Best Toys of 2020 for Preschoolers
Kids ages 3 and 4 play as if it's their job, because it more or less is! These toys let them create storylines and work out scenarios, keeping creative pretend-play going during these critical years of growth.
Lakeshore Learning Real-Action Fire Engine
Two firefighters and a pooch populate the Lakeshore Learning Real-Action Fire Engine. But the extendable ladder, sides that open to reveal a command center, and retractable hose make it endlessly fascinating. Plus, "it's battery-free, so kids invent the sounds," one mom says.
Ages 3 to 8
Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas & Percy Train Set
The famous blue engine and his pal load cargo, then zip through a tunnel and over a bridge in the Fisher-Price Thomas & Friends Talking Thomas & Percy Train Set. "The kids lost their minds when the engines talked to each other," a mom reports.
Lakeshore Learning Under-the-Sea Mermaid Palace
A dollhouse for the ocean depths, the Lakeshore Learning Under-the-Sea Mermaid Palace got long stretches of play from testers. Says one mom, "They make up stories and put mermaids on the throne, swing, or clamshell bed." The figures have different hair colors and skin tones, and the set comes out of the box ready to go.
Ages 3 to 8
Spin Master Monster Jam Megalodon Storm
"Hands down the coolest toy my boys have seen," says one mom, "and that includes my husband." Spin Master Monster Jam Megalodon Storm drives on gravel, over snow, and yes, through water—yet won't destroy your floors.
Schleich Dino Research Station
The deluxe Schleich Large Dino Research Station comes with three researchers and tools—walkie-talkies, a net, a tranquilizer-dart gun, and more—so they can catch the creatures. The two big dinos are fun to play with on their own too.
John Deere Build-a-Buddy Value Bundle
Vehicles that can be built and rebuilt inspire endless creativity. "Even with no direction, my 3-year-old figured out that he could unscrew and swap parts around," one parent says. The Tomy John Deere Build-a-Buddy Value Bundle also includes a barn and two animals.
Skip Hop ZOO Bark-ista Coffee Set
Latte, please! Kids run the shop with the Skip Hop Zoo Bark-ista Set featuring a pretend espresso machine and a drawer full of pastries. "The big pieces are helpful if there's a little sibling in the house," a mom says.
Blue's Clues & You! Dance Along Plush from Just Play
Just Play Blue's Clues & You! Dance-Along Blue Plush comes attached to a guitar, and when you press a button on the instrument, a snippet of the theme song plays while Blue does a jig. "My daughter loves every lap of the ears," says a mom, and Blue talks too.
Color Poppin' Poppy from Just Play
Squeeze the hand of pop singer Just Play Color Poppin' Poppy to change her hair to rainbow colors, start games, or hear her sing, "Trolls Just Wanna Have Fun."
Mattel Star Wars The Child 8" Basic Plush
While there are snazzy animatronic versions of the so-called Baby Yoda, it's easier to carry around and love this squishy Mattel Star Wars The Child 8-in. Basic Plush. One parent swears everyone in the family loves it, "but especially my youngest, who rates this an 11 out of 10."
Spin Master Paw Patrol Ultimate Police Cruiser
Spin Master PAW Patrol Ultimate Police Cruiser is a virtual nesting doll of contraptions: A helicopter rises out of the top, and two motorcycles launch from the sides—and don't overlook the boat and the projectile launcher. A Chase figurine presides over it all and is compatible with other PAW Patrol sets.
Just Play PJ Masks 2-in-One Mobile HQ
The size of your average 3-year-old when it's upright, the Just Play PJ Masks Transforming 2 in 1 Mobile HQ turns into a vehicle "with help from a parent," says a tester. One Catboy and a car are part of the deal and work with other PJ Masks sets.
Moose Toys Bluey's House
This relatively new show doesn't have a ton of merch yet, so devotees will thrill over Bluey's Family Home Playset. The four-room house comes with Bluey, of course, and a bunch of fun furnishings. "The fridge opens, and so does the toilet," one parent mentions.
Very Hungry Caterpillar Magna-Tiles
Building blocks meet favorite images in The Very Hungry Caterpillar Magna-Tiles by CreateOn. "Try reading the book while they play with the tiles," one parent suggests. "My kid loved that."
Flynoculars by iPlay, iLearn
Legit real-powered binoculars in the shape of a plane that kids decorate with stickers and can use as a fan: There's a lot going on with iPlay, iLearn Flynoculars, and it's all pretty awesome.
Yulu Popcorn Poppin'
The hot-potato concept behind YULU Popcorn Poppin' never gets old. Set the pieces in the popcorn bag, then pass it around like a ticking bomb. When it pops, it's a literal scream.
Two or more players, ages 4+
ZURU Rainbocorns Sweet-Shake Surprise
Kids unveil a singing, talking pet—like a kitty or a llama—from ZURU Rainbocorns Sweet-Shake Surprise. The cup includes 15 layers of trinkets plus a slimy compound to make a faux drink (as one does).
Skyrocket Blume Petal Pets
Sprinkle water on Skyrocket Blume Petal Pets and the flower "blooms" to reveal a charm bracelet. A character lives inside the flowerpot, which can be decorated with the included stickers.