With so many parents working from home in 2020, and so many children learning from home as well, it should come as no surprise that this year’s toy shopping will look quite unusual. While electronic gadgets and gizmos have risen in popularity over the years, 2020 is the year that so many children and parents found themselves looking for video games and video game consoles to escape the boredom of being stuck inside.
Retailers have had to adjust as well, with many retailers running low on the pandemic-essential toys and electronics. Walmart was the first retailer this year to release their official toy list and Target quietly followed behind. Amazon has yet to drop their toy list for 2020, which leaves us wondering if they are late to release or planning something totally unique for the season.
Top Toys 2020
The Nintendo Switch has had quite the year. The company had essentially planned to go light, in terms of video game releases in 2020 due to both the new Xbox and the new Playstation releasing this year. There was a minor Mario title scheduled for release in July, but no major titles scheduled for release in the fall or winter. However, due to the pandemic, Nintendo found massive success in their March release of “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.” As a result of the pandemic and a perfectly-released vacationing game, Nintendo Switch sales spiked beyond before. All major retailers quickly sold out and used Switches were selling on secondary markets for double their retail price. It is safe to say, even with massive sales in the early part of the year, that the Nintendo Switch will dominate this holiday season. Currently $299 at Target.
It has been six years since Microsoft and Sony released a new video game console. This year, both studios will be launching two different models of their latest video game consoles, with Microsoft being the first to officially announce (and release full specifics) their pricing and release date. The Xbox Series line will be receiving two consoles: the Series S and the Series X. Both will play all Xbox One games via backwards compatibility while also playing the new generation of games. The Series X will feature 4K gaming and video, while the Series S will only feature 1440p gaming and video. The Series S will release on Nov. 10 for $299, while the Series X will drop the same day but at $499. If you are planning on picking these up as holiday gifts this year, make sure to preorder as soon as possible (Microsoft will open preorders on Sept. 22). Also, keep in mind that the Series S can not play physical copies of games, meaning that Series S owners will only be able to play games bought digitally.
There isn’t a lot to say about the Playstation 5, due largely to Sony being very hush-hush about its (expected) upcoming release. Sony did hold a Playstation 5 event in March where they detailed many of the specs inside but there is still no official release date and no pricing information. We do know that Sony will be releasing two versions of the Playstation 5; one is focused on digital video games only and will feature worse specs for a (rumored) much lower price. We do know that two exclusive titles have been announced, including a follow-up to 2018’s popular Spider-Man game. We will update this list once Sony releases more information.
Star Wars Child Animatronic (new season out in October – very few new tv and movies)
Disney found themselves with a huge social media hit last year with Star Wars The Mandalorian and it’s already been confirmed that season two will be launching in October. Disney wasn’t prepared last year for the onslaught of love that ‘Baby Yoda’ or ‘The Child’ received, but this year should be exceptionally different. With a slew of The Child toys, plushes, and cereal already on the market, we expect The Child Animatronic toy to be the one that shines the brightest this holiday season. The Mandalorian will also see a huge bump in popularity this year due to the lack of other new movies or television shows because of the pandemic. If someone on your shopping list loves Star Wars, we highly recommend finding The Child Animatronic as early as possible. Up for preorder for $60 at Amazon.
Mama Josie Kangaroo Pet
Interactive toys and electronic gadgets will definitely dominate 2020, which is why we believe that the Mama Josie Kangaroo Pet will be eagerly sought after this year. Capitalizing on the toy mystery concept that played such a pivotal role in 2019, Josie comes with three baby kangaroos (joeys) – one female, one male and one surprise. Josie responds to touch and has over 70 verbal and motion reactions. Like other electronic toys in the same field, Josie plays music and can also help orchestrate games. Available at Walmart for $67.
Paw Patrol Dino Patroller
Paw Patrol has gone prehistoric. Coinciding with the release of their new series – Paw Patrol Dino Rescue – combining two things kids are certain to obsess over: dinosaurs and dogs. We believe that the hottest new toy from Paw Patrol Dino Rescue will be the Patroller Motorized Team Vehicle. This large, new patroller comes with one of the main Paw Patrol characters, Chase, along with a T-Rex figurine. The patroller is motorized, which will allow kids to easily push a button and send the patroller racing. Paw Patrol has been a consistently large seller during the holiday season and we predict this patroller will sell out fast! Available at Amazon for $54.
This balloon-looking electronic toy must be one of the weirdest toys we’ve ever covered. The toy is fully interactive, even though it looks like a cute balloon animal! Squeakee features unique voice commands that will get him to move and speak (in a balloon-squeek kind of way). Squeakee also features a ‘play dead’ gimmick, where children can place a toy pin inside a hole on the toy, causing Squeakee to squeal like a balloon releasing all its air and fall over ‘dead’. It sounds super weird, but it is super adorable. Children can then use a toy air pump (colored the same as Squeakee) by placing it near the toy’s mouth to trigger an automated ‘refill’ of air, bringing the toy back to life. Available for pre-order at Amazon for $60.
Treasure X Sunken Gold Shark
The Treasure X Sunken Gold line of toys is yet another mystery toy collection, with the Treasure X Sunken Gold Shark being a toy shark trapped inside of a toy bottle. Open up the package, receive a special knife to cut into the bottle and release the toy shark! Inside the shark’s mouth is a special figurine, but cutting into the belly of the shark (with the same toy knife) will reveal pink/purple toy package meant to look like the shark’s insides. Opening the bag will expose several different mystery toys, including slime, a treasure chest and shark attachment add-ons. Placing the treasure chest in a container of water will cause it to open, revealing mystery rare elements that vary per package. Available for $20 at Walmart.
Disney found huge success in 2018 when it launched its latest board game – Villainous. Rather than taking on the roles of heroes, players play as infamous villains found throughout Disney’s large animated history. This year, Disney has opened the game up to their Marvel properties, giving us Marvel Villainous, a nearly identical board game based in the Marvel universe that sees players taking on the roles of five different villains – all competing for domination. The original game was a huge seller for Disney and it is guaranteed that the Marvel version will sell just as hotly, if not moreso. If you have children on your list that are old enough to understand and follow a board game, we highly recommend Marvel Villainous. Available at Target for $35.
L.O.L. Surprise OMG REMIX Hair Flip Dolls
The L.O.L Surprise OMG Remix Hair Flip Dolls are an expansion on the L.O.L. toy line, this time adding in a deeper focus on the music and mystery. Like the traditional mystery toys before them, these Remix Dolls pack a mystery punch by leaving the contents a surprise. The line features 12 different characters to collect, while the contents and box design all heavily focus on music, music instruments, or other various aspects of the music industry. The previous L.O.L. lines have been massively successful and we predict that this new line will continue with the same popularity. The expected launch date for the Hair Flip dolls was August 11, but so far no retailers have the line in stock.
Mario Kart Live
While we did say this was our Top Ten Toy List for 2020, we do have to include an honorable mention with Nintendo’s upcoming Mario Kart Live release. The product does not officially release until October 16, and Nintendo has only announced two different race cars (Mario and Luigi), but we predict that this product will be a massive seller for Nintendo this holiday season. This is a live, interactive toy that uses augmented reality to establish a race track around your home (or outdoor play area). Once the track is established, players will control an actual Mario Kart race toy via a game inside of their Nintendo Switch. It’s live-action Mario Kart for your home, controlled by a video game! Nintendo has a history of shorting their product releases on launch, so if you’ve got someone on your list that this would be perfect for – make sure to pick this up early! No retailer has begun taking preorders yet.
Yearly Toy Trends
As you can tell by our list, nearly the same exact toy trends that were exceptionally popular last year are also extremely popular this year. The aspects of mystery gifts continue to impress, both with kids and retailers, and as such the demand is through the roof! And with so many people stuck inside during this pandemic, it is a given that electronic toys and gadgets are rising in popularity at exceptional speeds!
The mystery toy market has continued to show that it is not a fad. We can trace back specific mystery lines, like the L.O.L series, to before 2018 when the line really cemented itself in mystery toy history (though toy mysteries are certainly not a new concept). What sparked the rage continues to be debated among experts, though most agree that a large part of the popularity may stem from early Youtube videos aimed at children. There has always been an attraction to watch popular streamers unbox and open new toys and manufacturers have been able to capitalize on that by focusing on the unknown. While mystery toys have been around since Cracker Jacks, the internet (and more importantly, kids Youtube channels) are relatively new. Building on the known fact that opening a surprise toy can be lots of fun for children, and combining that with the fact that kids were already enjoying watching people open and unbox toys, it seems that it was inevitable for mystery toys to skyrocket in sales.
While electronic gifts have always been popular, we also continue to see the popularity of smart toys dominating the toy scene throughout the year. Last year’s Owleez was one of the bigger interactive toys of the season and we predict Squeakee will sell quite well this year in the same market. However, its steep price point of $60 may be a bit too high for some shoppers. The Mario Kart Live series also bursts into the toy scene this year, ready to take our love of the Nintendo Switch to all new levels by converting your living room into its own Mario Kart track. Nintendo had only moderate success with their Nintendo Labo games; a line that even included virtual reality implementation for Switch games! While those games were clearly meant for creativity, we predict that Nintendo has found a more direct line to creative entertainment by mixing augmented reality with Switch controlled cars in Mario Kart.