Toy trends to look for range from way too cute to oh, so gross
Some things, like monsters, zombies, mustaches and duct-tape crafts are still holding strong. But there are a number of new trends waiting to pounce on this year's unsuspecting toy buyers. Here are our favorites:
There's an app for that. Really. Have a teddy bear? There's an app to go with it. New robot? App. Learning Portuguese? App. There are even toothbrushes with apps (no kidding).
Interactive talking toys. Dolls, bears and robots that respond to speech, do as you request, answer questions, sing and tell stories.
Unicorns. Nearly every major manufacturer has at least one, as a doll's “pet” or as a stand-alone product.
Retro. Some toys, like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, are back with a new look. Others, like the Fisher Price dial-up rotary phone, look exactly like they did when they first came out decades ago.
Weaving. The Rainbow Loom, which uses rubber bands, is the standout in this category, but there are all sorts of other kits for weaving everything from bracelets and potholders to scarves and rugs.
STEAM. STEM is Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. But what about the right side of your brain? Adding Art turns STEM into STEAM. This will be big for teachers, homeschoolers and every parent who does more than park the kids in front of an iPhone or TV all day.
Everything poops. Really. You can mold poop out of clay, clean up after your pooping bear or doll, run a pooping app or play games about poop. We even saw unicorns that poop rainbows. Gross? Yep. But funny (just ask any kid, most dads and some moms).
Blind packs. These are small bags that cost about $4 and contain a mystery toy. Lego has been doing this for years. But in 2014, Playmobil, Reeves Horses, Trash Packs — you name it and there's a blind pack for it.
Cats, cats, and more cats. From Grumpy Cat to Lil Bub, every cat you've ever seen on YouTube is now available as a plush stuffie.
GoPro-type cameras. There are cameras designed to mount on bicycle handlebars or helmets, clip onto a hat or attach to a remote-controlled helicopter. One was a watch. Some relay video via Bluetooth, others put it on an SD chip. They're relatively inexpensive and fun, but, annoyingly, few are waterproof. We all know that those cameras are going to end up in the pool, the lake, the toilet or the sink.
Armin Brott and Samantha Feuss are staff writers for McClatchy-Tribune News Service.