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Posted by Sarah Bain on Dec. 10, 2018, midnight

It's that time of year again when you're trying to decide what toys to get for the kids for the holidays. We’ve got you covered for what's trending in toys; we’ll help you sort out what’s new, what’s retro and even what grandma might like for the holidays.

Unbox the Fun

The online popularity of unboxing videos, showcasing the opening of a desirable toy or product, is beginning to have an influence on the toy aisle. Toymakers are now talking about unwrapping a surprise toy from a blind bag or box as a kind of untapped play that is not just fun, but fun to share in person and online.

Of course the blind reveal is not brand new. If you’ve purchased a pack of baseball cards, Pokemon cards or even a box of Cracker Jack, you’re familiar with fun of the reveal. But sales of this kind of toy have grown steadily in the last few years, and toymakers are hoping to take advantage by offering their own brand of fun surprises.

Just a few examples of new offerings in this category are the L.O.L. Surprise Pets, which offers as many as seven layers of surprise, and the Playfoam Pals Surprise Egg, where a toy is hidden inside playfoam inside a plastic egg. Playfoam Pals are great stocking stuffers for the whole family.

Child with letter to Santa

Retro Millennial

Moms and dads born between 1981 and 1997 are currently the majority of young parents in the U.S. Though often associated with high-tech gadgets and a focus on the “new,” millennial parents tend to believe it’s important to unplug and engage with their children so they are reviving an interest in classic toys and retro brands that are likely to appeal to many of the adults buying them as they do to the kids. This year, expect to see toys with a lot of nostalgia and traditional play value that parents will love as much as their kids.

A few “reboots” you can look forward to are Polly Pocket, a 35th anniversary reissue of the 1983 original My Little Pony and Shrinky Dinks. And though it may seem too soon to be called retro, the Harry Potter series is commemorating 20 years since its American debut. To celebrate, kids can get their own Harry Potter Training Wand, which includes 11 spells to master. The wand recognizes movements and knows when you've cast the correct spell. Ten points to Gryffindor when you learn them!

Teaching Toys

A perennial category of popular toys is in the “play with a purpose” segment, and toys in the STEM and STEAM category are now engaging kids in new ways by incorporating new technologies and enticing kids to get excited about learning.

One of the newest teaching toys out there comes from the most famous video game company in the world: Nintendo. With a series of cardboard building and learning toys called the Nintendo Labo that can be used in conjunction with the Nintendo Switch console. The Variety Kit includes five different projects: two RC Cars, a Fishing Rod, a House, a Motorbike and a Piano! When paired with the Switch, each creation comes to life in cool creative ways.

Another favorite in this category is the Turing Tumble, which teaches people (not just for kids!) how computers work with marble mechanics. It's literally a mechanical computer that's as much fun to watch as it is to build, and leads to real-world knowledge with hands-on mechanics.

High Tech

Tech toys are always extremely popular, and as the tech progresses and become more affordable, the toy-ability of this category just gets bigger and bigger. A new and growing part of this segment is augmented and virtual reality. Some of this stuff is just really cool.

One thing thrill seekers might love is the K*nex Thrill Ride Roller Coaster Building Set with Ride It! App. Once you build your roller coaster, you attach the VR goggles to your phone, put them up to your eyes, and away you go! You get to experience the ride as if you were actually riding the roller coaster.

Remember that 20th anniversary of Harry Potter we mentioned? Well, the Wow! Stuff innovators are working their own magic to bring Quidditch to life through technology. Two officially licensed versions of the Golden Snitch are available: the Harry Potter Mystery Flying Snitch and the Harry Potter Golden Snitch Heliball. The former has realistic fluttering wings to create the illusion of flight (aided by invisible thread), while the latter actually flies through proximity sensor technology. Either one is bound to be a winner with the Seeker in your family.