Top Holiday Toy Picks for 2018

A few of our favorite things to put on your holiday gift-giving list from The Toy Insider’s Laurie Schacht.

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Retro is cool, and Polaroid-style photos are the “in” teen thing. This affordable instant film printer allows kids to turn smartphone photos into hard-copy keepsakes. $40

Why we love it: No app or battery required.

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Nintendo Labo (Nintendo)

Nintendo Labo

With each Nintendo Labo kit (Variety, Robot and Vehicle, sold separately), kids transform modular sheets of cardboard—specially designed to interact with the Nintendo Switch Console and Joy-Con controllers—into Toy-Con creations. Kids can build a functioning 13-key piano, motorbike, robot and more, then connect their creation to the console to play. $70 to $80

Why we love it: Who knew cardboard would be one of the hottest toys of the year?

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Arcade 1Up (Tastemakers)

Arcade 1Up

These classic arcade game cabinets are available in five versions (with three to four games per cabinet): Asteroids, Centipede, Street Fighter II, Rampage and, yes, Galaga! Although at 4 feet they’re a bit shorter than the originals, the joysticks, buttons, sounds and high-resolution, full-color displays are just like you remember. $400

Why we love it: Endless hours of retro gaming are in your future—put this on your own wish list!

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Mystery Flying Snitch

Mystery Flying Snitch

The Flying Snitch appears to circle magically and avoid capture, just like in the Harry Potter films. (The secret is the string, which is nearly invisible from a few feet away.) The Snitch also has authentic flapping wings. $25

Why we love it: Being a wizard has never been easier and is guaranteed to thrill any Potterhead—or even a mere Muggle.

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Beard Ball (Buffalo Games)

Beard Ball

Hipster alert! Team up to see who can score more points by throwing a Ping-Pong-style ball with strips of Velcro at a sticky beard worn by your fellow player. Dice and stunt cards determine which beard to sport and the specifics of the throwing challenge. $20

Why we love it: It may sound silly, but Beard Ball requires skill and dexterity.

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The Original Tiny Hands Challenge Game

The Original Tiny Hands Challenge Game

A hilarious team vs team party game that challenges players to complete seemingly simple tasks—catching a ball, turning over a playing card, serving a drink—with a pair of tiny (or tinier) hands. $15

Why we love it: This wacky game gives a newfound appreciation for thumbs.

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Hot Wheels Augmoto Augmented Reality Racing Track Set (Mattel)

Hot Wheels Augmoto Augmented Reality Racing Track Set

A blending of video game competition and old-school toy track racing. Players compete to complete their laps—the cars are controlled by smartphones—while augmented reality (AR) adds intensity with a loop of fire, hazardous oil
spills, fireworks and more. 

Why we love it: AR technology makes it feel like real racing.

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VEX Balancing Boxing Robots

VEX Balancing Boxing Robots

Once assembled, these self-stabilizing boxing robots are ready to enter the ring. Players control the robots’ actions, including uppercuts and jabs, using the VEX Pilot app. $150

Why we love it: Kids think they’re just building toys but they’re actually learning about physics, motion and engineering.

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Stranger Things Figures

Stranger Things Figures

Stranger Things fans can bring the Upside Down to the real world with high-end 7-inch collectible figures, each with a display base. Get favorites like Eleven, Demogorgon, Dustin, Will and Barb. $20

Why we love it: Attention to detail, from wrinkles in the clothing to dirt on the kids’ faces, gives these figures a high-end look at an affordable price.