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Buying toys? Here's what's trending, according to industry watchers

This photo, provided by National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong museum, in Rochester, N.Y., shows the class of 2022 finalists for induction, announced Sept. 14.

This photo, provided by National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong museum, in Rochester, N.Y., shows the class of 2022 finalists for induction, announced Sept. 14. (National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong museum via AP)


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SALT LAKE CITY — With a seemingly endless list of choices, finding the right toy this holiday season may seem like a daunting task. Higher costs will certainly be top of mind for many families, with the toy industry certainly not exempt from inflation.

But as industry observers tell CTVNews.ca, there are plenty of options, including budget-friendly ones, out there for every kind of person. Here are the toys they're watching for:

Squishmallows

Squishmallows came out on top at this year's Toy of the Year Awards from the New York-based The Toy Foundation. On Nov. 21, the foundation announced that the collectible plush toys won the Toy of the Year and People's Choice awards.

"Squishmallows has continued to resonate with toy lovers everywhere for the brand's vast assortment of characters to collect as well as the comfort the plush products provide during a time when social and emotional health are top of mind for consumers and retailers alike," The Toy Foundation said in a news release.

The "feel-good" toy brings out positive emotions from everyone whether they're toddlers or adults, said Kristin Morency Goldman, a spokesperson for The Toy Association, which oversees The Toy Foundation.

"They come in so many different animals, characters and themes that you can find the perfect match for every kid on your holiday shopping list," she said in an email to CTVNews.ca. "Not only fun to collect — they are a soothing companion to snuggle and hug. And thanks to their bright colors and unique designs, they (make) a great addition to bedroom decor. It's not hard to see why Squishmallows took home top honors."

The big reveal

U.S.-based The Toy Insider offered up a list of five hot holiday toys that stood out among the crowd. Included in the list is another collectible plush toy, Cats Vs Pickles, a popular budget-friendly choice available in different sizes and with a broad age appeal, Toy Insider senior editor Madeleine Buckley told CTVNews.ca.

"Everyone loves cute stuff," she said.

The unboxing element, and the surprise of not knowing what you'll get, also make it "still incredibly relevant and prevalent in the hot toy trends," Buckley added. And making a return this year is Magic Mixies, a toy The New York Post dubbed as "worse than 'Tickle Me Elmo'" due to the holiday frenzy it caused in 2021, with many retailers reporting being out of stock of the hit item.

But where last year's toy featured a grand reveal from a magical cauldron, this time kids can use their wand to conjure up a Magic Mixie from a crystal ball. Buckley said this "big reveal" has become a huge trend in the toy industry over the past several years. And with Magic Mixies, that reveal can be done again and again.

"So it's a very, very cool, very visually exciting reveal," Buckley said.

Science toys and old favorites

Making Toy Insider's list among this year's top STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) gifts, LeapFrog's Magic Adventures Microscope takes hundreds of videos and photos of flowers, animals, food and more from the BBC, which are then viewed using interactive slides. While sold at a higher price point, Buckley said it uses technology in a "smart" way that is also engaging.

"It has this huge wealth of content that comes with the microscope," she said. Also of note, as per Toy Insider, are the Play-Doh Ultimate Ice Cream Truck Playset — something which gained a lot of excitement at a couple of industry events this year with its creative potential and storage capacity, Buckley said — and the Adventures with Peach Starter Course from Lego, inspired by the Super Mario video games.

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Michael Lee

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