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26 Jan, Thursday
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Montreal Families

This holiday season’s hottest toys

Watching a child unwrap a coveted gift is one of the best parts of the holidays, but getting to that point can be a dizzying maze of flyers, online ads, and wandering the mall in search of that special something. Enter any toy store, and you’re usually faced with rows upon rows of stuffed animals, board games, and construction sets with enough minuscule pieces that they’re sure to get lost before the day is over.

To help weary shoppers find some of this year’s hottest and best toys and games, The Toy Foundation (TTF) named its top toys and games of the year at their Toy of the Year (TOTY) Awards & Celebration. Referred to as the “Oscars” of the toy industry, the TOTY Awards crowned winners across 17 categories of play, including collectibles, grown-up, plush, and specialty were chosen, including a tie for Specialty Toy of the Year. Winners were determined by elite members of the toy industry, including play experts, journalists, academics, and retailers.

From impressive toys that make STEAM fun, inexpensive outdoor water games, to the winner of both the “Toy of the Year” and the “People’s Choice” prize, these gifts will generate squeals of joy.

Toys of the Year

◾ Action Figure of the Year: Jurassic World Dominion Super Colossal Giganotosaurus

◾ Collectible of the Year: LEGO Minifigures The Muppets

◾ Construction Toy of the Year: LEGO MARVEL I am Groot 

◾ Creative Toy of the Year: Magic Mixies Magical Crystal Ball 

◾ Doll of the Year: Black Panther: Wakanda Forever Fresh Fierce Collection by The Fresh Dolls

◾ Game of the Year: Pokémon Trading Card Game: Pokémon GO Elite Trainer Box

◾ Grown-Up Toy of the Year: LEGO Ideas The Office 

◾ Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year: CoComelon Ultimate Learning Adventure Bus 

◾ Outdoor Toy of the Year: Twister SPLASH 

◾ Playset of the Year: LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Peach Starter Course 

◾ Plush Toy of the Year: 16” Squishmallows 

◾ Preschool Toy of the Year: Crayola Color & Erase Reusable Mat 

◾ Specialty Toy of the Year: Ann Williams Craft-tastic Nature Scavenger Hunt Potions and Snap Circuits: Green Energy

◾ STEAM Toy of the Year: Bill Nye’s VR Science Kit 

◾ Vehicle of the Year: LEGO Technic McLaren Formula 1 Race Car 

Bill Nye’s VR Science Kit (Abacus Brands)

According to TTF, the 18 awarded toys and games represent the most innovative playthings on store shelves. “[The TOTY winners] are extraordinary examples of creativity and imagination that deliver the benefits of play to children and adults alike,” said Pamela Mastrota, executive director of TTF.

Taking home the “Toy of the Year” award, as determined by a panel of expert judges, and the “People’s Choice” award, voted on by toy fans around the world, was the cozy and comforting Squishmallows. “On top of the joy a toy can offer, Squishmallows is a powerful example of the emotional benefits children and adults can gain through play,” said Mastrota. “Whether you are 8 years old or 80 years old, everyone can benefit from a cuddly hug from a Squishmallow these days.”

Top trends

TTF tracked trends throughout the year and previewed hundreds of products hitting the shelves to announce the top toy trends of the 2022 holiday season. The addition of results from a poll of 2000 parents showed that families are looking for toys that provide immersive play experiences away from their devices, and purpose-driven play that introduces children to diversity, environmental causes, and social issues. “Our research shows families are turning to play to destress, make memories, and have fun. In fact, 67 per cent of parents in our survey said they spend more time playing with their kids now than they did before the pandemic, and 54 per cent said they specifically seek out toys that will enable them to make new memories with their children,” said Adrienne Appell, executive vice president of marketing communications at TTF.

Trending toys include the PLAYMOBIL Wiltopia – Animal Care Station which is made from over 80 per cent sustainable material, WindBots: 6-in-1 Wind-Powered Machine Kit, and for adults, the Build-A-Bear After Dark Collection.

PLAYMOBIL Wiltopia – Animal Care Station (PLAYMOBIL)

The 23rd edition of the awards program also recognizes the industry’s creativity and collective philanthropy, with more than $500,000 raised in support of TTF’s mission to bring the benefits of play to children in need. In addition to naming the winners, the TOTY Awards showcased the industry’s support for TTF’s programs. With help from the industry this year, more than $4 million in aid was delivered to Ukrainian children and families; play therapy activities were made available to 175,000 pediatric patients; and young, diverse talent was introduced to careers in toys.

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