Parents and children open presents on Christmas morning.
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The holiday season is fast approaching and toys are already flying off the shelves.
The toy industry is poised for growth this year as it faces weak comparisons to last years’ holiday season, which was the first without Toys ‘R Us. The closing of the toy retailer hurt sales last year, because parents stocked up on toys at liquidation sales earlier in the year.
This year, parents will want to plan carefully because there are six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, something that hasn’t happened since 2013. According to the NPD Group, there was a surge in sales during the final week before Christmas during that shortened season six years ago.
“We should expect the same levels of growth this year during the week of Christmas; and with the online channel becoming less of an option as we get closer to Christmas day, it’s a great opportunity for brick and mortar stores to gain share,” Juli Lennett, vice president and industry advisor at The NPD Group, said in a report last week. “Retailers need to have the inventory on shelves through Christmas Eve or risk losing out on this last minute rush.”
A lot is riding on the next few weeks, since toy sales have fallen 5.5% year-to-date. Lennett expects a strong fourth-quarter because momentum has improved. The third quarter saw a 3% bump in sales, buoyed by purchases of L.O.L. Surprise surprise packs, Marvel toys, Barbie dolls and Nerf blasters.
Licensed toys, in particular, are outpacing industry growth, seeing a 5% bump in the most recent period. Fortnight, Pokemon, Baby Shark and entertainment properties like Marvel and “Toy Story” were among the top-selling items.
“The upcoming movie releases of ‘Frozen 2’ and ‘Star Wars’ will be an additional growth driver this holiday season as consumers buy toys that relate to those films,” Lennett said.
Here’s a closer look at the hottest toys this 2019 holiday season:
Disney ‘Frozen’ Ultimate Arendelle Castle Playset
The ultimate Arendelle castle Playset is 5 feet tall, 4 feet wide with 2 sides of folding gates and 4 floors including a lookout tower.
“Frozen II” is now out in theaters and it’s destined to be one of the few things kids will talk about until the holidays — and well beyond.
There are hundreds of different “Frozen” inspired toys on shelves, ranging from plush and dolls to mini-figures and Funko Pops.
The Ultimate Arendelle Castle Playset stands over five feet tall and has four floors with seven different rooms, including a kitchen, music room and throne room. While the set does not come with the Anna and Elsa dolls, it does have several accessories.
The playset comes with items like a piano, throne, banquet table, sofa and vanity. It also has a button on the top of the tower that starts a colorful light show.
My Robotic Pet: Tumbling Hedgehog
My Robotic Pet: Tumbling Hedgehog is a STEM experiment kit from Thames & Kosmos.
Thames & Kosmos
STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) toys remain popular with kids and parents.
The Tumbling Hedgehog from Thames & Kosmos is a 172-piece kit. When put together, kids will have their very own robotic hedgehog that can be programmed to tumble, roll and spin.
The hedgehog takes one to two hours to construct, so it’s recommended for children over the age of seven, if they have an adult to help with the building portion, or 10 and older for solo play.
Marvel’s ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Power Gauntlet
The intricately detailed design of this electronically articulated Power Gauntlet is inspired by the “Avengers: Endgame” movie, part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Fans of Marvel’s “Avengers: Endgame” young and old can enjoy Hasbro’s Iron Man Power Gauntlet. The piece is a premium roleplay item and features working lights and sounds.
The articulated figures can be controlled from inside the gauntlet and used for play or can be manipulated and locked for display.
Star Wars Scream Saber Lightsaber
The Star Wars Scream Saber allows boys and girls to record their own lightsaber sounds like wacky screams, funny animal noises, and other irreverent sounds.
Want to be a Jedi — or a Sith — but didn’t like the traditional buzzing sound of a lightsaber? The Star Wars Scream Saber is the perfect alternative.
The roleplay item allows you to record a short sound bite or choose from a selection of pre-recorded sounds. Once you’ve input your sound, a “meow,” a scream or some other wacky noise or word, the saber will repeat it every time you swing the toy.
Paw Patrol Super Mighty Pups Lookout Tower
Standing 2 and 3/4-feet tall, kids have the perfect vantage point of Adventure Bay from the Mighty Lookout Tower’s real working telescope. When trouble is spotted, push the buttons to activate real lights and sounds and help the PAW Patrol save the day.
One of the hottest entertainment properties in the world is “Paw Patrol.” From figurines to plush, kids can’t get enough of Ryder, Marshall, Skye and the rest of the Paw Patrol gang.
The Paw Patrol Super Mighty Pups Lookout Tower stands just under three feet tall and features a working telescope. Kids can push the button on the tower to receive missions from Ryder and make use of a plastic zip line to get the pups ready to save the day.
Pinkfong Baby Shark Official Song Doll
Soft plush Baby Shark dolls sing verses from the baby shark song.
The earworm that kids can’t stop singing has been transformed into dozens of toys for the holidays.
WowWee has brought to market a plush version of the three baby sharks from Pinkfong’s global hit song. Soft on the outside, these baby sharks will play different verses from the Baby Shark song when their tummies are pressed.
Collectible Funko Pops from Funko.
Collectibles aren’t just for kids. Funko has become a cornerstone in the geek merchandise industry with its variety of pop culture figurines. At an affordable price, these Pops make great stocking stuffers.
From “Game of Thrones” and “Harry Potter” to “Dragonball Z” and “Fallout,” the company has more than 1,000 different licensed vinyl figures. Expect to see figures from “Frozen II,” “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker,” and “The Mandalorian” flying off shelves this holiday season.
Lego Hidden Side Graveyard Mystery
A unique play experience that combines the open creative play of LEGO building toys for kids with an augmented reality app.
For those looking to mix traditional building play with new technologies, Lego’s Hidden Side Graveyard Mystery could be the perfect gift for the holidays.
Once the set is built, kids can play with it normally or download an augmented realty app that brings the set to life. Using the app, they can find and capture ghosts, play mini-games and unlock new challenges.
Fortnite Jumbo Loot Llama Pinata
Unbox theJumbo Llama by tearing it open and digging through confetti to reveal your loot.
Fortnite has become one of the most popular video game franchises of recent years. Parents looking to peel their kids away from the digital world and into physical play should check out the Jumbo Loot Llama Pinata set.
The 25-inch tall llama pinata needs to be busted open for kids to find the 100 pieces of loot inside, but they’ll need to wade through quite a bit of confetti.
The infinitely configurable play couch made up of four foam pieces: base, cushion, and two triangle pillows.
At first glance, it may not look like a toy. But kids will be able to let their imaginations run wild with The Nugget.
Gone are the days of draping blankets over stools and chairs to make forts. The Nugget play couch can be configured into different shapes for relaxation and play.
The Nugget comes with four foam pieces: a base, a cushion and two triangle pillows. The play couch is a hot commodity and sells out quickly after it is restocked.
L.O.L Surprise! Winter Disco Chalet is a wooden, multi-story, chalet-style house with 6 rooms and 3 stories. It includes more than 95 surprises inside.
Blind packs and collectibles have always been popular with kids, but L.O.L. Surprise seems to have changed the game.
MGA Entertainment won a Toy of the Year Award for L.O.L. Surprise in 2017 and is not slowing down. Half the fun of buying an L.O.L Surprise is opening it. The dome-shaped case is filled with a doll and several accessories that are each hidden under a layer of plastic. Each time you peel back a layer, you get another surprise.
There are thousands of YouTube videos dedicated to these “unboxings” with millions of views. While the smaller domes can be great stocking stuffers, MGA is offering up a massive Doll House this holiday season that contains more than 95 “surprises.”
Nerf Ultra One Blaster
Nerf Ultra darts are the farthest flying Nerf darts ever: blast into the game-changing superiority with Nerf Ultra darts.
Nerf continues to be a bestseller for Hasbro. This year, the company launched a new blaster with darts that fly farther than a Nerf dart has ever flown.
The Ultra One Blaster has a high-capacity motorized drum that hold 25 specialized darts and fires them up to 120 feet. The darts are still designed with safety in mind and are made from foam and rubber.