The Toy Fair takes place each February in New York City and here is a preview of the year’s new toys!
Botley the Coding Robot Activity Set, by Learning Resources, is genuinely fun (which you can't say for all STEM toys) and not difficult to master (yay!). Our favorite part: No screen or app required! Botley detects and seeks objects, follows lines, and can be coded to perform as many as 120 steps. Plus, Botley is adorbs, with a friendly face and sweet voice. We're smitten! 5 years+, $80; out now on amazon.com
Tell a kid to bounce a ball and they may do it for a bit. But challenge a child to bounce it a million times, and how can they resist trying? Master a Million, by JAKKS Pacific, does the counting for you. It encourages kids to keep playing by awarding badges and surprises when he or she hits number milestones. It can also be synced to an app that shows a worldwide leaderboard, but kids tracking their own progress is definitely the cool innovation! 5 years+, $13; available this spring
One of the biggest toy trends: Toys that are such a surprise, kids aren't sure what they've got after they open the package! Our favorite is the new plush Scruff-a-Luvs, by Moose Toys. It's going to be a bunny, kitty, or doggie, but it looks like a squished little ball out of the box. Kids must wash their new pet, blow it dry with a hairdryer, and then comb it out to know which animal friend they have. (And they're all cute!) 5 years+, $20; available in June
It's a smarthome for babies! Details on the Laugh & Learn Smart Learning Home, by Fisher-Price, slay us: The front (not shown) has a sorting box that's a recycling can, a rain gutter to roll balls, and a place to "charge" a car. The inside has a hub for turning on music and lights, a "smart" thermostat, and pretend food to put in the fridge or cook up on the stove. Activities set off music or phrases in any of four languages: English, Spanish, French or Mandarin. 3 to 36 months, $150; available this fall
So simple, yet so valuable for teaching vocabulary to your toddler. One easy touch on any of the word-and-image pairs in the Learning Friends 100 Words Book, by Leapfrog, and the book sounds the word aloud. Sometimes it adds funny sound effects, too, and is overall super-engaging without any screen or stylus. It's a genius toy for keeping a tot occupied in the backseat! And you can toggle between English and Spanish. 18 months+, $18; available this fall
"Look what I drew!" Kids can show Mom and Dad in a big way when they shine their image right on the wall or anywhere else. The Picture Projector, by Crayola, could also be a fun way to draw and project creations on the ceiling at night, or entertain kids in a tent during a camping trip. It's also priced right if you're on the birthday-party circuit and looking for a creative, affordable gift! 5 years+, $15, available in August
Toddlers can easily set up the track and run this little Duplo Steam Train, from LEGO, forward or backward. There's a conductor to play with and an amazing little squirrel that can sit in the tree. But the truly unique pieces are the five "action bricks" your child can lay on the tracks to have the train set off sounds, lights or motions. It's a gentle coding lesson that pairs well with the fun of building! 2 years+, $60, available in August
This is a splurge, but boy, do we want a ride-on dinosaur! The Jurassic World Dino Racer, by Power Wheels, can traverse the driveway or lawn with those tough wheels. It zooms up to 6mph, but a parental control can dial that down for new drivers. And by the way, if your kid is into dinos, 2018 is going to be a good year: The Jurassic World line of toys is vast! 3 to 7 years, $260; available in March
These little beaded animals (kitties, unicorns, giraffes, pandas and more) quickly transform into a bracelet and back again. Twisty Petz, by Spin Master, can be worn like a snazzy accessory but secretly be your child's I'm-bored-must-fidget toy. They're pretty, and silent, so who is going to mind? Perfect for church or big sibling's recital, not that we (officially) endorse toys for those occasions. ;) 4 years+, $6 each, available in fall
Mind blown! Mr Potato head, turned on his side, can turn into many different vehicles, like a truck or plane or train. But then he can still be Mr. Potato head too...notice that the blue whistle on the train, shown, becomes his camera when he's back to being himself! Playskool Friends Mr. Potato Head Mash Mobiles are currently sold in other countries. The set was at Toy Fair looking for a retail home; fingers crossed, because we think it's a genius update! 2 years+, no price or time yet for being sold in the U.S.
We love a wooden toy, and a musical toy, and a chicken toy...so this one is a win-win-win! The wings slap, the back is a xylophone, the tail is a tambourine, and the neck has a washboard and the head has cymbals for some percussive accents! Mallets store back by the tail, and the whole thing is cute enough to leave sitting out for all to see. 12 months+, $50; available in March; manhattantoy.com