The Psychology Behind 20 Toys Kids Are Obsessed With Right Now

Whether they are fad toys or just ones that seem to never go out of style, every generation seems to have those few toys that they are completely obsessed with. It always seems worse around holidays when television commercials display the newest features on some of the coolest must-have toys that everyone in school is going to be talking about. And, as per usual, those commercials come on right before bedtime, just in time for kids to say, “Mom add that to the list, PLEASE!”.

But a lesser known fact is that in the toy and advertising industries, a lot of hard work goes into developing toys that really stimulate a kid’s “gotta get that now” brain sensors.

Psychologists have conducted studies over several years to understand what really makes kids tick, and why they are so obsessed with certain toys. The findings are very interesting, but a bit too general, so then we dove deeper and analyzed the must-have toys of 2019 and asked psychologists to help us get to the bottom of why these toys are so in demand.

The responses may give moms that “wow” factor. So, for a deeper peek into the psyche of that toy-obsessed little boy or girl, read on.

20 Delayed Gratification: LOL Surprise


One of the top toys on the market today is the famous doe-eyed toy tucked behind layers and layers of plastic, known as the LOL Surprise Dolls.

Dr. Rachel Barr, director of Georgetown University’s Early Learning Project, told The Atlantic that unboxing things, like what one must do to get to the center of the LOL Surprise, incites anticipation and by extension, delayed gratification.

By age 4 or 5, children understand “the future.” Something that they have to unwrap that is not initially visible gives them something to look forward to. When the toy is finally opened it is more of a prize than something they just saw on the box.

19 Tiny But Mighty: FunKo Mystery Mini

The FunKo Mystery Minis are pretty awesome little toys. Each box comes in different themes so that mom and little one can pick a toy that matches how they feel that day. The toys are basically like action figures; miniature so they are not for suggested use by very young children. But as child psychologist Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, puts it, these toys are a “license for imagination,” which should be a big thumbs up in moms book. Plus, with hundreds of different varieties, parents are sure to match their kid to the perfect figure, it may just take a little searching.

18 Imitation And Parents Time: Dear Zoo

Okay, your little one may not consider a book as a toy, if that is the case, this book, in particular, may change their mind. Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell is a book that is just as much for mom and dad as it is for kids. Parents can make animal sounds and kids can imitate them, plus kids can learn the name of all of the animals in the zoo. Reading this book together can provide special bonding time for both parents and children and is a really fun way to get children interested in books that are learning based.

17 Constructing A New World: Tegu Magnetic Blocks

Similar to building a new world with LEGO, Tegu Magnetic Blocks allow children to use tactile tools that can fit together and mold together without double guessing. Magnetic blocks appeal to children’s desire to build and tear down things. Construct and deconstruct is quite literally the name of the game when it comes to the appeal of these magnetic blocks. Worried that your little one will lose most of his or her blocks when he or she is finished playing? Or maybe if your little one is anything like mine and gets a little frustrated when his towers don’t stay upright for too long, magnets can help.

16 Cause And Effect: Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo

“If I press this button what will happen? What about this one?” are pretty much the thoughts on every toddler’s mind, according to Dr. Sarah Roseberry Lytle, director of outreach and education at the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences. These bits provide a toy that helps illustrate cause and effect, which is part of the reason kids are so obsessed with Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo.

It’s a robot with buttons that plays music. Sounds simple right? Well, factor in different dance moves and different melodies that your little one can control and you’ve got a few hours of play.

15 Cuddle Time: Teddy Ruxpin

No, parents, your eyes are not playing tricks on you. This “new” Teddy Ruxpin craze, is indeed the same bear that was oh so famous back in the ’80s. He just had a bit of a makeover. If you are unfamiliar, Teddy reads, opens his eyes and mouth, and makes story time interactive for children; not to mention he provides a warm cuddle from time to time. So, why are kids obsessed with it again? According to CNET, Teddy Ruxpin is just really awesome at telling stories. Think of it like this, kids typically have a favorite movie they love to watch over and over again, well, Teddy brings stories to life, almost like a movie.

14 Constant Motion: Fidget Spinners

My nephew asked me over 100 times at least for one of what I called at the time, those spinny things. From the outside looking in, or perhaps it was just my adult mind, the spinners don’t look like very much. You put them on your finger and spin them around, some of them even light up. Later on, I discovered that they are called fidget spinners and according to a research study done by PBS, fidget spinners basically just help kids fidget, similar to when an adult continuously clicks a ballpoint pen during a meeting. It’s the constant motion that they really enjoy.

13 Rare, Yet Collectable: Beanie Babies

Who wouldn’t like to say that their favorite toy is a classic and a collector’s item? Insert Beanie Babies! They’ve been around for several generations but they still haven’t lost their cuteness. With all of the different varieties of plush beanie animals, every child is bound to find a few that they are obsessed with. Psychologists who spoke with told them that wacky behavior is normal, and that collector’s items just make a child feel special like they have one of the coolest most original toys of any of their friends. And if it’s Beanie Babies they are obsessed with, in some cases, they are probably right.

12 Wearable Pets: Pomsies

Pomsies are furry, wearable pet. Yes, you read that correctly. It’s a pet that you wear. If your home has not yet been inundated with commercials for the wearable pet, allow me to explain. It is a pet that your child can wrap around his or her wrist, it comes in several different colors, and the thing is you can’t really tell what animal it is… It kind of looks like a cat, or maybe a dog, but who really knows. The reason kids love it is simple. According to New York Magazine and’s list for the most popular toys of 2018, toys like this inspire imagination. It’s like having an imaginary friend that you can wear.

11 The Big Reveal: Scruff A Luvs

Now, that furball of a pet may actually finally come in handy one day. The new craze known as Scruff A Luvs has kids totally obsessed. Why? Well, they tug at your kid’s heartstrings. According to the Scruff A Luv website, these pets are forgotten about; they arrive in a ball of matted fur and kids don’t actually know what kind of pet will be revealed once they are bathed, combed, and taken care of.

Giving kids a sense of caretaking is a great way to get them obsessed with toys, think a doll baby for girls, it’s about the same concept. Not to mention the big reveal part of it, you don’t know what they get until its unboxed and cleaned up. Then ta-da!

10 New Features: Baby ALive

Everyone loves new features on a good thing. Just look at how excited adults get about the newest Smartphone release. Sure, it’s the same brand, but there may be a better camera or more space, same thing with kids toys. The baby alive potty and dance is a doll that can do a number of cute little things, but the makers somehow manage to update the features of the doll at least quarterly. Kids love getting the newest features and upgrades on these dolls. While most of them sing and dance, some also eat, others go to the bathroom, some of them have hair that actually grows.

9 Pre-Historic: Furreal Munchin Rex

Want to teach your kids a history lesson? Interested in what life was like during the prehistoric era? Check out the Furreal Munchin Rex toy. Okay, this toy has very little to do with the prehistoric era aside from the fact that it is technically a dinosaur, but it is super popular among children. The toy begs, jumps, and eats treats, sort of like a dog. So it’s designed to be played with, unlike other plush toys that kids collect. According to, the interest in this one is really just the interaction it provides for kids, get ready to play.

8 Build A Robot: LEGO Boost Creative Toy Box

Do you have a future little engineer on your hands? It’s not too hard to determine why kids love the LEGO Boost Creative Toy Box, it’s basically an entire kit that lets kids explore every element of their imagination in one space. The toy box comes with five models, but kids can make many many more. And with over 800 pieces, what kid wouldn’t love to dive in and play? The toy box packs up pretty easily so it’s good for parents to take on the go, but like most LEGO products, your little builder will be obsessed with building a new world.

7 Be A Superhero: LittleBits Avengers Hero Inventor Kit

Kids are obsessed with the Avengers Hero Kit for two reasons. According to the manufacturers, there are lots of little parts that push kids to build something cool, and once things are built they can be their own superhero. Almost every kid wants to be a superhero at one point or another. Perhaps that’s why these hero kits have flown off the shelves every month since their release for nearly one year. The kit mostly transforms into an arm that can go over your little one’s arm that gives them superpowers like light power and speed tracking. Talk about super cool.

6 Health Care: Barbie Care Clinic

Barbie, the classic that has lasted for generations, somehow still finds a way to captivate children. This year, the golden ticket toy is the Barbie Care Clinic. The Barbie Care Clinic shows your little one how to care for sick “patients” on-the-go. Since mobile care clinics are all the rage right now for adults, this will really give your little one a sense of real-time health care. Kids love the care clinic because they can take care of other Barbies, and show mom how current their toys are. The Barbie Care Clinic is bound to get you a few smiles from your little one.

5 As Seen On TV: Paw Patrol Fire Truck

The hit show Paw Patrol has released a fire truck that can help your little one conduct rescue missions from the privacy of their own home! The fire truck is modeled off of a real fire truck, which your little one is bound to love since it looks like the real thing, sounds like the real thing, and has an adjustable ladder, and water cannons. Kids who love a good rescue will love this fire truck, if they also love the show it will only be a plus. The toy also provides other components that kids can collect, like the rest of the Paw Patrol crew, so sit back, relax, and let them get their rescue on.

4 Thrill Seekers: Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash Set

Hot Wheels were popular when I was a kid. Although I never got the appeal, I remember seeing all the boys talk about the newest car releases and race and build tracks for the set. Somehow the company has not only managed to stay in business but manage to keep kids jumping up and down for new releases. The Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash Set is for the little thrill seeker in your child. The spiral track set has been done before, but not with this many turns, or at least that’s what the Hot Wheels makers say. If your little one loves cars and loves, even more, to see them crash. The psych behind it is simple: they like thrills.

3 Stop, Drop, Arcade: Moj Moj Claw Set

The name of the Moj Moj Original Claw Set can be a bit difficult to understand, but when you see the toy, you sort of get it. It’s a claw set, like the old pastime favorite arcade game that drops down and picks up toys… only miniature. Kids will LOVE having an arcade game they can use at home, and the claw game will allow them to get prices and improve their accuracy. The psych behind it? The anticipation that arcade games bring. After they can finally get their first prize, getting the second and third prize will only be more exciting. According to the manufacturers, more prizes are sold separately.

2 The Uncovering Aspect: L.O.L Surprise! Doll House

Ready for a surprise vacation with a homestay that will make you and your little one say wow? The L.O.L Surprise! Doll House has over 85 surprises like a sandbox, a working elevator, a real pool, lights and sounds for home appliances, and it’s made of wood (so it should last a while.) Why kids love it? Each house is a surprise, in addition to the marketed features, each three-story dollhouse will have a surprise for the child who owns it. The house even houses space for L.O.L Surprise pets in addition to the dolls. Kids will love the element of surprise and the luxury of a fancy home to play in.

1 Building Blocks: LEGO Star Wars Building Set


Does your little one love Star Wars? Does your little one jump up and down for LEGO? If so, parents may want to consider getting the LEGO Star Wars BB-8 Building Kit. Why? Well, what kid does not love being in charge of their own universe? In addition to that, the box provides a model that kids can imitate, making them feel like they’ve accomplished something amazing when what they have looks like it does on the box. They can imagine an entirely separate world if they take it apart and start again. Pretty awesome. And since it was ranked as Best Construction Toy of the Year in 2018, how could you go wrong?

References: PBS, CNET, interviews with child psychologists, research studies, NY MAG,, Mental Floss, toy manufacturers.