The holiday season can be tough for family members searching for the perfect gift for their young loved ones. From limited stock of the hottest toys to seemingly bizarre cartoon properties spawning even stranger toys, it can be difficult to suss out exactly what the kids in your family are asking for. To help you down the toy aisles, The Times has gathered info about the hottest brands and most popular gifts this holiday season.
According to annual polling by the National Retail Federation, Barbies continue to be the most popular holiday toy with 23 percent of those buying for girls planning on picking up the classic doll. Barbie has been the top toy for as long as the NRF has been hosting their annual holiday poll, outside of a single-year blip in 2014, where Elsa and "Frozen" toys overthrew her for as the most-popular pick. Barbie has been on the upswing since that year, where she captured only 16 percent of those shopping for girls.
Each year, more than 3 billion toys and games are sold in the United States, with 65 percent of these sales occurring between the day after Thanksgiving and the day before Christmas. There are approximately 215,000 toy-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms nationwide.
Part of the increase in interest may be attributed to the brand's recent modernization efforts. In January, Mattel introduced diverse body shapes to be sold alongside the original Barbie, including tall, petite and curvy, to better represent the actual body shapes of women. In addition, this month, comedian Amy Schumer was announced as playing Barbie in a live-action film based on the doll.
This year, boys are continuing to ask for Lego products, with 15 percent asking for the building-block toy. In recent years, Lego has experienced success by focusing more on brands, both licensed sets like "Star Wars" and Marvel and DC Superheroes, and their own lines like Ninjago and Bionicle.
Though Barbie is a long-time favorite, girls are also expressing interest in new lines as well this year. Shopkins, a collectible toy line of anthropomorphic food and household items like with names like Pineapple Crush, Tommy Ketchup and Lola Lollipop, has taken the number three spot for girls. Shopkins were first released in 2013 as a line of collectibles, but has since grown into a multimedia empire, including books, trading cards and a YouTube original cartoon.
One of the hottest, or at least hardest-to-find toys of the season, are Hatchimals, the latest in a long line of electronic pet replacements. Hatchimals start off as a large egg. When kids play with the egg, it makes animal noises and lights up. Eventually the motorized stuffed animal inside will break its way out of the egg and hatch into an animal. The Hatchimal goes through stages including baby, toddler and kid, and makes noises and walks, talks and dances.
According to the NRF 4 percent of those buying for girls are planning on getting Hatchimals. Hopefully that 4 percent has already made their purchases, because just like Cabbage Patch Dolls, Tickle Me Elmos and Furbys of Christmases past, Hatchimals have become one of the most sought-after and rarely found items of the 2016 holiday season. Upon visiting the Hatchimals website, customers are greeted with a pop up acknowledging how difficult the toy is to find this holiday season, with a promise that more will be filling toy store shelves in 2017.
For boys, Lego is followed by toy cars and trucks, video games and Hot Wheels as the top toys of the year. Last year, the popularity of "Star Wars" toys exploded with the release of 'Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Even with the release of "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" this December, Star Wars toys have fallen from 11 percent to 5 percent of planned holiday purchases.
Holiday giving isn't exclusively about children, and toy purchases only make up about 40 percent of all holiday purchases. Most people this year — 61 percent — plan to give clothes or clothing accessories for holiday gifts, with gift cards and books/CDs/DVDs/videos and video games making up the rest of the top three holiday gifts. Holiday sales are anticipated to increase by 3.6 percent, with the average person will spend approximately $589 on holiday gifts for friends, family and coworkers this year. Though most are planning on giving clothing, most people responding to the annual NRF survey — 61 percent said they would most appreciate a gift card or gift certificate the most.