Every year, The Real Deal monitors the shopping scene to predict which toys will be the ones topping wish lists come November and December — and which ones parents need to buy before they sell out. Over the years, toy highlights have included Hatchimals and the NES Classic Edition back in 2016; Fingerlings and the SNES Classic in 2017; Pomsies and Rainbocorns in 2018; Blume Dolls and Owleez in 2019; Squeakee the Balloon Dog and Baby Yoda in 2020; and Magic Mixies in 2021.
But we’re not the only ones on the toy beat. The Toy Foundation just dropped its list of finalists for Toy of the Year. And we expect the retailers to start dropping their annual toy lists in late August/early September, thus kicking off the toy marketing frenzy that precedes every holiday season.
To help us make sense of the 2022 holiday toy landscape, we reached out to toy experts who know what kids want and which toy trends are going to define this holiday season. Plus, read on for advice on how to time your holiday toy purchases to get what you want and save the most, amid inflation.
Table of Contents
Combining what the experts had to say about this year’s trends with early top toy lists and our knowledge of what’s flown off shelves in previous years, we’ve rounded up the hottest toys for holiday season 2022. We hope our list helps you make you make your gift list early this year — because the toys below may be tough to come by in December.
Holiday Toy Trends for 2022
After a couple years of new normals, this holiday shopping season will likely look more like the 2019 shopping season, predicts Jim Silver, CEO and editor in chief of TTPM, which provides expert toy reviews and price comparisons of toys, baby products and pet products.
“There will be less shortages, but the top 25 to 50 items will be sold out and tough to find,” Silver says.
If you’re still building your shopping list, or a specific toy you want is sold out, check out the following overarching trends to help you navigate the toy scene and choose a toy that will delight your recipient.
Just remember that, while popular toys will get a lot of hype, trends differ by child. In fact, the biggest trend this year might just be parents trying to get the most bang for their buck — and find toys that their kids won’t cast aside within minutes of opening.
“Usually one category doesn’t dominate as every child is different,” says Silver. “What’s different is parents really focus on play value; they want toys that a child will play with over a period of time, and not be done with after 15 minutes of play.”
1. Big Brands Are Still Crowd-Pleasers
You can’t go wrong with the classics, and many of the heavy-hitters are doing everything they can to stay top-of-wishlist.
“LEGO, Barbie, Play-Doh, Squishmallows, Hot Wheels, and L.O.L. all continue to be in high demand,” Silver says.
2. 2022 Is the Year of CoComelon
Our experts have one word that will likely dominate the shopping lists of parents with small children (as if it doesn’t dominate their everyday lives already): CoComelon. CoComelon is this season’s toy MVP, and its main character, JJ, a cartoon star.
“It’s a true CoComelon takeover this year,” says Marissa Silva, editor in chief at The Toy Insider, which provides toy-buying guides and expert reviews. “Kids are cuckoo for CoComelon! Karaoke machines, bubble machines, splash pads, plush, dolls, play sets, vehicles, blocks — you name it, it’s got JJ on it!”
“In respect to licenses, CoComelon is on fire,” Silver agrees.
3. Kids Love Bringing Their TV Heroes to Life
In addition to CoComelon, other popular shows are going to be big this year when it comes to toys.
“Bluey, Alice’s Wonderland Bakery and Pokémon will all be hot, too,” Silva says.
“Paw Patrol,” Silver says, “still dominates preschool.”
Plus, he says, “Gabby’s Dollhouse is in big demand, Jurassic World dinosaurs are having a big year, and we expect Black Panther to be big with the new movie coming.”
4. STEM, Emotional Intelligence and Food Are Trending in Toyland
Rounding out 2022’s biggest toy trends are some more educational, introspective items.
Silva notes tech-themed toys are big this year. Food-themed toys, she says, are also having a moment. And toys that promote social-emotional intelligence are trending for 2022.
If you’re not familiar with social-emotional learning toys, these toys (and games, in some cases), help children learn about emotions and express them in creative, healthy ways. Think of these toys as a close evolutionary branch to the fidget and sensory toy trend, which still thrives.
Which Toys Will Sell out This Year?
The supply chain is complicated, and which toys sell out this year is yet to be determined. But there are a few toys our experts know will be in high demand:
1. Magic Mixies: The original Magic Mixies Cauldron (from Moose Toys) sold out last year, and the Mixies are back and better than ever (see our list below).
“The new Magic Mixies toys for this year are actually better than last year,” Silver says. “If you see it, buy it — do not wait!”
Last year’s toy shoppers likely remember last year’s Mixie madness, with the toys selling out and resurfacing on the pricey resale market. The same might happen again, with the new Magic Mixies Crystal Ball toy out this fall.
“Typically we see people trying to resell toys at a premium price every year, especially toys that are super hard to find,” Silva says. “This year, Moose has a new toy in the Magic Mixies line that is going to be a total stunner, every child will want one!”
2. Gaming consoles: The Nintendo Switch OLED, PS5 and Xbox Series X were consistently sold out last holiday season, and restocks became competitive online sporting events. Get ready for more of the same if you’re after one of those high-demand consoles.
“Video game consoles will continue to be hard to find this year,” Silva says.
3. Popular LEGO sets: LEGO is facing some supply chain issues, and some of its sets that are tied to hot franchises might sell out this season.
“LEGO sets with popular brands like Harry Potter, Marvel, Star Wars and Super Mario will also go fast, so grab those when you see them,” Silva says.
Top Toys of the 2022 Holiday Season
And now, without further ado, these are the top toys of the 2022 holiday season. We’ll update our roster as retailers come out with their official toy books and toy lists (and as our editors’ kids update their wish lists).
Magic Mixies Crystal Ball
What it is: Last year’s insanely popular Magic Mixies from Moose Toys have evolved into this new iteration, which will almost certainly sell out. This new product takes the conjuring element that made the O.G. Mixies so popular (your kid uses an interactive wand to fill the crystal ball with mist and spawn a plush Mixie toy) and adds in some new features.
After the creature appears, the wand then imbues it with magical powers, leading to the interactive play stage. Your child can put the toy in “fortune telling” mode to ask the Mixie questions (and it answers them, much like a Magic 8 Ball would). The toy also has a game mode and a bunch of reactions that allow your kid to interact with it.
Why it’s a top toy: Magic Mixies are hot and made last year’s toy lists from Target, Amazon, Walmart and The Toy Insider. Mixies (and the new Crystal Ball toy) tap into the magical friend trend (see also: the Got2Glow Fairy Finder); the interactive toy trend (see: also FurReal and Squeakee toys); AND the surprise-hatching toy trend (see also: Hatchimals). Plus, magic and make-believe are just fun, and your kid will love the entire process of manifesting a cute interactive friend.
How much and where to buy: $84.99; will be available for preorders on Sept. 1. We’ll update with more details when we have them.
Magic Mixies Mixlings
What it is: Another Mixies toy from Moose Toys. Like any great magical critter, the mixies have proliferated and spawned Mixlings, a mini version of the beloved toy, released just this summer.
Mixlings bring the magic of their full-sized counterparts with a bit less mess (no water needs to be added to the cauldron, which means no frothing, bubbling and misting, but also nothing to spill). The concept is the same, though — you won’t know which creature will emerge from the cauldron until your child has recited magical words, rubbed a gem, marveled at the symbol on said gem (which indicates if the creature within the cauldron is “common” or “rare”), freed the critter from its plastic prison, waved a wand and revealed the Mixie’s secret powers. Some sprout wings. Some light up. Some change colors.
Why it’s a top toy: The Mixlings add an element of collectibility. There are dozens of Mixlings. In fact, the toy comes with a booklet that shows all the Mixlings that exist in the Mixling hierarchy, so your kid will know exactly what makes theirs special — and exactly how many more they can possibly collect.
How much and where to buy: You’ve got options at Amazon, Target, Walmart and more! There’s a four-pack for $15.99. Each Tap-and-Reveal standalone cauldron is $9.99. Oh, and the Mixlings also have a castle for $34.97. Want the original full-sized Mixie Magical Misting Cauldron that sold out last year? It’s still available for $69.
The Wordle Board Game
What it is: An IRL version of the absolutely viral online word game for players ages 14 and over. If you’re familiar with the online version, the same basic principles apply. In the board game version, players take turns writing down a secret five-letter word, and everyone else tries to guess it in the fewest attempts. The boards are dry-erase, so you can replay as many times as you wish.
We expect this game to fly off the shelves for the holidays.
What makes it a top toy: Wordle struck a chord as people spent more time at home, but what really made it catch fire was its social potential and the ability to share (and brag about) your victories on social media and to loved ones.
You’ve probably been asked many times this year if you play it. And now that there’s a party game, Wordle will be even more inescapable, especially as parties become the norm again.
How much and where to buy: It’s $19.99 on Amazon and is ready to ship on Oct. 1.
CoComelon Interactive Learning JJ Doll
What it is: We’ll get to what CoComelon is, for the lucky uninitiated, below. But this toy is an interactive version of the main character of the show, JJ. The doll uses sounds and lights to help kids learn their letters, numbers and colors and develop fine motor skills. JJ also speaks more than 50 phrases, so your child will never, ever get bored with the toy, although it might drive you a little crazy by the end of winter.
If your kid already has this doll, you have plenty of other CoComelon toy options.
Why it’s a top toy: Whatever your feelings on CoComelon, the surreal toddler sing-along series has little ones hypnotized. It’s no secret that kids love toys that bring their heroes from the screen to real life (see also: Paw Patrol, Marvel, Jurassic Park and other hot franchises that dominate kids’ wish lists).
Orbeez Sensation Station
What it is: A one-stop sensory toy experience that includes the famous (and TikTok-trending) Orbeez beads, a tank and various implements and attachments for blasting Orbeez, creating an Orbeez waterfall, of course, and crushing and slushing the Orbeez into strangely satisfying mushy, sliceable matter. The tank has a phone slot so that you can record everything.
Why it’s a top toy: The sensory/fidget toy trend is well established, and this product (which taps into the viral #OrbeezChallenge trend) combines Orbeez with various soothing tactile experiences from smooth to squishy.
Gabby’s Dollhouse Purrfect Dollhouse with 15 Pieces
What it is: An IRL manifestation of the magical dollhouse preschoolers know and love from the TV series “Gabby’s Dollhouse.” This toy is 2 feet tall and is a very close replica of the dollhouse on the show. It has 15 pieces, as well as buttons that make sounds when pressed. It has some moving parts as well, including an elevator and delivery tower.
What makes it a top toy: “Gabby’s Dollhouse” has a huge audience (almost 20 million monthly views on YouTube, and the show is a big Netflix hit). Kids love the show because of its mix of real life and magic (the main character puts on a magical cat-ear headband to shrink down to size and explore her magical dollhouse with magical cats). Cute magical cats, fun adventures and bright colors are an irresistible mix, and this house brings it into kids’ bedrooms.
How much and where to buy: $79.99 on Amazon.
Nerf Pro Gelfire Mythic Full Auto Blaster
What it is: This one’s for the 14+ crowd. Instead of foam darts and missiles, this Nerf gun fires polymer projectiles that burst on impact. When you buy this toy, it includes 10,000 rounds, which your kids will likely use up by the new year. Nerf promises there’s no mess to clean up, so suffice it to say this gun brings the fun of paintball without the stains. The projectiles do leave some fragments, though, so consider this a purely outdoor toy. Protective eyewear is included.
Why it’s a top toy: Nerf dominates wish lists every season and manages to up its game every year. If your child (or child at heart) grew up with Nerf, a toy that fires gel pellets is a natural progression. If your yard already has the Nerf Command Base Battle Fort, it’ll only up the fun.
How much and where to buy: This product won’t ship until Nov. 1 (aka holiday crunch time), so preorder it on Amazon for $79.99.
Learning Resources Big Feelings Pineapple
What it is: A social emotional learning (SEL) toy that lets kids explore and communicate their many feelings. The 30 pieces of this toy allow kids to customize the pineapple with various emotions, from anger, to happiness, to frustration, to all the shades in between. And it’s two-sided, so they can build two faces at once.
Why it’s a top toy: This toy embodies the SEL toy trend, which is focused on helping kids express emotions and understand others’ emotions. The Toy Insider praises the open-ended creativity it inspires, as well as how it teaches kids to learn the specific words to describe their emotions.
How much and where to buy: $10.99 (making it a budget-friendly choice) on Amazon.
Baby Alive Baby Grows Up
What it is: An interactive doll that actually grows. The toy, when first unboxed, is a baby. And, over time, the doll grows (4 inches, to be precise). Your child feeds her with a bottle and watches as her eye color is revealed. Removing the cap reveals the hair color. The doll even speaks a first word. The doll comes with accessories, too, including clothes.
Why it’s a top toy: Like many of this year’s top toys, the Baby Alive Baby Grows Up doll combines a few top toy trends. It’s a “nurturing” toy (the trend that has brought us the likes of Owleez and Hatchimals), as your kid needs to feed the doll and help it stand up for it to develop and grow. Plus, your kid won’t know which “big girl” the doll will grow up into, making this a surprise toy as well.
Disney Junior Alice’s Wonderland Bakery Alice & Ultimate Oven Set
What it is: A play set based on the popular Disney+ show, which follows the great-granddaughter of the original Alice as she experiments with magical treats in Wonderland. The set contains a doll, an oven (with lights and sound effects) and various pieces that let your kid pretend to whip up a creative, colorful layer cake.
Why it’s a top toy: This toy hits a sweet spot between the food toy trend and a popular franchise. Food toys are trending in general, and any toy that lets kids play pretend in their “kitchens” is going to be a hit. And “Alice’s Wonderland Bakery” is gaining popularity in its second season. Kids like to mirror their parents: Grownups love their baking shows, and “Alice” gives kids their own baking show.
How much and where to buy: $40.99 at Target.
Jurassic World Dominion Super Colossal Giganotosaurus Action Figure with Eating Feature
What it is: A really big (3-foot-long) Jurassic Park action figure. The “Eating Feature” refers to the ability of this toy to swallow mini Jurassic Park dino figures (or any mini action figure, really) whole. Don’t worry, the dino’s stomach detaches to release them.
We’re already seeing this one regularly out of stock.
Why it’s a top toy: It’s not that complicated. Kids love dinosaur toys. This one happens to be from the still-popular Jurassic Park franchise. And it eats other toys.
The Toy Association has made it a finalist in its Action Figure of the Year category.
How much and where to buy: $69.99 on Amazon.
Advice for Holiday Toy Shoppers
Now that you understand the toy landscape (and know which toys to put on your shopping list), it’s time to make your plan. So follow these two guiding principles when toy shopping this year:
1. Don’t Wait to Buy Those High-Demand Toys
Don’t hold out hope that extremely popular toys will go on sale at the last minute — chances are, they won’t even be available.
“We always advise to buy that hot item early. It’s not going on sale and will probably be sold out,” Silver says.
2. Mid-December and Early-Season Can Be Toy-Shopping Sweet Spots
If you’re more flexible (and not shopping for one of the “it” toys of the year), deals can be found close to the last minute, as well as early.
“There are great bargains in mid-December but not on the top 100 toys,” Silver says. “And look for deals when Amazon, Target and Walmart drop their big toy catalogs.
3. Don’t Blow Your Budget Early
While shopping early can help you find deals (and snag this year’s top toys), save some budget for later, Silva recommends. Kids can be indecisive, after all.
“Toy marketing will kick off soon, but it will take your kids some time to really decide on what they want,” Silva says. “If you shop too early, you’ll be stunned when they hit you with a last-minute must-have item!”
4. Expect to Feel Inflation in the Toy Aisle
Toy costs are about 10% higher due to increased costs of producing and shipping them, Silver says.
And, overall, inflation means toy shoppers will have to stretch their budgets, says Silva.
“Inflation has definitely made its way to the toy aisle,” Silva says. “Dollar sales are up, but unit sales are down, meaning consumers are spending more money on fewer toys.”
That means shoppers (who already have to be strategic when it comes to shopping for toys) will have to do a little more advance planning.
“Absolutely plan to budget in a few extra dollars for toy spending this year, and keep your eyes peeled for sales, retailer holidays, and try to buy a few gifts at once to earn things like free shipping or bulk discounts,” Silva says.
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