Wondering what the most popular toys for pretend play are? We're not inclined to go with the crowd on this question because little ones are so varied in their play habits. Some like baby dolls and some like trucks -- and despite the old adage, it doesn't always break along gender lines.
But based on what sells here on Toycycle, we've developed some ideas about toy popularity. First and foremost, pretend play is where it's at. If it's a character--whether an action figure, plush animal, or baby doll--it's guaranteed to be a winner. Small children love these special friends.
And if that character steps out of a favorite movie, all the better.
Pretend Play with Pixar's Stellar Characters
Take Buzz Lightyear, the familiar space ranger superhero from Toy Story. For pretend play, the possibilities are limitless with this to-infinity-and-beyond action figure. He can fly, he can shoot lasers. And he's sworn to protect the galaxy from the Evil Emperor Zurg! While Pixar released the original Toy Story in 1995, three sequels have kept this franchise alive in the imaginations of kids everywhere. And Buzz, along with his co-stars, Woody and Bo Peep, seems never to decrease in popularity.
Nickelodeon's Ruff Bunch
Paw Patrol is another popular TV-toy combo, seemingly limitless in its variety. Based on a Nickelodeon TV series rather than a motion picture, this team of six playful rescue dogs uses their individual talents to protect the seaside town of Adventure Bay. From playsets to ride-on toys, puzzles to jammies, Paw Patrol has reached great heights of popularity.
Lego Ninjago, Thomas the Train, Peppa Pig, and Barbie are other examples of wildly popular characters that enchant little viewers.
Star Wars Launched Toy Merchandising
Toys and television/movies have a long-running relationship. Ever since an enterprising marketer discovered that toys could help to sell movies, and movies could help to sell toys. The first successful toy merchandising programs began as far back as the early 20th century with Winnie the Pooh, Little Orphan Annie, and Disney characters. But Star Wars was the first entertainment franchise to bring together film, licensing, and merchandising on a scale that changed popular culture. That franchise kicked off a collecting craze that continues today.
But that purely commercial element doesn't have to diminish the fun to be had with these familiar characters. On the contrary. Our kids do connect with characters in TV and film, and that connection creates a jumping-off place for endless imaginative play.
So, whatever your child's favorite character, remember, whenever you're in trouble, just yelp! And in all things pretend play, may the force be with you.