Toys & Collectibles

Who Was That Masked Fan? Toy Insider’s Gift Guide Event Returns In-Person

It’s Toy Tuesday!

The Toy Insider 2021 Holiday Gift Guide will help relieve toy shopping uncertainties.

Fall arrived with joy filled promise thanks to the folks at The Toy Insider, who held their first in-person post-lockdown Holiday of Play event this week. Led by Chief Toy Officer Laurie Schacht, these play mavens have admirably virtualized their last few events, but there’s nothing like making a personal connection, even if it’s with a socially distanced wave or an elbow bump.

JustPlay offered a variety of safety mask designs for kids

The annual soirée highlights the Toy Insider Holiday Gift Guide lists for best toys of the coming season. They focus on three categories: The Hot 20, The S.T.E.M. 10 and 12 under $20. The guide affords gift givers a head’s up about what are likely to be the most wished for holiday presents. A print edition of will be available in Parents magazine on sale October 4th.

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Young tastemakers took the opportunity to explore the toy industry’s newest batch of playthings at Toy Insider’s Holiday of Play event.

Here’s how the Toy Insider’s 2021 choices stack up.

0-2 years 
• Choppin’ Fun Learning Pot (LeapFrog)
• Fisher-Price 4-in-1 Ultimate Learning Bot (Mattel)
• Flybar Bumper Cars (Flybar)
• Little Tikes Learn & Play 2-in-1 Activity Tunnel (MGA Entertainment)

3-4 years 
• Batman Bat-Tech Transforming Batcave (Spin Master)
• Blues Clues & You! Cook-Along Play Kitchen Set (Just Play)
• CoComelon Deluxe Interactive JJ Doll (Jazwares)
• Disney Princess Ultimate Celebration Castle (Hasbro)
• Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse (Spin Master)
• Ryan’s World Lost City Adventures – Mega Adventure Chest (Bonkers Toys)

5-7 years 
• Akedo Ultimate Battle Arena (Moose Toys)
• Got2Glow Fairy Finder (WowWee)
• KidiZoom PrintCam (VTech)
• LOL Surprise OMG House of Surprises (MGA Entertainment) 
• Magic Mixies Magic Cauldron (Moose Toys)
• Pokémon Trading Card Game: Celebrations Elite Trainer Box (The Pokémon Co. International)
• Chuckle & Roar Pop It XL (Buffalo Games)
• Squishmallows Food Squad (Jazwares)

8+ years
• Beyblade Burst Burst Speedstorm Motor Strike Battle Set (Hasbro)
• Tamagotchi Pix (Bandai America)

• Ada Twist, Scientist On-the-Go Lab Set (Just Play)
• Artie Max (Educational Insights)
• Candy Claw Machine (Thames & Kosmos)
• Coding Critters MagiCoders (Learning Resources)
• Game Builder Garage (Nintendo)
• HEXMODS Pro Series Elite Raceway (HEXBUG)
• National Geographic 100-Piece Makeway Magnetic Marble Run (Blue Marble)
• Osmo Math Wizard and The Amazing Airships and Osmo Math Wizard and the Enchanted World Games (Osmo)
• Paper Butterflies Science Kit (Crayola)
• The Young Scientists Club Future Veterinarian (Horizon Group USA)

• 5 Surprise Mini Brands Series 3 (ZURU)
• Care Bears Cutetitos (Basic Fun!)
• Cats vs. Pickles Bean-Filled Jumbos (Cepia)
• Compound Kings 5 Stack Donut (WeCool Toys)
• Crystalina (Skyrocket Toys)
• Dimpl Pops (Fat Brain Toys)
• Koosh Mondo (PlayMonster)
• My Squishy Little Dumplings (WowWee)
• Needoh (Schylling)
• Nickelodeon Cra-Z Sand Bucket (Cra-Z-Art)
• Pom Pops (Sunny Days Entertainment)
• Treasure X Monster Coffin (Moose Toys)

SkeletonPete Says…

Knowing one’s buying options in advance will be especially crucial this year as the pandemic has made supply chains unpredictable around the world.

Andy and I will be pointing out several of our favorites in the coming weeks.

Junior reporters get the lowdown on Pixicade’s Mobile Game Maker Kit.

Toys & Collectibles

You Got Me Floatin’: Skylanders Join Macy’s 2014 Parade

The Biggest Balloons Ever will fly in the Macy's 88th Thanksgiving Day Parade.
The Biggest Balloons Ever will fly in the Macy’s 88th Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Activision Skylanders fans will be looking skyward for real this coming Thanksgiving Day as one of their favorite characters from the interactive toy and screen based game world will invade the 88th Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Reach for the Sky…
Eruptor, the always ready-to-blow-his-top ball of lava, will fly high over the streets of New York City as one of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons. He’ll join a new fleet of largest-ever helium inflatables with massive dimensions of 50′ long, 36′ wide and 36′ high. Macy’s notes, “…artists used more than 40 gallons of florescent paint and five barrels of glitter!,” to get Eruptor’s smoldering countenance just right. The balloons got a successful test run on November 9th 2014 in the parking lot of New York’s CitiField sports arena. The parade kicks of Thanksgiving morning (Thursday November 27th, 2014) at 9:00 AM. If you can’t be there in person you can catch it broadcast on the NBC network.

Artist's Concept for Skylanders Eruptor Balloon.
Artist’s Concept for Skylanders Eruptor Balloon.

The Skylands native son will join several other new additions to the cherished Macy’s parade line-up. Heres’ the complete lowdown from their press release:

“Six new giant characters will take to the sky including The Weinstein Company’s loveable Peruvian bear Paddington; the always electrifying Pikachu; the warm giggling Pillsbury Doughboy; the vanquisher of evil the Red Mighty Morphin Power Ranger; the lava spewing Skylanders Eruptor; and the friendly locomotive Thomas the Tank Engine.

Rounding out the ballooning line-up are returning favorites including Adventure Time with Finn & Jake, Diary of A Wimpy Kid, The Elf on the Shelf, Hello Kitty, Papa Smurf, Ronald McDonald, Snoopy and Woodstock, Spider-Man, SpongeBob SquarePants and Toothless of How to Train Your Dragon. In addition, the balloon cast includes new balloonicles (a Macy’s Parade hybrid of cold-air balloon and vehicle) of the famed-spokesduck the Aflac Duck and Cloe the Holiday Clown, as well as the return of the KOOL-AID Man. In celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the film classic, balloonheads of The Wizard of OZ characters will also make a special appearance.”

Going Mobile: Skylanders Trap Team Kit for tablet devices.
Going Mobile: Skylanders Trap Team Kit for tablet devices.

Shut Your Trap…
Activision has just launched the newest iteration of the world wide Skylanders franchise called Trap Team. Their tablet based mobile version was featured in Toy Insider’s “Hot Top 20” Toys for the 2014 holiday season. A closer look at Trap Team game play can be read in our previous coverage.

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It's Clobbering Time: On Thanksgiving Day 2014 this guy will be dwarfed by his Macy's Parade balloon big brother.
It’s Clobbering Time: On Thanksgiving Day 2014 this guy will be dwarfed by his Macy’s Parade balloon big brother.