Top toy trends of 2013
Return of the classics
Everything old was new again at Toy Fair this year. While last year was all about reinventing the classic toy, this year toymakers are embracing (and rereleasing) tried-and-true favorites.
Pictured: Lego's Bricks and More sets (ranging from $9.99 for small set to $25 for the "suitcase," ages 4+, amazon.com) harken back to the brick tubs we loved as kids. They come with a base plate, Lego mini figure, and plenty of pieces to let kids' imaginations run wild.
Building kits are big in 2013 — from your standard model sets to reinvented building blocks, this year's toys are promising to help kids improve hand-eye coordination and stretch their creativity with hours of building fun.
Pictured: Snapo blocks ($12.98-$27.98, ages 1+, snapo.com) snap together, slide side by side, and swivel in stacks, for endless building possibilities. The tubs offer building suggestions, but kids are encouraged to dream up their own shapes and structures.
All about apps
Kids are as comfortable today playing on an iPad as they are building blocks, so it’s no surprise that manufacturers are introducing more games and toys centered around mobile devices. From markers that "color" on your tablet to a Barbie-themed "mirror" app that lets little ones play with virtual makeup (no mess!), these toys come alive when paired with your favorite gadget.
Pictured: EZ Pro DJ ($49.99, ages 8+), out in August, lets children play emcee by hooking the turntable attachment up to your Apple or Android tablet. The beginner-friendly app loads songs from your music library and helps pint-sized producers match beats, sample tracks, loop beats, and more. You can record as you lay down tracks or DJ live through the attachments' built-in speakers.
There's no set outcome to many of the toys being launched this year. The goal is to encourage children to stretch their imaginations, inventiveness, and creativity, whether they’re making their own art or problem-solving and analyzing board game options.
Pictured: Kids can follow the formulas in Crayola's Marker Maker ($24.99, ages 8+) or get artistic with the included dyes to create their own unique washable marker shades. The kit, out in August, includes labels so little ones can name their own shades.
Many of the newest toys help kids explore a wider range of careers — from letting them be budding bakers to young crime scene investigators. Pretend play focused on cool jobs may even help them discover an unexpected passion.
Pictured: Ravensburger's ScienceX line ($14-$45, ages 8+, amazon.com) teaches kids more about a wide range of scientific pursuits, from space exploration to electrical engineering.
The best toys are ones your kids come back to again and again — and never have the same play experience twice. Toymakers are hoping to build that value into the latest crop playthings that can constantly be reinvented. There’s an added layer of fun — and you’ll get even more bang for your buck.
Pictured: Lego's Mindstorms sets ($349.99, ages 10+) are an investment, but each kit builds five robots and the latest sets can be mixed and matched with parts for old sets your kids may already have. More curious builders are encouraged to hack their 'bots; with a wide range of sensors included and free online add-ons, the programming possibilities are virtually endless.
When it comes to many of the new playthings we've seen, the fun doesn't end once you're done playing with the actual toy. From puzzles that come alive with associated apps to books that launch informational videos on your tablet and games that let you play more on your PC, traditional toys are working double duty with digital extras that keep the fun going.
Pictured: Popar's Construction Machines book ($20, ages 5-13, popartoys.com) and puzzle ($15) both have added digital components for Apple and Android products. Utilizing the augmented reality technology in Popar's free app, little ones can learn more about the cool construction vehicles on the pages through audio and video or build and break down walls on top of the puzzle in an addictive mobile game.
Collect 'em all
Collectibles are hot again this year, and it's no wonder. With low price points and plenty of cool extras (like associated online games or TV shows), kids can't resist building their collections.
Pictured: Jakks Pacific's Smurfs Micro Village line is irresistibly cute and tied in with the latest Smurf sequel out this summer. At just $4.99 for 3 figures (and village sets starting at $9.99, ages 4+), they won't break the bank either.