Remember Cabbage Patch Kids? How about Tickle Me Elmo? Every Christmas season comes with must-have merchandise. Sometimes it's a children's toy. Other times, it's consumer electronics — we're looking at you, iPod.
"Lego is a perennial favorite on wish lists, but its 2016 offering of the Death Star makes it a must-have for the Star Wars lover on your list," said Mike Catania, co-founder of savings community PromotionCode.org. "At nearly $500, the price can be somewhat off-putting, but Lego has historically run holiday offers of up to 30 percent off along with free shipping starting on Black Friday."
Every Christmas has a must-have toy, and this year it's adorable little monsters that hatch out of eggs.
"The hot toy is going to be the Hatchimal," said Michelle Madhok, shopping expert and founder of deal site SHEfinds.com. "Hatchimals live inside of eggs. Who’s inside? It’s a surprise! Hold them to hear their heartbeats, flip them for fun, tap and they’ll tap back. Get one now or have a disappointed kid in December."
3. Star Wars Interactech Stormtrooper Action Figure
Although some brands are made specifically for certain age groups, "Star Wars is for the world," said Marty Brochstein, senior vice president of industry relations and information for the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers' Association. "It's multi-generational. Classic merchandise harkens back to the original films and with every new film, you have new products."
Out of the entire Star Wars toy lineup this year, only the Interactech Stormtrooper made the Toys "R" Us 2016 Hot Toy List.
Madhok's SHEfinds gift guide also includes a Star Wars darling that's expected to put up big numbers. This one is a new-school favorite: the loyal and crafty BB-8 droid from "The Force Awakens." Poised to be a big seller, the toy droid is as modern as the movie — and powered by an app.
Even newly released kids movies can generate enough buzz to produce the season's must-have toys. This year, a must-have toy for kids comes from the "Trolls" movie, starring Justin Timberlake. Brochstein said that, this season, "there is plenty of 'Trolls' merchandise that people are hungry for."
Paw Patrol is poised to be a hot seller among young kids. The franchise is specifically for preschool-age kids, said Brochstein. "A lot of very young kids have gotten into it and a lot of Paw Patrol merchandise should do very well," he said. Walmart even listed the toy on its kids' holiday wish list.
Sara Skirboll, shopping and trends expert at RetailMeNot, expects that "Pokemon-themed items will sell quickly this year.” Between the Pokemon Go craze and the forthcoming release of "Pokemon Sun" and "Pokemon Moon," toys from the hit franchise are sure to go fast. Toys "R" Us ranked the Z-Ring Set among its 15 most popular toys.
Expect to find the toy at Target, TOMY.com and other major retailers.
"While 2015 was the unofficial coming-out party for online streaming service devices like Chromecast, 2016 will be the year that they're the popular gift," said Catania. "Roku Express in particular has seen a flurry of attention this year, with consumers searching for offers on PromotionCode.org at over 300 percent the frequency of this time last year."
The intelligence might be artificial, but the demand is very real. This season, keep an eye out for Cozmo, an interactive toy robot.
"Cute A.I. is hot for Christmas this year, too, in the form of Cozmo, the small robot with the big personality," said Catania. "New to the market in 2016, it is already one of the top 50 most-searched terms on PromotionCode.org, and Thanksgiving is still three weeks away."