'Best Toys' of 2012 May Surprise You

Hot List 10

toy of the year 2012The 2012 Toy Fair was quite the experience. There were rows and rows and rows of the latest playthings on several floors of fun. I went and my feet can tell you all about how exhausting it was. But it was also fantastic. And I found the winners of the Toy of the Year Awards quite intriguing.

How it works is toy makers enter their product and a committee of experts (journalists, buyers, specialists, and therapists) choose the best toys in several categories.

Take a look at this year's winners ....

Educational Toy of the Year and Preschool Toy of the Year and Toy of the Year Winner:

LeapPad Explorer by LeapFrog -- This one was expected for me. The demand for this learning toy over the holidays was so great that many stores had trouble keeping it in stock. And with the popularity of the iPad and other tablets for us bigger 'kids,' the young ones need one for themselves ... but geared specifically for ages 4 to 9.


Infant/Toddler Toy of the Year Winner:

Elefun Busy Ball Popper by Hasbro/Playskool -- For little ones 9 months and up, this toy pops the balls out and catches them, but can also be positioned to pop them out so baby can chase after them once she starts crawling and walking. Plus, it plays music!

elefun busy ball toy


Innovative Toy of the Year and Boy Toy of the Year:

Hot Wheels Wall Tracks by Mattel -- Ridiculously cool! I think I want this for myself. Yes, it sticks to the wall, which I love because ... most of us don't live in vast homes with enough space for all the toys kids accumulate. And yeah ... super innovative! And no, it won't ruin the wall. Phew. For kids over 3.

hot wheels wall tracks

Girl Toy of the Year:

FIjit Friends Interactive Figures by Mattel/Radica -- These are dancing little robots. Plus they tell jokes. Sure it's the "girl toy of the year" but that's limiting. Anyone can play with this ... boys, girls, moms, dads ... but recommended for age 6 and up.

figit friends

Game of the Year:

Angry Birds Knock on Wood Game by Mattel -- I get the hype, I do. I was addicted to this game on my phone. But really? Game of the year for 2012? I feel like the judges must have missed some other games that deserved more spotlight for the 5 and up set. Just a hunch.

angry birds game

Specialty Toy of the Year:

HEXBUG Nano Hive Habitat Set by Innovation First Labs -- Now this toy is cool, and it folds up all neat-like and holds all the smaller pieces together. You can add onto this maze, too and watch all the little bugs travel around. For kids 3 and up.

hexbug nano hive


Activity Toy of the Year:

LEGO NINJAGO Fire Temple By LEGO -- My son is just getting into dragons and LEGOs are a staple, so I get the excitement over this toy. Love the figurines. It's recommended for kids 8 to 14.

lego ninjago

Outdoor Toy of the Year:

Rockboard Scooter - Mini by M.Y. Products -- This 2-in-1 scooter allows your typical scootering plus 'shredding' in rockboarding mode. For kids 5 and up.

best scooter

Are you surprised by the toys chosen for Toy of the Year? Does your child have any of these yet? What toy would you want to see get an award?


All images by Michele Zipp

toddler toys, toys


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eleph... elephantmamaof2

Those leappads were insanely popular last year, I considered getting one but it always seems like leapfrog's technology is obsolete the very next year. Our biggest hits of the year were mostly transformers!


amybu... amybuddy45

The LeapPad is awesome!

Allis... AllisonWD

The elephant toy TERRIFIED my son. They don't tell you about the ridiculously loud sounds it makes on the box or commercial. You can barely hear the music over the "wind" noise. The batteries that it needs are also expensive. A waste of $50 total if you ask me.

2cute... 2cute4words2011

The elephant toy is Loud! I didn't know it had music!!

Scrlt... ScrltBegonia

My son wants the leappad for his birthday. He will be 4. Only bad thing I've heard is that it takes regular batteries and lots of them! Why wouldn't they have made it with a rechargeable battery??

Desiree Achuff-burton

Anything from Leap Frog is great. Even though they are improving there stuff. Anything Lego never get old and gets better when you have a ton of them because you can build what even you can think up.

Nycti... Nyctimene

Read the low reviews for the Leappad on Amazon before you buy it. The V-tech is apparently much better. LP is insanely hard to set up and not particularly educational in the end, with only like six educational games. Your child will probably end up using it for non-educational games in which case you might as well buy them a Nintendo DS(i) which has better graphics and probably also a better selection of educational games too. 

Lego is awesome! And I got my son the Angry Birds game and he loves it. You can't go wrong with a game that actually encourages kids to destroy something with a lot of noise. ;-)

libby261 libby261

Don't get sucked into leap pad.  They abandon a product after a few years and then your stuck getting the latest and greatest and their stuff isn't cheap nor is the voice recognition all that great.

Larry Chip

If you love nature...search Tickleme Plant Greenhouse. In it you can grow a pet like plant that  moves and closes its leaves when Tickled

Larry Chip

or find the kits and video here.


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