As the holidays approach, everyone wants to know what the hot toys will be this year. Well, we have them! And we have a really important tip about when to buy them, too!
In Christmases past, Anne Zimmerman has surprised her 10 grandchildren with some great gifts. But this holiday season, she's having a harder time finding the perfect present.
"I just have to keep my eyes open,” Zimmerman says. “I guess advertising plays a big role with me."
What she does know is she wants them to be the gifts her grandkids like best.
"So it has to be really special. I have to pick the exactly right toy for each one."
Laurie Schacht specializes in picking the best toys. She is the Toy Insider Mom and publishes the Toy Insider Guide.
She knows better than anyone what the top toy trends are for 2011. All of her research shows the greatest gifts end up in one of four categories.
First is “Simply Social.”
"It could be games where you're having face to face interaction with people, but it's also talking about the apps and the virtual worlds that are going on," Schacht explains.
This category includes the new Harry Potter version of Scene-it, the U-Draw instant artist that utilizes a wireless sensor and allows tilt motions, and a new Tetris game.
"Tetris is one of the most popular video games. It's in over 50 countries, 50 languages,” says Schacht. “Now we have Tetris Link where were actually linking the Tetrimenos and trying to block your opponent."
Lite Sprites, which change colors with the wave of a wand, are also hot.
The next category is “Mini Collectibles.”
Lots of kids love to collect, while Schacht says they're popular with parents because they're so affordable.
This year, there are 3D animated Redokai cards and characters to play with from Poptropica in the video world. And…
"Squinkies launched last year but this year they're going to find Hello Kitty and Disney princesses, and now there's a whole set the boys are going to love like the Marvel Superheroes and Hot Wheels, so that's also really great, and Shoulder Buddies,” Schacht says. “Shoulder buddies are great little friends that sit on our shoulder."
Category three combines “Action and Active,” especially for those who like to be up and moving. Hot items include the all-terrain Baja Beast, Light Strikers that mimic the video and the always popular Nerf line, Nerf wear, Nerf vortex. And…
"This Laser Stunt Chaser which I just love,” says Schacht. “It has enormous speed, but it also does all kinds of great stunts."
“Entertainment” rounds out category four, which includes the Power Rangers action figures and Justin Bieber bus. You can also be a rock star with the Paperjamz microphone.
"They came out with a mic. It has a voice pitch on it so you sound like a rock star," Schacht explains.
But as the gift giver, you'll have to find these top toys.
"That becomes the challenge of December for me," grandmother Anne Zimmerman says.
For older kids, tech toys are still tops, especially tablets. One tip from the Toy Insider Mom: because stores now stock less inventory in this economy, if you see one of the hot toys, be sure to buy it on the spot because they'll be harder to find.