Monday, September 24 2018 00:44

The Toy Insider Unwraps their 2018 Holiday Gift Guide!

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When it comes to hot holiday toy lists, you'd be hard-pressed to find one better than the one assembled by my friends at The Toy Insider in New York. Their annual Holiday Gift Guide helps gift-givers shop for kids by age, and as always there's the three big signature lists: The Toy Insider's Hot 20, Top Tech 12 and STEM 10. This year's guide will appear in print, included with the November issue of Family Circle magazine (on stands 10/9), and will feature more than 200 toys from more than 100 different manufacturers. An additional 170 toys can be found in the online version of the guide, representing nearly 200 toy companies in total. Check out the video below and a quick overview on some featured items below, then visit The Toy Insider for more great gift ideas!

The Toy Insider's Hot 20

0-2 years

  • Go! Go! Smart Wheels Mickey Magical Wonderland (VTech)
  • Safari Learning Station (LeapFrog)

3-5 years

  • Fingerlings Hugs (WowWee)
  • Hairdorables (Just Play)
  • PJ Masks Super Moon Adventure HQ Rocket (Just Play)
  • Pomsies (Skyrocket)
  • Power Action Pikachu (Wicked Cool Toys)
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 43-inch Epic Sewer Lair Playset (Playmates Toys)
  • Ryan's World Giant Mystery Egg (Bonkers Toys)
  • Scruff-a-Luvs (Moose Toys)

6-8 years

  • Boxy Girls (Jay at Play)
  • Harry Potter Wizard Training Wands (Jakks Pacific)
  • Hatchibabies (Spin Master)
  • Laser X Fusion (NSI)
  • L.O.L. Surprise! Eye Spy Series Under Wraps Dolls (MGA Entertainment)
  • Pokémon Let's Go Pikachu + Poké Ball Plus & Pokémon Let's Go Eevee + Poké Ball Plus (Nintendo)
  • Smooshy Mushy Babies (RedwoodVentures)
  • Treasure X (Moose Toys)


  • Arcade1Up (Arcade1Up)
  • Chow Crown (Hasbro)

The Toy Insider's Top Tech 12

  1. Air Hogs Supernova (Spin Master)
  2. Boxer (Spin Master)
  3. Harry Potter Kano Coding Kit (Kano)
  4. Hot Wheels Augmoto Augmented Reality Racing Track Set (Mattel)
  5. K'NEX Thrill Rides: Bionic Blast Roller Coaster Building Set (K'NEX, a division of Basic Fun!)
  6. LEGO Batman App-Connected Batmobile (LEGO)
  7. Marvel Avengers: Infinity War Hero Vision Iron Man AR Experience (Hasbro)
  8. Really Rad Robots MiBro (Moose Toys)
  9. Sensors Alive (Thames & Kosmos)
  10. Sky Viper Journey Pro Scout Video Drone (Skyrocket)
  11. VEX Battling Boxing Robots (HEXBUG)
  12. Voice Originals: When in Rome (Sensible Object)

The Toy Insider's STEM 10

  1. 3Doodler Start HEXBUG Make Your Own Hexbug Pen Set & Activity Kit (3Doodler)
  2. Beaker Creatures Liquid Reactor Super Lab (Learning Resources)
  3. Crayola Color Chemistry Lab Set (Crayola)
  4. Design & Drill My First Workbench (Educational Insights)
  5. Discovery Extreme Chemistry Lab (Horizon Group USA)
  6. Fisher-Price Think & Learn Rocktopus (Mattel)
  7. Kids First Coding & Robotics (Thames & Kosmos)
  8. Nintendo Labo Vehicles Kit (Nintendo)
  9. Scientific Explorer Veterinary Science (ALEX Brands)
  10. Sky Track Adventure Set (Magformers)

The Toy Insider's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

How The Toy Insider Assembles the Guide:

The Toy Insider is an independent organization. Its team of experts attends major toy industry trade shows and events, and conducts briefings with manufacturers, retailers and analysts throughout the year. The Toy Insider hot list submission is open to all toy companies, of all sizes. Toys must be new for 2018 and available to consumers for purchase for the holiday season, either on the company's website or widely available through any retail partner. When evaluating toys, the team considers play value, originality, skill building, product integrity and, of course, fun factor. 

Check out the Holiday Gift Guide here, and be sure to check out my contributions to The Toy Insider as a member of their Parent Advisory Board. You can also read my new Star Wars column, Transmissions From a Galaxy Far, Far Away at The Pop Insider - a new publication from the team behind The Toy Insider!

James Zahn

James Zahn is best-known as The Rock Father™, a media personality, commentator, adventurer and raconteur. He is the Owner, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief of THE ROCK FATHER™ Magazine. In January, 2019, after nearly a decade of publishing The Rock Father™ Magazine, he joined Adventure Media and Events as Senior Editor of The Toy Book—the leading trade publication for the toy industry since 1984, as well as The Pop Insider — a destination for all things pop culture, and The Toy Insider — the leading consumer guide for toys and games. He is also editor of The Toy Report, a weekly newsletter published by The Toy Book each Thursday. Zahn has over 27 years of experience in the entertainment, retail and publishing industries.

He regularly serves as a Brand Ambassador and spokesperson for several Globally-recognized pop culture and lifestyle brands in addition to consulting for a number of toy manufacturers. 

Creatively, James has directed/edited music videos, lyric videos, and album trailers for bands such as FEAR FACTORY, has appeared as an actor in feature films and commercials, written comic books, and performed in bands. He currently serves as an artist manager and video director for PRODUCT OF HATE, whose debut album was released by Napalm Records in 2016, distributed by ADA/Warner Music in the U.S. with Universal Music handling global. A new album has been completed and is set for release this year.

Zahn and/or his work have been featured in/on CNN, NBC, ABC, WGN, CBS, GCTN, G4, The Chicago Tribune, Forbes, MarketWatch, Reuters, BusinessWire, Fangoria, Starlog and more. He's appeared as a music expert on CNN's AC360 alongside Anderson Cooper, and has been interviewed by Larry King. In the past he served as a writer for the Netflix Stream Team,  Fandango Family and PBS KIDS, penned articles for Sprout and PopSugar, and was a contributor to Chicago Parent.

Learn more here

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