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2013 Toy Test revisited: Did hot toys stay hot?

The Ruth to the Rescue consumer unit kicked off an annual hot toy test for the holidays in November of 2013.

We recruited some young toy testers to try the hottest toys of the 2013 holiday season. At the end of the unscientific test, the youngsters and their parents shared their observations. Three of the more popular products were Big Hugs Elmo, Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center, and the Batman Imaginext Super Friends Batcave.

"He went right for the Batcave because he loves super heroes," said Meaghan St. Pierre, a special projects producer at WDIV. She was one of the many parents watching their children try the toys we selected for this Ruth to the Rescue product test.

Her son Liam was three years old at the time. He had plenty of fun playing with the Batcave, and added the toy to his holiday wish list. St. Pierre did buy the toy for her son, but is he still playing with the Batcave a year later?

"The Batcave he really liked at first and that's sitting now too. He loves the little figurines with it but the actual Batcave itself, he really doesn't play with that much," St. Pierre told Ruth to the Rescue. The consumer unit bought the Batcave for $34.97 last year. This year, we saw prices ranging from $25 to $55 depending on the model.

Big Hugs Elmo, Popularity Didn't Last

Big Hugs Elmo was probably one of the hottest toys of the 2013 season. Some of the younger children on our toy test were definitely attracted to the bright red toy. We saw they picking him up and trying to give him a hug, sometimes needing a little help. Local 4 medical producer Sarah Mayberry was not sure he was the favorite pick for her kids, but she had already purchased Elmo before she saw the results of the toy test.

"The kids kind of looked at it, but they didn't love it and that was true. It has not been a hit throughout the year," said Mayberry. She commiserated with Local 4 anchor Karen Drew, who also purchased the toys for her girls.

"It has not been a very popular toy in our house. it sits a lot," said Mayberry. While Drew remarked, "I bought the toy for Morgan. who was around the same age and she liked it Christmas Day, and after that I can't get her to play with it!" Both mothers agreed the toy wasn't cuddly enough to keep the affection of the younger kids.

St. Pierre noticed a similar reaction from her son, although she wonders if his age may have played a role. "I do think he was probably a little bit on the tail end of the age recommendation for it, but he has picked it up maybe a handful of times all year," Big Hugs Elmo was going for $49 last year, probably not the best holiday buy.

Doc McStuffins: Still Going Strong

The Doc McStuffins Get Better Checkup Center was probably the most popular toy in the 2013 test, and that one is standing the test of time, according to mom, Sarah Mayberry.

In 2013, she predicted her kids might enjoy that toy saying, "I can see them with that with their stuffed animals for hours," she predicted.

A year later she told Ruth to the Rescue, "Addy (her daughter) really loved the Doc McStuffins Checkup center and so we did get that for her. And, that one has truly stood the test of time She's still playing with that and my son is playing with it too a year later."

Do the toy tests really help parents figure out what their parents want? St. Pierre said, "I know what he likes at the time. It's just whether it will hold a year from now. I don't know."

So, the Ruth to the Rescue toy test will reveal potential drawbacks of the toys and can show you which one the junior tests really like in that moment. It may be more difficult to predict if their affection for those toys will last. That's another factor to keep in mind, especially when you're considering a toy that costs a lot of money.

You can follow these links to the Ruth to the Rescue Toy Test results from 2014.

Happy Holidays!