The best toys of 2020 are a reflection of this year's events. There's Monopoly House Divided, a state-of-the-nation take on the classic board game. There's also Playmobil's Large Hospital play set, which introduces kids to what goes on inside a hospital. Other top toys of the year are an escape. They involve drawing with chocolate, creating bright creatures and training a robotic balloon dog to do tricks. Here, the editors of TIME for Kids round up the best of this year's toys.
Have you been begging your parents for a puppy during the pandemic? Squeakee the Balloon Dog, by Moose Toys, might be the next-best thing. With his squeaker toy, you can train him to do tricks. He sits, stands, and pees. He also responds to touch and voice commands. Pop him with his plastic pin, and he'll deflate to the ground. But have no fear: Squeakee can be reinflated with his plastic pump. He may not be a real dog or even a real balloon dog, but he acts like both.
With these toys, you'll be playing politics long after the 2020 election. Hasbro's Monopoly House Divided is based on the classic version of the game. Instead of building hotels, you build campaign headquarters and win states. The White House is the ultimate prize. There's also Lego Architecture: The White House. With this building-block set, families can work together to recreate the historic home of the U.S. president. The set comes complete with gardens and a fountain!
Creatto Light Up Crafting Kit comes with tiles, connectors, lights and instructions for building a variety of whimsical creatures. With Shimmer Shark & Ocean Pals, you can create a shark, octopus, seagull or fish--or something of your own. Once the pieces are assembled, LED lights can be strung through the puzzle to illuminate the creature, perfect for brightening up a kid's bedroom. Thames & Kosmos offers several Creatto sets, including Magical Moose & Forest Friends and Sparkle Unicorn & Friends.
Ready to flex your creative muscles? Try these sunny open-ended play sets. Lego Classic Bricks Bricks Plates includes more than 1,500 Lego pieces in a variety of colors and shapes. It comes with four square bases that hold bricks at any angle--even upside down. If you're looking for something squishy, Horizon Group USA's Rainbow Mixy Squish Deluxe Pack features air-dry clay in 12 bright colors. It also comes with fun mixers, such as confetti and foam balls. Leave the clay out for 24 to 48 hours to dry, and your creation will turn into a soft sculpture.
A Handy Robot
Need an extra hand? Try a robotic one that can help with everyday tasks. Mega Cyborg Hand, by Thames & Kosmos, comes with more than 200 pieces. A step-by-step manual shows you how to build it. And along the way, you'll learn about designing things that move by air and water. The toy simulates the movements of a human hand, with no electricity required. Once assembled, it slips on like a glove.
Back to the Classics
This year marks the 60th anniversary of Etch a Sketch, and next year is the 50th anniversary of Uno. Celebrate these milestones with new twists on these timeless classics. Spin Master's Etch a Sketch Revolution is built for sketching perfect circles. Mattel's Uno Showdown makes quick reflexes a necessity of the popular matching card game. Playing a Showdown wild card means challenging another player to a face-off. The first person to push the paddle wins the round.
These low-tech kits combine the fundamentals of STEM and the arts. The Smartivity Music Machine is a do-it-yourself creativity kit. It lets you build a self-playing xylophone machine without glue or tools. Once the instrument is put together, you can crank out your own songs. The Smartivity Kaleidoscope is another wooden construction kit. This one focuses on patterns and colors. When the kaleidoscope is completed, it can be filled with beads or other small items from around the house.
The Force Awakens
Many would agree that the real star of The Mandalorian is actually the Child. The creature is also known as Baby Yoda because it looks like the classic Star Wars character. Now, the creature can waddle its way into your home. Hasbro's Star Wars: The Child Animatronic Edition toy is cuddly. It blinks and makes adorable sounds. Mattel's The Child: Real Moves Plush has a remote control and can move across the floor. For kids who like to build things, Lego Star Wars: The Child might be the best choice. Sit down with the family and assemble the cutest kid in the galaxy.
Family game night just got a lot more active. Hands Full, by WowWee, is best described as Twister-meets--Bop It. It consists of tying yourself up in knots and responding to commands. Grab, jump, high-five, twist, and more. But don't mess up or the game is over! Vango's The #UpsideDownChallenge Game will turn your world upside down--literally. Sure, you know how to high-five a friend, draw a tree, and pour water from one cup to another. But what happens when you try to complete these tasks wearing upside-down goggles?
Playmobil's Large Hospital brings the medical world to life. It's two stories high and has rolling hospital beds, an elevator, and an operating room. It also comes with mini medical devices, including a stethoscope and reflex hammer. And the waiting room is complete with magazines. Large Hospital is a great toy for learning about healthcare professions--particularly during these times. Are you worried about visiting a hospital or the doctor? This kit may help!
Eats and Crafts
Enter the world of delicious and imaginative crafting. With Chocolate Pen, by Skyrocket, you can write tasty messages. You can also melt chocolate into molds to create rainbows, animals, and more. With Super Duper Bubble Gum Lab, by Thames & Kosmos, create your own chewing gum in watermelon, orange, and classic bubblegum flavors. The gum is tasty! But it can also be used in a variety of science experiments. They're included in the kit's instructional manual.
Ready to race to the finish line? PlayMonster's Drone Home is the first-ever kids' game that has a real flying drone. Players launch aliens in the drone to help them escape. The first player to send home all of his or her aliens wins. Power Treads, by WowWee, is a speedy toy vehicle. It moves on nearly all surfaces, and it's perfect for indoors. It comes with a track set that can take the vehicle practically anywhere you want it to go.