Interactive toys and games are hot items this holiday shopping season


Figuring out what children want for Christmas can be difficult for many parents.

So we asked local experts to share some tips on what’s trending this year.

Brenda Smucker, manager of Toyrifix on Main Street in Smithville, said interactive toys and games are extremely popular this year.

Toyrifix honoredIndependent toy store is prepared for Christmas despite the pandemic and supply shortages

Her shop happens to be stocked with Tonies, one of the popular interactive games.

“Tonies is a storytelling, music-playing box run by Blue Tooth,” Smucker said. “She has different characters, including a variety of licensed characters that the child places on top of the box, and the characters determine what content is played in the box.

“For example, ‘The Lion King,’ you hear the theme songs from ‘The Lion King,’ and the story is told in a character’s voice,” she continued. “This is our third Christmas with Tonies and it has been something parents and grandparents love. It’s something the kids can do from a young age.”

An added bonus, she said, is that one of the characters allows you to use your own voice to sing, tell a story, or send a message, giving the child a personalized Tonies character.

“It could be Grandma or Grandpa’s voice reading a favorite story,” Smucker said. “That makes it a very individual gift.”

The starter box costs around $100 and the numbers range from $15 to $18.

“Once the first box is purchased, it’s a nice, inexpensive gift to add to the collection of characters,” she said. “Children also play with the characters separately. They even have a case to store your characters in.”

A national trend: screen free

Kristin Morency Goldman, spokeswoman for the Toy Association in New York City, echoed Smucker’s sentiments about the popularity of interactive toys.

“After living through a pandemic for two years, families are more driven than ever by the experiences they’ve had,” Goldman said. “And while kids growing up today are digital natives, parents care about the memories their kids are making in the real world.

“One of the biggest trends this holiday season are screen-free toys that allow kids to customize their play experiences, and toys that bring digital or magical worlds to life,” she said. “These toys also allow families to play together, which is important.”

She noted that recent research from the Toy Association shows that 67% of parents are spending more time playing with their children than before the pandemic, and 54% want toys that help them make new memories with their children.

Play remains an important tool for reducing stress, having fun, and building lifelong memories for both children and adults, she said.

Stimulate the imagination

According to Smucker, Toyrifix specializes in lines of toys like Playmobil that stimulate children’s imaginations.

“Playmobil is like life in miniature,” she said. “They do everything from pirates and pirate ships to firefighters, school buses and horse farms. It covers the entire spectrum. The latest addition to their line is Wild Topia, an all-animal outdoor adventure.”

LEGO is a classic choice that is also available from Toyrifix, which has been in business since 1989. They also offer a wide variety of games and puzzles, including a 33,000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

“Every list has at least one kid or adult who loves LEGO,” she said. “We sell a lot of very complex LEGO car models that are definitely for adult builders. We are amazed at how many of these we sell. Men dream of owning a Lamborghini, but sometimes a LEGO version is as close as you can get.”

Popular toy in the Village Toy Shop

Kristen Yoder, owner of Village Toy Shop on West Jackson Street in Millersburg, points to a mainstay as one of the most popular products this holiday shopping season.

“I would say the Melissa & Doug toys continue to be very popular,” Yoder said. “There’s still a desire for quality toys that people at Melissa & Doug love.”

She doesn’t see any category or items that are in high demand this year.

“One brand that has worked well for us is Boogie Board,” she said. “They are a clean writing tablet that comes in all sizes and animal cases.

“Board and card games are always popular and make great family gifts for all ages,” said Yoder. “We do very well at jigsaw puzzles every year. I have jigsaw puzzles for children and adults, up to 2,000 pieces.”

What’s trending nationally when it comes to toys?

Jim Silver, CEO of TTPM/The Toy Authority, said consumers voted for their favorite toys in a variety of categories to help compile a list of the most wanted items for the holiday season.

Squishmallows, LEGO, Barbie and Hot Wheels stand out, according to Silver. The toy market, he said. has always been “recession-resistant” and expectations for this season are good.

A list of favorite toys according to Toy Authority market research:

  • Action Figure/Action Toy: Jurassic World Dominion Super Colossal Giganotosaurus Action Figure by Mattel
  • Active game: Connect 4 Hoops by Eastpoint Sports
  • Arts/Crafts/Activity Toys: Kinetic Sand Swirl N’ Surprise by Spin Master
  • Collectible Toy of the Year: Squishmallows by Jazwares
  • collectible figure: The Batman Next Level Exclusive Die-Cast Batman & Batmobile by Jada Toys
  • construction toy: LEGO City Rocket Launch Center and Lunar Research Base by LEGO
  • Doll of the Year: Barbie Cutie Reveal doll by Mattel
  • educational toys: Magic Adventures Microscope by LeapFrog
  • luxury toy: LEGO Technic Ferrari Daytona SP3 by LEGO
  • Game of the year: The Magical World of Disney Trivia game by PlayMonster and Connect 4 Spin Game by Hasbro (tie)
  • Imaginative/Pretend Play Toys: Barbie 60th Celebration Dream House by Mattel
  • children toys: LEGO Atari 2600 by LEGO
  • Outdoor toys: Power Wheels Hot Wheels Racer Slider by Fisher Price
  • preschool toys: Little People Hot Wheels Racing Loops Tower by Fisher Price
  • Special Toy of the Year: Emory the Elephant plush from Hugimals
  • Stuffed animal: Squishmallows Prehistoric Squad Plush by Jazwares
  • vehicle toy: Hot Wheels Action Spiral Speed ​​Crash Track Set by Mattel