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A (Cynical) Guide for the Childless to Today’s Hottest Toys

You don’t have a kid, but you know a kid, which means you have a problem: It’s holiday time, so you have to buy that kid a gift. No, you don’t have a choice. Gift-giving is hard enough for adults, but children pose a unique challenge. What do they have? What do they want? What do they need? (This year, all three of those things happen to be a monkey that farts. More on that in a minute.)

You also have the dilemma of sorting out what sort of gift-giver you want to be remembered as in this kid’s life. A cool one? A practical one? A shitty one? One false move and you’ll find yourself ranking in their Bad Gift Hall of Fame. Every kid has one — my sisters and I still make fun of the aunt who gave us Post-It Notes in 1989. But if you want to know the hottest toys of today that will at least keep you off that shit list, we can help.

Hottest Toy Disclaimer

Hot tip: hot toys are bullshit! They are not any warmer than other toys, they are not better made, they do not “do more things,” they do not impart greater joy, teach any lessons, or lessen the odds that — like any other toy — they will not be immediately lost, broken or forgotten in the steaming pile of useless junk you call a toy bin.

They merely normalize the idea of having what everyone else has, which is a terrific way to help raise a lemming. The very idea of a hottest toy forces innocent children to hound their parents for a Hatchimal (last year’s hot toy), when they don’t even know what it is, all because their friends have one and it seems really cool and totally adorable and please please please get me one so I will fit in. And please, your 7-year-old will beg, make it a limited edition!

But hey, beating back that avalanche is a parent’s job, and you’re not a parent! So let’s get to winning you some cool points. One other caveat: Keep in mind that, like People’s Most Beautiful issue, there is really only One Hottest Toy. The other “hottest toys” are just other things selling well — things that experts predict will be hot, that retailers hope will be hot, or that parents tell journalists kids want. If the kid you know loves drawing, a sketchbook and a cool set of graphite pencils is pretty hot. Because hotness in toys, just like in people, is a dubious, relative, pointless thing. Moving on!

Fingerlings, the Farting Monkey

If there is a crown jewel of hot toys to buy this year — today’s Cabbage Patch Kid/Beanie Baby/Tickle Me Elmo — it’s unequivocally a five-inch farting, blinking monkey robot called a Fingerling that promises “friendship at your fingertips,” which is maybe one of the saddest ideas about friendship we could pass on to children.

Fingerlings:

· Are inspired by pygmy marmosets

· Are made by a Canadian company called WowWee

· Hook or grip onto your finger or other objects

· Respond to your touch or claps with sounds or singing or blinking and even farting

· Come in six colors

· Are plastic

· Have accessories like jungle gyms

· Cost $15

Correction: They used to cost $15. Retail experts already predicted way the fuck back in September that they were going to be the hottest thing in town this year, as they were already flying off shelves then. They were right, and as a result, Fingerlings are now going for double or triple that on Amazon.

It looks like you should still be able to get them for $15. See how when you search for a Fingerling on Walmart it says it has one, for $14.84? And then you go there and it’s out of stock? Godspeed. Just make sure you aren’t getting duped into buying a fake one. And if the only one you can find is asking $5,000, move along to the next hot toy.

Hatchimals

Hatchimals? Isn’t that last year’s hottest toy? It is. But because of something called scarcity, lots of kids couldn’t get them by Christmas time. That means this year, a Hatchimal is still a valid, sought-after gift, just as Fingerlings might be next year. A Hatchimal is an egg that hatches in under an hour and “grows up before your eyes” with big, blinky eyes, which is also one of the saddest things we could pass along to children about life.

From polling children who scored Hatchimals last year, I can tell you two true things:

· They all delight in the toy hatching and teaching it things

· None of them play with the damn thing anymore

If they already have the old Hatchimal, make sure you get them the “new” Hatchimal called the Puppadee, which is the same thing, only twin puppies, so you can give them two toys at the same time that they won’t play with a month from now. $69.99.

Other Hot Toys

If you can’t get your hands on the most sizzling toys, rest assured there are countless others purporting to be a big deal this year that all seem more or less exactly the same. Walmart and Target have both released their lists of what they “think” the hottest toys will be, which we should immediately assume means the things they want us to buy because they stand to gain the most. However, a better guide for what is really selling is probably what sold extremely well on Black Friday/Cyber Monday. According to Adobe Analytics, that includes these popular items:

· The Nintendo Switch. A handheld/console hybrid game system (Nintendo’s seventh console) that was the best-selling item for all of Black Friday this year. $299. (Top game sold for the system: Super Mario Odyssey). Even though people think this is a really exciting console overall that is selling like hotcakes because it’s mobile and TV compatible, reviews call it a “beguiling, flawed piece of hardware” that “executes its main idea well enough that its shortcomings are alternately forgivable and all the more frustrating.” This makes it the perfect gift for a child.

· L.O.L. Surprise Doll. This tiny doll hidden in a seven-layered sphere that you feed or bathe so she will pee, change color, spit or cry is perfect training for that future traditional mom in your life, or just a girl who doesn’t know she has to get a job yet. Also terrible for the environment, as it comes with what should be considered a prosecutable amount of packaging. $9.99.

· PJ Masks action figures. If the kid you know watches Disney Jr. because the parents don’t care about its insidious gender programming and crass merchandising, this set of six talking action figures should be a sure thing if you want to spend $50 without any thought whatsoever for something off a TV show. $44.99.

· Rollplay MINI Cooper. Nothing says “future MINI Cooper owner” like purchasing your kid this 6-Volt battery powered mini MINI Cooper. Instill the value of existential dread when they realize they have to charge it for 12 hours to play with it for two. $199.99.

· LEGO Ultimate Collector Series Millennium Falcon. At 7,500 pieces, it’s the largest set ever sold by the company. At $800, it’s also the most expensive. Perfect for that kid you might call a “lost cause” who has 10 of everything else already and cannot possibly be any more spoiled, short of your commissioning LEGO to make this exact set in the shape of that kid’s head.

Here are a bunch more ideas of gifts for children who will grow up to make decisions about our government one day, divided by age group, all claiming to be the hottest toy of the season. One of them is a stuffed tiger that roars and costs $129.99.

Who is to say if these are indeed the “hottest” gifts for the kid in your life, or any kid whatsoever, but the one thing they are is popular. While no one can really divine the true nature of a child’s soul, what is astonishingly easy to do is simply to give that kid what everyone else is getting so they can experience the true meaning of giving. But fuck it, it’s Christmas!