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Toy Guy's guide to some of the hottest toys this season

NEW YORK (PRNewswire) -- In the year of COVID-19, the holidays have been transformed.

But Santa's still flying, and more than ever parents are turning to toys to provide as "normal" and exciting a celebration as possible.

Toy sales have been up all year, and they show no sign of slowing down.

tonies: It may seem counterintuitive in this video-crazed age, but audio has become extremely popular for kids.

The benefits for learning through listening and imagination go beyond entertainment and facilitate learning, and, of course, telling stories is a classic activity. That's why we've been so excited about the tonies.

Designed for kids ages 3 and up, the basic unit is a soft, 5-inch fabric box with an integrated speaker. Place a character on top to unlock hours of related content. Kids can control the stories easily with the touch controls. The magnet holds it in place.

There are 17 tonies available now, which include time-honored fairytales and children's classics, as well as titles from Disney and Minions. Plus, adults can add up to 90 minutes of personalized content just for individual kids. Parents keep complete control through an app, and the unit uses WiFi only for setup and does not connect to the Internet.

Go! Go! Smart Wheels: Ultimate Corkscrew Tower: We love the Go! Go! Smart Wheels. These preschool cars are full of fun and personality. It combines car fun with lots of cool interactions.

When the cars go over the SmartPoints on the track, they activate more than 40 sounds, lights and interactions. Build the tower three-feet talk and watch the cars go spinning down.

Or, set it up as a side-by-side system and race the cars against one another. It comes with one Rocky the Race Car vehicle and works with any Go! Go! Smart Wheels cars. This is a lot of toy for the money! It's a great play value, too, inspiring lots of repeat play and engagement for either solo or co-play.

Cave Club Rockelle Doll & Tyrasaurus Dinosaur Playset: Friendship is positively prehistoric with this great new property from Mattel. Cave Club is about the first-ever group of BFFs and their adventures.

You can find age-appropriate content on YouTube Kids, with lots of music, fun and some subtle lessons about what it means to be a good friend.

Then, bring it all to life in the complete line of toys. Rockelle and her Tyrasaurus sidekick make a fun way to act out cave-a-riffic adventures with these great characters. The bright colors and fun fashions inspire lots of play for kids on their own, or with their present-day BFFs!

Pinxies Unicorn Barn: This set is absolutely gorgeous and the perfect setting for wonderful, imaginative, narrative-based play. Train unicorns ride on rainbows and much more in this adorable fantasy world.

The building and play are STEM authenticated, and what's so great about this is the way each child will bring this world to life. More than 240 pieces to inspire great play, and interchangeable expressions are great for social emotional learning and expression. We love the rich play in this simple and beautiful setting.

Gujo Adventure Mission Mars Rocket: Blast off for all kinds of great, narrative-based play with this 2.5-foot-tall rocket. Build and play as you imagine yourself off in outer space. There are multiple levels, two characters with changeable faces and unending interactive play. The set includes 245 pieces to inspire creative play.

The building play is STEM authenticated, but what we really like is that while the basic building and engineering are solid skill-building activities, what kids will love is the classic fun of taking an imaginary space voyage.

PAW Patrol Dino Patroller: The world of Paw Patrol got a whole lot more exciting this year, as the pups find themselves interacting with real live dinosaurs! Kids who love these pups and the whole world of Adventure Bay know they need the right equipment.

That's where the Dino Patroller comes in. It's the first-ever motorized Paw Patrol vehicle. This big vehicle comes with a T-Rex figure and an exclusive Chase figure, plus projectiles. So when Paw Patrol is on a roll, you're ready for any dynamic dino action. Other figures, toys and vehicles in the line are all sold separately..

L.O.L. Surprise! Remix Hairflip and L.O.L. Surprise! Remix Pets: The surprises just keep coming with this new collection from L.O.L. Surprise! The dolls are cool, and each represents a different music style—R&B, Country, Hip-Hop, Pop, and Rock.

More than 15 surprises with each doll, and hair that flips into different colors and styles. The pets are cool, and each have tons of surprises inside, too. But we just love how the play begins right with the package that doubles as a record player (remember those?) and can be assembled (two dolls and a pet) into a working boombox (remember those?).

Outrageous fashion, tons of creativity, lots of play, and an entire universe of creative fun, including original songs that we promise you, you won't be able to get out of your head. It's all in the L.O.L. Surprise! scale that have made these consistently best-sellers.

Frankie the Funky Flamingo: Sometimes you just need to be silly! And that's what you get with Frankie. Part of Zuru's Pets Alive collection—and the follow up to the unforgettable Boppi the Booty Shakin' Llama—Frankie rocks out to some awesome beats.

Watch this bright pink flamingo flap its rainbow wings and swivel its neck in time to the music. In this year especially, it's just the right amount of happy holiday hysteria we need to keep us entertained and laughing.

It's a lot of laughs for a low price—and makes the best gag gift of the season for grownups, too!

For more information, viewers can visit

SOURCES: The Toy Guy



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