Suppose your child unwraps his or her Christmas gift and they are still filled with anticipation because they don’t know exactly what they’re getting.
You mean there’s still a surprise after the wrapping paper has been torn to bits?
This kind of gift — a surprise layered upon a surprise — is all the rage when it comes to “hot” Christmas toys.
The Toy Insider, one of the toy industry’s most influential organizations, annually releases a hot toys list prior to the holiday shopping season. The biggest toy trend of the last few years: “Surprise reveal” gifts, according to Jackie Breyer, the Toy Insider’s editorial director.
The trend is this big: Half of the items on the Toy Insider’s 2019 “hot 20” list could be interpreted as surprise reveal toys.
• Blume dolls
Kids can tear away wrapping paper and know a Blume doll is in their future. But which doll?
“You don’t know which one you are getting,” Breyer said. “What you’ve got appears to be a flower pot. It comes with a little watering can. A little kid will water the top of their flower pot and it melts away the top part of the packaging so the doll appears to grow like a plant through the top and then they have their doll.”
• Scruff-A-Luvs Real Rescue
Kids get to rescue a toy animal, but what kind of critter is it?
“When kids get this pet, it comes in a ball of matted fur,” Breyer said. “You can’t really see if it’s a puppy or a kitten or what it really looks like.”
The ball of fur shivers and whimpers and kids have to bathe or groom the pet to find out whether it’s a puppy or a kitty, according to Breyer.
Rizmo, an evolving toy that listens, learns, remembers and grows, also starts out as a ball of fur. “And kids have to play with it and cuddle with it and sing to it and pet it until it evolves from a baby to a kid and then they continue interacting with it until it grows into an adult Rizmo,” Breyer said.
• Ryan’s World Super Surprise Safe
Ever heard of Ryan Kaji? He’s a kid whose YouTube channel has more than 22 million subscribers and he’s already a multimillionaire with his own toy line. One of his products is the Ryan’s World Super Surprise Safe, which cracked the “hot 20” list. It’s a toy safe and, once opened, there’s another package inside that can be opened to reveal assorted toys.
“The whole ‘surprise reveal’ has taken on a life of its own, so where it used to just be a blind bag or blind box, now there are so many different ways to reveal a product,” Breyer said. “It’s actually very funny watching all these different ways toy manufacturers have come up with (for the reveals) and, in 2020, they are going to take it even further.”
Breyer said it’s wild that half of the toys on the hot list fall in the surprise reveal category. She said that when she was a kid, the closest thing to a surprise reveal came when you opened a package of trading cards or plunked a coin into a toy vending machine at the front of a supermarket.
Breyer said the surprise reveal trend started with Shopkins characters.
“They were really popular when they first launched and now we’re talking about more than five years ago,” she said. “They weren’t all a surprise. You could buy a set of seven and some of them were a surprise that you couldn’t see, and then kids would collect and trade them.”
Now? “You could give your kid an entire Christmas morning with all toys that they could take the gift wrapping off and still not know what it is,” she said.
Breyer pointed to toys based on YouTube endeavors or digital games as a secondary toy trend. Three toys on the hot list have roots in YouTube and a fourth was inspired by Fortnite. The Fortnite toy (Jumbo Loot Llama Pinata) is a reveal item that could keep a gift opener busy for a big chunk of the day. Kids smash a 25-inch pinata and it’s filled with bags full of 100 different pieces. If you want to see what the pieces are, you have to open all 100 bags.
Other “surprise reveal” toys on the hot list:
• FGTeeV Giant Mystery TeeV
The toy is based on a YouTube channel that shows a father and child having fun playing video games. The carrying case looks like a TV and it comes with hidden surprises.
• L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion Doll
“It’s the No. 1 doll in the toy industry and they are all surprises,” Breyer said. “They are basically hidden dolls and you unwrap 20 surprises, including their fashions and their accessories.”
• Lucky Fortune
This is a plastic toy shaped like a fortune cookie and you break it open for your surprise.
“It comes with a cute charm bracelet that girls love,” Breyer said, adding that there are 100 bracelets. “The ladies in my office like them, too. And they come with a paper fortune also, so kids can collect those and try to get all the different bracelets and they can wear them all at once.”
• Tic Toc Toy XOXO Friends
This toy is based on the Tic Toc Toy Family on YouTube and kids who get this gift for Christmas will get to unbox eight surprises.
• Hatchimals WOW
What’s in the egg? You won’t know until it hatches.
Hatchimals were the top-selling toy of the holiday season two years ago, according to Breyer.
“You couldn’t get one,” she said. “People were going crazy.”
Hatchimals should be easier to find now, but there’s a new twist.
“Two years ago you had to interact with this egg and nurture it and play with it until it hatched and you had your creature inside,” Breyer said. “This one is different because the egg opens up and you can close it and re-hatch it over and over and over.”
The other items on the hot 20 list are the Fisher Price Bounce & Spin Puppy, the LeapBuilders ABC Smart House, the Fisher Price Imaginext Super Friends Transforming Batmobile RC, FurReal Cubby the Curious Bear, Kindi Kids, Myla the Magical Unicorn, PJ Masks PJ Seeker, Mega Grave Digger RC Truck, Power Rangers Beast Morphers Beast-X Ultrazord Figure and the Blinger Diamond Collection.