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Checking It Twice: Toy Association Lists 2019 Toy of the Year Awards Finalists

We know that the turkey is still hasn’t thawed out and there’s plenty of cooking to be done but with Black Friday fast approaching you may be in a bit of a panic to know what exactly to tell Santa Claus is a priority on your child’s wishlist. Fortunately The Toy Association, Inc. has just released its list of top toys in the running for their Annual Toy of the Year Award.

The list makes a great tool to find those products that most reflect your child’s interests, fit their proper age range, and hit your price point. Though the winners won’t be announced until the night before Toy Fair in February 2019, these goodies are on the shelves now. Based on our own interests Andy and I popped the Tech, Creative, and Innovative divisions up top.

Detailed information about each nominee is on The Toy Association’s Official TOTY19 Consumer Voting Site. You can browse by category, see images, make a shopping list, enter a sweepstakes for one of 17 unique prizes, and even cast your own vote.

THE TOY ASSOCIATION
2019 TOY OF THE YEAR AWARD FINALISTS

TECH TOY OF THE YEAR
Physical toys that are electronic or interact with a smartphone, tablet or gaming device.

• Arcade1Up (Tastemakers LLC)
• Creative Coder (Tech Will Save Us)
• Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit (Kano)
• Kids First Coding & Robotics (Thames & Kosmos)
• LeapStart® 3D Learning System (LeapFrog)
• Really Rad Robots: MiBro (Moose Toys)
• VEX Balancing Boxing Bot 2-Pack (HEXBUG)

INNOVATIVE TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that utilize innovative design, technology, or manufacturing processes to enhance play value.

• Botley™ the Coding Robot Activity Set (Learning Resources)
• Harry Potter™ Wizard Training™ (JAKKS Pacific)
• K’NEX Thrill Rides Bionic Blast™ Roller Coaster Building Set (K’NEX, a division of Basic Fun!)
• Legend Kit (Infento)
• Marvel Legends Series Infinity Gauntlet Articulated Electronic Fist (Hasbro, Inc.)
• Mystery Flying Snitch (Wow! Stuff)
• Sensors Alive: Bring Physics to Life! (Thames & Kosmos)

CREATIVE TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that allow kids to build an/or make items that are unique to them.

• Antsy Pants Build & Play Kit (Beach House Group)
• Avengers Hero Inventor Kit (littleBits)
• Building Bricks Play N Store Table (KidKraft)
• Cool Maker KumiKreator (Spin Master)
• Rock And Roll It Spectrum Drum (MukikiM LLC)
• Sew + Glow (Tech Will Save Us)
• The Big Engineering Makerspace (Thames & Kosmos)

ACTION FIGURE OF THE YEAR
Toys that include action figures.

• DJ Bumblebee (Hasbro, Inc.)
• Mattel Jurassic World™ Dinosaur Action Figures (Mattel, Inc.)
• Pokémon 4.5″ Battle Feature Figures (Wicked Cool Toys)
• Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deluxe Ninja Action Figure Assortment (Playmates Toys)
• Stikbot Monsters (Zing)
• Treasure X (Moose Toys)
• WWE® Sound Slammers™ Figures (Mattel, Inc.)

COLLECTIBLE OF THE YEAR
Toys that compose a set and can be collected in multiples; can include novelty playthings, miniature versions of existing lines, licensed collectibles, etc.

• Beaker Creatures™ (Learning Resources)
• Disney Doorables (Moose Toys)
• LEGO® Harry Potter™ and Fantastic Beasts™ Minifigure Series (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Series (MGA Entertainment)
• Lost Kitties Blind Box Multipack Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)
• Pikmi Pops: Pikmi Flips (Moose Toys)
• Polly Pocket (Mattel, Inc.)
• Twisty Petz (Spin Master)

PLAYSET TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are designed to work together to enact some action or event.

• Disney Pixar Cars Super Track Mack Playset (Mattel, Inc.)
• Farm To Table Play Kitchen With EZ Kraft Assembly™ (KidKraft)
• Hidden Temple with T-Rex (PLAYMOBIL)
• L.O.L. Surprise! House (MGA Entertainment)
• LEGO® Creator Expert Roller Coaster (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• LEGO® Jurassic World™ Indoraptor Rampage at Lockwood Estate (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43″ Epic Sewer Lair Playset (Playmates Toys)

DOLL OF THE YEAR
Toys that include baby, toddler, and fashion dolls.

• Barbie® Ibtihaj Muhammad Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
• Barbie® Robotics Engineer Doll (Mattel, Inc.)
• Cry Babies (IMC Toys)
• DreamWorks Spirit Riding Free Deluxe Spirit Walking Horse (Just Play/Universal Brand Development)
• Hairdorables (Just Play)
• L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Under Wraps (MGA Entertainment)
• Marvel Rising Secret Warriors Doll Assortment (Hasbro, Inc.)
• My Friend Fancy Nancy™ Doll (JAKKS Pacific)

CONSTRUCTION TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that include building and engineering sets.

• Gears! Gears! Gears! Machines in Motion (Learning Resources)
• GeoSmart Flip Bot (SMART Toys and Games, Inc.)
• GraviTrax Starter Set (Ravensburger)
• Kessel Run Millennium Falcon™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• LEGO® Harry Potter™ Great Hall™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Marbleocity Triple Play Archimedes Screw (PlayMonster)
• Snap Circuits BRIC: Structures (Elenco)

LICENSE OF THE YEAR
Character or property that has had success spreading its brand throughout the industry.

• Hatchimals (Spin Master)
• Hot Wheels (Mattel, Inc.)
• Jurassic World™ Fallen Kingdom (Universal Brand Development)
• L.O.L. Surprise! (MGA Entertainment)
• Marvel Black Panther™ (The Walt Disney Company)
• Peppa Pig (Entertainment One)
• PJ Masks (Entertainment One)

GAME OF THE YEAR
Children’s board, card, electronic, or other physical game formats or puzzles.

• Disney Villainous™ Game by Wonder Forge (Ravensburger)
• Dr. Biscuits’ Radical Road Trip (Barry and Jason Games & Entertainment)
• Fryin Flyin Donuts (Maya Toys)
• Monster Match (North Star Games)
• Relative Insanity (PlayMonster)
• Unstable Unicorns (TeeTurtle, LLC)
• Voice Originals: When in Rome (Sensible Object)

INFANT/TODDLER TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are developed for ages 0-3.

• Dolce Baby Aardvark (Magformers LLC)
• Fisher-Price® Laugh & Learn® Smart Learning Home™ (Mattel, Inc.)
• Grippies® Shakers – 30 Piece Set (Guidecraft)
• HEXBUG Cuddlebots Garden Carousel (HEXBUG)
• Kid O Hudson Glow Rattle (PlayMonster)
• Learning Friends 100 Words Book™ (LeapFrog)
• Spike the Fine Motor Hedgehog (Learning Resources)

OUTDOOR TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are designed for outdoor play, including ride-ons.

• Glove-A-Bubbles (Zing)
• MorfBoard™ (JAKKS Pacific)
• Nickelodeon Automatic Slime Drencher (JAKKS Pacific)
• Razor Turbo Jetts Electric Heel Wheels (Razor USA, LLC)
• Rollplay Nighthawk Ride-On (Rollplay)
• Watermelon Smash (Yulu)
• X-Shot™ Flying Bug Attack (ZURU)

PLUSH OF THE YEAR
Toys that are made of fabric and stuffed with cotton or similar filling.

• Dolce Afghan Hound (Magformers LLC)
• Fingerlings HUGS (WowWee)
• GUND Flora Bunny Animated Plush (Spin Master)
• Pomsies™ (Skyrocket)
• Rainbocorns (ZURU)
• Rescue Runts (KD Kids)
• Scruff-A-Luvs (Moose Toys)
• Star Wars Ultimate Co-Pilot Chewie (Hasbro, Inc.)

PRESCHOOL TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys that are developed for ages 3-5.

• Design & Drill® See Through Creative Workshop (Educational Insights)
• Disney Junior Doc McStuffins Pet Rescue Mobile (Just Play)
• Fisher-Price® Think & Learn Rocktopus™ (Mattel, Inc.)
• Kid Trax Rideamals Scout (Kid Trax)
• LEGO® DUPLO Steam Train (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Little Tikes STEM Jr. Wonder Lab (MGA Entertainment)
• Pop Oh Ver Stove Set (Kangaroo Manufacturing Inc.)

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
A new company (created within the last 2 years) that has brought to market an outstanding toy.

• Massive Monster Mayhem Bash Weapons (Alpha Group US)
• Match the Baby Puzzles (Banana Panda, Inc.)
• Monsters Lock Box (Tender Leaf Toys)
• Ollyball – The Ultimate Indoor Play Ball! (VICTURY Sports)
• Tic Tac Tongue (Yulu)
• Turing Tumble (Turing Tumble LLC)
• What The Film?! (Lethal Chicken Games)

SPECIALTY TOY OF THE YEAR
Toys primarily distributed through specialty retailers and are not sold at mass.

• Betrayal at Cloud City™ (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Chickapig (Buffalo Games, LLC)
• GeoSafari® Jr. Talking Telescope™ (Educational Insights)
• GUND Super Pusheenicorn (Spin Master)
• HEXBUG Ring Racer (HEXBUG)
• LEGO® Harry Potter™ Hogwarts™ Castle (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Marbles Otrio (Spin Master)
• Pepper Mint in the Great Treehouse Engineering Adventure (Thames & Kosmos)

VEHICLE OF THE YEAR
Toys that are powered or non-powered vehicles, and their playsets/accessories.

• Automoblox BR100 Hercules (PlayMonster)
• LEGO® Technic® Bugatti Chiron (LEGO Systems, Inc.)
• Nerf Nitro Doubleclutch Inferno Blaster (Hasbro, Inc.)
• PAW Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck (Spin Master & Nickelodeon)
• Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Turtle Tank (Playmates Toys)
• TerraSect RC (Alpha Group US)
• VEX Robotics OffRoad Truck (HEXBUG)

New World Ardor… Living Dead Dolls Celebrate A Record Breaking Sweet Sixteen

Mezco Toyz, Living Dead Dolls Series 27. (L to R) Mephistopheles, The Banshee, Milu, Spring-Heeled Jack and The Hopping Vampire

Mezco Toyz, Living Dead Dolls Series 27. (L to R) Mephistopheles, The Banshee, Milu, Spring-Heeled Jack and The Hopping Vampire


Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Kissed, Any Wonder?…
2014 marks the sixteenth anniversary of Mezco Toyz’ Living Dead Dolls line. This milestone makes these creepy creations the longest continually produced series of horror themed dolls on the planet. Mezco’s Mike Drake informed me that the company will be honored for this world record at the Toy Industry Association’s 111th Annual American International Toy Fair which begins in New York City in just a couple of days.

The outre, coffin encased, dollies are the brainchild of Ed Long, Damien Glonek, and “Mez” Markowitz, whose artistic imagination must be commended on this long run of sardonic but fun characters. Damien notes, “I couldn’t be happier with the support and dedication our fans have given us throughout the years. The dolls have taken on a life of their own…” As for their inception, “There was never a thought out plan when we first started. Living Dead Dolls was built upon a do what we like attitude and it grew into something beyond our wildest expectations.”

Living Dead Dolls Series 27…
A world record calls for a world vision and so for Series 27 the creators have set their nets wide and come up with a cosmopolitan collection of characters of myth and legend. 

Spring Heeled Jack – The Victorian urban legend of penny dreadful fame that terrorized London. A creeper and a leaper.

The Banshee – The Irish fairy who heralds death with her mournful wail. If she sits with you for a pint of Guinness be sure your life insurance policy is paid up.

Milu – The Polynesian goddess and guardian of the land of the dead. Mess with this Tiki temptress and you won’t be drinking piña coladas at Trader Vic’s for long. She’ll fill you full of flys and feed you to her pet lizards.

The Hopping Vampire – The life force absorbing Jiangshi of pan-asian folklore and popular film series.

Mephistopheles – The devilish trickster and adversary of Goethe’s Faust. Sign on the dotted line at your own risk.

In addition, Colonial America will get it’s due with a Headless Horseman LDD, complete with malevolent looking pumpkin noggin, and Series 1 character Posey, comes back from the undead in a ghostly white special edition.

Mezco's LDD Creature is still in the working stages, but promises to be a real collector's treat.

Mezco’s LDD Creature is still in the working stages, but promises to be a real collector’s treat.

SkeletonPete Says…
Also announced, though not on display at Mezco’s early reveal, is an LDD version of The Creature from the Black Lagoon. It will join the already available Frankenstein, Bride of, and Dracula dolls. It’s going to be a must own for creach fans like myself. The still to be approved prototype is pictured in Mezco’s 2014 Toy Fair catalog and it is already too cool to pass up.

Mama Weer All Crazee Now: Mezco Completes Pyscho Trio

Mezco Toyz' Adds Norman's Mother to Their Psycho Selection

Mezco Toyz’ Adds Norman’s Mother to Their Psycho Selection


Get Your Motor Running…
The good folks at Mezco Toyz revved up their engines for this month’s American International Toy Fair with a special press peek at their upcoming offerings. The company is not only celebrating the sweet sixteenth birthday of their Living Dead Doll Series but has announced a Sons of Anarchy figure and collectible line for release in summer of 2014. The advance viewing was a perfect opportunity to get some unfettered photos of this newest Mezco merch especially an unexpected Psycho treat.

Norman’s Mom Has Got It Goin’ On…

"Mad Moma" Norman Bates Gets the Mezco LLD Spin

“Mad Moma” Norman Bates Gets the Mezco LLD Spin


After focusing on the Sons of Anarchy and Breaking Bad characters, I peered across the room in Mezco’s sanctum sanctorum for an unexpected surprise. Perched on a display shelf, comfy in her rocking chair and shawl, sat Mother, the desiccated grande dame of the Bates family. The wonderfully creepy creation is rendered as a “roto-plush,” with molded cast hands, feet and head and a plush body, like dolls of old. She perfectly compliments the Norman and Victim dolls released last year. She’ll be ready for release this coming summer. Keep your Raggedy Ann away from the shower stall.

Mommy To Mummy…
Karloff's 1932 Mummy is the Next Universal Monster Emerging from Mezco in June 2014.

Karloff’s 1932 Mummy is the Next Universal Monster Emerging from Mezco in June 2014.


Not far from Mother stood her Universal Pictures kin, the equally shriveled Karloffian Mummy. The Mummy is the third in Mezco’s effective angular stylization of the classics. Frankenstein’s Monster and The Creature from the Black Lagoon are currently available with The Mummy slated for June of this year. Still in the works and pending design approval is Mezco’s Creature from the Black Lagoon Living Dead Doll.

SkeletonPete Says…
I expect to post a full gallery of images from Mezco’s Toy Fair preview on Thursday, including Living Dead Dolls Series 27 featuring “Myths and Legends from Around the World,” Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, Axe Cop, 1966 Batman villains Mez-itz, and more.

I’ve also been meaning to share some fun “beauty shots” of the all white “test shot” Creature from the Black Lagoon I scored at the Mezco sale last summer.

Going Tubular: Hexbug Nano V2 from Innovation First

The Sky's the Limit with Gravity Defying HexBug Nano V2 Kits

The Sky’s the Limit with Gravity Defying HexBug Nano V2 Kits


Black Friday is here, officially marking holiday shopping season 2013. I’ll be posting info about some of my favorite goodies during the next couple of weeks. I hope I can turn you on to some fun gifts, or something for your own wish-list.

Vertical Horizon…
Innovation First continues to refresh their popular Hexbugs Nano series with new skills and environments. Hexbug Nano V2 follows last year’s Hexbug Nano Warriors, which offered multi-bug battle action. This newest species of skittering scarabs has evolved to include three rubbery spikes on their spines which allow them to shimmy vertically up and down habitat tubes. As with prior generations, the modular nature of individual track and tubes pieces ensures that sets can be configured with imagination nearly your only limitation.

Bombs Away Dream Babies: Hexbug Nano V2 hits the Black Hole

Bombs Away Dream Babies: Hexbug Nano V2 hits the Black Hole


Over, Under, Sideways, Down…
Specialty constructs have been added to the line to maximize the fun of the Nano V2’s abilities. The Twist Tube adds a 360 degree spiral to the hexbugs’ bag of tricks, the V2 Black Hole Funnel offers a destination for Nano freefall with a variable exit routine at the bottom, and the flat panel Observatory creates an ultimate height destination for the V2 models to explore before they descend again. Tube width allows adventuring buglettes to pass each other en route or share a trip with frenetic fraternity.
Nice Rack: Holiday Hexbug Gives Rudolph a Run for his Money

Nice Rack: Holiday Hexbug Gives Rudolph a Run for his Money


Santa’s Littlest Helpers…
Hexbug Nanos can also be found in special Christmas editions, sporting reindeer antlers, snow flake design motifs and neatly packaged in tree trimmer ornaments.

Something Fishy…
For a gift on a more restive note, Innovation First offers the amazing AquaBot, a robotic fish activated when – you guessed it – placed in water. Aquabot comes in an assortment of colors and emulates all the soothing movements of your favorite aquarium dweller but requires no feeding, no tank filter, no clean-up, just the occasional battery.

This is only a smattering of the gear in the Innovation First line which includes full and XL size Hexbug creatures, the bobble head Moshi Monsters and Tagamoto Auto track sets. Check the related posts below for more details.

These images are of Toy Fair 2013 pre-launch displays, but all of items are currently available at your retail toy store as well as online.

Click Any Image to Launch the Gallery

Featured Creatures: Diamond Select Universal Monster Previews @ Toy Fair 2013

DST Universal Monsters Series 5 will arrive in 2014

DST Universal Monsters Series 5 will arrive in 2014

It was a great treat to visit with the folks at Diamond Select Toys during the 2013 American International Toy Fair. They have an upcoming array of items sure to please collectors of franchises that include Marvel Superheroes, The Walking Dead, Star Wars, and Tomb Raider. Star Trek fans are sure to be pleased with the goodies coming their way from DST. I’ll be posting information and photos on those in the coming weeks but I’m going to begin DST NYTF13 coverage with my favorites, the Universal Monster Series.

Fall 2013 Series 4…
As announced in previous posts Diamond Select will be releasing Wave 4 of the series in fall 2013. That includes Lon Chaney Sr. as Quasimodo, from the silent 1923 classic The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Mr. Hyde as portrayed by Boris Karloff in Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. The Quasimodo specialty (large base) package will pair him with a cathedral gargoyle to perch on and include the “King of Fools” accessories. Mr. Hyde will sport a roof top base and include Dr. Jekyll parts to facilitate his transformation.

The Series 4 Toys “R” Us packages will be blister packed with simple bases. Dr. Jekyl will include an interchangeable Mr. Hyde head. Exclusive to Toys “R” Us will be a Moleperson figure from the The Mole People (1956).

Series 3 Legacy Box…
The Universal Monster Series 3 figures including This Island Earth’s Metaluna Mutant, Erik The Phantom of the Opera and The Invisible Man) will be boxed together in a special legacy edition.


New Bust Banks and Retro Cloths…
Also announced for fall, but not on display at the DST booth, are Bust Banks Series 2 depicting the Bride of Frankenstein and the Wolfman. They’ll join their cohorts the Black Lagoon creature and Karloff Frankenstein monster which are currently available in full color and black and white versions. Retro cloth fans will be able to add the Metaluna Mutant and Phantom of the Opera to their collections.

Bust Banks

Diamond Select Toys’ Bust Banks

Super-Articulated Series 5 Announced…
Looking ahead to 2014, the Universal Monsters series will expand with “super-articulated” figures. Series 5 will offer The Creature from the Black Lagoon and Karloff’s monster from Son of Frankenstein.
DST Son of FrankensteinDiamond Select Creature from the Black Lagoon

The Series 5 prototypes as pictured are yet to be approved by the licensor and represent the “large base” specialty versions. There’s some really nice Kenneth Strickfaden inspired lab apparatus with SoF. It brings back fond memories of the gear that came with Aurora’s Bride of Frankenstein model kit. I’m hoping that Inspector Krogh’s wooden arm, nestled at the prototype figure’s feet, will be a separate accessory. I can imagine how awesome the highly posable figure would look brandishing the appendage above its head.

An as yet unannounced third figure will be exclusive to Toys “R” Us. Which Universal Mon-Star are you hoping it will be?