Top Christmas Toys of 2012: Furby, Wii U, LeapPad 2 and More Popular Kids’ Gifts

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It’s that time of year again. The inevitable search for the perfect holiday gift has begun, and with Black Friday deals, extended holiday hours and cyber coupons all urging you to “buy now” and “save more,” the real dilemma lies in what to spend your hard-earned cash on.

We’ve done the work for you and have compiled a detailed list of this season’s six most talked about gadgets and collectibles, sure to paint festive smiles across your young ones’ faces.

 

1. LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer

Following the success of LeapFrog’s LeapPad1 Explorer Tablet comes the LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer.  LeapPad2 is for those children with a thirst for knowledge and active gaming.  This stylish tablet mimics the popular design of the ubiquitous iPad, in fun green or pink, so the kids can finally be just like Mom and Dad.

Designed for ages 3-9, children can plug away at interactive apps while learning at the same time.  LeapPad2 offers a wide variety of games, eBooks, videos, music and more.  The LeapPad2 features 4GB and an upgraded processor.  With access to a library of 325+ game cartridges and downloadable applications, the tablet comes pre-stocked with 4 apps plus one free app download. Here are the included apps:

  • Art Studio App
  • Cartoon Creativity App
  • LeapFrog Learning Songs App (Including 5 Songs)
  • Pet Pad Writing App

Kids can tap, touch, draw, turn, twist, shake or spin their way to hours of fun — this is no glorified video game, it’s the real deal!  Built-in front-and-back cameras with video-capturing capabilities will ensure hours of non-stop fun and excitement.  The tablet is designed around learning and teaches subjects ranging from reading, art, music and language to hard sciences like math, geography, and more.  Parents are encouraged to check their progress.

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: 3 – 9
  • Genders: Both
  • Price: $99
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Leapfrog.com, Amazon.com, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com and others.
  • Product Specs: Sold with USB cable but requires 4 AA batteries (not included).
  • Accessories: Color-coded cases for added protection, game cartridges and a recharger pack available separately. Recharger pack selling for $34.04 at Amazon.com.
  • Bundles:  A Disney Princes Bundle, featuring an intricate design, seven Disney Princess-themed interactive wallpapers and sticker sheets, for $129.99 at Barnes and Noble. Other bundles include a Math & Science Bundle for $199.95, a Learn to Read Bundle for $169.96 and a Travel Bundle for $114.99.

 

2.  Skylanders: Giants

Where can you get the excitement of action figures, the strategy of card games and interactive gameplay all in one?  The answer is Activision’s Skylanders: Giants, which is the sequel to the 2011 video game Skylanders: Spyro’s Adventure.  This holiday giant is the new Pokemon or Beyblade for boys age 6+.

Skylanders: Giants uses physical toys and collectible trading cards in conjunction with the virtual gameplay.  Connect a monster, any of 48 separate action figures, to the Portal of Power to allow them into your gaming console:  PS3, Xbox 360, Wii, Nintendo 3DS, or PC/MAC.

These epic fantasy battle toys merge with the gameplay to take life of their own through several playing options such as battle mode or story mode, unleashing a pantheon of imaginative monster characters ready to do your bidding.

Skylanders: Giants features the voice talents of well-known actors including George Takei and Patrick Warburton. Characters from the first game are also compatible, making extended and expandable gameplay a prized feature.

There is a Starter Pack for $74.99 (Best Buy, Kmart, Amazon.com, Toys R Us), which includes:

  • Skylanders: Giants game
  • Portal of Power (which connects the toy to the console, unleashing your character)
  • 3 Skylanders action figures
  • A character collection poster
  • 3 sticker sheets
  • 3 trading cards

There is also a $59 Portal Owners Packs for those who already have the connectivity associated with Spyro.

Single characters each have their own storyline, and range from $9.99 for single action figures (with a trading card) to $24.95 for Battle Pack Toy Packs with three figures and trading cards.

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: 6+
  • Gender: Intended for boys
  • Price: $74.99 for starter pack, $59 for Portal Owners Pack
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Best Buy, Kmart, Amazon.com, Toys R Us and others.
  • Accessories: Can purchase more figures separately.

 

3.  Lego Friends for Girls

There’s no toy as universally known and timeless as Legos.  This year, Lego introduced a new popular string of collectible Lego sets, called Lego Friends, designed specifically to introduce girls from 6 to 12 years old to the wonderful world of Legos.

Lego Friends follows the popularity of multiple Lego Packs (fully compatible with all Lego System bricks), similar to their adventure sets or Star-Wars themed packs.

Lego Friends features miniaturized, but realistic appliances, furniture, Lego family figurines, pets, cars, trees and accessories that will encourage girls to “build, create, remodel and redecorate!” across a variety of packs, including, but not limited to: Butterfly Beauty Shop, City Park Café, Olivi’s Tree house, Stephanie’s Cool Convertible, Mia’s Puppy House, Stephanie’s Outdoor Bakery, Emma’s Horse Trailer, Heartlake Flying Club, Emma’s Splash Pool and many more.

Note, however, that there has been some controversy surrounding gender stereotypes and Lego Friends. Some groups have accused LEGO of perpetuating limiting gender stereotypes, while LEGO has said that their goal is to expose girls to the positive aspects of construction play. You’ll have to decide for yourself whether Lego Friends are the right choice for the kids in your life.

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: 6 – 12
  • Genders: Girls
  • Price: $6.99 – $69.99
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Target.com, Walmart.com, Amazon.com and others.

 

4.  Monster High Dolls

Mattel, the company that brought you Barbie, has introduced another (slightly more monstrous) line of dolls. Monster High Dolls, for girls between 6-15 years of age, are collectible, fully articulated dolls that are a fun and spooky alternative to traditional fashion dolls.  Punk rock attitude and high fashion chic can be found across a variety of the characters based off the popular Monster High Webisodes.

The dolls are a creative assortment of monsters and ghoulish divas that come packaged with theme related pets, stands, a diary, a brush and accessories.  Characters include, but are not limited to:

  • Nefera De Nile, a gold and turquoise donning Cleopatra-inspired doll
  • Venus McFlytrap , a plant-monster themed doll infused with a London punk style
  • Dot-Dead Gorgeous Spectra Vondergeist, a sassy, spooky poltergiest
  • Clawdeen Wolf, a girly werewolf
  • Ghouls Rule Draculaura—you get the picture!

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: 6 – 15
  • Genders: Girls
  • Price: $12.99 – $22.99
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Mattel.com, Target.com, Toysrus.com and others
  • Product Specs: No batteries and no assembly required.
  • Accessories: Fashion and additional accessory packs are available, tailor-designed around themes like sea monsters, vampires, or ghouls. Get character or theme specific Create-A-Monster playsets to build dolls starting from $16.99 from Mattel.com, and a Monster High High School Playset to give the dolls a scary and exciting hangout to haunt.

 

5.  Furby

The popular Hasbro toy is back with features like never before. First, build your Furby at furby.com, ideal for boys and girls ages 6 and up.  Choose from a large selection of colors and eye combinations to make Furby your own.

Furby speaks Furbish and English, and responds to audio commands including your voice and music.  Furby will dance, sing, talk and even eat, developing a personality that is unique to your child’s interaction.  Unique to the new Furby is its ability to connect with an optional app, helping you translate Furbish. The app works with Apple products including iPod Touch, iPad, and iPhone with iOS 4.2 on up.

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: 6+
  • Genders: Both
  • Price: $54
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Walmart, Target, Toys R Us and others. Buy soon, however, as availability is already limited.
  • Product Specs: Requires 4 AA batteries. Batteries not included in Furby purchase.
  • Accessories: Furby Sling Bag and Chair, bundled together for $25.94 at Walmart stores.
  • Bundles: Furby & Duracell AA Batteries, 16 ct Value Bundle for $63.97 at Walmart stores.

 

6.  Wii U

Gamers of all ages and types will be scrambling for the new Nintendo Wii U GamePad controller.  The rechargeable Wii U enhances your video gaming experience by incorporating a 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen with their traditional button controls and analog sticks, connecting you wirelessly to both your console and the television in new and unimaginable ways.

According to the Nintendo website, the Wii U GamePad also includes:

  • motion control
  • a front-facing camera
  • a microphone
  • stereo speakers
  • rumble features
  • a sensor bar
  • a stylus
  • built-in accelerometer and gyroscope
  • support for a memory card
  • support for Near Field Communication (NFC).
  • The Wii U GamePad is portable and powered by a rechargeable lithium-ion battery. Wii U includes an HDMI Cable, a Sensor Bar, and 2 AC Adaptors.

Play almost all of your favorite games in up to 1080p HD for the first time on a Nintendo gaming console.  Download from Nintendo’s eShop directly from the Wii U controller, video chat, and create your own Mii characters.  Finally, with broadband connectivity, you can use your Wii U GamePad as a remote control, and even browse the Internet.

This is the must-have item for any serious gamer that wants full-control of their video gaming and entertainment at the (literal) tip of their fingers.

The Essential Details:

  • Ages: All ages
  • Genders: Both
  • Price: $299 for the Wii U 8GB Basic
  • Availability (as of 12/3): At Walmart.com, Target.com, Toyrus.com and others. Availability is expected to be very limited as Christmas approaches.
  • Product Specs: 6.2-inch, 16:9 aspect ratio LCD touch screen.
  • Accessories: Wii U Microphone, Wii U Gamepad and Cradle Set, Wii PSWii21 U Protect and Play Case and others.
  • Bundles: Walmart.com has bundles with a Wii U, customer choice game and a Wii Plus Remote for $389. Gamestop.com has a Wii U 32GB Deluxe set which includes Wii U and the Nintendo Land Game for $349.99.

Christmas bag and toys photo from Shutterstock.

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