Help Me Hank: Testing this holiday season’s hottest toys

Kids, parents choose toys to try

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DETROIT – We get this question a lot: How do you pick the toys for your Help Me Hank Toy Test?

Here’s how: We collect several lists. We ask toy companies for their projected big sellers, we look at what the experts are saying are going to be big hits and we print several different retailers’ lists of “hot toys." We then take the time to sort through the lists, cross referencing them with each other, to find the toys that everyone is talking about.

This year is different. Rather than having a team of people pick the toys for the kid, we’re taking the kids shopping at Meijer so they can pick the toys! They scoured the isles for the better part of two hours, picking the toys that struck them as the most fun. While we were there, we then asked mom and dad to check out what their kids chose.

We then asked, “What do you wish they had chosen?” Whatever their answer was, we grabbed that toy, too! This year, it’s a Parent vs. Kid Toy Test!

Check out the results below.

*Don’t worry! We also chose 4 of the hottest toys on the lists. Those results can be found below, as well!

GF Default - Kids vs. Parents toy test
GF Default - Kids vs. Parents toy test

Toy #1:

Kid Pick: BeyBlade Burst ($20)

Parent Pick: Lite-Brite ($15)

BeyBlade – Leah went for a BeyBlade, which is basically a really cool looking top. It needs a parent to help get it going for little hands, but ultimately is pretty cool.

WARNING: One spinner is fine, but it’s meant to battle with others. So, you need at least two. There’s also a large stadium you can buy separately, which is a plastic-looking bowl. It might be necessary to get this. We also found that BeyBlade is a show and movie on Netflix. So, if your kids are surfing the streaming service, you could get asked for this.

Lite-Brite – Mom and dad wanted to buy Leah something that they could do as a family. They got excited when they saw this nostalgic toy. While this kept Leah’s attention for a few minutes as she built the picture and she loved looking at it in the dark, after she made one, she was done!


Leah liked the BeyBlade better and mom says she’s still playing with it days later!

Toy #2:

Kid Pick: Spider Man Web Slinger ($20)

Parent Pick: Super Mario Chess ($35)

Spider Man Web Slinger – Jayce was very excited about this web slinger because it shoots silly string and has a water container that can shoot water out.

PROBLEM: We all tried getting the device to attach to the silly string and couldn’t do it. It got frustrating. Finally, Jayce gave up and just started shooting the silly string everywhere. Save yourself the frustration and money ... just buy $1 silly string!

Super Mario Chess – Mom said Jayce plays chess a lot and is a big fan of Super Mario, as well. Why not put those two things together? She was pretty sure this would be a hit for her son. A lot of kids were really attracted to the figurines.


Mom had it right! When we asked Jayce which toy he preferred, he said the chess game. When it comes to toys that don’t work well, kids just don’t have the patience. He seemed to really enjoy playing Super Mario Chess with mom, and we’re pretty sure he won!

Toy #3:

Kid Pick: Mega Pokémon Trading Card Set ($43)

Parent Pick: Plasma Ball Lamp ($25)

Mega Pokémon Trading Card Set – Dylan said Pokémon cards are still a big thing! While mom doesn’t let him actually trade his cards, he says he still likes playing the game associated with it. In fact, when we got to the store, Dylan went straight to the cards and never left that isle. Inside this mega set is five packets of “legendary” cards, which he said was a really good thing. Plus, it comes with two pins, which he put on right away!

Plasma Ball Lamp – Darra is like many moms -- she doesn’t understand Pokémon. She said every kid has different rules and they all don’t follow them. She wanted to go for something that was STEM-oriented. She had a few STEM toys in her hand but thought the Plasma Ball was pretty cool. She was right! There’s a touching mode and a voice-activated mode, which seemed to hold Dylan’s attention.


Sorry, mom! Even though he enjoyed the lamp, Dylan was loving his Pokémon card set.

Toy #4:

Kid Pick: MiBro Really Rad Robot ($40)

Parent Pick: Discovery 2-in-1 Globe Light ($30)

MiBro Really Rad Robot – Daniel chose quite the cool toy. It’s a remote-control robot that lets you play music, talk, make sound effects or even spy by listening through the speaker. We could tell this was going to be a good choice for all parents. He played with this toy the whole time and even went back to it after the toy test was over.

DISCLAIMER: This was the clear favorite in the Local 4 newsroom. Everyone took their turns playing with this. We even had to change the batteries before the test!

Discovery 2-in-1 Globe Light – Darra chose something educational for Daniel as well. She knows he loves studying planets and countries, so she was pretty confident that he’d like the globe light. It needs batteries to charge up during the day, yet still needs to be plugged in to work. We don’t know why. Daniel LOVED the lamp. It looks amazing in the dark.


We can admit when we’re wrong. We thought the lamp would be a big bust, but Daniel loved it! He spent a lot of time looking at the countries and thought it was so cool all lit up. While the Robot was an everlasting toy, we still have to give mom props. When we asked him to pick just one, he couldn’t! He chose both as the big winner(s)!

Toy #5:

Kid Pick: LOL Bubbly Surprise ($30)

Parent Pick: Lego Friends ($47)

LOL Bubbly Surprise – Surprise toys are still a big deal. Natalie hit the store aisles and immediately said that’s what she wanted. This set includes a big bath bomb, with a doll inside and a few small balls filled with putty, with accessories inside. Natalie enjoyed the surprise part of the toy, but got bored once they all were revealed. Surprise, surprise!

WARNING: While the bath bomb can be contained, the putty can break off into pieces causing a small mess. Not huge, but a mess.

Lego Friends – Mom and dad thought Natalie would enjoy this set. It’s fun and focused on dolls, which is something Natalie likes.

WARNING: These new sets contain almost 500 pieces. THE PIECES ARE SMALL, smaller than your average sized Lego small. There are so many small pieces, it’s overwhelming. It’s a choking hazard for little ones and for pets.


Mom and dad did it again! Natalie loved the Lego set. She told us that the set was fun and challenging and that once you’re done building, you can either play with the Lego dolls on it or build more with other Legos. Natalie says she’s a pretty creative person and we could tell with how she was building! Classic ole Legos beat out a trendy toy! Go figure!

Toy #6:

Kid Pick: SwiftStream Drone ($60)

Parent Pick: American Ninja Warrior Yard Set ($33)

SwiftStream Drone – Braden cracked us up at the store. At first, he picked out a $1 Frisbee. When we told him to aim higher, he picked out a $200 yard trampoline! We told him to aim lower, meet us in the middle!

Braden finally landed on the drone. You can hook up your phone to the camera on the bottom of the drone, which was pretty cool. We were very nervous for him to fly this thing around the toy test with other kids and parents present. Our Local 4 drone photographers tried it out earlier in the day, saying it wasn’t bad at navigating the studio. Our producer flew it into the wall.

So, we were shocked and pleasantly surprised when Braden got it up in the air with no problems at all! Kids pick up these things quickly.

WARNING: We learned there is an auto-land and auto-shutoff button, only after it almost took Hank’s hand off. (Although, he’s the one that tried to touch it!) Parents: READ THE DIRECTIONS BEFORE YOU START! Your kids will do well handling it, but like Braden, they learn as they go. You’ll need the directions for certain issues that could arise or to find out fun things that you can do with it.

American Ninja Warrior Yard Set – Dad wanted to pick out something that kept Braden active. He also thought this would be a fun toy to use with the kids in the neighborhood. Boy, was he right! All the kids at the toy test were drawn to this. The best part -- it’s all stuff that we’ve all had, just with the Ninja Warrior branding on it: rings to toss, potato sacks to race in, jump ropes, etc. We couldn’t use the stakes that go into the ground to set up a crawling course, but all the kids had fun using the other stuff.


When we asked Braden which one he liked better, he really struggled choosing between the drone and the Ninja Warrior set. He said both at first, but then said the drone later. We figured! What kid wouldn’t love playing with a drone? He was pretty bummed when it ran out of charge after 18 minutes of play. (Typical) But we will stand by his original choice of “both” because all the kids loved the Ninja Warrior set, too. They all continued to play with it throughout the night, proving sometimes the classics are better than some trendy toys.

We couldn’t forget tradition -- Every year we test out those hot toys experts tell us about. So, we couldn’t just let the kids test out their choices and the toys their parents picked out. Here’s four of the hottest toys on everyone’s big seller list:

GF Default - Help Me Hank's Toy Test: A look at this year's toys
GF Default - Help Me Hank's Toy Test: A look at this year's toys

Blume Dolls

Description: It’s another surprise toy! It comes as a potted plant. Pour water on it and the doll grows through the paper “soil." There’s different types of Blume dolls you can collect, including some “rare” ones. Inside the pot are accessories and clothing for the doll as well.

Results: The girls enjoyed watching it bloom, but once the doll was out, the surprise was over and they were DONE with her. When we asked if they liked the toy, each gave a shoulder shrug and walked off. Not a hit.

Treasure X Alien

Description: We grabbed this toy since last year’s “Treasure X” toy was such a hit! Kids dissect this alien to find a smaller alien inside. Again, you collect the figurines and search for the “rare” ones. The alien hidden inside, is inside a pouch of slime.

Results: The small knife-like tool they give you doesn’t do a good job of cutting through any of the material. The kids actually seemed frustrated by the tool. They were even supposed to use the tweezers part to take things out of the slime, but they just pulled it apart with their fingers.

Pop Pops Pets/Pop Pops Snotz

Description: These little pop pops are like jumbo-sized bubble wrap, filled with slime. You pop the bubbles to find little surprises hidden inside. There are pet-themed ones and snot-themed ones with monsters inside. There’s also a hammer set sold separately. You can use the hammer to pop the bubbles, play with the slime and ultimately store it.


Kids love surprise toys and they love slime. So a toy that does both…was a HUGE hit! The kids had a great time popping the bubbles and searching for the surprises. All of the kids said this was one of their favorite toys of the night. The parents hated the mess and all seemed to be over the slime, but that’s what we expected!

Ryan’s World Super Surprise Safe

Description: Ryan is a YouTube star with a bunch of branding and merchandise behind him. Every kid at the test knew who this kid was, all saying that they love his videos. If you look on store shelves or online, you’ll definitely see Ryan’s World merchandise. Inside this safe is three boxes that you unwrap to find toys inside, such as fake money, 3D glasses, figurines, and a build-your-own robot.


This was the other toy that all the kids loved at the end of the night. They like this Ryan kid and they loved all the boxes that they got to unwrap. They seemed to still be playing with the figurines as the test was winding down. Their favorite part was the safe. They loved something that you need a key for, the secret compartment in the back and the fact that you can put other toys inside. So, if you’re debating between this safe or one of the other “Ryan’s World” toys, such as the big mystery egg, this one will be worth your money -- giving the kids something more to play with after the surprises are opened.


About the Authors:

Hank Winchester is Local 4's Consumer Investigative Reporter and the head of WDIV's "Help Me Hank" Consumer Unit. He works to solve consumer complaints, reveal important recalls and track down thieves who have ripped off metro Detroiters.