Holiday shopping season began heating up in September when several retailers issued their annual holiday toy lists a bit earlier than usual. Predictions for this year’s hottest toys include the return of Hatchimals, the hatching toy that turned the toy business upside down last holiday season when shortages left parents desperately searching for $60 furries. As always, character toys will be another hot item this season, particularly “Star Wars” and toys that increasingly offer digital components. Toy shopping, like shopping in other categories, has shifted online, and with such fierce competition, retailers continue to attract customers by offering exclusives.
Here are the toys that are expected to fly off shelves this year, with most available at major retailers including Wal-Mart, Target, Toys R Us, Kohl’s and Amazon.
Lego Boost, $160, shop.LEGO.com: The coding robot for boys and girls ages 7-12 features one of five multifunctional robots that kids can build and control with coding blocks from a tablet. There are Vernie the robot, Frankie the Cat, Guitar, M.T.R. 4 and the Autobuilder. The kit includes a Lego Move Hub with Bluetooth connectivity. Lego Boost building toys are compatible with all Lego construction sets; a tablet is required to build and play with Lego Boost.
Pikmi Pops Surprise Pack, starting at $11, Amazon, Toys R Us, Target: From the makers of Shopkins, these collectibles are already out of stock in some stores. Open the lollipop and discover a sweet-scented plushie inside. Each Pikmi Pops Surprise Pack has two plush friends inside and three surprise items. The plushies have dangler strings that can be attached to backpacks, jackets, etc. There are more than 50 different Pikmi Pops to collect. Suited to ages 5 and up.
Roller Coaster Challenge, $25.50-$30, Amazon, Target, Toys R Us, Barnes & Noble: This logic and building set got its start on Kickstarter. Kids 6 and up can use the game board, 36 posts, 39 tracks, one roller coaster car, and 40 mind-challenging cards with solutions to build a roller coaster right at home.
Barbie Fundamental Chemistry Set, $30, by Thames and Kosmos at Toys R Us: Who said science is hard? Not Barbie. This portable science lab offers slime making, volcanoes, lava lamp fizzing and more. Ages 4-8.
L.O.L. Surprise Big Surprise, $70, Target, Toys R Us, Wal-Mart : Already the hottest toy of the year, this giant glittering ball of goodness is sold out at many stores. Inspired by the unboxing videos on YouTube, it contains 50 individually wrapped dolls and accessories. The ball can then be used as a carrying case or bath toy.
Fingerlings, $13, Amazon, Toys R Us, Best Buy, Game Stop: Little baby monkeys that cling to your fingers and go where you go also react to sound, motion and touch. They also make monkey noises. These have also been out of stock at retailers.
Hatchimals Surprise, $70, Kohl’s, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us: Hatchimals are back with double the fun. These eggs hatch two of the furry interactive creatures that are bonded together but have personalities all their own.
Fur Real Friends Roaring Tyler Tiger, $85-$129, Wal-Mart, Target, Amazon: Fur Real Friends is back on the hot list with Tyler Tiger, who plays and roars when you make noise at him.
Sphero “Star Wars” App-Enabled R2-D2, $170-$180, Target, Apple, Disney: Artoo comes to life in this droid that can be controlled from a smart device.
Num Noms Nail Polish Maker, $45, Target, Wal-Mart, Toys R Us: These sweet-smelling toys have been translated into a manicure, allowing kids the chance to mix up their own scented nail polish in flavors like strawberry, blueberry and banana.