12 Hot Toys Under 25 for the Holidays
Monster High Dolls
Ages: 6 and up
Looking to take advantage of interest in the supernatural spurred by the flood of vampire films and books in the past year, Mattel re-imagined its typical fashion doll offerings and created Monster High. The result is a series of fashion dolls patterned after famous movie monsters, such as Dracula and Frankenstein, that are slated to be hot sellers this holiday shopping season, says Chris Byrne, an editor with TimetoPlayMag.com, a toy review website.
What sets apart the Monster High Dolls, and other similar toys such as Liv Dolls from Spin Master and Moxie Girlz from MGA Entertainment, is that they appeal to a broad range of ages, thanks to careful design details and interesting back stories.
"Narrative is a very big part," says Byrne. "The story is one way (for) kids to access the fantasy play."
Lego Building Sets
Price: $3.99 and up
Ages: 5 and up
A tried-and-true gift for a broad range of ages, Lego sets remain a good choice for frugal shoppers in a sluggish economy.
"You can go up to $100 for Legos on certain things, but there are Lego sets that are under $20," says Byrne.
But reasonable prices aren't the only advantage to buying Lego. Lego is a "system toy," which allows you to add play value to your child's other Lego sets, says Byrne. "When you buy a Lego set, you're essentially buying something that makes (old Lego sets) new again," he says.
Lego also has the advantage of being extremely durable, giving it a longer life span than many other here-today, gone-tomorrow toys children get during the holiday shopping season, says Gottlieb.
Ages: 3 and up
If you haven't heard the song from Mattel's new Sing-a-ma-jigs, get ready. The plush singing, talking doll comes complete with a moving mouth. Starting at only $13, the toy can be played individually or grouped together to create a harmonized sound.
But if you want one, you'd better act fast. The dolls are expected to sell out in stores early in the holiday shopping season.
"This is one they can't really keep in big enough supply," says Byrne.
What's in the Cat's Hat?
Manufacturer: I Can Do That! Games
Ages: 3 and up
Based on the classic Dr. Seuss character, What's in the Cat's Hat? challenges kids to identify a household object inside the iconic red-and-white-striped hat, using questions and sense of sight, touch and smell.
In addition to providing the potential for a lot of fun, the game promotes problem-solving and comes with cards that tell kids to "feel, smell, touch, etc.," according to the Parents' Choice toy review website. And the fact that you can use any household object to play gives the game a lot more replay value than the average game, says Byrne.
"This is a great item for the preschool group," says Byrne. "It's engaging, and games are good for social play."
Hot Wheels Stealth Rides
Ages: 8 and up
Radio-controlled vehicles are hot toys this holiday shopping season, says Byrne, and you can expect to see Hot Wheels Stealth Rides careening off shelves.
That's because the car combines collectability with a fully functional RC car capable of a variety of tricks at a scale small enough to fit into a kid's pocket.
"They're a little larger than the 1:64-scale Hot Wheels, but they actually fold down. You push a button and it folds flat and slides into a case the size of a deck of cards," says Byrne. "That also functions as the controller, so that's pretty cool."
Ages: 8 and up
Paper Jamz puts a new spin on the kind of guitar play offered by blockbuster video games like "Guitar Hero." Made from circuit-embedded paper, Paper Jamz allow kids to play along to rock 'n' roll hits from artists like Smash Mouth, Lynyrd Skynyrd and R.E.M., or play their own original songs.
"It has three different songs, and kids can play along with it, and it's all paper and a little bit of plastic" says Byrne.
The company also sells a drums version of the toy.
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