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The Next Big Thing: All the Toys Kids Will Want Most This Season

Straight out of Camp's crystal ball: Get ready for a new season of must-have toys with our insider guide to the biggest toy trends for spring and summer.

Megan Baldwin and Sarah Burns

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Toy Trends: The Next Big Thing

Heeral Chhibber

Spring and summer mean a bunch of new toys are about to hit shelves. Here’s our very scientific list of predictions for the toys kids will be begging for this spring and summer. 

Trend #1: Audio-First Play

Girl with Toniebox Outside


Put your listening ears on.

A new crew of new audio-led apps and toys are about to hit the market. No, we’re not suggesting your kid should be Clubhousing. But as anyone who's gotten addicted to a podcast knows, we're seeing the rise of a new type of digital community where audio is the primary mode of engagement — and the move towards "audio-first" has resounding implications for how kids play.

There's a soundcloud of new family-friendly speakers like Yoto, Tonies, and Lunii. And following a massively successful Kickstarter campaign last year, the Storypod — a screenless edutainment system for kids — is finally making sound waves stateside. Besides things for kids to play with, there’s also been an explosion of playable podcasts for kids, like our favorites: The Past and the Curious, Mystery Recipe, Story Pirates, and Brains On. Sounds exciting!

Trend #2: Fun Money

play pay tender leaf

Tender Leaf Toys

Kids take stock.

The coin flip of financial uncertainty is that it drives home the importance of financial literacy. Expect kids' play to start to include more traditionally grown-up topics like financial literacy, investing, and career skills.  A Kids Book About Money, for example, makes the basics of spending, saving, and giving accessible to kids. And recently a new mom created Credit is King, Kareem and Credit is Queen, Charlene, a coloring book about credit to help her own kids understand lending. For mini-micro investors, Acorn launched Early, an investment account for kids that you can open from the time your baby is born. A download gets you a free digital children’s book on investing. Allowance, but make it BitCoin.

Trend #3: Games Grownups Can Play Too



Stop doom-scrolling, start puzzling. 

With our Netflix queues exhausted and nerves frayed by too much stay-at-home, play has emerged as a solution for grown-ups to feel normal-ish. From the rise of quarantine puzzles to Instagrammy crafting kits for grown-ups, the new genre of ageless toys uses play to ease stress and help us all take a break from screens to do something a little more hands-on. Think pottery, puzzles, and photo challenges.

Trend #4: Family Car as Play Space



Buckle up for a wild ride. 

Rev up your hot wheels! The car is transforming from mere transportation mode to the main event. Family experiences are shifting from in-person to in-car with new, immersive drive throughs like the Jurassic Quest Drive Through Experience, a new Hot Wheel-themed immersive drive through, and a SpongeBob-themed experience. For spring and summer, things shift into high gear with brands using the drive through format to celebrate big premieres and launches. And with the advent of summer vacation season, the car will become a new hub for family activity with products that make road tripping more fun, like games and car-friendly tech. It’s less minivan and more glampervan, so buckle up.

Trend #5: Wet and Wild Outdoor Toys


Pottery Barn Kids

Splish, splash, your backyard is about to be a bash.

Kids have been cooped up and cut off from friends and family for a year. With summer around the corner and many families still not traveling, expect things to get very wet and very wild. New outdoor toys are upping the ante with super-splashy water features, so kids can have the most fun they’ve had in months. Think giant inflatable dinosaur sprinklers, giant inflatable rolling balls, and crazy-cool inflatable pools. In other words, pool's out for the summer.

Trend #6: Toys That Go from Home to School



Learning to play, learning as play.

If the past year taught us anything, it’s that education isn’t reserved for schools. Toys stepped up to help bridge the learning gap and as we get back to normal-ish, they’re making moves from home to school. LEGO is leading the charge with a formal, LEGO Education Professional Development program which introduces teachers to research-based STEAM activities and curricula to apply in classroom settings via an online course. Expect more toys, brands, and start-ups to make the jump from home to school and change the way kids learn. 

Trend #6: Zen-Sational Stuff


Squishy, smushy, and sensory play is still a thing. 

Being a kid this past year has been super-intense. Enter: an explosion of sensory toys that are equal parts slimy and soothing. Sure, this stuff might look weird, gooey, and gross. But things like the ever-popular Pop-Its help kids refine their motor skills while staying focused for hours of Zoom school. More than one-off oozes, toy brands are now jumping on the social media trend of parents building their own DIY sensory bins with made-to-order options filled with things that are fun to squish, squeeze, and mold. Bin there done that!

Trend #7: 90s Reboots

The Blockbuster Game: 0

Nostalgic, but make it new. 

In the words of Tommy Pickles, “Sometimes a baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do.” And apparently, it’s time for the babies to make a comeback. The news that The Rugrats are getting a reboot means the next generation of kids get to enjoy this classic 1990s series — but updated for now. Expect more dusted-off-for-the-next-generation reboots of 90s touchstones from Saturday morning cereals and toys to Space Jam’s Looney Toons. This trend taps into the nostalgia that’s been hanging around for a few seasons, but makes it a little more modern, like a gender-neutral Potato Head.