There’s nothing quite like the big smile you see on Christmas morning when a child unwraps that perfect gift.
“It just feels so good to see them so happy, just warms my heart,” said Ashley Fusco, a mother of two shopping at the Toys "R" Us in Clearwater.
Her 4-year-old daughter Nova gave her a few clues on what to get in front of the "Paw Patrol" display.
“Yes, yes, yes! Buy this!” Nova said, while excitedly jumping up and down.
Yep, Paw Patrol is, indeed, on the 2017 Toys "R" Us Hot Toys list, specifically the Paw Patrol Sea Patroller for $59.99, but seems like any of the characters would do for Nova.
“I like Skye and Marshall and Zuma and Rubble,” she said laughing, and still jumping.
Surprises are big this year! Namely, the L.O.L Surprise Big Surprise, from MGA Entertainment for $69.99. It’s part of the toy ‘unwrapping’ collectible craze.
“Unwrapping is part of the fun,” explained Toys "R" Us Store Manager Trace Quirk. “There’s layer after layer upon layer of wrapping to get to your surprise,” he said.
What makes this toy so special? Fifty surprises in one! It’s basically a giant ball, filled with little balls — each unwrapped, one by one, to reveal a little, plastic toy doll or accessory.
Oh boy, do the kids seem to like it. They grabbed at balls on display at the toy store and worked feverishly to tear off the plastic wrap, pulling and tugging and biting to get to that little plastic toy inside.
“I got a little cellphone,” 6-year-old Vakina Korfiatis shouted, holding up a tiny plastic cellphone, after working for several minutes to get inside her plastic ball.
“They like opening it,” laughed Kelly Bellant, mom to a four and eight year old. “It’s the thrill of the surprise!”
Be warned, this one is tough to get. It’s so popular that it’s rarely in stock, so if you see it in the store or online, grab one while you can.
Spin Master came up with its own surprise for 2017. The company found a way to bring back its hit toy of last season with a new twist. This year, it’s Hatchimals Surprise for $69.99.
Same cute little creature hatching from its egg, but this time, you get twins.
“I want one!” said 9 year old Joseph Msharka, while petting the furry little toy.
Hatchimals Surprise (Photo: Bobby Bills, staff)
Speaking of fur, another super popular, interactive pet this year is the FurReal Roarin’ Ivory the Playful Tiger for $129.99. It’s a cub-sized, soft, furry, white tiger that roars at you, when you roar at Ivory. And that’s not all. If you pet the tiger gently, it starts to purr.
“I like him,” said 8 year old Oliver Bellant. “My sister’s been wanting one, and I kind of like animals, so I want one, too.”
Another ‘must have’ kids are craving this year: Fingerlings from WowWee for $14.99. They’re little, interactive, plastic monkeys that cling to your finger. Toys "R" Us has an exclusive Baby Unicorn design, named Gigi.
“She communicates with you. If you cradle her, she goes to sleep,” the store manager Trace Quirk explained. Gigi also responds with a whinnying sound, when you pet her or blow kisses at her.
The Fingerlings are a little easier on the wallet, than some of the other hot toys this year, so they’ve become very popular.
The Baby Unicorn Fingerling, a Toys "R" Us exclusive! (Photo: Bobby Bills, staff)
Interaction seems to be the common thread for all the toys this year. The Magic Fairy Wand, by Pink for $59.99, plays magical music, talks to you, and whips up spells based on your hand movements.
“You go ‘down and over’ for your wishing spell and ‘down, over, down’ for your rainbow spell,” Quirk demonstrated, swishing the wand around.
Four year old Pantongoti Korfiatis sure seemed to like it, as he tried to cast a spell on his sister Vakina.
Finding Hot Toys
Finding some of the hottest toys is not so easy, even with a month still to go before Christmas. As for getting a good deal, that’s a long-shot, if not impossible.
“If you want the good stuff, you’re paying top dollar,” said father of two Pete Korfiatis. “Try to find it early in the store or online and, hopefully, it comes before Christmas,” he added.
He’s right. If you want one of the "must haves," don’t wait too long or you’ll be out of luck.
Click here to see the entire Toys "R" Us Hot Toys list and their prices.