After trolling through literally miles of booths at the 110th Toy Fair in New York City this week, I’ve finally culled down my faves for ages five through seven. While a couple of these toys were already out on the market (but new to me), most of them are brand-new for 2013. Also, while the age range here is five to seven, I think all of these toys will be appealing to kids over that age as well. (This was confirmed by my older kids.)
I tried to provide a range of toys: some are from huge corporations like Hasbro, others are from entrepreneurs like SweetLocks Brushes, which is still seeking to crowdsource funding on indiegogo.
Of course, my picks are just that: my picks. For example, my family is LEGO-obsessed, so my picks are always going to lean that way. There were tons of great toys there, and I’m sure there were some I didn’t even see.
Many of the toys I chose are only available at “specialty toy stores.” This means mom-and-pop shops, teacher stores, and the like. If there’s one in your neighborhood, you should totally check it out, because I promise it’s full of the awesome. If not, don’t worry, I’ve provided an online option.
Also, some of these toys are available now, and some won’t be available until later this year. I’m pretty sure a couple of them — namely, Hasbro’s Littlest Pet Shop Sweet Shop Playset and Uncle Milton’s Spider-Man Web Creator Lab–will be hot sellers for Holiday 2013. (You heard it here first.)
Some of them aren’t available at all yet, because the Toy Fair was the toymaker’s attempt to launch the toy. In those cases, I’ve provided a website, as well as Facebook and Twitter links, so that you can find out when they’ll be on the market.
Top Picks for Toys 2013: Best New Toys for Kids Age 5 to 7 1 of 18My picks from the Toy Industry Association's annual Toy Fair in New York City, for the toys that brought the most fun for kids age 5 through 7.
Click on the arrows to scroll through!
Squigz 2 of 18Bringing suction to construction is the brand-new toy Squigz, which connect to each other or any smooth surface. Besides using them to build fun sculptures, buildings, and whatever the imagination can dream up, they're an ideal toy for kids working on sensory and fine motor skills. The handful of samples I brought home were an instant hit with my kids, and function as a great "fidget toy" for my daughter with ADHD.
Why I Picked It: I've never seen anything else like it. Colorful, gender-neutral, and instantly addictive, it's a well-made toy for the price. I also think it's a great find for occupational therapists, and parents of kids who need to practice fine motor skills.
Won't be available until April, but you can pre-order now from Fat Brain Toys. $24.95 for the "starter" set; $49.95 for the "deluxe" set.
Pocket People 3 of 18Ever wonder what happens to those missing socks? Crafter Rita Ross turns them into hands-down the most adorable toy of the year. Ms. Ross has made thousands of unique dolls from socks, previously only selling her handmade creations from a Facebook page. The dolls sold on the larger market won't be hand-made, but they retain the charm and handmade look of the originals.
Why I Picked It: Adorable but not babyish, simple but not plain, these dolls are just quirky enough to appeal to both little kids and tweens. The small size (each doll is about 3-1/2 inches tall) is perfectly irresistible.
Coming soon to stores and websites; follow Pocket People on Facebook and Twitter to find out when they're available. Expected to retail for about $10-$12.
Transformers Bot Shots 4 of 18Hasbro's new line of Transformers, the "Polar Assault" Bot Shots jump, spin, flip or blitz into battle. My son loves toys that turn into other toys. However, they're often too difficult for him to do the "transforming" himself. What's worse: More than once I've been stumped on how to change the thing without breaking it.
Why I Picked It: Bot Shots are well-made, sturdy, and best of all, easy to transform. It's pretty much one motion, not a bajillion little levers and doors and whatnot. WIN.
Available from Hasbro, $19.99 for a five-pack.
B-DAMAN Break Bomber Battlefield Arena 5 of 18Duuuude this game is so much fun. Basically you're using little catapults to shoot marbles, knocking blocks out of a wall. Stray marbles are (pretty much) kept in play by the arena.
Why I Picked It:Fun and fast-paced, there's no turn-taking to worry about. Just keep flipping the marbles at the wall. Extra points for embracing destruction (which, let's face it, is fun) without being violent.
Will be available Fall 2013 from Hasbro, $29.99.
BrickStix 6 of 18BrickStix are repositionable decals that cling to plastic bricks like LEGOs and Mega Bloks. Invented by a 9-year-old boy who was frustrated by how darned permanent regular stickers were, the brand has been out there for a couple of years. New this year are Mod Stickers, which offer increased detail. Mod Stickers adhere to plastic bricks like regular stickers, but leave no icky residue behind if you choose to remove them.
Why I Picked It: BrickStix bring even more creativity to the already-awesome LEGOs my kids adore. The company offers a great selection of themes, from "Home" and "Pets" to "WWII" and "Zombie." I also love the educational applications of the stick-on letters, words, and numbers.
Available in specialty toy stores and directly from BrickStix, $5.99 a pack.
Potholder Loom 7 of 18Yes, I know that potholder looms aren't new. I know this because I've bought at least five of the plastic ones, which inevitably break while my kids are trying to stretch too-tight loops across the loom. Harrisville Designs brings us a significantly better-quality loom, as well as loops that are custom-made to fit every single time. The price is a little higher than the plastic looms, but if you've got kids who love to craft, this one is by far the better value. Also available are packs of richly-colored cotton loops in individual colors, mega-packs of loops, and adorable purse kits. The suggested age range for this toy is actually 8 to 12, but my kids and their friends were making them before that, so I'm including it here.
Why I Picked It: At $16.95, the Harrisville Designs loom is about twice what I paid for our last (now broken) plastic loom. But my kids not being frustrated by broken loom teeth and ill-fitting loops is priceless.
Available in specialty stores and directly from Harrisville Designs, $16.95 for the traditional loom. Potholder Purse Kit and the "Lotta Loops" Mega-Pack are each $19.95, and individual packs of single-color loops are $7.50.
LEGO Friends: Emma’s Karate Class 8 of 18While some objected to LEGO Friends' gender-specific marketing when the line first launched, I never had a problem with it. Building is pretty much the path to the STEM fields, and if pink and purple boxes bring more girls to the fun, that's fine with me. In any case, this particular LEGO Friend scored points with me for projecting an active, powerful female image, while still bringing the cute appeal of LEGO Friends.
Why I Picked It: I have the feeling this particular LEGO Friend is ready to karate-chop anyone who says she's anti-feminist. Plus: tiny bonsai tree!
Available on Amazon, $9.97.
LEGO: Fire Chief Car 9 of 18Part of the overall expansion of the LEGO City theme, I just can't get over the sweetness of rescuing a kitty out of a tree.
Why I Picked It: I love the whole LEGO City line, and if you've got the budget for a really big set, you keep your eyes open for the Coast Guard Patrol set coming in August. If you're in the market for a smaller set, this one is just perfect.
Available from Amazon, $11.99.
LEGO: Squirrel’s Treehouse 10 of 18You know what? That's just freaking adorable.
Why I Picked It: ERMAHGERD SQUIRRELZ.
Available on Amazon, $3.99. Turtle and cat sets are also currently available, with more animal sets coming in May and October.
Lay-n-Go Storage Solution 11 of 18Created by a mom seeking a better solution to controlling the chaos of her three sons' LEGO collection, this is one of those things that's brilliant, yet so simple I can't believe no one had ever thought of it before. In the larger size, the storage bag lays flat as a 5-foot play circle, making it easy to spread out bricks. When playtime is done, instead of scooping up all the bricks to go back into a bin, simply pull the cord to contain all the bricks in a bag. The bag is made of high-quality rip-stop material, has a carrying strap, and has little pockets for minifigs and other special pieces. There's also an 18-inch size for travel, which has a lip to keep bricks from spilling out at restaurants and in waiting rooms.
If you're sitting there staring at this, mouth agape at the freaking awesomeness, that's exactly what I was doing when I spotted this at the Toy Fair.
Why I Picked It: Totally brilliant, incredibly well-made, and applicable to every tiny little thing in my house. This would work for my kids' massive Beanie Baby collection, their Littlest Pet Shop critters, their Polly Pockets, little cars, you name it. Mine are already on order.
Available in multiple colors, through Target.com (online only), $58.99 for the original large size and $23.89 for the small size.
Littlest Pet Shop Sweet Delights Sweet Shop Playset 12 of 18My daughters love, love, love Littlest Pet Shop toys. New for 2013 are sets like this one that feature Rolleroos, the animals' new little friends.
Why I Picked It: This is a playset with lots of motion, almost like a marble ramp, but with more personality. I also love that the set's "gumball machine" = built-in safe storage for the Rolleroos.
Available Fall 2013 from Hasbro, $39.99.
Spider-Man Web Creator Lab 13 of 18Popular science toy company Uncle Milton brings a fresh take to the science of superheroes with a series of science toys based on Marvel Superheroes. My favorite of the line is this one, which allows kids to create sticky webs, stretchy webs, and web balls using three different molds. Supplies are included, but kids can also use household supplies to do some of the "experiments."
Why I Picked It: Look, some kids are just going to be into science, and that's great. What makes this toy stand out is that it might interest kids who aren't otherwise into science. Uncle Milton toys consistently do a great job of making science fun, and making it attractive to all kids.
Available Fall 2013 from Uncle Milton Toys.
Magnatab 14 of 18One of those rare toys that makes something dull (handwriting practice) into something fun. This handwriting practice tools utilizes safely-contained magnetized balls to form the letters. To "erase" them, simply push the beads back into place. Available in both lowercase and uppercase for print and cursive.
Why I Picked It: Sometimes you need a little something extra to get kids to work on basic skills. I love that in this age of the digital and the battery-powered, this toy is neither. A great option for fine motor skill work.
(Available in specialty toy and teaching stores, and online at Amazon, $21.18.
Marble Fun Run 105 15 of 18Marble ramps and runs were a big trend at the Toy Fair, and this one hit the mark for both flexibility of design and price. Configure and re-configure the pieces to your heart's content.
Why I Picked It: Out of all the marble runs I saw, this one seemed both sturdy and like a kid could put it together on his or her own. (Although I wouldn't mind playing, too!)
Coming to toy stores soon, and available online now from FS-USA, $29.99.
My Little Pony: Decorate Your Own Pony 16 of 18For all the bronies out there: there are a ton of super-cool new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic toys on the horizon, especially what with Twilight Sparkle becoming a princess and all. I hesitate to pick a fave toy, if only because I don't know which pony you are. (I am Mrs. Cake, if you must know.) A fancier version, which lets fans customize specific My Little Pony characters with stickers and markers, is also now available, but I'm in love with these Blank Flanks.
Why I Picked It:If you've ever checked out the crazy custom ponies on deviantArt, you'll get the massive possibilities here. At only $4.99 (and coming with its own blank white box), it's a perfect birthday party activity or just a special craft activity for anyone. Grab some Sharpie markers and get designing! Note: we're planning on using chalk to color the hair. Also note: if you think I'm just getting these for my kids and not myself, you're out of your mind.
Available now from Hasbro, $4.99.
Sweet Locks Brushes 17 of 18SweetLocks Brushes are cleverly-designed hair brushes that are scented. They smell great while using the brush, but only leave a scent in the hair (cherry-lime or strawberry sweetcake) for about an hour. They don't leave residue or anything in the hair. The idea here is to make it a little more appealing to your kid to brush her own hair. The ombre coloring of the paddle brushes is also spot-on.
Why I Picked It: Because seriously, my daughters don't want to brush their hair. One of my 11-year-olds just said the other day that "you pretty much only have to brush your hair on school days" and honestly, I don't think she'd even do that unless I reminded her to. I'm hoping for an herbal-scented one for my son. Or maybe something in that "new-LEGO smell"?
Coming soon from SweetLocks Brushes. Follow the on Facebook and Twitter to know when they hit stores and salons!
Toobalink 18 of 18This is another one of those things that is simply brilliant. Toobalink provides connectors so you can build with cardboard paper towel and toilet paper tubes. A powerful way to introduce kids to recycling, it's also just plain fun.
Why I Picked It: Great for making both smallish toys and large-scale sculptures, this would work equally well in the classroom and at home.
Available at specialty stores and online from Toobalink, $34.99.
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