The kids who demo toys on YouTube aren’t just entertaining your kids — they’re mastering skills as expert toy testers and simplifying your holiday shopping.
On Thursday, Walmart unleashed its annual Top Rated by Kids list, a compilation of the hottest toys of the season, voted on by hundreds of kids and road-tested by 25 child experts, aka toy influencers: Panelists such as Ryan Secret, 7, whose stylish Instagram went viral for his resemblance to Bruno Mars; Kyle, 9, whose YouTube channel Kyle’s Toys and Games boasts more than half a million subscribers; and Ava Ryan, 8, a former Vine star whose videos include parodies like Bossy Boss Lady.
Why is the kid perspective necessary? Adults usually make toy purchases based on cost, age appropriateness, and — yup — cleanup time, but a kid’s critical eye catches gender stereotypes and developmental details. For example, 11-year-old Gavster, a dancer and model, critiqued the collectible Treasure X, “It’s a surprise toy and there are not a lot of boy surprise toys, but there are many girl surprise toys. It comes with a treasure inside — and you get real treasures!”
Or, as kid influencer and Harry Potter fan Clara Lukasiak, 8, of the YouTube channel Clara’s World sums up, “I’m a child and not a grown up. Parents don’t get it.”
Walmart’s initiative includes a “National Play Day” on Sept. 8 at more than 1,500 locations, and in-store toy demos and Nerf and Hot Wheels toy roadshows until Nov. 1. The company will also widen its selection by 30 percent in stores and by 40 percent online.
When asked to name the hottest toy in 2018, Anne Marie Kehoe, vice president of toys for Walmart U.S., tells Yahoo Lifestyle that a gold-dipped Treasure X collectible, a Paw Patrol Ultimate Fire Rescue Truck, a Fingerlings Hugs plush monkey, a Cool Maker, KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker, a Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage, and a three-story wooden L.O.L. Surprise! House for dolls topped the list. “We have toys that no one expected to become that big — who knew?” Kehoe tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
Here are some of Walmart’s most dynamic playthings:
Lego Creator Pirate Roller Coaster 31084, $88.88 (ages 9 to 14): Pirates can ride a functional rollercoaster that comes with a sunken galleon, a skull archway, a palm tree, and an octopus. Plus a splash pad to cool off when the waters get too choppy.
L.O.L. Surprise House with 85+ surprises, $199.99 (ages 6 to 10): A wooden structure, three stories, six rooms, a working elevator, a hot tub, a pet sandbox, and a rooftop helipad are just a few of this home’s pint-sized features. When can we move in?
Nerf Laser Ops Pro AlphaPoint 2-Pack, $40.49 (ages 8+): The laser tag game has unlimited ammo with the click of a reload button and advanced players can boost their skills using the Nerf Laser Ops app. The game is tested and approved by California brothers and superhero fans Gabe & Garrett, who have attracted 1.5 million subscribers on their YouTube channel.
Cool Maker, KumiKreator Friendship Bracelet Maker, $29.97 (ages 8+): Putting the classic summer camp hobby to shame, this bracelet maker, inspired by the art of Japanese Kumi bracelets, allows your kid to churn out 10 different styles using 88 spools of string and comes with a handy design booklet.
Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage, $94 (ages 5-8): For you, it’s a place to store the hundreds of Hot Wheels cars that litter your home; for your kid, it’s a race-track rollercoaster on which cars loop and launch from a tunnel jump. There’s a fueling station, parking spots for 90 vehicles, and surprise shark attacks.
Fingerlings Hugs – Boris (Blue), $29.84 (ages 5+): Whereas Fingerlings wrap around an owner’s fingers, the super-long arms on the larger Hugs version, can actually snuggle, kiss, burp, and yep, pass gas. The monkeys talk too — just press their ear and speak, then listen as they mimic in funny voices. (Also available in Bella the Hug in pink.)
Treasure X, $9.84 (ages 5+): Use a map, a coin, and a digging tool to search for gold-dipped treasure with 10 levels of mystery.
Disney Princess Rapunzel Vanity, $59 (ages 3+): A Tangled-inspired musical vanity station means no tiny paws in your hair products. Kids can sit on a stool facing a removable mirror while brushing or clipping their hair. Playdate Rapunzel Doll (sold separately) completes any glam squad.
PJ Masks Romeo’s Lab Playset, $39.88 (ages 3+): Villains Romeo, Luna Girl, and Night Ninja can plot revenge against the PJ Masks in this secret evil lair. Romeo’s laboratory has a light-and-sound control panel, a working crane, and a laser launcher. It includes a Romeo and Romeo’s Robot figure, plus extra tools.
Harry Potter Wizard Training Wand — Lord Voldemort’s Wand, $24.88 (ages 3+): Wizard training has officially started. Kids can cast 11 different spells using a motion-detector wand with five modes of play and sound feedback. Clara approves.
Read more from Yahoo Lifestyle:
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- How to help kids cope with back-to-school anxiety
- 6-year-old is a ‘scammer in the making’ after she secretly orders $350 worth of toys off Amazon