This is a sponsored post on behalf of these brands showing at 2018 Toy Fair

We always look forward to attending the annual Toy Fair in New York, when the hottest of the hot toy trends for each year are revealed to us all. The big event kicks off this year on February 17, which is why we’re especially excited to give you a special sneak preview of some of this year’s It Toys — and some of the trends that are going to be huge this year.

This way, you’ll know exactly what to expect on your kids’ 2018 holiday and birthday wish lists.

Isn’t it nice to be ahead of the game for once?

Hot toy trend 1: Screen-Free Coding Toys

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: Botley the Coding Robot allows kids to learn STEM skills without a screen (sponsor)

STEM toys have been hot for a while now, and it’s fantastic that even younger kids are now getting exposure to toys that get them excited about robotics and the basics of coding. In recent years, we’re seeing the trend evolve toward screen-free coding toy options, so kids can experiment with technology, only in a more hands-on way that harkens back to classic childhood toys.

Botley the Coding Robot (also at very top) fits the bill, teaching kids as young as five the basics of coding in a fun, friendly way. And no screens required. Botley really does push the hands-on learning too, as it comes with a 77-piece activity set so kids can program him to make his way through an obstacle course of their own making. ($79.99, Learning Resources and Amazon)

Hot toy trend 2: Maker Toys

Hot toy trends of New York Toy Fair 2018: Klutz Maker Lab Gumball Machine (sponsor)

Building toys have come a long way, and toy makers are getting creative with what kids can create while employing these essential skills. We’re even seeing actual functioning machines of all kinds that kids can build, through maker toy sets that appeal to all kinds of interests.

Klutz Maker Lab Gumball Machine is the perfect example. After all, it’s a dream for kids to have their own gumball machine — but a gumball machine that kids build themselves? Heaven. It takes thought and planning to make a machine that actually works in order achieve Maximum Gumball Delivery, and with this kit, the editors of the popular Klutz books have created a smart way to encourage kids’ interest in building and engineering. ($24.99, major retailers, including Scholastic

Hot toy trend 3: Preschool Toys Teaching Empathy and Kindness

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: LEGO DUPLO My First Emotion Set (sponsor)
Lately, we’ve seen a wonderful new trend in toys for kids: Toys that teach empathy and kindness. With the belief that the world can always be a kinder, gentler place — and that kids are key in helping make it so — so many toy makers are focusing on lessons like sharing, caring, and cooperating now more than ever.

LEGO has been on top of trends for kids since their debut 60 years ago, so no surprise they’re looking at how to use their popular DUPLO sets for developing both building and emotional skills.  LEGO DUPLO My First Emotion Set, for example, contains pieces that mix and match various facial expressions to allow toddlers to start to recognize emotions as they play, and create their own stories around those emotions.

Hoy toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: LEGO DUPLO My First Puzzle Pets help teach empathy and kindness to toddlers (sponsor

LEGO DUPLO My First Puzzle Pets set employ the same idea, helping kids develop empathy for animals when they personify them, create stories around them, and and take them on adventures. The mix and match pieces even include food bricks, to help teach what each animal eats.

Plus, both sets utilize bricks that are twice the size of normal bricks, making them perfect for toddlers to hold and explore. ($9.99–$19.99, LEGO stores and major retailers)


Hot toy trend 4: Mini Collectibles

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: Mini Collectibles like Playfoam Pals (sponsor)

Wow, are kids into mini collectibles lately! And it shows no sign of waning. As our own kids’ rooms demonstrate, kids are just obsessed with collecting teeny toy sets of all kinds, finding excitement in seeking out missing pieces of their collection, trading for rare finds with their friends, and having a real sense of pride in displaying completed sets.

While there are so many sets that deliver on cute collectible figurines of all kinds, the brand new Playfoam Pals by Educational Insights are sure to be huge. Each of the 12 wild animals (plus a super rare golden critter) comes hidden inside its own pod of that squishy, mess-free modeling compound that kids already love. Kids peel away the playfoam to reveal the surprise animal inside, and then still have the foam to mold into whatever shapes they want, so each is like a collectible and a creativity toy all in one. ($7.99, available soon on Amazon)

Hot toy trend 5: Multisensory Early Childhood Toys

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: Multisensory toys like Crayola Color Wonder Scented Light-Up Stamper (sponsor)Little kids live in a world that’s all about the senses. Every touch, sight, sound, taste, and smell is a full-on “wow” learning opportunity for them. To make the most of sensory play, toys are getting creative with experiences that appeal to more than just one sense at a time.

While we think of Crayola as being on the forefront of toys involving sight (through color) and touch, they’ve moved to smell now as well, with a range of products that employ scented inks. One of the newest toys about to be introduced at Toy Fair The Crayola Wonder Scented Mess-Free Light-Up Stamper. 

The invisible inks appear when touched to special Color Wonder paper (for no mess, yay!) but what’s really special are the smells — the inks and the stamp pads are scented like cotton candy, cola, cherry, and buttered popcorn. As a bonus, the stamp pad lights up when kids press one of the fun sea creature-emblazoned stamps to it, making creative play time a chance to engage lots of sense at once. ($19.99 MSRP, coming soon on the Crayola website)

Hot toy trend 6: Race Car Sets with a Twist

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: Race car sets with a twist, like the Max Flex RC set (sponsor)

For the past few years, we’ve been seeing all kinds of innovation in traditional race car sets and 2018 is no exception. Kids want cars that are faster, tech-ier and have more bells and whistles, and they’re especially into flexible track sets that allow for more creativity and imagination so that the toy feels like a new one every time.

The Max Flex RC 250 Blaze Edition Remote Control Car Set is designed with undercarriage lights that leave streaks of light on a flexible glow-in-the-dark track. But what’s especially great is that the tracks and amps snap together with those from other major brands. Wow. This way, kids can really make the most out of the cool technology of a new new racing set, while still getting great use out of what’s already in their toy box.

That’s something parents will really appreciate too. ($59.99, Skullduggery and Amazon)

Hot toy trend 7: Creativity Through Cosmetics

Hot toy trends from New York Toy Fair 2018: Creativity through cosmetics, like Nail-a-Peel which lets kids create 3-D nail art to express their creativity (sponsor)

For years, makeup kits formulated for kids have been a big part of dress-up, imagination and pretend play. As kids get older though, we’re seeing a trend toward makeup kits that blend art, craft, and creativity to help encourage self-expression and make the experience about more than just looking “pretty.”

While not exactly a toy, the Nail-a-Peel Deluxe Color Kit is definitely going to be huge during creative play time with older kids. It’s like creating 3-D art…only in the form of nail polish! The kit comes with a specially-formulated polish, design tips and tools, stencils, glitter, and tinsel, so kids turn each nail into a tiny work of 3-D art. When it’s dry, each one neatly peels off so kids can do it all over again. ($29.99, Target, Amazon, and Toys ‘R’ Us)

We’re thrilled to be working with these brands showing at 2018 Toy Fair, to share some of the hottest toy trends and coolest toys for kids of all ages. 

Keep an eye out here for more trends and hot finds from Toy Fair which kicks off February 17.