-free activities and games to help pass the time; outdoor options for some much-needed fresh air; and water toys that are sure to make a splash. The toy industry experts at the Toy Insider review thousands of new products throughout each and every year. The team reviews each product to evaluate its features and overall value, taking into consideration five main criteria: play value, originality, skill-building, product integrity, and fun factor.
“With social distancing in place and so many traditional summer activities on hold, play is more important now than ever,” says Marissa DiBartolo, editor-in-chief of the Toy Insider. “With the right toys, games, and activities, parents can keep their cool this summer — literally and figuratively — without hearing ‘I’m bored!’ all day long. Even if this summer won’t be exactly what you envisioned with vacations and summer camp, these must-haves can help keep the fun going all season long!”
Top trends in this year’s summer toys include budget-friendly toys that won’t break the bank, outdoor toys that get kids up and active, and in-depth toys and activities that keep kids engaged for long periods of time. The guide is filled with plenty of toys from kids’ favorite films and TV shows, including Ryan’s Mystery Playdate, PJ Masks, SCOOB! and The Mandalorian.
Never separated by gender, The Toy Insider’s gift guide is broken down by play category and age group—from infants to tweens. Each category includes a variety of products across a wide range of price points, from puzzles and games under $10 to splurge-worthy backyard staples:
- ACTIVITIES & GAMES: Keep the boredom at bay this summer without being glued to your screens! These hands-on activities, playsets, DIY kits, and games take open-ended play and competitive fun to a whole new level. Toy Insider Picks: Double Trouble (Winning Moves) and 3Doodler Start Learn from Home Pen Set (3Doodler)
- BUDGET-FRIENDLY FAVES: You do not need to spend a lot of money to keep kids engaged and entertained. All under $25, these toys, games, and activities are perfect for any budget and guarantee tons of fun at a small price. Toy Insider Picks: Wild Alive (Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co.) and Blume Baby Pop (Skyrocket)
- OUTDOOR TOYS: Say goodbye to cabin fever with toys that will have kids begging you to go outside. Turn your backyard into the ultimate playground where kids can soak up some sun and get a healthy dose of fresh air. Toy Insider Picks: Fly Wheels Launcher Two-Pack (Jakks Pacific) and The Big Dig (Breyer)
- WATER TOYS: Have some wet and wild fun with toys that keep kids cool when it’s too hot to handle the heat, from thrilling blasters to durable pool toys and inflatables. Toy Insider Picks: H20Go! Summer Blast Kids Inflatable Water Park (Bestway) and Little Tikes Wave Maker Island Water Table (MGA Entertainment).
- PHYSICAL & ACTIVE TOYS: It’s important to incorporate physical activity into kids’ daily routine. From outdoor games to exciting bikes and scooters, these toys are sure to get kids up and moving. Toy Insider Picks: Hot Wheels 12-Inch Bike (Dynacraft) and Mongoose React E1 Electric Scooter (Pacific Cycle)
- NATURE & EDUCATIONAL TOYS: Educational play is now more fun than ever. Kids can extend their learning beyond the virtual classroom with toys that introduce basic STEM concepts and encourage exploration. These toys are so much fun, kids won’t even realize they’re learning! Toy Insider Picks: LeapBuilders Store & Go Dump Truck (LeapFrog) and Design & Drill STEM Garden (Educational Insights)
- TRAVEL TOYS: Summer travel plans have changed, but keeping kids entertained while you’re on-the-go is still key. These portable and travel-friendly toys and games will get you through that family road trip or weekend getaway without a single “are we there yet?” Toy Insider Picks: Pac-Man Tamagotchi (Bandai America) and Ryan’s World Road Trip Travel Case (Bonkers)
- ENTERTAINMENT TOYS: Expand the worlds of kids’ favorite characters from video games, movies, TV series and YouTube shows far beyond their screens. From iconic heroes to YouTube sensations, kids can bring their favorite characters to the real world through playsets, collectibles, and more. Toy Insider Picks: DJ Trollex Mixer (eKids) and Ricky Zoom Speed & Stunt Playset (TOMY)
The Toy Insider and the Toy Book are published by Adventure Media & Events LLC.