Want the inside scoop on the hottest toys of the year? Toy Insider Mom Laurie Schacht stopped by “The Jam” on WCIU in Chicago to talk about the most in-demand toys of the holiday season. For more on the items featured in this segment, check out the product notes below, and for our complete rundown of the best gifts for the holidays, check out our complete holiday gift guide.


  • This oversized 80-piece Crayon Tube will keep your little one busy for hours.
  • Features a variety of sturdy and stackable building blocks in vibrant, iconic Crayola colors.
  • Ideal for little ones to learn colors, the larger-than-life size crayon tube not only provides tidy storage, but is also a great decorative accessory to liven up any child’s room or playroom!
  • Everything can be neatly stored back into the crayon!
  • Age:1+
  • MSRP: $24.99
  • Available: Target, Walmart, Jet.com


  • Rockin’ Rider 2-in-1 Rocking Ponies easily convert from a rocking pony to a rolling pony without any tools. They come in both Charger and Candy styles, and are coated in soft plush.
  • They sing the exclusive “I’m a Little Pony” song when their left ear is squeezed and say six talking phrases with sound effects when the right ear is squeezed.
  • Kids can watch the pony’s synchronized moving mouth when he sings and talks. Other features include realistic mane and tail, embroidered eyes, easy-grip handles, and non-slip foot steps.
  • Parents can select the volume level.
  • Rocking pony seat height is 12.5 inches, rolling pony seat height is 10 inches. Requires three AA batteries, included. Charger is recommended for up to 40 lbs.
  • Age: 1 to 3
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Available: Amazon, Blain’s Supply, BuyBuyBaby.com, Hayneedle.com, ToysRUs.com, Walmart


  • The main vehicle seen in Cartoon Network’s new Ben 10 animated series, the Rustbucket is a two-in-one vehicle that transforms into a giant three-level play set standing over 2 feet tall.
  • It’s packed with action features, allowing kids to create their own adventures with all of the Ben 10 basic action figures (sold separately).
  • Kids can re-create adventures seen in the show or use their imagination to create all-new ones. Features include an alien transformation chamber, plasma blaster, “alien-vator,” grabbing claw, alien lab, and more!
  • Age: 4+
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Available: Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart


  • Kids can be the conductor of their own adventures with GearZooz Roll & Roar Animal Train. Next stop is a new learning milestone for little railway riders.
  • Children can create their own unique train by mixing and matching the 15 included gears while strengthening their fine motor skills and problem-solving techniques. Put the Smart Gear animals on the pegs to learn about animals.
  • Press the buttons to listen to different instruments or answer kid-friendly quiz questions and move the slider to explore different locations. Little ones can push the train or pull the string to watch the gears spin and move together.
  • Age: 18 mos.+
  • MSRP: $29.99
  • Available: Amazon, Target, Toys “R” Us, Walmart


  • Tumblstix is a small, weighted stick that challenges balance. Kids can test their creativity and dexterity and sharpen their focus and hand-eye coordination by rolling over the Tumblstix gently. Balance and catch the stick smoothly during 360-degree rolls, all while doing tricks.
  • Zing Dama is a hybrid of KenDama and a yo-yo, and consists of four parts: a ball, a ring, string, and an adjustable strap. Users should strap the cup firmly onto their finger and start to swing the ball in any direction.
  • Age: 4+
  • MSRP: Starting at $7.99
  • Available: Amazon, Walmart


  • Inspired by the new Disney Junior series, Vampirina, the Scare B&B Playset is three floors of spook-tacular fun. From the secret reveal telescoping bedroom tower with magically growing portraits, to the bookcase that transforms into a guest day bed, there’s always something special brewing at Vampirina’s house.
  • Magically rising food in the kitchen, a record player that moves and shakes when Vampirina dances, and a 360-degree spinning TV in the living room are just some of the cool features.
  • Kids can place Vampirina on six special spots located on each floor throughout her house and watch her glow. She can even hang upside down when she’s feeling a little batty. Her BFF Poppy is included, allowing little ones to play out the adventures right from the show.
  • Age: 3+
  • MSRP: $59.99
  • Available: Kmart, Target, Toys “R” Us


  • With the nano Space Cosmic Command play set, kids can create a narrative for tiny robotic nano bugs and watch them journey into deep space exploration.
  • Place a nano inside of the rocket ship, take hold of mission control, explore new terrain, and deliver resources using the Rover.
  • Other features include a rotating gravity trainer, air lock passage, and ion cannon.
  • Includes two nanos, a nano rocket ship, a rotating gravity trainer, an air lock passage, and an ion cannon.
  • Batteries included.
  • Age: 3+
  • MSRP: $49.99
  • Available: Amazon, Hexbug.com, Target, Toys “R” Us


  • Smooshy Mushy from RedwoodVentures is part of the newest collectible craze, full of exciting, super squishy, slow-rise surprises.
  • Each Smooshy Mushy series includes one of eight randomly assorted pets. Kids can unwrap the container to find out which scented Smooshy Mushy squishy surprise is inside.
  • Every pet has a Bestie they can’t live without so kids should keep searching to find out which tiny squishy “Bestie” is their pet’s bff. Sets also come with a “what’s your smooshy name?” game, a nametag, a mini container, stickers, and a collectible poster.
  • Kids can collect 24 food-themed Smooshy Mushy Pets to discover, squish, and trade with their friends.
  • Age: 5+
  • MSRP: $9.99
  • Available: Walmart


  • There are so many ways to play and learn with Colorforms Picture Panels Play Sets! Mix and match more than 150 Colorforms pieces to create endless settings, then re-stick the shapes to imagine your own stories over and over again! Fun re-stickable shapes and pieces make it easy for little fingers to easily create their own creatures, vehicles, and scenes.
  • Double-sided Picture Panels enhance creative storytelling with colorful play scenes on one side and fun puzzles on the back.
  • Magnetic edges connect panels together to expand and create different scenes; panels also stand up in the box to form 3D scenes, with the play surface on the box bottom—and they even stick to metal surfaces, such as the fridge.
  • Two-in-one double-sided Picture Panels have colorful play scenes on one side and puzzles on the other for open-ended and guided Colorforms play for children of all ages!
  • There are lots of design ideas in the package to guide younger children, plus plenty of classic shapes, pieces, and surfaces for older kids to use their imagination to create their own Colorforms world, over and over again.
  • Available in Animal or Vehicle sets.
  • Age: 3+
  • MSRP: $19.99
  • Available: kahootztoys.com