From babies to tweens, there’s nothing like the look on a child’s face as they open gifts on Christmas morning. But which gifts are likely to get the biggest smiles and squeals this holiday season?
Local toy retailers Magic Box Toys, Learning Express and Little Pnuts began seeing Christmas shoppers as early as September, but as the frenzy kicks into high gear, they shared some of their top sellers so far this year in every age group.
Little Pnuts opened in Metairie this past March, specializing in non-battery-operated, natural, eco-friendly toys. Starting with infants, Melissa Eese, chief playtime officer and owner, said her top seller by far has been the Blossoms Stroller Chain by HABA ($27.99 at Little Pnuts). “It’s great for the carseat or stroller and has really been a big hit,” she said.
Over at Learning Express in Metairie — a store that focuses on educational toys — owner Linda Greenbaum said her hot seller is the NogginStik Developmental Rattle by SmartNoggin Toys ($22.99 at Learning Express). Designed for the first year of life, this sensory toy features a head that rattles and changes color and has a mirror at the bottom.
For toddlers, this year’s must-haves include the Zippity Zoo Wooden Block Set by HABA ($39.99 at Little Pnuts). “The set features 25 adorable animal blocks in bright colors and is great for working on color recognition and animal recognition, along with stacking and cause and effect,” Eese said. “It’s really flying off the shelves now.”
For over the one-year mark, Greenbaum says her big seller is the Pop Pop Piano by Mirari ($29.99 at Learning Express). “When you press the keys, these jack-like pieces jump from stack to stack.
For kids 3 and up, car and train sets remain huge. Here, top toy maker Melissa and Doug’s Round the Town Rug ($29.99 at Learning Express) is a big seller.
And for something truly New Orleans, Magic Box Toys is struggling to stay stocked with the Streetcar Train by LocalMotive Toys ($19.99 at Magic Box Toys)
Created by Henry Abbott, a New Orleans native and father of two boys, the streetcar is compatible with most wooden train sets, including Thomas the Tank Engine and Brio.
For the bigger kids — ages 6 and up — Two Bros Bows ($19.99 at Learning Express) is capitalizing on the bow and arrow craze highlighted by films like “The Hunger Games,” with their own kid-friendly set in a wide variety of colors and patterns.
For the outgoing adventurer, Sneaky Cards by Gamewright ($8.99 at Little Pnuts) tasks kids with being a “secret agent of joy.” The 55-card deck includes challenges like “be a one person flash mob” or “buy a stranger a coffee.” “Once you complete a task, you hand that card to the person and tell them to play it forward,” explained Eese. “It’s great because you can track your cards online and see where they go.
For busy builders, Metal Earth by Fascinations’ 3D metal model kits have added a new Star Wars line ($7.99 to $14.99 at Learning Express), just in time for the release of the newest installment. “Those have been really popular,” said Greenbaum.
Designed for children 3-7, the award-winning cloth Butterfly Wings by Seedling ($37.99 at Little Pnuts) come with a set of fabric markers and four shades of glitter glue that beckon budding young imaginations to take flight. Finally, those familiar with the movie “Back to the Future” will be excited to learn that the Hoverboard is finally a reality. Sold at AMA Distributors in Metairie, the self-balancing board calls for riders to use their feet to accelerate, brake and turn. Designed for riders of all ages — up to 350 pounds — it can reach speeds of 10 to 12 miles per hour. The Hoverboard is available in red, white, blue or black for $450. A metallic version is available for $480.