The hottest toys for 2011

Parents, do you need the inside scoop into the most desired toys for the upcoming holiday season?

The kids know what they want.

At The Canadian Toy Associations’ annual “Hot Toys for the Holidays” preview, super-young toy connoisseurs gravitated to their favourites.

Hot for the Holidays: Retro

Nostalgia is trendy for young’uns, too, apparently. Cabbage Patch Kids are back. Elmo’s graduated from tickling to rockin’ with the interactive, musical Let’s Rock! Elmo. And Barbie’s Dreamhouse is still many girls’ fantasy home — no doubt helped by seeing it come to life in Pixar’s "Toy Story 3" last year.

“The Toys “R” Us exclusive Barbie Malibu Dreamhouse from Mattel, has three stories, seven amazing rooms, and 180 degrees of access to allow kids to play within the complete house!” Victoria Spada, spokesperson for Toys “R” Us Canada, wrote to Shine.

Smurfs are also back, but in 2011, the toys are movie-related, not Saturday-morning-cartoon inspired.

Hot Wheels have always been hot, but this year they have “Wall Tracks” so your car-crazed kids can engineer tracks vertically. The Easy Bake Oven is now light-bulb-free. Scrabble is more hip with Scrabble Flash.

[See also: 5 toys that failed]

Hot for the Holidays: Technology

You might have the iPad on your wish list, and chances are your kids probably do, too. For technologically inclined kids, the LeapPad Explorer is the learning tablet on Toys “R” Us’ hot list for 2011. It’s “the first personalized play and learning tablet for kids, equipped with 100+ games and activities with skill levels that automatically adjust to each child’s pace,” Spada said.

Similarly, VTech is introducing the Inno-Tab, The Learning App Tablet.

"They can download apps, they can play games, learn to print, write, storytelling, take pictures, all that kind of stuff with their version of an iPad," The Canadian Toy Association vice-chair Kerry George said.

Moshi Monsters are this generation’s trendier Tamagotchi option. The virtual pet site — it’s been called “Facebook for kids” — with 50 million users, lets kids feed and care for virtual pet monsters. If your kids are fans, the mini-figures and plush characters make for super-affordable stocking-stuffers. It’s what Toys “R” Us calls “reverse technology”: when an online trend becomes a real-world toy. The Angry Birds plush toys is another example of this.

And Pixar continues to dominate wish lists this year, Spada adds, with The Disney-Pixar Cars 2 AppMATes transforming “the screen into a virtual raceway with unique sounds and missions when a child places a tiny toy car onto an iPad.”

Hot for the Holidays: Affordable

Of the 100 toys and games showcased at the preview, half of them cost less than $30. Toys “R” Us’ “Hot 20 Toys” list offered trendy toy suggestions at price points spanning $20 to $100. So while navigating the toy store might still be intimidating, at least it won’t cause financial pain.

Avoid that “Tickle Me Elmo” chaos — 1996 was not a fun year for toy-store line-ups — and shop early.

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