Build & Grow Tree House by Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids was named a top toy for 2022.

It’s that time of year when specialty retailers weigh in on their favorite playthings. ASTRA recently released its 2022 Best Toys for Kids, with 12 winners in 12 categories. Here’s a sampling of which ones made the cut and will continue flying off store shelves in the months ahead. Consider adding these games, as well as the Toy Foundation’s Toy of the Year Award winner, to attract customers; oftentimes parents are still willing to buy new items for their children, even when inflation calls for budget cuts.

Earning top honors in the Active Play category, the Dueling Stomp Rockets from Stomp Rocket set contains two race cars, two launch pads, a jump ramp, finish line and decorative stickers. The air-powered cars are activated by stomping on the launch pad, similar to the original Stomp Rocket. “It’s a great toy for two or more kids (ages 5 and up) to play together,” said Stomp Rocket general manager Seth Ramirez. “It encourages healthy competition and provides hours of outdoor and indoor fun.”

A winner in the Pretend Play category, Super Cityscape Transport Bucket Set from Hape is an 80-piece set that includes a battery-operated wooden railway, airport and construction vehicles for ages 3 and up. Assembling the train set in store helps retailers demonstrate its play value. According to senior marketing manager Freddie Jordan, a fully laid-out model measures four feet in length and makes use of product packaging for easy storage.

The 800-piece Earth Puzzle by Number from Plus-Plus is another big winner. “Puzzles and other vintage toy play patterns have been a strong trend over the last few years,” noted Bret Faber, head of sales. Plus-Plus transformed its signature pieces used for constructing cars and other creations into an 800-piece puzzle designed with a paint-by-number style. “It’s a great way to expand our reach and add new options for our fans,” he added. For holiday, participating retailers will receive an in-store hanging merchandiser and in-store demo with their order.

Earning top honors in the Arts & Crafts and Sensory categories, respectively, are Build & Grow Tree House and Sensory Bin Mermaid Lagoon by Faber-Castell/Creativity for Kids. These kits enable kids to express their creative sides through imaginative play. With Build & Grow Tree House, kids ages 6 and up can make their own miniature treehouse using chia seeds and soil-free grow mats.

“It does a remarkable job combining both the gardening and STEM aspects of our GROW line with the creative aspects of our other products,” said brand manager Michelle Seeber. The company’s Sensory Bin Mermaid Lagoon is the latest addition to an existing line that taps into the popular underwater theme. Included in the set for ages 3 and up are colorful water beads, foam mermaids, decorative plant, jewels and scoop.

“Caregivers love the fact that our sensory bins are full of safety-tested materials, and they can pop the lid on and put it away when play time is over,” added Seeber.

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Garnering the top award in the Science category, is Ultra Bionic Blaster from Thames & Kosmos. This toy was inspired by the company’s recently released Mega Cyborg Hand that serves as companion kit. Budding scientists ages 10 and up construct an 11-inch glove that launches foam darts.

“It’s through this process of building the blaster and troubleshooting its mechanisms that kids will be exposed to a whole world of scientific learning,” said CEO Andrew Quartin. Retailers are provided with replacement parts at no cost, and are encouraged to view Thames & Kosmos’s assembly and troubleshooting videos for additional support.

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