It's that time of year again! Children all over the world are frantically trying to make up for 11 months of misbehaving in a desperate attempt to avoid opening present after present on Christmas morning filled to the brim with shiny new lumps of coal. But the kids aren't the only ones dealing with the panic sweats. Parents, too, are freaking out at the thought of not being able to find whatever this year's equivalent of Tickle Me Elmo is.
The holiday shopping season is the lifeblood of the North American economy. Businesses big and small are literally made or broken depending on their Christmas hauls. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend more than $600 billion dollars on Christmas this year, more than the entire GDP of all but 20 countries on earth. That's a lot of purchasing power, and retailers and manufacturers are eager to get a slice of the pie.
That's where we come in. We scoured the internet for this year's hottest toys and compiled them here for your convenience. The only thing you have to do is take out a second mortgage on your house to foot the bill for Christmas this year.
15 Zoomer Dino — Boomer
Boomer up there is a remote-controlled baby T-Rex, and if your kids don't want him for Christmas this year, then you definitely will. Boomer uses an internal gyroscope to stabilize himself as he stalks his way through your house terrorizing your cat. He also has built-in motion sensors in his nose enabling him to respond to basic gesture commands, which you train him to understand. But, like any toddler, Boomer is temperamental. Pull on its tail one too many times and his eyes glow bright red, he starts to roar, and he spins around in a circle of adorable rage. He can be yours for only $79.99.
14 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stretch N Shout
This is the kind of present parents hate but kids love. There's nothing wrong with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in general. But these guys have rubber arms that, when stretched, cause the Ninja Turtle to emit a high-pitched shriek. Ostensibly, the shout is a fierce battle cry; however, in practice it sounds more like a demented banshee in the throes of a particularly painful death. The Stretch N Shout, which for some reason only seems to come in Leonardo and Raphael versions, is sure to be a big hit this season thanks in part to the success of this summer's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. These dolls start at $19.99, but due to their popularity, prices are starting to soar on auction websites.
13 Furby BOOM Crystal
For those of you too young to remember, the original Furby was released in 1998. Kids everywhere rejoiced, while adults generally recoiled in horror at the beaked Mogwai with dead robotic eyes and an unsettling desire to speak at random when no one is in the room. Anyway, the success of the original Furby was unprecedented, and in 2012 Hasbro re-released it and a whole new generation of parents were horribly, horribly scarred.
This year's model, the Furby BOOM Crystal, comes in a new range of colors, crystal-like ears and eyes, and an iOS/Android-compatible app that allows your kids to interact with the Furby on a more detailed level. The Furby BOOM Crystal starts at $54.99.
12 Nerf N-Strike Elite Nerf Cam ECS-12 Blaster
Nerf was so proud of their new Nerf N-Strike Elite Nerf Cam ECS-12 Blaster that they couldn't bear to put their name in the title just once. This toy dart gun is perfect for the wannabe commando with a voyeuristic side. The gun comes with a 1.77-inch LCD screen and a built-in camera so the little Rambos and Rambettes of the world can record POV footage of their next make-believe battle.
Just don't be surprised when your kids upload grainy footage to YouTube of your terrified pets being pelted with dart after foam dart. This headache machine can be yours for only $79.99.
11 Y Fliker Lift
Because nothing says you love your kids quite like a trip to the emergency room. The Yvolution Y Fliker Lift Self-Propelling Scooter, hands down the winner of the most garbled toy name of 2014, legitimately looks like it's a lot of fun to use. The promo video shows two kids riding the Y Fliker Lift through a suspiciously deserted city, doing wheelies and drifting around corners.
What they don't show is shots of the kids drifting into walls and constantly falling on their asses. A thorough perusal of the Y Fliker Lift's reviews online shows that while most customers enjoyed the scooter, the learning curve is very steep and wipeouts are common, at least in the beginning. The Y Fliker Lift can be had for $149.99.
10 Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa
The movie was released in November of last year, and by Christmas the most manically in-demand toy of the year was the original Elsa doll. Now, the world's Frozen obsession has really hit its stride. As such, you can expect Christmas this year to be dominated by all things Frozen, especially if you happen to have young kids at home. This year's must-have Frozen toy is Disney Frozen Snow Glow Elsa, a doll with a sparkling dress, shining eyes, and a light up necklace and crown. When you touch her necklace she speaks phrases from the hit movie. And to the abject horror of parents everywhere, when you raise Elsa's arm she belts out "Let It Go" at the top of her robotic little lungs. The doll comes with an attendant Olaf the Snowman figure and starts at $34.99.
9 Ollie by Sphero
Like Boomer the T-Rex above, Ollie is one of those gifts that parents will play with just as much as the kids, if not more. Ollie is an app-controlled RC robot. The design is simple: a four and a half inch polycarbonate tube with rubber tires and an internal motor. Ollie charges via an included micro-USB cable and it delivers roughly one hour of playtime on a three hour charge.
The robot is controlled with an app on your smartphone or tablet and it is compatible with both iOS and Android. Ollie communicates with the app on your phone via Bluetooth LE and has a range of about 100 feet, which is good for inside use. But, once you get it outside, Ollie's 14 mph top speed means it's quickly out of range. Ollie by Sphero starts at $99.99.
8 Make Your Case Case Maker
Parents are bound to have mixed feelings about the Make Your Case Case Maker, a portable machine that lets children design and make cases for their smartphone. On one hand, the product encourages creativity and helps to instill a do-it-yourself mentality in kids. On the other hand, it glorifies technology and will likely only serve to strengthen the bond between child and smartphone. Regardless, the concept is pretty neat.
Kids can choose between a number of different colors and styles; with the touch of a button and a bit of waiting, they have a brand new case for their phone. The Make Your Case Case Maker currently includes molds for the iPhone 4, 4S, 5, 5S, and Samsung Galaxy S III. It can be purchased for $24.99.
7 Nerf Rebelle Agent Bow
Nerf, in a rather transparent attempt to capitalize on the recent emergence of several prominent female archers in popular culture (Katniss from The Hunger Games series and Merida from Brave, to name just two), has introduced the Rebelle Agent Bow and targeted it (no pun intended) at young girls. The Rebelle line of fake weapons is being heavily marketed to young girls and by all accounts it's succeeding wildly. For some reason Hasbro, Nerf's parent company, never realized that little girls like to play army with fake deadly weapons almost as much as little boys do. Nerf Rebelle Agent Bow starts at $29.99, but can be found on certain sites for as little as $19.99.
6 VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch
The Kidizoom Smartwatch is an attempt by VTech, a company best known for its line of cordless phones, to gain a toehold in the burgeoning wearable technology market. Granted, their ideal customer base can hardly tell time yet, but that won't stop them from becoming the most insufferable toddlers on the planet. The Kidizoom Smartwatch has a built-in camera, so aspiring photographers can take photos and video right from their wrists and then edit them on the watch's touchscreen.
The smartwatch also has an embedded voice recorder, enabling enterprising children to record their voices or, and we're just spitballing here, blackmail their parents when they catch them saying something they don't want their spouse to hear. The VTech Kidizoom Marriage-Destroyer starts at $59.99.
5 Sky Viper Camera Drone
Speaking of spying, the Sky Viper Camera Drone is perfect both for kids who like RC devices but want a bit of a challenge and creepy adults who want to secretly leer at their neighbors but can't afford to drop a thousand bucks on a real drone. The Sky Viper Camera Drone is a toy quadcopter with a low-resolution VGA camera attached to it, enabling users to capture grainy, somewhat blurry, photos and videos from unique vantage points (like right outside your bedroom window, for instance). The Sky Viper is an excellent jumping off point for kids looking to get into remote controlled aviation, and its relatively low price of $79.99 means it won't set their parents' bank accounts back too much, either.
4 Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing-Along Boombox
Frozen strikes again, this time with the Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing-Along Boombox, a portable karaoke jukebox playing songs from the hit movie on loop so your kids can sing along. Though, with your sanity in mind, Disney has thankfully designed the Boombox to be able to connect to most MP3 players and play whatever song you want, basically acting as a portable speaker. And, best of all, the Disney Frozen Cool Tunes Sing-Along Boombox comes with a working microphone, so your children's awful atonal singing will no longer be confined just to their playroom. Now the whole house can hear your kids belt out "Let It Go" for the millionth time. And all for just $34.99! What a bargain.
3 Sunset Ghost Skateboard
Nothing says safety quite like a skateboard that is designed in such a way that the operator can only enjoy using it in the dark. The crystal clear polycarbonate deck is more or less invisible, that is until the board starts rolling and the similarly clear wheels are illuminated by bright LEDs within. The LEDs create a brilliant, almost iridescent, effect as the board and rider glide down the darkened street. The problem, of course, is that the skateboard's very existence practically encourages kids to go out riding around town at night, a time of the day traditionally devoted to not skateboarding. You know, because of all the cars that can't see crap? Granted, the Sunset Ghost Skateboard is clearly visible at night, thanks to the aforementioned LEDs. But the rider certainly isn't. Plus, all that glowing merits is a glancing curiosity from passing cars, who are still all too likely to run you down. The glowing death board can be had for $99.99.
2 WowWee MiP Robot
Lots of robots this year. The WowWee MiP is a humanoid robotic companion capable of being controlled either by gestures--swipe left and the robot moves to the left, move your hand toward or away from the robot, and it moves backward or forward--or an app on your Android or iOS smartphone. MiP expertly balances itself on two wheels, even over rough and bumpy terrain. By far the most endearing aspect of MiP, however, is its emotive responses to different stimuli. If it stumbles, MiP lets out a disappointed, "Awww!" If it does something well, it shouts, "Wahooo!" Tell it to dance and it rolls around in a circle to the soundtrack of a '70s dance tune. MiP retails for $99.99.
1 Razor Crazy Cart
The Razor Crazy Cart is objectively the coolest toy on this list. Unlike the Y Fliker Lift, which, because the rider is standing, has a high center of gravity and is difficult to control, the Razor Crazy Cart is a low-t0-the-ground go-cart designed to safely drift at impossibly tight angles. The Crazy Cart has a special lever that adjusts the angle of the back wheels. When the lever is pulled, the rear wheels loose traction and the cart is able to drift effortlessly around corners. The cart comes with a 24V battery and reaches a top speed of about 12mph. As far as safety is concerned, a metal bumper surrounds the car and there is a seatbelt to secure the driver. The Crazy Cart retails for $349.99. Unfortunately, it's too small for most adults to ride it. But Razor is planning on releasing an XL version for adults soon. So, maybe add this to your list for next Christmas.