Top Disney toys for 2015 holiday season
With Hanukkah beginning Sunday and Christmas only about two weeks away, toy shopping clearly is on the minds of parents and relatives everywhere. And although kids are encouraged at this time of the year to tell us what their hearts desire, many adults also want to create that element of surprise with the “perfect” toy. So we press on in our search for toys that will provide long-lasting enjoyment for our children as well as delight them when the wrapping paper is torn away.
It would appear that every retailer and publication has its own list of “hot toys,” so what is a parent to do? In the interest of saving you some time, I’ve narrowed my scope to the top Disney toys this holiday season according to reputable sources. Here are my suggestions:
Star Wars BB-8 Droid. Franchise fans and even those with a casual interest have been counting the days until the new movie, “The Force Awakens,” is released on Dec. 18. And, make no mistake, the Disney marketing team is well-prepared with merchandise, including toys. Consumers were able to get their hands on the first toys on Sept. 4 for “Force Friday” events at Toys R Us stores worldwide. But perhaps the most notable, and certainly the most memorable, toys feature the new droid, BB-8, who was revealed at D23 in August. The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio has singled out the BB-8 app-enabled droid by Sphero for an award in the Tween Category. According to the review on toyportfolio.com: “You can guide BB-8 with your smartphone or tablet. It responds and will react to your voice. They also loved how his head would pop off if they directed him into a wall. (We are talking 9 year olds after all!) Parents liked that it came with a well designed charging base to sit in - charging is via USB cable (included).” It’s priced at $149.99.
Disney Infinity Star Wars 3.0 Starter Pack. Although The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio officials were reluctant to recommend video games over other types of toys, they did acknowledge the creativity involved with teens and tweens playing Disney Infinity. Disney Infinity has challenged popular Nintendo’s Skylanders in the video game arena since it debuted three years ago. Each year’s edition features new collectible character figures and unique opportunities to for the on-screen characters to interact with others in the Disney universe, such as Pixar favorites and Marvel superheroes. To read more about the Star Wars Starter Pack, see my previous blog post. You must have one of these gaming console systems to play the Star Wars Starter Pack: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo WiiU, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. The Star Wars Starter Pack retails for $64.99. Additional pieces are sold separately.
Disney Descendants Signature Dolls. The Toy Insider ranks these dolls modeled after the characters in the popular Disney Channel movie “Descendants” among the most popular gifts for elementary-school children ages 6 and older. That’s certainly not a stretch considering the movie was the network’s second-most-watched movie of all time. “Descendants” is based in the premise that the Disney villains (and some heroes) had children. The main characters – Jay, Evie, Carlos and Mal – are the offspring of Jafar, the Evil Queen, Cruella de Vil and Maleficent, respectively. The group is granted permission by the benevolent teenage son of King Adam and Queen Belle to leave the remote Isle of the Lost and attend prep school with the Disney heroes' kids. This, of course, leads to a battle of good versus evil set amidst the backdrop of typical teenage angst. The dolls come with an outfit, a locket and a sticker. Prices start at $19.99.
Disney’s Frozen toys. Some parents may feel the toy market is saturated with Frozen toys, and there is some truth to that. The Toy Industry Association gave The Walt Disney Company its 2015 Property of the Year award for Frozen because it had “had the greatest success spreading its brand or property throughout the industry while generating interest and excitement.” So while adults may be wishing they could let the movie go, kids are not willing to say goodbye to its engaging characters. And they won’t have to with a sequel on the horizon. Frozen toys are available at most major retailers, and Amazon.com has a sale on them that ends today (Dec. 3).
Cinderella Castle for Walt Disney World Monorail Play Set. When I was at Once Upon a Toy store this week, I noticed that a new piece was being introduced and was curious because my son has been collecting monorail play sets for more than a decade. The box showed Cinderella Castle – smaller than the popular play set that has been sold at the resort for years. I wondered why the folks at Disney would want to introduce another Cinderella Castle, so I asked a cast member if she could open the box and let me see the toy. She was happy to do so, and I have to say I was disappointed. For $60, it’s basically just a statue. The castle does not open, the monorail does not travel through or around it, and the castle does not have any special effects. From what I can tell, the sole purpose of the piece is to be a model of the castle because the larger Cinderella Castle has been discontinued. In its place, Disney is now selling a pink castle that is supposed to represent all the Disney Parks castles worldwide. I don’t particularly like either toy, but they are the only choices if you are looking for a castle piece for your monorail set. And although I’m not thrilled with the new castle toys, I do recommend the Walt Disney World and Disneyland monorail sets. My son has gotten years of enjoyment from it, and I would imagine plenty of other children would enjoy reliving happy vacation memories.
Looking for more Disney toy ideas? DisneyStore.com is unveiling its "12 Most Wished for Gifts" every day through Dec. 12 on the website and the Disney Store Instagram account.