Sure, Toys "R" Us can slap together a "Fabulous 15" list and predict what toys will be hot for the holidays, but we at dealnews like to work with cold, hard facts. It's not enough to postulate! We need to computate. Thus, we sorted through our data to discover which toys are actually the most popular with dealnews readers.
The list below was formed by looking at what toy deals, out of the hundreds we posted, were the most popular during the Black Friday to Cyber Monday period. And since many people now start their holiday shopping at the end of November, we believe this data is an accurate prediction of what will continue to be popular throughout the holiday season. So, it is without further ado that we present the 10 hottest toys for Christmas 2012, as selected by dealnews readers.
1. LEGOs Reign Supreme
Each day, from Black Friday through Cyber Monday, a LEGO set was either the first- or second-most popular deal on our site. In fact, four out of the top 20 most popular toys for Black Friday weekend were LEGO sets. We think it's safe to assume that these bricks are going to be a hot holiday toy — just as they were last year, and every year before that, dating back to the stone-age when they were called "rocks." The specific sets that made it into the Black Friday weekend top 20 included these LEGO Mini Modulars (was $64, currently $79.99 with $10.95 s&h), a bundle with two LEGO 650-Piece Building Kits (was $38, currently $57.96 with free shipping), a LEGO Creator Apple Tree House (was $33, currently $71.99 with free shipping), and the nerd-approved LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter (was $36, currently $59.14 with free shipping, a low by $3).
2. Make It Educational with LeapFrog
LeapFrog learning devices seem to be a perennial favorite with parents, and this year is no different. If you skip over the numerous LEGO deals from the November 22 through 27 time period, then the next most popular toy was the Leap Frog Leapster2 Learning Game System (was $14, currently $49.97 with free shipping, a low by $5).
3. Transform Your Holidays
Another seemingly evergreen toy line is the Transformers. Spurred by incessant movie releases and cartoon series, these are going to be hot gifts for years to come. This year's cream-of-the-cyber-crop is the Transformers Year of the Dragon Ultimate Optimus Prime, which fell to $35 during Black Friday (currently $44.99 with free shipping, a low by $175).
4. Let's Play Dress Up
The top deal "for girls" (we use quotes here, since girls can certainly play with LEGOS and Transformers) was this Fairytale Dreams Dress Up Set for $18. Although this specific set is currently sold out, it was likely the price and quantity of dresses and accessories (32 items in all) that made this hot. Dress up sets in general, especially ones at a good value, will continue to be popular items this month.
5. K'NEX: They're Like LEGOs, But Different!
This year, two K'NEX sets made it into our most popular toy list. This K'NEX Super Cyclone Motorized Coaster Building Set was popular at $20 — and is still available (currently $19.97 with pickup at Walmart) — as was the K'NEX 400-Piece Value Tub (was $11, currently $19.99 with free shipping via Prime, a low by $6). Were these items popular because shoppers saw a good price and thought, "These are close enough to LEGOs?" We don't think so; the brand has been around long enough to stand on its own, but, like the LEGO sets, it probably doesn't matter which model you get your kids — just as long as they have a lot of parts!
6. Babies Crave Melissa & Doug
Since the Melissa & Doug Farm Wood Cube Puzzle (was $7, currently $6.49 with $3.98 s&h, a low by $2) was quite popular, we believe this entry is indicative of the desirable nature of Melissa & Doug, a maker of high-quality toys for babies and toddlers. When a good brand is coupled with a low price, the result is a very hot deal. This year, Melissa & Doug items will continue to be popular with parents of very small children.
7. Space Is Still Fascinating
Space, that crazy final frontier. It continues to be a source of excitement to children the world-round. (We blame the Mars Rover.) This means that items like the Fisher-Price Imaginext Space Shuttle (was $20, currently $42.98 with $4.99 s&h, a low by $12) will continue to see sales around the holidays. This Fisher-Price set in particular seems to be the one that every kid wants, so you better set up an email alert now, lest you miss it the next time this shuttle comes within hailing-distance of planet dealnews. Make it so!
8. Have a Blast on Christmas
With so many ways of inflicting accidental injury, the crowd has spoken: The Nerf N-Strike Recon CS-6 Blaster, which was available on Black Friday for $10 with pickup at Walmart (currently $19.97 with pickup, a low by $4), is this year's hottest shooter.
9. Get to tha' Choppa'!
Tiny, remote-controlled helicopters continue to be popular gifts this year, especially since their prices have dropped even farther than in previous years. We saw a Syma 3-Channel Gyroscope Remote-Controlled 7.5" Toy Helicopter for cheap on Black Friday (was $18, currently $29.99 with free shipping, a low by $7), but the popularity of this deal is rather indicative of the type of toy, not the specific model or brand. We think that any deal on a toy helicopter is going to be just as desirable to unwrap this year.
10. Get Dolled Up
Rounding out the list of the 10 most popular toys was an American Girl Mini Kit Doll with Mini Book for $15; the specific one we listed is now sold out, but Walmart offers several American Girl Dolls kits for the same price ($15 with $1.97 s&h or free Site-to-Store, a low by $3). Kids find these dolls highly desireable, so when one falls this low, it's no surprise that it was such a popular item.
One caveat we must mention: many of the toys above might have been so popular because people were merely attracted to the great price, regardless of whether their kid actually wanted the item. Call it the "quantity over quality" issue: Some parents just want to stuff as many presents under the tree as they can to make for an impressive tableau on Christmas morning. That said, there are some tried-and-true products and brands in here, so you're unlikely to go wrong with LEGOs, LeapFrog, Melissa & Doug, and more.
The Best Time to Buy These Toys Is NowYou might have noticed that several of the toys mentioned above were available at lower prices on Black Friday than they are currently. You'd be forgiven for thinking that you should have pulled the trigger earlier and bought during that weekend. However, according to our data from the past several years, many of these toys will soon fall to comparable prices. Historically, the 2-week period before Christmas sees price drops that are deep and frequent, so get ready to start buying! However, since these deals will be sudden and sometimes short-lived, it's ideal to set up an email alert so you know the very minute that one of these hot toys becomes available.
What do you think of our list? What toys do you think are must-have gifts for kids this year? Sound off in the comment section below.