What’s this year’s hottest toy? We put area kids ages 1-10 in a room with more than 50 toys to find out. All toys are available at major toy retailers unless otherwise noted.


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Paw Patrol Playland Ball Pit

A Trolls version of this blow-up ball pit was a top pick last year, so we thought we'd try the popular "Paw Patrol" version this year. The kids loved throwing the balls around but didn't spend quite as much time in it this year, though nearly all kne...


Crayola Kids@Work giant crayon with blocks

Even if your kids never play with the 80 easy-to use blocks inside, they may like this giant 36-inch crayon case because it just looks cool. Our testers loved playing with the blocks and the parents liked the ease (and style) of the storage.


1-2-3 Build It! Car, Boat, Plane

The pieces go together to form a car, boat or a plane. Most kids didn't pay any attention to this bare-bones build-it toy. The age on it is listed at 2 and up, but we suspect it takes kids a little older to create the actual vehicles.


People Blocks 31-piece set

Though the parents loved the idea of this blocks set where you line up magnets to build trains, animals, people, the kids used it more as just plain building blocks, which means it could be a toy that grows with them.


Winner in the 3 and under age group

Leap Frog Scoop and Learn Ice Cream Cart

All the kids in this group had a blast pretending to serve ice cream to their parents, and they loved pushing the cart around. And when older kids came over, they used the recipe cards to put together specific, and sometimes complicated, orders. Bry...


LeapFrog 2-in-1 LeapTop Touch

Little ones 2-5 can be just like mom, dad or big brother or sister. Learn about letters, numbers, music and more with this device that changes from a laptop to a touch screen tablet. Kids seemed to go toward this, but the sound in the room was too mu...


Fisher-Price Lion Piano

A few of the kids banged around on this cute lion piano, but with so much noise going on few played on it for long. It features 16 demo songs, four animal noises and play/record/stop functions. "Otis liked it," said dad Ryan Luke, "but I think at 18 ...


Disney Princess Magical Wand Palace by Little People

Cinderella and Rapunzel play in this interactive set that recognizes each Princess and plays familiar phrases. Wave the wand to make lights and music happen. Girls from the 4-5 age group seemed to play with this toy more than the kids in this group. ...


My First Thomas & Friends Railway Pals Destination Discovery

This interactive, expandable train set for toddlers includes more than 50 sounds, songs and educational phrases. Otis took to it quickly and loved playing on it. "I feel this is a great introduction to Thomas and train track play," said dad Ryan.


Kids@Work Tonka Tow 'N Go Tuff Truck

Kids can play with the truck or the 25 blocks that come inside or both, stacking the blocks on the truck. The blocks from this quickly got jumbled with the blocks from the crayon, but kids just loved putting things together.


Winner in the 3 and under age group

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Race & Play Adventure Park

The VTech Go! Go! toys always do well in our testing. The figures fit in little hands, and the movements and sounds enchant kids. This year's entry, the Race & Play Adventure Park thrilled the kids with its cars that zoomed down ramps or popped up on...


Honorable mention in the 3 and under age group

VTech Pop-a-balls Bulldozer

Several kids got a kick out of this bulldozer they could push around and move the handle to pop balls back and scoop them into its bucket. Bryce's mom, Heather Coachman, said it reminded her of Hungry Hungry Hippos, "and he was never into that."


Winner in the 4-5 age group

Cubetto Playset Coding Toy by Primo Toys

Parents loved the simplicity of this coding game in which different colored pieces were placed into a board to control a robotic cube on a mat. The testers enjoyed the interactive learning game in which they could make the cube-shaped robot go forwar...


My Little Veterinarian Kit by Little Medical School

This is designed to be pretend play in a box, with a vet coat, rubber gloves and toy accessories and a stuffed animal in a doctor's kit shaped cardboard box. One little girl enjoyed playing with it for a while, but her mother said the realistic glove...


Junior Astronaut Helmet by AeroMax New World Toys

This helmet looked so cool that kids expected it to do more than just make a few noises and raise its shield when they put it on. It might make a good pretend-play toy for a child who is really into space and astronauts, but by itself, there wasn't m...


Winner in the 4-5 age group

Pharaoh's Pyramid by Playmobil

A winner in this group and a favorite of several children who played with this elaborate Playmobil Pharaoh's set. The boys were drawn to the small weapons included, and the parents appreciated the detailing and theme. It is a sturdy playset that also...


Disney Frozen Elsa Play a Melody Gown

This is a musical variation of Disney's popular Elsa doll. Her gown plays a rendition of the ubitquious "Let it Go" song, as if we haven't heard it enough over the past few years. She hardly got a second look in this group. It seems like many kids ma...


Unicorn Light Show Night Light by Playbrites

This unicorn is a large night light with interchangeable accessories that also changes colors. The toy testing room was bright and loud, so not the best setting to test a nightlight, and most children ignored it. Parents said they weren't interested ...


Y-Glider deluxe Scooter by Y-Volution

The children who hopped on this scooter and rode it around the hallway had fun with it. A couple were too timid to try it. But it's a safe bet with its patented "learn, grow, pro" steering that can be adjusted to suit each child. The extra-wide deck,...


Mutant Machines by Hotweels

Half-creature and half-vehicle, this Hotwheels toy slithered around the floor and delighted one of the boy testers in this group. It was chosen as a favorite toy to take home by one of the children, as well. The machines are bendable and connectable...


Sweet Tears Baby Alive by Hasbro

Each year we test a new Baby Alive doll, and there are generally a few fans in every crowd. This one cries real tears, which put off one of the young testers who didn't like getting her hands wet while playing with a doll. The others didn't pay much ...


Think and Learn Teach n' Tag Movi by Fisher-Price

The Movi is a little robot is designed to get preschoolers up and moving around by following the directions it calls out. None of the children paid attention to the robot or was interested in playing with it. It didn't engage them at all.


Thomas and Friends Track Master Thomas & Percy's Railway Race Set by Fisher-Price

Thomas trains hold classic appeal with this age group, and this set was no exception. The train set has room for two trains, so more than one child can play at once with it. One parent said the entire trainset took up too much space for their home, s...


Imperial Toy R2-D2 Star Wars Bubble Machine by Disney

When this bubble machine worked, kids had a blast catching the flurry of small bubbles projected from R2-D2. Unfortunately, it was glitchy and inconsistent. Parents said they definitely would not want the wet mess left behind by the toy inside their ...


Honorable mention in the 4-5 age group

Bamboo Builder Marble Run by Fat Brain Toy Co.

It took two grown adults more than an hour to assemble this marble run toy. Once it was finally put together, it was a little more wobbly than parents would have liked. The children enjoyed dropping marbles into the top and watching the various ways ...


Monster Treads John Deere by Tomy

Trucks are a classic, and a few children enjoyed scooting this one around the floor, which lights up its oversize wheels. But it wasn't anyone's favorite toy given all the competition in the room.


Gemmies Sparkle Loom

Ali flocked to this toy first, saying that she really likes to make bracelets at home. This loom featured a storage base that held rubber bands and beads and a loom on its lid. The included bands seemed unusually thick. “I think the bands are hard to...


Just My Style glitter roller perfume kit

This kit comes with enough perfume base, scents and vials to make four roller ball containers of perfume, as well as a selection of glitter and stickers to add some extra pizzaz. “I’ve never tried this before, but I really like making things,” said A...


Nerf Nitro Motofury Rapid Rally

It’s a Nerf gun that shoots Nerf cars - cool, right? The kids in the older group largely ignored this toy, but some younger testers enjoyed this during our free play session, and parents also got a kick out of loading the cars in the gun and firing t...


Honorable mention in the 9 and up age group

Adventure Force Light Command Motorized Belt Blaster

This was one of Hayden’s top pics. He said it was a bit tricky to load up the 20-dart belt, but he liked how it lighted up when he pulled the trigger. It’s supposed to fire the entire belt in less than 20 seconds, but he said it felt “kind of slow.” ...


Honorable mention in the 9 and up age group

Max Traxxx R/C Tracer Racers High Speed Remote Control Twin Loop Track Set

Even inside a fluorescent-lighted conference room, kids enjoyed this glow-in-the-dark race track and cars with undercarriage lights. It was one of Ali’s top picks. The tracks came apart easily when you wanted them to and stayed together tight enough ...


Simon Optix game by Hasbro

We had to read the directions a couple of times to get this game going, but it wasn’t hard to learn. It’s the newest generation of the classic Simon game and comes in headset form and has you looking like a cast member of "Tron." Watch the colored li...


Winner in the 9 and up age group

Vision VR Virtual Reality Glasses for Smartphones

Both Rylan and Ali chose this as one of their favorite items, which is to be used with Virtual Reality games and apps downloaded to a smartphone. We couldn’t get the recommended app to work with our smartphone, but we downloaded a maze app. Mom Camil...


Over-the-door Basketball

For the price, this seemed like a decent deal for this type of toy - and as one parent pointed out, it’s a nice one to have if you have more than three kids over at a time. The set came with four mini-basketballs and seemed sturdy, but the automatic ...


Winner in the 9 and up age group

Coop Reactorz light-up soccer ball

The older boys took this to a darker hallway to watch it light up with every kick. They loved it immediately. “Woah. That’s so cool,” said Hayden. “I want this. I love it,” said Rylan, who picked it as one of his favorites. They said it seemed a litt...


Coinhole by Hasbro

Kids and parents didn’t flock to this tabletop version of cornhole right away, but those who did seemed to enjoy it. Instead of real beanbags players take turns flicking or tossing little metal disks toward the holes, and more than one parent wished ...


Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit by littleBits

Surprisingly, kids and parents didn’t flock to this, but it’s the kind of toy that requires a bit of quiet time to assemble and discover. Kids build their own droid and customize it with stickers, and control it and go on missions with a Droid Invent...


Circuit Scribe maker kit

Kids didn’t seem too interested in this kit, which seemed a bit pricey and required concentration. It included a battery, blinker, buzzer, photoresistor, and other electrical doo-dads, as well as a conductive silver ink pen. You draw with the pen in ...


Dromida’s MT4.18 Monster Truck

We had a hard time figuring out how to get this truck to go in reverse, but eventually figured it out. The packaging brags it goes up to 30 mph, and kids seemed impressed by the speed. “The wheels are really bouncy when it crashes,” said Hayden. If i...


Build-a-Bot Bunny by Colorific

This kit allows you to build your own pet from more than 20 parts. We got it started before the toy test and snapped together a body and a couple of legs, but it largely sat untouched during testing time. The robot comes in dinosaur or fox versions a...


Winner in the 6-8 age group

Barbie Dream Camper

Barbie travels in style with this decked-out vehicle that has a kitchen, bathroom, firepit and a pool. Both Rylie and Kylee spent time examining the RV's many features, especially the top, which pops open to reveal a bed; the stove and refrigerator t...


Beyond Screen Beyond Tablet Smart Tangible Games

This smart tablet doesn't have a screen, but instead has several patterned Game Maps that can be placed on the surface of the tablet. The Yes or No map asks questions on space, geography and other subjects while the Happy Tunes map has players rememb...


Build and Imagine Creativity Castle

The decorative magnetic panels of this kit can be linked together to create a tall, grand palace, a small one-story castle or any variety of layout. Two wooden characters are included and can be dressed with different accessories. The simplicity of t...


Playmobil Ghostbusters Ecto-1

While testers may not know much about the original "Ghostbusters," they still had fun turning on the lights and sirens and racing the Ecto 1 around the carpet. The car has a removable roof with two Ghostbusters figures, proton packs and even blotches...


Honorable mention in the 6-8 age group

Voltron Legendary Electronic Black Lion

Levi, who was already a fan of the "Voltron" show on Netflix, enjoyed playing with the Black Lion, which lights up and makes sounds. It can also transform to be part of a larger Voltron figure, but Levi didn't need that. He pretended to fly the Black...


Monster Jam Grave Digger Remote Control Car

This remote control truck is easy to use with a forward/backward control and right/left control. The testers took to it quickly and its large tires helped keep it upright.


Sweetlings Frost Your World Sprinkle Shop

Both Kylee and Rylie wanted to play with this kit, which provides toy frosting, plastic cupcakes, sparkle sprinkles and a variety of decorations. The frosting isn't edible, which would seem to make it less fun, but the girls didn't mind. They wanted ...


Build and Imagine Draw and Build Dollhouse

This clever version of the Build & Imagine toys has magnetic panels that connect and be decorated with dry erase markers. Because drawings can be erased, a new house can be imagined at any time. Rylie said she liked being able to make her own house a...


Winner in the 6-8 age group

Ben 10 Deluxe Transforming Alien Vehicle - Rustbucket

Levi and Matthew played together with the Ben 10 Rustbucket, pulling out the different pieces inside and connecting the vehicle to other toys. The van, from the TV series "Ben 10," can expand to become a playset, but the boys were happy to just race ...


Schleich Riding Center

This impressive set has stalls that can be filled with horses, saddles, hay racks, harnesses and drinking troughs. Fence pieces can be connected to create riding areas for the rider and horses. Our testers didn't spend a lot of time with the toy, but...


Marvel Thor: Ragnarok Hulk Smash FX Fists

Hulk fans can imagine they're the green giant when they wear these fists, which make sounds when they are smashed against a surface or waved through the air.


DC Super Hero Girls

Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl are part of the DC Super Hero Girls toys. These 12-inch dolls come in costume — and in Wonder Woman's case, with a Lasso of Truth — so kids imagine their favorite characters fighting evil villains.


Geo Smart Moon Lander

GeoSmart toys have magnetic geometric shapes that let kids build their own creations. The Moon Lander uses those shapes, plus wheels, connectors, and two small motors, in a remote-controlled toy. When it came to remote-controlled options, our testers...


Disney/Pixar Cars 3 Ultimate Florida Speedway Track Set

Lightning McQueen zips around this track — touted as the "biggest Cars track set ever made" — and diverters let him change his path. Measuring at 5 feet long, the track takes up a large amount of space, but Levi and Matthew enjoyed seeing the car spe...



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Watch Aisha Sultan talk about the top toys for toddlers to tweens during this years toy test.


Meet our testers