The PoP! Stars give their take on the latest and greatest in Action Figures and Toy Lines in eight (succinct) parts.
With C-Day now just over two weeks away, we here at PoP! are offering up our expertise to help the last minute shoppers out there navigate the minefield of holiday toy shopping – and who better to serve as your guide than a slave to The Giraffe himself? After all, who needs elves when Santa has Red Shirts? Now, let’s begin our journey:
Ages 6m-2 years
- Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Playsets – This line of interactive toys offers a wide array of playsets to stimulate young minds while occupying young hands. The kitchen has been a favorite so far, but any Laugh & Learn role play sets seem to be doing just fine, and are appropriate for both boys and girls.
- Imaginext – Intended for ages three and up, any child who’s out of the “putting things in your mouth” phase will do just fine with Imaginext. Even those who still have such tendencies can enjoy some of the sets that come without smaller accessories. The beauty of this line is its broad appeal, encompassing properties such as Toy Story 3 and the DC Super Heroes and integrating them with other themes such as real world and fantasy heroes. In what other toy line can Batman and Buzz Light Year team up with local law enforcement to save a shuttle launch from marauding pirates? Personal favorites in this line include the Ocean Boat, Motorized T-Rex, Dragon World Fortress, and of course, the Batmobile.
- Loving Family – Rounding out our trifecta of Fisher Price products, the Loving Family doll house and its accompanying accessory sets is perfect for the young lady on your shopping list. The house itself is massive, and the additional decor is sold separately at a handful of price ranges to allow for customization on any budget. The family can be added to with siblings, grandparents, and pets, and auxiliary sets such as the family’s minivan or backyard garden can also be purchased.
- Squinkies – Who knew that little rubber pencil toppers made to look like animals, castles, and all sorts of other whimsical things would be the breakout hit of the year? Each of the collectible Squinkies comes in its own resealable plastic sphere. When your little girl’s not wearing her favorite Squinkies on a customizable charm bracelet or displaying them on their collector stand, she can place them back in their bubbles and dispense them from the Bubbble Gum playset. For such an odd little item, they do offer an impressive range of play and collectibility.
- Hasbro – The only company to get an entry on our list, it’s nigh-impossible to go wrong with Hasbro this holiday season when shopping for young lads and tomboys alike. No other one company holds the rights to the Marvel Super Heroes, Transformers, GI Joe, AND Star Wars. While the current Marvel Super Heroes offerings may be a bit slim, kids are still digging Iron Man toys (especially the interactive helmet), and the Marvel Universe Galactus has the best voice chip I’ve ever heard in a talking toy. Transformers are almost always a safe bet, and thanks to three toy lines concurrently on the shelves, they offer plenty of options: the near defunct animated line offers some fun sculpts and slightly simpler transformations, the movie line continues to crank out figures both based on and inspired by the Michael Bay films, and the Generations line features sculpts straight out of the War for Cybertron video game as well as some that take cues from the original cartoon, currently airing on the Hub. The GI Joe line recently relaunched with the Pursuit of Cobra line that is so good that – despite uneven case pack outs – there’s not a pegwarmer in the lot. Finally, the Star Wars line continues to go strong, with the massive AT-AT and Boba Fett Ultimate Battle Set playsets (each clocking in around $100) selling like hot cakes. Bottom line? Hasbro’s got you covered.
- Monster High – In a world where The Walking Dead is one of the best new shows on television and Twilight rules the theaters, it should be no surprise that the hottest new line of dolls features the children of history’s greatest monsters (no, not Greg Land). The Monster High dolls are actually rather adorable in their own gothic way. When out shopping for them, however, keep three things in mind: Get the dolls, not the plush; Claudeen and Laguna are the hardest to find; and NO ONE wants the Gorgon/Cleo 2-pack.
- Hawk Eye - We’re not talking about Marvel’s purple-clad archer, but rather the Air Hogs Hawk Eye remote control helicopter – which comes equipped with a digital still/video camera! While there’s an entire line of SpyGear available on shelves for kids to purchase, a remote control spy drone is easily the top of the line when it comes to undercover intelligence work. One word of caution… there’s no live feed from the camera, so you’ll be piloting it by it line of sight. Sorry guys, looks like you won’t be flying it into the girls’ locker room any time soon.
- Creationary - After seeing Lego Cretationary unveiled at this past year’s New York International Toy Fair, I promptly awarded it “Best of Show.” I wasn’t wrong. Legos are always full of win, but they’ve reached an entirely new level of innovation with this latest offering. Creationary simply refuses to stay stocked, selling out repeatedly to kids and grown-ups alike. There’s nothing much I can say about the game that I haven’t said before, other than “Buy it!”
That rounds out our list of the best and brightest of this holiday season, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t offer up at least one word of caution to any shoppers with a specific list…
- Fushigi Ball – Buyer beware. Think of the Fushigi Ball as a five pound glass yo-yo. I’m sure at some point in your childhood, you saw someone “walking the dog” or doing the “Eiffel Tower” and thought “Man! I want a yo-yo!” only to drop two bucks on a piece of string and plastic that in an hour was nothing but knots. Meet Fushigi. For any child (or adult) not possessed of the patience of a saint, the Fushigi Ball will rapidly turn into an overpriced paper weight. Moreover, a quick read through the instruction sheet brings one back to Saturday Night Live’s “Happy Fun Ball” commercial parody. I implore you… while you finish your holiday shopping this year, do not taunt Fushigi Ball. Don’t buy it, either.