The holidays are upon us. If you have kids in your shopping list, that means spending a good chunk of the lead-up to the season buying Barbies, LEGOs, and whatever other glee-inducing toys those children are looking forward to finding wrapped under the Christmas tree.
There was a time when parents, grandparents, and other grownups will spend this pre-holiday lead-up scouring stores big and small for the best toys of the season, sometimes even battling elbow-to-elbow with other shoppers to get at the most in-demand items. While we still do some of that on occasion (physical stores are just fun), online shopping has really made completing the holiday list a whole lot easier, allowing us to really dig in and find the toys that will bring genuine joy to the sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, and every other young one we’re wrapping presents for this season.
The best toys of the 2023 holidays will vary from one kid to another. Different kids of different ages tend to value different things during their play time, after all. As such, being able to find the best toy will always depend on how well you know your recipients. However, there are some toys that many groups of kids just gravitate towards and those are the ones we focus on for this list. We tried to cover different age ranges to give you options for the younger toddlers and older schoolchildren alike, all while paying due attention to popular lines, time-tested classics, and new brands that manage to capture the imagination of the current generation.
These are the best toys of the 2023 holiday season.
Roblox Digital Gift Code
Kids love to build and create. And there’s no more cost-effective way to do that non-stop that in video games that allow for unfettered creativity. That’s why Roblox and Minecraft have captured kids’ imaginations like no other (sorry Fortnite). That makes a Roblox gift card one of the simplest gifts you can get this holiday season. These gift cards will give your recipient Robux, the in-game currency that they can use to buy items that help with their digital creations. It’s available in a wide range from $10 to $200.
Squishmallows have been popular enough all year with their ultrasoft materials, endlessly huggable stuffing, and over 2,000 different characters. Partnering with the Pokemon Co. is just an overpowered move. That’s right, Pokemon Squishmallows are a thing now, giving your kids a fun, new way to collect their favorite pocket monsters. Far as we know, there are eight characters in the collection, including two Pikachus (one in a regular, another one winking), a Togepi, and a Gengar. Our favorite of the current crop, however, is the Snorlax, which just looks utterly adorable. It’s available in 14-inch and 20-inch versions, so you can temper your Pokemon love or just go all out.
Super Mario Bros. Movie 7-Inch Bowser Action Figure
Many people now in their 30s and 40s grew up on Super Mario. With the popularity of the Switch and the ever-present Mario games on the platform, it’s looking like today’s generation may grow up on the Nintendo mascot, too, along with his cast of colorful characters. Earlier this year, the main antagonist of the Super Mario franchise got his own seven-inch action figure and kids who love his battles with the jumping plumber will probably adore it. Not only does it give you a detailed King Koompa figure, it also comes with 15 points of articulation and an ultrasonic mister with LEDs that make it look like Bowser is breathing fire from his mouth.
This plush doll comes with a knitted shell in Ami Amis’ signature chunky knit that gives it such a fun texture to touch and hold. It’s very soft and huggable, too. More than a mere plush, though, it can move with an adorable wiggle walk, play sounds (both music and effects), and even shoot confetti out of the pom-pom on top of its hat. The confetti is refillable, so you can dump a load of it on the back of its head every time it runs out. Sure, it’s messy, but messy toys have always made for the most fun. Plus, delivering a veritable fountain of confetti just makes it such a festive toy fit for the 2023 holidays.
First time we saw this toy, we thought it was a Dinobot. Apparently, it’s not. Instead, it’s a part of Vtech’s Switch and Go line of robots that consist of vehicles that can combine to form some kind of monstrous robot creature. This particular model include three toy vehicles, namely a fire truck, a rescue chopper, and a police car, all of which come together to form this 20-inch long T-Rex to give you a cybernetic creature fit to battle Godzilla if the king of kaiju ever decided to wreak havoc in your patch of the world. It comes with sounds, lights, and various digital animations, too, making for a toy that may even be more fun than a regular Transformer.
Children have been playing with toy pianos that make fun sounds for as long as we can remember. This one, though, makes it a bit more modern by integrating full DJ equipment into the setup, so it comes with wheels, sliders, switches, discs, and all sorts of controls along with the keys. Designed for babies and toddlers, this toy engages children with fine motor activities, as well as over a hundred entertaining songs, sounds, and language phrases. Not only does it allow kids to play with sounds, it can teach them colors, numbers, shapes, the alphabet, and even some new words.
The pizza-munchin’ turtles are back with a new movie this year and a whole host of toys in time for the 2023 holidays. For the list, we’re going with the four-pack of 4.5-inch Playmates action figures, which gives you Raphael, Michelangelo, Leonardo, and Donatello in all their sewer-dwelling glory. Each figure comes with 12 points of articulation, along with a full set of each character’s weapons and accessories. If you’re in a giving mood, you can get your recipient the Pizza Fire Delivery Van, too, which is large enough to fit all four turtles, so they can go on their way, driving around and fighting crime all throughout the city.
With such an immensely successful movie behind it, there’s no shortage of new Barbies out in full force. As far as the movie is concerned, though, this has to be our favorite of the lot, which shows the titular character decked in the inline skating outfit she donned in the film. It recreates the whole thing, from the neon green rollerblades and protective pads to the colorful retro leotard and pink cycling shorts to the candy-colored visor and neon green hoop earrings. Do note, this Barbie cannot stand on its own because of the inline skates, so your kid might have to get a bit creative when posing it for display.
We didn’t expect to see Furby as a toy that continues to sizzle this year. We’re kinda over it, if we’re being honest. However, we’re also not children, so we guess they know better when it comes to a really fun play time. The newest version of the 90s classic can talk not just in its signature Furbish language but also in English (yep, they’re bilingual now), as well as move, dance, sing, light up, and interact as if it’s conversing with the people around. It also responds to five commands, namely “dance party,” “copy cat,” “tell my fortune,” “let’s chill,” and “light show,” all while having over 600 responses in its arsenal. Like the Furbies of old, it can talk to other Furbies and look like they’re scheming to take over your household, while coming with animated blinking eyes and touch sensors that allow it to respond to hugs and head pats.
This one starts out as a construction toy that has your kid putting together a fun-looking dog house. While that should make for an engaging time on its own, the magic happens once the dog house is built and you’ve attached the welcome mat in front of the door. Next step is to put ice cold water on the dog bowl next to the mat, which will trigger the appearance of paw prints on the mat and the magical arrival of a puppy inside the dog house. Wait a bit longer and you’ll hear barking sounds from inside the dog house, at which point you can retrieve your plush puppy, which can respond to touch, play with its bone, and interact using any of the 25-plus pre-programmed sounds.
To this day, we’re still not sure why Elmo seems to be the most popular Sesame Street character when it comes to toys. There’s just something about him that appeals to the kids somehow. This year’s biggest Sesame Street toy is this singing and dancing Elmo, which performs “The Elmo Slide” song and dance routine that’s made its rounds on both the TV show and all over social media. We’ll admit, it looks amazing, with the 14-inch doll singing and dancing along in a smooth, believable manner as the song plays. Apparently, they installed wheels on its feet, which allows the smooth movement that makes the character look like it’s pulling off some Michael Jackson moves straight out of the 80s. Aside from singing and dancing, it also comes with an “Elmo Says” game, which is, basically, Simon Says, but with Elmo leading the way. It speaks and sings in both English and Spanish.
The past two years, we’ve had a Magic Mixies toy in our holiday list, with the Mixing Cauldron in 2021 and the Misting Crystal Ball in 2022. This year won’t be an exception with this toy looking poised to take over, bringing the same gameplay as the previous years, albeit in a rub-a-dub lamp fit for a magical genie. As with the previous toys, you follow the series of steps to complete the magical ritual, which, in this iteration, will spawn two items: a magical ring and a toy Genie that, we’ll be honest, just looks like a toy kitty. As with the outfit’s previous toys, much of the fun here is the performance of the magic ritual, which is accompanied by lights, sounds, and a mystical mist that emanates straight out of the magic lamp as the Genie reveals itself. Once a genie is out, you can ask it for wishes using the ring, converse with it, or just rub its belly to make it react. You can also buy magical mist refills, so kids can play with both the Genie and the lamp over and over.
You can think of Beast Lab as a mad science version of the Magic Mixies. While the Mixies conjured a cute creature using magic, this one concocts a muscled anthropomorphic beast using a “creator chamber” straight out of a sci-fi B-movie. To build your creature, you turn on the advanced mad science machine, then begin adding ingredients and adjusting the knob based on the instructions. As your machine “cooks” your creature using advanced biological and chemical reactions while covered by a pile of green goo, a party of mist, lights, and sounds emanate from the machine. When finished, the green goo will drain out and unleash your beastly creation. The toy comes in two variants: one that builds man-sharks and another that builds half-man, half-wild cat. We’re partial to the big cat version (we think they look awesome), although we definitely know some people who’d prefer that man-shark type of creature.
For the Paw Patrol fans in your shopping list, this toy gives kids an aircraft carrier measuring over two feet long, with built-in runways and ramps for launching a pair of toy cars. It comes with a figure of Chase and his rescue race car that you can send careening down that runway. Sadly, it doesn’t come with a second vehicle, so you’ll have to buy one separately if your kids want to take full advantage of what the toy offers. Aside from giving cars a running headstart, the aircraft carrier can transform into rescue mode, fire water projectiles, and offer plenty of hidden play areas for kids to explore, with plenty of light and sound effects onboard.
Thames & Kosmos Kai: The Artificial Intelligence Robot
If your young recipient likes robots, this set will help them build one from the ground up. Specifically, it helps them build a six-legged robot with a 25 red LEDs for a face, claw hands, and a body that can spin 360 degrees. Depending on how young they are, you might need to help them plenty, especially since this includes many small parts that can easily get lost if a kid isn’t careful. There’s still plenty of fun to be had after the robot is built, as you can use the companion app to teach it to recognize commands (gesture and voice) and perform basic movements, helping kids explore machine learning concepts in the process. There’s also a remote control function in the app if you just want to take control of the automaton, which is a different kind of fun all on its own.
Marvel Spidey and His Amazing Friends Web-Spinners Playset
This toy set lets you build the wallcrawler’s “Web-quarters” from his animated series on Disney Junior, where he, apparently, has a brand new center of operations built with the help of Iron man. While we don’t actually keep up with the show (it’s for the kiddos), the toy looks positively amazing, standing 27 inches tall and sporting detailed elements straight of the third season of the series. It has multiple play areas around the facility, including multiple ledges, a command center, a spinning transformation chamber, a garage, and more, with plenty of light effects and sounds directly taken from the show. A Spidey figure is included, of course, along with a six-wheeled vehicle and four accessories that can be attached to various areas of the HQ.
For the kid with an eye towards donning a race suit in their future, this drift-friendly go-kart is certain to fill their Christmas morning with scintillating holiday thrills. It can run at maximum speeds of up to 11 mph, with parental locks that can restrict it to either 8 or 5 mph, as well as a single-speed reverse for backing once they get stuck in a corner. Designed for drifting, this go-kart comes with high-grip smaller wheels out front and slippery large wheels in the rear, ensuring maximum slithering action during turns and sudden stops. Features include an adjustable seat to accommodate kids from 5 to 12 years old, a battery that lasts up to 45 minutes between charges, and a racing flag for visibility.
Barbie Dreamhouse 2023 Pool Party Doll House with 75+ Pieces and 3-Story Slide
There’s a heck of a lot of Barbie dreamhouses that have been made through the years. In our opinion, this is one of the best ever. For one, it’s massive, with three levels, a large pool, and a spiral slide that stretches from the top floor down to the pool. It comes with 10 separate play areas, including a well-appointed kitchen, a living room, a bedroom with mattress space for up to four dolls (slumber party), a wheelchair-accessible elevator, and even a pet playground (or a child, if Barbie ever decides to have one). Suffice to say, if you want a large, detailed dollhouse for Barbies that feel like you’re housing your dolls in a veritable mansion, this is the way to go.