Santa's Babies: Top toys for 2017 are tiny, talkative and scarce (copy)

Sunday, 03 December 2017, 10:16:46 AM. The biggest toy this holiday is only 5½ inches tall.

The biggest toy this holiday is only 5½ inches tall.

Move over Hatchimals. This year’s must-have toys are Fingerlings — tiny, interactive robotic monkeys that grip onto a finger or almost anything else.

Retail priced at $15, these colorful little critters hit the market in August and have been almost impossible to find in stores since way before Halloween. On Amazon.com, you can find one for $20, although most range from $30 to $50.

What’s the big deal with the little monkey?

Well, first, there are actually six different monkeys to choose from, all in varying colors, plus a sloth and a unicorn. Just like the also immensely popular Hatchimals, Fingerlings engage children by responding to touch, sound, changes in position, even a gentle blow in the face. They babble, laugh, move, kiss, sing, whistle and — just in case you don’t have enough of this in your house — burp, sneeze, pass gas and snore.

And, they’re small enough to go anywhere — hanging on a backpack, pen or belt loop. No doubt the top toy for either gender over the age of 5.

The breakout star of 2016, Hatchimals continue their popularity. Larger than Fingerlings, these furry robot creatures hatch from eggs and then wait for someone to guide them through different “life stages” like learning to walk and talk.

What’s better than a Hatchimal? Two, of course! This year it’s all about Hatchimals Surprise, an egg that hatches twins that interact with each other. Options include either Giravens (a cross between a giraffe and a raven) or Peacats (mix between a peacock and a cat). The toy retails for around $70.

Playing the game

Moving on to gaming, Nintendo rules this year with its ultra-portable Nintendo Switch. Released in March at a retail price of $300, this handheld console features detachable controllers and can either be attached to a TV or played on the go. Designed for all ages, the console features parental controls that can also be accessed via an app for smartphones.

Osmo is a game system that blends physical play with screen time. Drawing pads, puzzle pieces, blocks, cars — Osmo offers up a wide array of physical objects that react with screen simulations in a way designed to be both educational and fun. Games are geared for ages 4 and up. All that is needed to play is a $29 base, an iPhone or iPad and a game. Games start at $29 and full kits at $99.

The only downside is it looks like it’s only available for Apple products right now.

Dolls in balls

Similar to small collectibles like Shopkins, L.O.L. Surprise! dolls are on the wish list of many elementary school-aged girls. Very hot and unfortunately impossible to find right now: L.O.L. Surprise! Big Surprise! — a ball that includes 50 small collectible dolls that retails for $70.

In advance of the release of the latest Star Wars movie in December, Star Wars toys are also hot this year. For little Jedis, Toys R Us has its own Luke Skywalker’s Landspeeder 12-volt ride on — their “Outdoor Toy of the Year” — for $450 that rockets up to two riders along at 2 to 5 miles per hour.

For the 8 and older set, there’s the Star Wars App-Enabled Droid R2D2 for $180 that you either control with a smart device or let roam around on its own.

And, if you’re shopping for a DIY child, they can build their own droid with the $100 Droid Inventor Kit by littleBits.

Imagination rules

Baby dolls have been around since the 1800s, but in 2017 it’s all about realism, and the hot seller is the interactive LuvaBella doll from Spin Master. Like the Hatchimals, this doll progresses through stages as it's played with — from babbling to saying more than 100 words and phrases. Released in October, Luvabella features facial expressions and movements realistic enough to have already made it one of the top toys of the year.

Other top toys

Disney Castle Puzzle, for ages 3 and up. A 3-D, 216-piece puzzle features the most popular princesses. Retails for $70.

FurReal Roarin' Tyler, the Playful Tiger, for ages 4 and up. What Tiger fan is not going to want this? Tyler responds to more than 100 sounds and motions. Retails for $117.

Hape Pound & Tap Bench with Slide Out Xylophone, for ages 1-3 years. For young ones who want to make a little music. Retails for $27.

LEGO Ninjago Building Kit, for ages 3 and up. Snap together these LEGO blocks to recreate a scene from the movie. Retails for $50.

Nerf Nitro Flash Furry Chaos, for ages 5 and up. An obstacle and collision course for kids who love fast cars. Retails for $24.

Roller Coaster Challenge Logic and Building Game, for ages 6 and up. Who hasn't wanted to build a roller coaster? The single-player game includes four levels of play. Retails for $30.

Soggy Doggy Board Game, for ages 4 and up. Players take turns giving the dog a bath. But, look out, someone is going to get soaked when the dog shakes himself dry. Retails for $19.

ALEX Toys Future Coders Poppin Pictures Skills Kit, for ages 4 and up. For tech-savvy kids, the coding kit helps develop pre-coding skills. Retails for $18.

Tegu Travel Pals Building-and-Stacking-Toys, for all ages. This six-piece magnetic wooden set is great for traveling, and the blocks are easy to clean. Retails for $20.

Baby Alive Sweet Tears Baby, for ages 3 and up. This interactive baby actually sheds real tears and speaks 35 phrases. Retails for $50.

Play-Doh Touch Shape to Life Studio, for ages 3 and up. Once a youngster creates something with the modeling dough, it can be scanned into the accompanying app and brought to life. Retails for $17.

Melissa & Doug Wooden Scoop and Serve Ice Cream Counter, for ages 3 and up. The counter includes eight ice cream scoops, six toppings and all the necessary utensils. Retails for $41.

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