This year’s hottest toys: Bringing back the classics, teaching tech, exploring emotions


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – What’s Santa bringing to your house this year for the kids?

There’s a lot of new toys out there which are both interactive as well as educational for the kids, but how much do you know about them?

Consumer Investigator Steve Sbraccia spoke with toy expert Elizabeth Werner who runs a toy information website.

Every year, toys get more sophisticated and rely on more and more technology to make them work.

But sometimes, you can blend the traditional with the new and come up with something really cool.


This is an interactive version of the old fashioned plush, stuffed teddy bear.

“When you hug him he hugs back,” says Werner. “When you talk to him—he talks back to you. He loves to eat his snacks. Peek-a-boo is one of his favorite games. At night, you put him in sleepy mode…he closes his eyes–makes sleepy sounds and plays soft music to lull your little ones to sleep.”


Board games are still popular, and now updated for today’s kids.

Werner says, “A Frozen edition of Monopoly set lets you play as Elsa, Hans, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven. All of the places on the board are from the movie.”


There’s a Trouble game based on the movie Frozen.

“We love the pop-a-matic dice,” said Werner. “We get to be Olaf. It comes with little molds to make ice bellies to put in Olaf as he wanders around the game board on adventures. That will add to the fun.”


Kids still want to be their favorite heroes.

One of the hottest heroes right now are from the Netflix show “Spirit Rides Free” with Spirit the horse and pal Lucky.

“They’ve created a Spirit and Lucy grooming paddock playset,” said Werner. “You’re going to get Spirit and Lucky and fabulous accessories for endless hours if open ended play.”

“There are lots of moving parts. The barn doors open and close. There’s everything from a washing station, to tack storage, and even a corral nursery,” she says.

“I can’t wait to watch kids recreating shows they love the most or creating their own,” says Werner.

And if your kids want to get into tech and creativity—there are toys for that too.

There was a time when the phrase “educational toy” made kids turn up their noses in disgust.

These days, tech has been combined with toys to make them fun learning experiences.

“Educational toys are incredibly important and parents look for that,” said Werner.


Among the hot tech toys this year is something called Coding Critters which will teach your youngsters the fundamentals of computer coding.

“Coding Critters are going to teach your children critical thinking, problem solving and coding fundamentals,” said Werner. “It’s screen free by the way—no tablet—nothing is necessary.”

With this toy, kids get to play in the real world.

“They’ll follow a storybook coding adventure and code up to 30 different steps into their critter. They can make them play hide and seek, chase balls or feed and take care of them. They’ll be learning but they won’t know that,” she said.


The company Tech Will Save Us will help introduce your kids to music and electronics in a trio of kits.

“I love that we’re combing STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Math along with music,’’ said Werner.

There’s the Electro-Guitar Kit, the Recorder Remix Kit and the Synch Wave Kit.

“This is an introduction to tech and music as they go on a musical journey—they’ll do everything from music production to sound engineering,” said Werner. “They’ll figure out how the electronic components work and make music.”

She says the will also be composing, playing, and recording music as well as sharing it.

It comes with easy to understand instructions and even an online video. It’s recommended for kids eight and up.


“In my family, we’re in love with the XBox Game Pass Ultimate membership,” said Werner. “Its $14.99 a month and we have access to over 100 games for our console and TV.”

The games are constantly updated. It’s also got XBox Live Gold.


For young children, VTech’s Mix & Match-A-Saurus is great for teaching little ones about their emotions.

“He has a place for three interchangeable tiles on his back. There are 9 tiles in all. Each represents a different emotion, musical style or character. It teaches kids about social and emotional skills,” says Werner.

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