Here’s the ultimate list of the best “Toy of the Year” industry-leading activity toys that will get kids to create, build and doodle from the past five years. These creation-centered toys promote inventive and artistic playtime, and they’re all together in one handy guide:
2013 – LEGO Friends
As universally inspiring as the iconic Lego toys are, it’s beyond “about time” for a female-centered series of Lego sets to hit store shelves. I remember when I had my own giant tub of Legos, and my sister would attempt to build wonky houses and tea parties using bits from various pirate and knight themed sets, but I know that she’d have been thrilled to build shark, crocodile and skeleton-free girly playsets like the Downtown Bakery and Olivia’s Tree House. With all of the “for boys” Lego sets released over the decades, and the immense popularity of these construction toys, it’s nice to see a cute, feminine and sweet Lego brand for girls like my sister, to go alongside my dragons, aliens and ninjas.
2012 – LEGO NINJAGO Fire Temple
Hey, speaking of ninjas, check out Lego’s Ninjago series! “Ninjago” is the colorful title that Lego gave to their expanded Ninja themed building sets where good ninjas battle skeleton warriors, snake people, monsters and naughty ninjas. Story aside, it’s easy to see the appeal of the Fire Temple. The Temple is large and complex, so kids will feel a sense of accomplishment after building the fiery dojo, and the set comes with a variety of fun characters for some Lego-style Kung Fu action. The cherry on top is easily the large red flame dragon that must also be snapped together before he can start eating ninjas like I eat Skittles. All in all, the Lego Fire Temple is a great construction toy and fun playset for ninja fans.
2011 – Crayola Color Wonder Sound Studio
If you’ve got a messy coloring kid that ended up making markers and paint a banned substance in your household, rejoice! This electronic doodle pad’s ultimate feature is that the only thing that will pick up any color from the included marker set is the included “magic paper.” I’m sure that Crayola wants to make amends for all of the tables, clothes and couches that they’ve inadvertently marked up over the years… The biggest selling point for the younger set are the interchangeable sound cards that allow the scribbler to add sound to specific parts of the image, such as a roar when you press on the cat’s face, or a giggling dolphin when you tap on the marine mammal. I really think that Crayola is listening to feedback, as their Crayola Color Wonder Sound Studio has a quiet mode and the set turns off after ten minutes of inactivity. That’s a pretty impressive list of craft time improvements, even if batteries aren’t included!
2010 – Crayola Town
Here’s a novel activity toy idea: Crayola created a line of creativity kits based around “Crayon Town,” where many of its inhabitants have crayons for midsections. While the plastic characters are cute, (I especially like the “crayon for a neck giraffe!”), the real fun comes from coloring and assembling the different parts of Crayon Town. Once you and your kiddos rebuild the Zoo, Houses and Horse Ranches of the town, it’s time to sit back and watch as their imaginations take the crayon-torsoed broncos, alligators and lions on silly adventures. It’s definitely worth at least a good afternoon’s playtime!
2009 – Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush
The Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush sort of feels like the parent of the Color Wonder Sound Studio, minus its offspring’s silly sounds. Some of the interesting features that set the Color Wonder Magic Light Brush apart include its completely quiet playtime fun, the tool’s visually stimulating light-up brush, the really cool watercolor effects that the brush creates and that the only thing that will receive a coat of gel paint is the included paper. For style and substance in a children’s paint kit, you can’t find anything better!
Just because all of these toys are activity toys, doesn’t mean that you have to actively run around town to find them- That’s what Amazon is for! Which of these award-winning creative and artistic activity toys is the best? It might be a tie between Lego Friends and the Crayola Color Wonder Magic Light Brush for me, but share your favorites in the comments below!