Young experts test hottest holiday toys

By Ruth Spencer - Anchor

DETROIT - During the holidays, the children in your life are bombarded with images of toys that are said to be the hottest must-have toys of the season. However, how do you know if those toys will be a hit with your children?

The Ruth to the Rescue consumer unit put together an unscientific toy test at the Local 4 studios to check out some of this season's most heralded toys.

Ruth to the Rescue producers combed through the "Hot Toy" lists of several top retailers. Then, we recruited children of Local 4 employees to be the toy testers. We split the toys into two groups for children 18 months old to 2 years and for children 3-5 years old. Here's a list of the toys we put to the test (prices may vary):

18 months to 2 years old

Big Hugs Elmo: $49

Little People Fun Sounds Farm: $22.99

VTech Go! Go! Smart Wheels Train Station Playset: $39.97

3 - 5 years old

Despicable Me 2 Minion Dave Laughing Action Figure: $34.97

Doc McStuffin's Get Better Checkup Center: $64.99

Uggly Pet Electronic Pet: $27.95

Batman Imaginex Super Friends Batcave: $34.97

Let the testing begin

We directed our age groups to the two groups of toys laid out in a Local 4 studio and watched what happened as they tried these hot

holiday items. Some trends started to emerge very quickly.

"He went right for the Batcave because he loves super heroes," said Meaghan St. Pierre, mother of 3-year-old Liam. "Actually, the boys in the age group played with that quite a bit. It seemed like a good toy for them all to play together."

While the Batcave was a hit with the boys, the "Doc McStuffins" checkup centers was a big draw for girls of both age groups.

"I can see them playing with that, with their stuffed animals for hours. I mean, doing different checkups on their favorite animals and dolls," said Sarah Mayberry, mother of two children in the test group.

However, that gender breakdown was not etched in stone. As time went by, the boys tried the Doc McStuffins and the girls took their turns with the Batcave. Parents in our group liked that both toys seemed to encourage group play, and one mother had another reason she liked those toys for her son.

"He has a really good imagination, and I think any kind of toy he can build a story with, he really enjoys," said Cindy Weintraub, mother of 4-year-old Aaron.

Young children's favorites

For the smallest children, ages 18 months to 2 years old, Big Hugs Elmo was definitely a big hit. However, sometimes it seemed the tiny ones needed a helping hand to get a hug from their red fuzzy friend.

"He was a little shy to play with him, but every time another kid picked him up, he got upset," said Sarah of her young son Will, who spent a lot of time playing with Elmo.

|Kids tell what some of their favorites are|

The younger children also really enjoyed the VTech Train Station, but so did some of the older boys. As time went by, the children from both groups wandered around trying all the toys we had brought in for the test.

The older boys (3-5) seemed to like building the train track, and there were numerous configurations they could try.

The two toys that didn't get a lot of love from our toy testers were the Uggly Pug Electronic Pet and Despicable Me 2 Minion Dave Laughing Action Figure. The children picked up those toys at different times, but didn't seem to stick with them for very long.

The parents in the group also noticed a lot more noisy features on the toys in our test. However, they found most of the items have a happy medium.

"Everything has sounds to keep the kids entertained, but not too loud to irritate the parents," said mother Meaghan St. Pierre.

Finally, there's one more thing we noticed that all parents will be able to relate to. With all these brand new toys on the ground, some of our testers still chose to also play with a big empty box we left out (How fun to climb inside a big box!). Also, they found a way to literally climb the walls in our studio

(curved for production purposes- watch the video to see what we mean).

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