Once a year, toy companies from all over the world converge on New York for the American International Toy Fair to reveal what everyone will be fighting to buy their kids — or themselves — when the Christmas holidays roll around again. And once again we grabbed our cameras, put ourselves in the mind of a child (that was the easy part), and set out to find the most exciting new toys that will be arriving on the scene this year.
The reigning queen of toys has been a quiet confidant to kids for decades, but now she can talk back, and with more than just a handful of pre-recorded phrases. Instead of a pull-string on the back, Hello Barbie connects to your home's Wi-Fi network to take advantage of advanced online voice recognition and artificial intelligence.
She'll even learn a child's likes and dislikes and incorporate them into future conversations. And on top of all that she's the first Barbie with articulated ankles so she she can finally wear flats. Let's just hope she doesn't get hacked like Cayla.
Transformers Generations Combiner Wars Devastator
And if there was a king of this year's Toy Fair, it would without a doubt be Hasbro's re-released and re-vamped take on the Constructicons. What's really impressive about this Transformer is that most Combiner Wars figures are made of one larger robot, and four smaller ones forming the legs and arms. But every single one of the new Constructicons is giant, and when combined to form Devastator he towers over all other Transformers — the way he should. $150 (£97) sounds expensive until you see it in person, then it's all but impossible to resist the temptation.
Hot Wheels Elite Back to the Future DeLorean
It was easily one of the most iconic movie props in history, but building a pretend time-traveling DeLorean of your own makes for an expensive piece of memorabilia. And while at $300+ (£195+) Mattel's new Hot Wheels Elite DeLorean isn't cheap, it's packed with enough features — like lights, sound effects, and swappable parts — to satisfy even the most hardcore Back to the Future fan. And yes, the flux capacitor fluxes.
In theory, pets are a great way to teach kids about responsibility and caring for another creature. But in reality, they usually get bored with them after just a couple of weeks. That's why Spin Master's new Zoomer Kitty is a better alternative to a real cat in every way. It provides plenty of attention and will even purr when it's happy thanks to a special motor inside, but it doesn't eat, doesn't crap, and when your kids lose interest, only its batteries will die.
Nerf Rival Blasters
In an attempt to appeal to older kids being seduced by more intense and grown-up games like paintball, Hasbro has introduced its new Rival line of blasters that trade foam darts for tiny one-inch foam balls that come ready to fire in easy-to-reload clips. They fire up to speeds of up to 70 MPH, so getting hit by one of these blasters probably isn't going to tickle, but it certainly won't leave a bruise behind like a paintball would.
BOOMco Halo Needler Dart Blaster
And while Hasbro's Nerf is still the most recognisable brand when it comes to foam dart-firing blasters, Mattel is rapidly gaining ground with its BOOMco line of toy guns. And this year the company has managed to secure the rights to a handful of iconic weapons used in the Halo games, including this near-perfect recreation of the Needler. It even stores extra darts on top like the quills on a porcupine, which light up and glow just like in the video game.
Kids love video games, kids love collecting toys, kids love building, and kids love fart jokes. And like a master chef creating the toy-equivalent of a Cronut, Spin Master has managed to incorporate all of those ingredients into its new Sick Bricks. It's a collectible line of tiny action figures made of swappable bricks that can be scanned into an iOS or Android game to unlock new features, levels, weapons, and powers. The Sick Bricks characters are cheap impulse-buy (they cost the equivalent of a couple of quid) collectibles, which will certainly help them catch on quick.
Google Cardboard-Powered View-Master
Just a few years ago a partnership between Mattel and Google would have seemed like odd bedfellows, but the companies have officially joined forces to help revive a classic toy. And the Google Cardboard-powered View-Master is actually a pretty fantastic upgrade. The cardboard discs are gone, replaced with content downloaded to a smartphone, but the experience is still there, enhanced with 360-degree VR and solid head-tracking technology.
Have you ever tried playing Scrabble anywhere but on a perfectly flat and level surface? Of course you haven't, because all those wooden tiles and the laws of physics just won't allow it. So Hasbro created the handheld Scrabble Twist that has players attempting to spell out words using as many of the five randomly generated letters they're given as possible. With a quick twist the game will automatically check the word against its built-in dictionary, automatically awarding points if it's legit, or asking players to try again if it's completely made up.
Zoomer Dino Jester
Zoomer Dino was a huge hit at Toy Fair 2014, and the robotic dinosaur actually went on to win a much-deserved Toy of the Year award this past weekend. So it only makes that Spin Master would announce and a new-and-improved version this year. The remote control has been redesigned to make Zoomer Dino Jester easier to play with, but instead of making him more terrifying, this robo-dino now has a sense of humor. He cracks jokes, is more playful, and has a bunch of different moods that add a lot of replay to the self-balancing toy.
One of the best features of Anki's self-driving RC cars was how new challenges, races, and abilities could be added to the game and its vehicles through simple software updates. The same couldn't be said about the basic and boring oval track the cars raced on. So with the upcoming Anki Overdrive, the company has introduced a fantastic new modular track system that connects using super-strong magnets so ramps, hills, and endless layouts can be created with just a single set.
Lego Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter
Arriving in May, Lego is finally giving a little more love to the dark side with its new Ultimate Collector Series TIE Fighter. It's got enough detail — including an opening cockpit — to make even the Emperor happy. And the set includes 1,685 pieces including everything you'll need to build a display stand for those rare times when you're not making TIE fighter sound effects as you fly it around your cubicle.
Bonus: The most eerily lifelike Dan Akroyd figure you can buy
Ghostbusters fans are probably more excited for Diamond Select Toys' eventual take on Bill Murray's Peter Venkman character, but later this year they'll still be able to get their hands on what is definitely the most Dan Akroyd-looking Dan Akroyd figure ever released. Just look deep into this figure's eyes and you can easily tell that all it's thinking about is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.