Bit too young to operate a real Cat vehicle? This lifelike toy is the next best thing. The fully functional excavator arm operates via a manual lever and is up to the challenge of demanding tasks and gruelling sandbox terrain. It has a removable shovel, shatterproof plastic cab windows, functional doors and genuine chain-link treads. Need to do maintenance? The two engine hatches open, no sweat.
Bruder CAT Excavator, $100, mastermindtoys.ca
A new spin on the mega-popular Eye Found It! franchise, this game will have you travelling from Asgard to Wakanda and in between. Thoughtfully illustrated cards contain hidden objects that players must scramble to find from the hand they’ve been dealt.
Ravensburger Marvel Eye Found It! Card Game, $12, mastermindtoys.ca
Whoa, is that a digital camera that kids can point, click then instantly print? Yeah, it is. Have a blast printing black-and-white pics with comic strips, in panorama and with fun frames. Flip the lens and take a selfie or print a card that you can colour in and give to your BFF. You can also shoot movies and play games. It’s like the ’90s, only way cooler.
VTech KidiZoom PrintCam, $94, mastermindtoys.ca
This set has everything Barbie needs to run her own medical clinic. Exam table? Of course. An X-ray machine, cast- and bandage-making moulds and crutches? Yes. There’s even a gift shop where you can find a treat to help cheer up patients.
Mattel Barbie Fast Cast Clinic, $75, mastermindtoys.ca
Classic stories come to life in this multi-dimensional book-playset hybrid. This is not your regular pop-up book! Kids can build stories both physically and through imaginative play with characters and props made from sturdy yoga mat foam and card-stock parts. Enough storytelling? Fold it flat for another day. Look for an assortment of tales to build out your set. Maybe Jack scaled the beanstalk to spy on the wolf that’s been bothering Red Riding Hood.
Storytime Toys Fairytale Moderns: Book + Toy Playsets, $20 each, mastermindtoys.ca
Cruising in style is always on the agenda for this easy-to-tote scooter with neon light-up wheels—now with a wider anti-slip deck for better balance and an extra-large brake to help make your child’s first scoot a stable one. Plus, it folds down with a quick button press.
Globber Primo Foldable Lights Scooter, $100, mastermindtoys.ca
New year, new interactive pup! Pulling up with sweet dance moves and over 50 sounds and reactions, GoGo is a white fluffy lapdog that wants to show off her moves. Press the dance button on her leash to get the party started. GoGo will stand up and shake her stuff along to five songs. Wanna walk? So does GoGo. Press the walk button and she’ll bob her head while strolling along and chiming in with fun barks and happy pup noises.
Hasbro furReal GoGo My Dancin’ Pup, $80, mastermindtoys.ca
Who knew that 155 fuzzy sticks, 116 assorted plastic beads, 60 paper tubes and a wooden pegboard could spark so much creativity? Your little dreamer will love the flexibility of this craft-meets-engineering kit that encourages kids to use critical and creative thinking and to sharpen their fine motor skills.
Kid Made Modern STEAM Fuzzy Stick Sculpture Set, $25, mastermindtoys.ca
Tighten those apron strings and put kids to work make-believe baking the sweetest works of art. The confection-inspired Play-Doh kit includes a 14-page guide, cookie and doughnut moulds, stampers, ice cream cones, scoops, a sprinkle-maker and more. The world is their cherry pie with the 20 two-ounce Play-Doh colours.
Hasbro Play-Doh Great Baking Book Set, $65, mastermindtoys.ca
Get ready to play with kinetic sand in ways you never have before. The Zen-inducing sensory-box star can be moulded into colourful designs using one kilogram of sand. More than 10 tools give licence to flow, cut, mix and rake four different hues into two moulds. Don’t think of the satisfying possibilities, simply create them.
Spin Master Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory Set, $25, mastermindtoys.ca
What’s better than Baby Yoda? Snacking Baby Yoda. The galaxy far, far away’s cutest character, Grogu, has quite the appetite. Put some food to his mouth and listen as he adorably smacks his lips. He’ll let you know if something is yucky or yummy and will raise his hands up when he wants to be held. Grogu blinks, and he moves his ears, head and arms. When the Force activation is on, look out for an iconic move that fans will love.
Hasbro Star Wars Galactic Snackin’ Grogu, $130, mastermindtoys.ca
The tie-dye trend continues! Check out this hand-powered art machine that uses a simple spinning motion to create colourful pictures. Clamp a piece of paper down on the spin plate and squirt in paint to create a funnel of fun and a unique masterpiece.
4M Thinking Kits Tornado Spin Art, $20, mastermindtoys.ca
Imagination and a few coloured pencils is all that a fashion lover needs to create some head-turning lewks. This compact designer’s boutique comes with 10 outfit pads, 40 reusable accessory stickers and 100 colour-in clothing pieces that will peel off residue-free so designers can create thousands of stylish combos on three double-sided dolls. Bonus: The box also functions as a studio—it’s important to flaunt your work.
Educational Insights PaperCraft Sweet Boutique, $20, mastermindtoys.ca
Barbie is over-the-top in all the right ways, and the latest iteration of her iconic estate is the most customizable yet. She’s upgraded the amenities to include a lush lawn, a barbecue that doubles as a dessert station, and panoramic city views from her three-level pad. The pool slide can be moved and reconfigured endlessly. Barbie also took up DJing during the pandemic and practises her spinning skills in the party room’s light-up booth. Accessibility rules, so there’s room for four, including a wheelchair, in the new automated elevator.
Mattel Barbie Dreamhouse, $250, mastermindtoys.ca
An adorable screen-free bunny is happy to hop in and help with story time. The portable speaker with headphone jack has over 65 tales, poems, songs and lullabies to choose from. We love the bedtime timer, which automatically turns off once the desired number of stories have been read. Kid keen on your voice? Record up to 10 minutes of song or story.
LeapFrog On-the-Go Story Pal, $37, mastermindtoys.ca
It’s go time at the imagination station and two firefighters are ready to board the train and perform heroic acts, like fighting fires and saving kittens with their telescopic ladder.
Janod Story Train Firefighters, $20, mastermindtoys.ca
New wildlife themes collide with these clear and patterned magnetic tiles that kids just love. The imagination-nurturing animal series captures life in the humid jungle, on an African safari and in the deep-freeze of the Arctic. Builders can construct habitats and learn about the variety of creatures that call the differing landscapes home.
Magna-Tiles Animal Collection Sets, $70 each, mastermindtoys.ca
Is it a fighter jet or is it a ferocious velociraptor? Trick question—it’s both! It’s easy to transform this sky-rocketing jet into a towering mechanical dino with an animated LED screen. Press a button to trigger voice lines and cool special effects.
VTech Switch & Go Velociraptor Jet, $42, mastermindtoys.ca
The Color Reveal coating on these Hot Wheels cars washes off when you dunk ’em in water to unveil their slick paint jobs. Want to try a different look? Give ’em a swish in hot water for a fancy new style—but don’t worry, an icy cold bath will reverse it again. Now race forward and claim that checkered flag!
Mattel Hot Wheels Color Reveal, $17, mastermindtoys.ca
Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate? The latest LOL Surprise dolls! Two athletes are competition-ready with cheer and gymnast looks, complete with sparkly poms, spinning ribbons and 20 surprises
MGA Entertainment LOL Surprise! OMG Sports, $45 each, mastermindtoys.ca
Isn’t it cool how diverse the planet is? With this buildable, three-dimensional, hand-painted playset, kids can journey to the African savannah. A lifelike lion, lioness and cobra can give a tour of their turf. There’s a lot to check out. Why not lounge under an acacia tree, drink from the watering hole or poke around the rocky landforms?
Papo Savannah Set, $60, mastermindtoys.ca
Up the ante on indoor fun with a low-mess, durable cardboard structure that can hold up to 50 pounds. Simply pop up the StrongFold slide and have fun climbing up and swooshing down. It’s easy to fold flat and stash under the couch or behind a bookcase.
Wowwee Pop2Play Indoor Slide, $40, mastermindtoys.ca
The ice cream–themed counting game pits players against each other, having them compete over who can complete their banana split with the most scoops the fastest. The sweet treats are topped with scratch-and-sniff cherries, of course!
Peaceable Kingdom With a Cherry on Top, $17, mastermindtoys.ca
What do koalas love to eat? Eucalyptus, of course! Wally the Koala needs a hand reaching his fave snack at the top of a tall tree. Players need to work together to help coax him to the tippy-top, but be careful: He might get scared and slide down the trunk. Better catch him before he goes bing-bang!
Learning Advantage Koala Walla Bing Bang , $20, mastermindtoys.ca
The best-looking mixer that you ever did see is this 10-piece bunny-themed kitchen set made from wood with whimsical painted details. Burgeoning bakers will be whisked away with a tilt-head mixer, bowl, rolling pin, spatula and all of the ingredients needed to bake up something sweet. Just twist the toadstool to spin the wooden mixer blades.
Manhattan Toy Bunny Hop Mixer , $56, mastermindtoys.ca
Malu is ready to ride the waves! The 14-inch doll is geared up and ready for a day of surf and sand. Safety comes first, so she wears her life jacket over her on-trend pineapple-printed swimsuit. The sand can get hot, but thankfully she’s got slides that are easy to slip on and off.
Glitter Girls Malu Doll with Paddle Board , $40, mastermindtoys.ca
There’s no web connection needed to embark on the educational quests in Letterland, Numberville, Shapetown and Colour Springs. Just hook up the controller to your TV with the HDMI game stick and USB power cable to unlock 150 learning challenges that kids can master at their own pace.
LeapFrog LeapLand Adventures, $42, mastermindtoys.ca
These dolls are EXTRAvagent in their style and lifestyle choices. Each of the new Barbie Extra dolls—and their coordinating pets—encourages kids to get creative with their own self-expression. Some of our fave accessories? The glitter, sunglasses, neon faux fur and hairstyles that dare to be different. After a day of shopping, Barbie Extra loves to invite her friends over to her newly reno’d Dreamhouse. Slay, Queens!
Mattel Barbie Extra Dolls , $40 each, mastermindtoys.ca
Say hi to Skye! A mythical creature with a magical discovery to share, Skye will teach eager preschoolers how to code with a special spellbook and wand (no screen required!). She can light up, dance and complete fantasy trials. Ready for a challenge? Design your own codes using problem-solving and critical thinking.
Learning Resources Coding Critters MagiCoders: Skye the Unicorn, $50, mastermindtoys.ca
A wee version of the classic baby doll is here. Just eight inches tall, this sweet babe is lightweight and easy to transport, and oui, she’s subtly fragranced with that signature sweet vanilla.
Corolle Mini Corollines, $20 each, mastermindtoys.ca
We crunched the numbers and found that this pre-kindergarten math-prep game is not only fun, it’s also really good at introducing early arithmetic concepts like greater than and less than, basic addition and number recognition. How to play? Roll the dice and stack colourful chips, winning confidence with every correct answer.
ThinkFun My First Math Dice, $20, mastermindtoys.ca
There’s an emergency and Marshall is all fired up in his new rescue vehicle, modelled after the movie. Flames are up against an extendable ladder with 360-degree spins, rescue slide, water cannon projectile launcher and a trampoline net to break falls. You’ll know this pup is on his way when you hear the sirens and see the flashing lights.
Spin Master Paw Patrol Marshall’s Transforming City Firetruck, $70, mastermindtoys.ca
Streamlined, stylish and ready for Instagram, this kitchen has faux marble counters, minimalist Scandi-inspired cabinetry and a pretty patterned backsplash. Function matches looks with a fridge and icemaker, oven and gas range, a sink with a gooseneck faucet, and a chalkboard for important snack memos. Waiting for the budget reveal!
KidKraft Taverna Play Kitchen, $270, mastermindtoys.ca
Big, exciting possibilities lurk beneath the play surface of each of these three self-contained sensory bins. Your young explorer’s fine motor skills will develop with each dig, scoop, sift and brush. What’s hiding in there? Depends on your set, but it could be dinos, skeletons, sea creatures, rocks or a whole construction zone.
Creativity For Kids Sensory Bins, $30 each, mastermindtoys.ca