Top Toys of 2015

From Toy Fair in February to recent holiday media events, I’ve been scouting toys and trends all year for The Next Kid Thing. I have several lists in the works, but before the biggest shopping day of the year kicks off, I wanted to share some of the coolest toys that I think might be the big sellers this season.

I put this list together based on the play value, my kids’ reaction, price point as well as accessibility. I’ve been checking out the toys’ popularity online and in person and have compiled, what I think, might be some of the hottest sellers this season. Some obvious picks did not make my list because the supply is more accessible or the price is out of reach for many people.

Keep an eye out for more of our picks. Until then, I present The Next Kid Thing Top Toys for 2015.




1. Sit-to-Stand Ultimate Alphabet Train

 This is the latest version of Vtech’s popular Alphabet Train. The multi-phase toy is intuitive and is perfect for tots who are sitting, toddling or already on the go. I love that this toy grows with kids and offers so many different types of educational play and function. On sale, I’ve spotted this great toy in the $40 range.


2. Bright Beats Dance and Move Beatbo

Beatbo first caught my eye at Toy Fair because of its bright and simple aesthetic. Beatbo dances, sings and has engaging educational games, perfect for curious toddlers. Beatbo can be found at major retailers for $35.


3. Paw Patrol Interactive Mission Chase

 Chase has all kinds of features, making him quite the hot commodity. Chase is bigger in size and has cool details for making missions easier. Paw Patrol toys, in general, are popular, so make sure to pick up Chase before he becomes hard to find later in the season. This Chase is #1 on my little guy’s list.


4. Paw Patrol Patroller

This Paw Patroller vehicle holds 3 vehicles when closed and several more when opened, making it an ideal gift for Paw Patrol mega-fans. This cool vehicle has multiple functions and landed on several top toys’ lists, and will certainly be another popular toy this season. Head’s up: Target currently has a 20% off Promo on toys. Head to their site to take advantage of this deal.


5. Shopkins

Just like it’s been all year, expect anything Shopkins to be super popular this holiday season. Right now, playsets and blind bags are in stock, but expect anything Shopkins to be a must-have for kids who appreciate these super cute collectibles. I love this Ice Cream Truck!


6. Clever Keet

Little Live Pets have been a favorite for animal lovers, and Clever Keet is no exception. This clever guy can chat and respond to your voice. He dances and even rides his little cart. 

7. American Girl Grace Thomas

The 2015 Girl of the Year Grace Thomas encourages savvy kids to pursue big ideas and embrace the business world. Available for only one year, the Grace collection includes an18-inch Grace doll featuring long dark-brown hair and blue eyes, plus several French-inspired outfits, accessories, and toys that reflect her interests, such as the premium French Bakery Set with more than 60 pieces.

8. Girl Scouts Cookie Oven

The very cool Girl Scouts Cookie Oven is making quite the buzz this holiday season. With this fantastic toy, kids can bake their favorite Girl Scout cookie flavors at home while learning how to bake. 

9. Interactive R2-D2

With the upcoming release of the latest installment of Star Wars: the Force Awakens, it’s no surprise that Star Wars toys will be among the hottest toys this season. One toy that made our list of hot toys is Thinkways’ Interactive R2-D2. He projects images, turns his head while he talks, is voice-activated, among other cool features. With over 1000 programmable action combos, this smart toy will be a favorite for kids and adults alike.

10. BB-8 Sphero

BB-8 Sphero has been a hot Star Wars item since Force Friday earlier this year. This interactive droid is app-enabled and has voice-recognition, and has been dubbed the coolest Star Wars Toy by various outlets. Another toy that’s expected to be a popular multi-generational gift, this guy might be hard to find later in the season.

11. Lego Dimensions

Lego Dimensions joins the market as the latest toy to life video game. But this time, this video game has the clout of its beloved Lego franchise and characters to back up its foray onto consoles. From fun characters from the Lego Movie to classic superhero and cartoon figures, Lego Dimensions is already popular for kids and families. Since spotting it at the Kidz Vuz Back to School party, this game is #1 on my older guy’s list!
Head’s up: Lego Dimensions is featured on Target’s Cartwheel for 35% off for two more days, which makes it around $65. Combine this with an additional 5% off if you have Target RedCard. To compare: Toys R’ Us has Lego Dimensions on sale for $64.99 on Black Friday at 7am. 

12. LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum

LeapFrog’s latest LeapPad Platinum has some of the coolest features yet. It features a faster processor and crisp screen. In addition to the popular LeapFrog games and easy-to-navigate interface, the LeapPad Platinum features the unique and cutting-edge ImagiCard technology. My preschooler is obsessed with ImagiCard and I appreciate how reinforces counting, colors, alphabet, as well as tactile manipulation.

As of today, all of these toys are available in stores and online. Be sure to take advantage of pre-Black Friday sales and coupons which are proving to be cheaper than schlepping out to stores in the wee hours later this week.

Stay tuned for more gift ideas with all of my NKT Holiday Gift Guides!



Partying with LeapFrog’s LeapTV

The other day, we had a mini-party to celebrate the weekend. And because we’re all about play, we were tasked to have a party with MommyParties to celebrate the launch of LeapFrog LeapTV .

Leaptv educational active video gaming 31511 1


LeapTV is a new video gaming system from LeapFrog, the brains behind the LeapPad and LeapReader. With the LeapTV, kids can learn through motion as they jump, dance and go crazy. This system is unique because it was designed for kids specifically in the 3-8 year age range. The interface is simple and intuitive, the graphics are sharp, the motion-sensing camera puts kids front and center and the games are forward-thinking.

With LeapTv, there’s 3 unique ways to play: body motion, pointer play and classic control. Through these methods, kids get to experience fun games with plenty of educational content in between.

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I found LeapTV to be much more appealing than I had envisioned. I thought, “a kiddie gaming system?” I was certain I wasn’t going to like it, even though I’m a diehard LeapFrog fan. Truly, LeapTV exceeded every expectation and then some. From my delayed 2.5 year old to my gamer 7 year old, LeapTv satisfied both kids’ gaming desires. It was easy enough for the younger guy, yet engaging enough for my seven year old.


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At just $149, I think LeapTv is a great primer gaming system. LeapTV can be a bit redundant if you already own an Xbox or another gaming system that has a camera. It’s perfect for littler guys who express an interest in video games, yet can’t quite play any games on the Xbox. The camera and games geared for the smaller ones make this system appealing for families who aren’t ready to invest in a full blown gaming system. Above all, I loved watching my small and big guy interact together while they moved, grooved and reached for action words and slapped odd numbers. So fun! LeapFrog did it again with LeapTv!

Here’s a video we put together that showcases our LeapTv experience:


Full disclosure: I was provided with a review unit to facilitate this post, and to share with friends and family at our LeapTV party. Affiliate links are included in this post.

First Look: LeapFrog Unveils LeapBand

Fitness Trackers just made a big leap, but this time, they’re tracking the kids. Educational entertainment powerhouse, LeapFrog, unveiled the LeapBand, a wearable activity tracker designed for kids. Part gaming device, part fitness tracker and part virtual pet, the LeapBand is touted as being the first of its kind.


The LeapBand activity tracker gets kids moving and having fun with 50 different activities and challenges, tracking a child’s physical moves so the more active a child is, the more points they earn with their virtual pet. As the child earns points through active play, they can unlock additional games, challenges, levels of play and virtual rewards for their on-screen pet.  

Just like a gaming device, the kid is rewarded with play.  The wearable aspect creates a new dimension for kids who are on the go. The more activity and physical movement a kid does, the more points they get. 


My first thoughts? As an entry level fitness tracker for kids, this thing is pretty unique.  It retails for around $40, and it’s something that can engage an active kid who also appreciates games and virtual pets.  Because the device is geared to 4-7 year olds, the LeapBand is image-based, as opposed to text and numbers often seen in the adult fitness trackers. Another difference for the LeapBand is that data collection will be geared to parents and not the manufacturer.


The fact that we “need” a device like this is a whole different discussion.  Physical activity should begin at home; a toy shouldn’t be the sole motivator to get moving.  Ultimately, there’s nothing like playing outdoors totally unplugged.  That said, I appreciate that this technology encourages physical activity and healthy habits.

With the likes of Nike Fuel, Jawbone Ups and Fitbit catering to the adult fitness market, LeapFrog is hoping to tap into this emerging trend. According to NPD Group, the overall digital fitness device market is said to be worth $330 million in 2013. As tablets for kids are on the rise, could wearable tech be the next big thing? The reaction I’m seeing and hearing so far sound decidedly skeptical. Ultimately, it’s the consumers who determine the need and demand so, we’ll see!



My older guy is at the older end of the target demo. I can see him getting a kick out of feeding his unicorn or other virtual pet.  As an active athlete, however, the LeapBand would strictly be an at-home toy.

Between school and after school sports, I’m not sure he’d benefit from the fitness tracking.  Is this something his school and coaches would allow? Probably not. Nevertheless, having the ability to care for his pet on his wrist? That, right there, would keep him entertained at doctor’s offices or playing in the backyard.


At the launch event, we were able to get a quick glimpse of the LeapBand.  Here’s a quick demo:


Weigh in: is the LeapBand something your child would enjoy? Or do you think wearable fitness trackers for kids is unnecessary?

Snowy Days Mean More Game Play

Have you had enough of the snow and cold already? I think we’re tired of the work and obstacles that snow brings with it, but “sleighing” down our hill certainly doesn’t get old. Like most of you, because we can’t get outdoors as much on snowy days, we’ve got a little bit of cabin fever going on.

Being indoors much more than we’d like has meant we’ve had to adjust our normal routine. I monitor and limit tv and screen time throughout the day, and so, we’ve found ourselves playing more games, doing more crafts, cooking, reading and just playing whatever comes naturally. Here’s are just a few activities, crafts and toys that’s been keeping us busy.

LeapFrog Interactive Map

I’ve said it before, but LeapFrog, to me, is one of the frontrunners in innovative, educational toys. The LeapFrog Tag Interactive Map is no exception. The Interactive Map, paired with a Tag Reader, has been keeping us busy on these snowy days, teaching us cool facts about states we’ve visited, where our relatives live and helps us visualize where we hope to visit! After locating cool spots on the map, we like to try to put our new geographic knowledge to good use and and find the same locales on our globe ($1 garage sale find.) The Interactive Map is a great way to engage imagination, curiosity while throwing a bit of geography into the mix.

Jigsaw Puzzles

Who doesn’t love puzzles? Puzzles are a great activity for kids and parents to interact. It involves logic, teamwork and patience, characteristics that have surely been put to the test with all this cabin fever! Our favorite jigsaw puzzle right now is this Super Why Hidden Word puzzle. This puzzle is a fun way to enjoy one of our favorite shows and their characters, and not having to stare a screen to do so! The Why Finder (magnifying glass) to help locate hidden words is a very fun added element that gives even more engagement after the last piece of the puzzle is put into place.

Crayola Color Wonder

Crafts, especially drawing, has been one of the best ways to pass time these days. The kid loves markers; my new area carpet and furniture does not. Our compromise is Crayola’s Color Wonder markers and paints. If you’re not familiar with the awesomeness that is Color Wonder, the geniuses at Crayola have created a line of products that only color on special paper. The markers, paintbrushes and paints only show up on the Color Wonder paper, which means no mess all over your stylish white couch. Santa was so kind to bring the boy Toy Story and other Disney themed Color Wonder coloring books. I will probably never buy another kind of marker again–we love these things so much! No mess=happy family!

WonderForge What’s in the Hat Game

Here we go-go-go! Do you guys watch Cat in the Hat on PBS? We sure do! So, when WonderForge told us about their new Cat in the Hat games, we were all about them. The What in the Hat game, though, is THE funniest game to play with preschoolers, espcially the ones who don’t know how to keep secrets. It’s a simple guessing game that involves hiding everyday items within the Cat’s hat, but it never fails, we get big laughs from this game!

What are your favorite snowy/indoor activities?

Full disclosure: Select samples were provided for editorial review. As always, opinions on NKT are my own.

Celebrate and Share: Tag.Give.Read with LeapFrog

It’s my boy’s birthday today, and I’m happy to report that we enjoyed our mini-party this weekend.  Of course, a birthday party wouldn’t be complete without fun gifts, which is why I’m sharing about yet another NKT fave, LeapFrog.

Reading has been a huge, huge part of being 2.  LeapFrog’s Tag Jr. has been a staple in our reading routine since we were introduced to it last summer.  Tag Jr., which is geared to 2-5 year olds, has been such a hit for the kid, that for holidays like Easter and Valentine’s Day, in lieu of excess candy, I’ve made sure to gift the kid with Tag Jr. books to bolster our library.

Watching the boy’s chubby toddler arms plop the equally chubby Tag Jr. on the graphics of his little books are memories that I’ll always embrace.  And the quality time that dad gets to share with the kid while reading with Tag Jr. during the bedtime routine? Irreplaceable.

One of the many fantastic aspects of LeapFrog is that they’ve done a genius job of developing an array of products that grow with kids, and I envision Tag being a huge part of the preschool phase.  While we haven’t officially graduated from Tag Jr., the kid has had a fun time exploring more titles with LeapFrog’s Tag Reading System, which is aimed to 4- 8 year olds.  Superheroes are the favorite phase du jour, so, reading about Spiderman with LeapFrog Tag has offered a great new perspective to Spidey’s adventures.

Tag’s library is constantly evolving, and titles such as Toy Story 3 is one of the new ones that will no doubt find its way into our home.  Oh yes, and how can I forget staples such Dr. Seuss’s Cat in the Hat, which came with our Tag Reader, and for good reason: it’s been one book that’s read endlessly for bedtime.

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LeapFrog has certainly helped cultivate the joy of reading at a young age in our home, and they’re aiming to touch even more lives.  Announced last week, through a partnership with, LeapFrog’s new Tag. Give. Read. program is aiming to help more U.S. children embrace the love of reading by donating $100,000 to match donations made to teachers requesting Tag School Reading systems.

To learn more about the Tag. Give. Read. program, logon to All projects that are eligible for the LeapFrog match are searchable by teacher name or geographic area. Once a teacher’s goal for Tag School systems is half-met by donors, LeapFrog provides the rest.  Awesome, no?

And Those who don’t have money to give can make a difference, by becoming a fan of LeapFrog on Facebook. For each new “like,” LeapFrog will give a Tag book to a Kindergarten teacher, up to 25,000 books.  As if we needed another reason to love LeapFrog!


And because we’re still in celebration mode over here on NKT, here’s another gift for you:  LeapFrog has offered to give one NKT reader a LeapFrog Tag Reading System.

Want a LeapFrog Tag for your kids?  Simply share about LeapFrog’s Tag.Give.Read program.  Leverage all social media outlets and share about this fantastic program. Tweet, Share on Facebook, email your friends and family…  Share: give more kids a chance to celebrate the love of reading.

(actual book in giveaway may vary from photo.  This photo was taken at the LeapFrog media preview)

Please comment below for each way that you share.  Multiple entries are encouraged, so please share away.

Interested in another extra entry?  Become an NKT fan on Facebook and/or “like” this post.  Who knows, maybe I’ll give away something else very soon.  *cough*tomorrow*cough

This giveaway will end October 11 at midnight. Winners will be chosen via, and will be notified via Facebook fanpage and email.

Can You Guess LeapFrog’s New Mobile Learning Device?

LeapFrog, always at the forefront of kid-friendly technology, is about to launch a new mobile learning device.  Like many of you, we’re huge fans of LeapFrog.  In addition to offering great products that I love as much as my kid, LeapFrog was one of the first big brands to reach out to me right after I launched this site.  In fact, I did my first (and only, so far) Vlog about Scout and the Text and Learn right after they launched last year.

Just as their microsite for this new mystery product went live, LeapFrog has once again enlisted us to get the buzz going about their new product. And they want NKT readers’ help, too.

Can you guess the device? What do you want it to be? LeapFrog wants NKT readers to guess what it is, or suggest what you think it does!  And we’re looking for creative guesses, so think about it and comment below.  And as an FYI, I have NO IDEA what this thing is either.


Each creative guess is entered into the giveaway for this mystery device.  Said NKT winner will be guaranteed front-door delivery of this new device the morning of July 15, which will be the very first day it’s available on shelf.  If that’s not the Next Kid Thing, then I don’t know what is.

So, check out their teaser and guess away and guess as many times as you like!

Comments below count as one guess, but if you decide to head over to the NKT fan page and add a comment to the entry associated w/ this post, I’ll count it as extra credit–3 entries!


Want even more entries?

Tweet about this giveaway for an extra entry.  Be sure to include @jenrab in your tweet.

Share about this entry on any social networking site for another entry.

“Share this” on facebook for another entry.

Get a friend to join the NKT fan page and get 5 extra entries.

Be creative and good luck!

Giveaway ends 6/6.  Winners will be notified via email and on the NKT FB fan page!

NKT Picks: Cyber Monday Deals

I hope everyone had a fun and festive Thanksgiving! And if you hit the sales on Friday, I hope you found some fantastic deals and made it home unscathed. My girlfriend and I are still reeling from the lack of sleep on Thursday night/Friday morning since we hit Toys R Us at midnight and pretty much kept going until 11am!

But for those of you who have saved your money (and sanity) for Cyber Monday, there are lots of great deals!  Most of these last until midnight, so be sure to check them out!  I’ll be sure to post more as I see them!

Here’s my quick roundup of Cyber Monday deals:


Amazon video game deals
For the teen and tween set, undoubtedly, a few video games will make it to their gift list!  Need some ideas, or better yet, some great deals?  Be sure to head to Amazon today for some great Cyber Monday deals!



LeapFrog has a great lineup of Cyber Monday deals today, with select Tag Books and Leapster games as low as $5! I picked up a Leapster for my kid at the TRU Black Friday sale, so I will more than likely pick up a few more Leapster games for to add to the collection.  We’re huge LeapFrog fans!

·         25% to 75% off sitewide
·         Select Leapster games as low as $5
·         Select Tag Books as low as $5
·         Up to 75% off on our gift packs
·         Spend $50, get free shipping

mediaScandinavian Child
One of my personal favorite distributors is having some great Cyber Monday deals that start at noon and end at 9pm EST, including 30% off Anka High Chairs and 40% off Svan Scooters!  Be sure to go here for their complete list of Cyber Monday Deals.

I cleaned up at Target on Black Friday, but it looks like they have a number of really great deals today, with the $500 off a Philips 47? 1080p 120Hz LCD TV catching my eye. You can check out their Cyber Monday deals here.  Here’s a great coupon for $7 off of $70 plus free shipping.


Stride Rite

I’m a bit late on sharing this great info., but Stride Rite is having a ton of fan-only Cyber Monday giveaways…including a mystery grand prize worth $600 and more giveaways every hour!  Make sure you become a fan to score some great deals on their shoes, which includes great lines such as Robeez, Saucony, Keds and much more!

Online only & today only! Free shipping on any order & save 20% off. New line online now & in most stores 12/2.

LeapFrog Text and Learn giveaway winner


Thank you everyone for entering the LeapFrog Text and Learn giveaway!  This giveaway yielded our biggest response yet, so thank you for participating.  Congrats to Natasha for winning the Text and Learn!


Just a few housekeeping notes, for the extra entries, please don’t forget to comment for each additional entry.  For this giveaway, I manually added the extra entries for the stories.  I don’t mind, but I can’t promise I”ll do that in the future.  As for shipping, I will always consolidate my trips to the post office, so those of you who are waiting for your giveaways, they’re coming!  I don’t have a set timeline or anything, but I aspire to get these out within a few weeks.  I appreciate your patience.  Those waiting for giveaways that are to be shipped directly from the companies, those shipments tend to take longer, as a general rule of thumb.  Patience is a virtue.  I’m just extending some giveaway goodness, and as they say, good things come to those who read NKT :)  (and to those who wait, too.)

Video Review: LeapFrog Text and Learn

A couple of weeks ago, while visiting our neighbor, I watched our kid from across the coffee table as he stared at our friend’s Blackberry.

He eyed it, then looked up at me.

Eyed it, then looked at hubs.

He knew exactly what he wanted, and nothing was going to stop him.

And then, he lunged for his electronic prey.

With the swiftness of a gazelle, I shooed his tiny paws and averted a would-be Blackberry disaster.

Like most kids, our little guy is absolutely fascinated by electronics.  Cellphones are everyday fixtures and of course, mom and dad are both iPod devotees and laptop junkies.  It’s no wonder he’s always trying to snatch up our expensive electronic gadgets the minute we let our guards down.   All he wants to do is “play” like mom and dad.  But unfortunately, his kind of “play” often ends with a cellphone buried in a bucket at the bottom of the toybox for 4 days.


But alas, leave it to LeapFrog:  the forward-thinking developer of children’s products recently released a couple of toys that address the would-be electronic gadget disasters.  In fact, they even commissioned some research to delve further into the topic.

LeapFrog recently commissioned a “Save Your PDA” survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, which found that when kids have access to their parents’ PDAs, shenanigans often follow. Kids apparently are dropping their parents’ PDAs into the toilet (7%) and garbage (9%). They are also changing settings (32%), smearing food on the keypad or screen (23%) or placing calls (51%) to folks parents may not be too thrilled to talk to unexpectedly–such as mothers-in-law, bosses or people overseas. For a little extra excitement, 16 per cent of these unwanted calls were to 911. A lucky 12% of parents, though, found out about new features on their PDA, thanks to their children’s “exploration.”

We identify with so many of these, but most notably, we’re part of the 12% that learned about new features.  Not surprisingly, we can’t replicate those new-found functions!

As electronics like Smartphones and PDAs become a mainstay in our lives, LeapFrog designed My Pal Scout and Text and Learn with curious kids in mind.

lfMy Pal Scout is plush puppy that sings and plays games with kids 6 months and up.  Scout can be personalized with kids’ names and favorite items via USB connection.

Text and Learn is a kiddie version of a PDA that even boasts a Qwerty keyboard.  While it might not be able to log on to Gmail or save data like the real thing, the Text and Learn encourages basic computer skills and preschool learning with games like letter matching and shape identification.

Check out my first video review to learn more about Scout and the Text and Learn.

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