2013 “25 Hot Toys” Guide

2013 “25 Hot Toys” Guide


Only a few weeks from Black Friday and holiday season, we assembled a “25 Hot Toys” guide to help find the perfect gifts for your kids. Wisconsin Parent personally reviewed these toys and even ran them through a 12-count Girl Scout Brownie troop. We took several factors into consideration: 

  • Quality: Is the toy well made or did it break easy?
  • Age Appropriateness: Ever hear your kiddo singing something that children have no business singing?
  • Practicality: If a piece goes missing, can you still play with it?

One thing to note is that we intentionally avoided using the terms “girl’s toy” or “boy’s toy,” as we felt that gender bias has no merit in today’s world of gift giving.

For Little People: 

Playskool Sesame Street Big Hugs Elmo
We all love Elmo, but we haven’t been a big fan of the dolls, until now. The prior ones were not cuddly soft (you couldn’t help but feel their hard tummies). But Playskook got Elmo right this time—he’s soft and cuddly, as well as very interactive. You can put Elmo into sleep mode and he sings a lullaby (as he hugs) and then lightly starts to snore and mumble as he drifts to sleep. No worries; he does shut off! Original Retail Price: $59, but he is already $49.99 (shipped!) on Amazon and prices are as low as $42 in the Black Friday Ad Previews.

Playskool Showcam 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector (Gray)
The Playskool 2-in-1 Digital Camera and Projector perfect for those little hands. This is a camera for kiddos age 3 and up. Not only does it let them flip a switch and project their photography work on a wall or ceiling, it comes complete with sound effects and lets the kids add fun special photo editing features at a single touch of the “silly” button. The camera does hold 1,000 pictures, but you will need your own USB cable to download and print any of the works of journalistic art. Again, a $59.00 price tag, but so far Amazon has the best price at $49.99.

Little Pim: Span Intro Gift/Book
Based of the Pimsler Language system for adults , the adorable Little Pim helps teach the kids (age 0-6) a second language though an interactive series of DVDs. We love things that are fun AND educational—Little Pim has already won several awards! Each 35 minute disc has seven 5-minute lessons on it, all taught by the cute panda bear teacher. The Little Pim Intro Gift Set with Book includes DVD 1, Spanish Bop music CD, a trilingual board book and a 9″ plush panda, packaged in a reusable, see-through tote. The price is $39.99 original retail but Amazon has the current best price at $34.99. 

For Little People:


My Girl’s Doll House
We loved the My Girl’s Doll House so much that we did a separate review for it HERE.

1379803_629143693795461_1062453770_n 2American Girl Dolls
You can’t talk about a doll house for 18-Inch dolls and not mention your favorite line, can you? We love American Girl Dolls so much that we did a separate review for Saige, the 2013 Girl-of-the-Year, HERE.

Flutterbye Flying Fairy
Flutterbye Flying Fairy is for all the children who wished they could be the little girl in the Tinkerbell movie who got to see a real fairy fly. Getting used to Flutterbye Flying Fairy takes a little practice but is worth the time. She takes 6 AA batteries. Toys “R Us currently has both the best price ($27.87) and the exclusive yellow color.

ARH RDC AtmoSphere – Blue GEN
ARH RDC AtmoSphere – Blue GEN is the male counterpart to the Flutterbye. This product is normally $24.00, Toys ‘R Us currently has the best price at $19.99.

Neat-Oh! Barbie ZipBin Dream House Toybox & Playmat
Neat-Oh! Barbie ZipBin Dream House Toybox & Playmat is a great solution to the age-old question, “What do we do with this mountain of Barbies?” Holding up to 40 dolls, the product unzips into a mock Barbie Dream House. Neat-Oh! Barbie ZipBin Dream House Toybox & Playmat fits in our IKEA-style cubbies and has handles on two sides (making it easy to transport and perfect for road trips or that weekend with the grandparents). If you don’t have a barbie problem, consider that Neat-Oh! makes similar ZipBin Dream Houses for Legos, Star Wars, Polly Pocket and more.  This particular model normally sells for $24.99, but is $18.59 on Amazon right now (shipped).

Perplexus OriginalPerplexus Ball
We loved the Perplexus Ball so much that we did a separate review for it HERE. Normally it retails for $24.99, but Target has the current best price at just $18.00

xo pic 1

XO Tablet
We loved the Vivitar XO Tablet much that we did a separate review for it HERE.

Uncle Milton Marvel Science, Spider-Man Web Creator had a feature we loved: reusable web material to use again and again. With this product, you do not have to buy refills to keep using it! The best deal we saw was on Amazon at 40% off.

Speaking of Super Heros, who doesn’t love to see them fly? Spiderman, Superman or Batman Flying Hero Action Figures are easy to use and are a hoot! Dannelle launched Spiderman on our TV segment (see our video below). Retail price is $17.99 (no sale pricing currently available at this time).


K’NEX 521 Piece Value Tub
K’NEX 521 Piece Value Tub is like potato chips—you always need more! We like K’NEX for the simple fact that they can create things that easily move (and requires a tad more brain power to use). From dinosaurs to a ferris wheel,you can let your kid’s imagination run wild even though the tub comes with instructions for 35 different building projects. This product is a Toys ‘R Us exclusive and is normally $24.99. We love that it comes with it’s own storage container. Even better? It’s made in the USA!

Zing Air Huntress
Zing Air Huntress is the best of the bow/arrow sets we tried. Thanks to Merida in the movie Brave, and Katniss in the Hunger Games series, kids of all ages have been taking an interest in archery. Zing Air Huntress can foam arrows and a suction cup arrow up to 125 feet (Disclosure: they won’t stick to your husband’s hiney, we tried!). If pink isn’t your color choice, the Air Storm Z-Tek bow is in orange. These retail for $29.99 everywhere we have looked, but Amazon has them for $24.99 (shipped).

Nanoblocks are lot like Legos, but much smaller. The finished products seem more lifelike. Nanoblocks are for OLDER children, as our 7-8 year olds found them a tad difficult to work with (Considering their fine motor skills; think 10+). We tried the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Beatrix Girl Dolls
Beatrix Girls Dolls are just ONE of the many new dolls out on the market for the holidays. Their age-appropriate lyrics and empowering message made this collection rise to the top for us. At this time, we think they Beatrix Girl Dolls are exclusive to Toys ‘R Us, where they are $24.99, and you have four different characters to choose from.

VTech Switch & Go Dinos – Akuna The Velociraptor Dinosaur

This is the one product we HAD to play with. Switch & Go Dinos go can be played with as dinosaurs or as vehicles and have realistic sound effects and interesting dino facts available at the touch of a button. Learn about dinosaur eating habits, the meaning of dinosaur names, and the evolutionary adaptations that make each dinosaur unique. Akuna turns into a motorcycle. Toys ‘R Us and Kmart seem to have the best prices on these. 

Lincoln Logs Redfield Ranch

Lincoln Logs

Lincoln Logs has done it again! This 124 piece set is not only made from real wood, but comes in an adorable barrel storage container (again, something that helps keep those little pieces organized – which all parents love, right?) This photo shows the Lincoln Logs Redfield Ranch set, which is only at Toys ‘R Us ($39.99). This product is recommended for the 3+ age group, so the bigs and littles can play with it together!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are hot again. From the action figures to the Battle Shell, they are all a hit. Our favorites of the entire line was the pop up pizza play set, especially because it folds flat for storage and this compacts down to a little pizza box. Pretty much every store carries at least part of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle line, but Toys ‘R Us has the Mega Roleplay Pack for $39.99 after coupon.

Spirograph Deluxe Design Set

Spirograph is also back! Those of us who had this product as children can pass the fun onto our own kiddos. This product features hours of fun, even if you don’t read the instructions (this is where we learned that the little numbers by the holes actually mean something!) The ASTRA 2013 Best Toys Award was awarded to the Spirograph Deluxe Design Set; it’s a great alternate to “plugging” your kids in.

Stocking Stuffers:


Zelfs are the hottest little troll dolls—each style of Zelf has a unique personality and power mark and comes with hairstyling accessories and comb. There’s even a cute charm that can be worn by the Zelf or yourzelf. With a price of just $5.99, Zelfs make great stocking stuffers.

holiday specs

Holiday Specs
Holiday Specs aren’t really toys, but we loved them just the same. These holographic lensed 3D glasses turn any bright lights into something fun and festive. Holiday Specs come in ten different designs: snowflakes, reindeer, Santa, candy canes, elves, ornaments, gingerbread men, snowmen, angels and Christmas stars. They retail for around $1.50 each or you can get the Holiday Magic 3D Viewers (with handles) for about $4.

Nanoblocks are a lot like Legos, but much smaller. The finished products seem more lifelike. Nanoblocks are for OLDER children, as our 7-8 year olds found them a tad difficult to work with (Considering their fine motor skills; think 10+).  We tried the Mir Cats and Flamingo Sets, which would make nice stocking stuffers.

Go Oink Card Game
Go Oink Card Game is another gem from our friends at Patch Products. We don’t know what we love more, the game or the piggy case that it comes with? If you can play “go fish,”you can play Go Oink, and you will totally crack up doing it. This product is currently available on Amazon, for $9.99 (normally $10.99) seems to be the best deal so far.

Disclosure: We received a lot of toys for our review. All opinions and thoughts are entirely our own. Some products didn’t make our list. Regardless, we were able to donate a LOT of very gently used toys to a local charity. To everyone who participated, we say “thank you!”


Dannelle Gay is the proud Mommy to “Miss Sarah,” the child in the spotlight on Dannelle’s money-saving blog, Operation $40K. A ten year journey leading up to Miss Sarah’s grand entrance into the world, Dannelle shares her story about saving forty thousand dollars—in less than a year—to buy a home for her growing family. With a passion to help families change their financial situations for the better, Dannelle writes about all the amazing FREE things Wisconsin has to offer (even if it’s getting there one coupon at a time). She also writes about her journey as a Girl Scouts of America troop leader on the blog Girl Scout Daisy Mom and is active with the Madison’s Homeless Ministry and her local church’s food pantry.