Maybe you think surprise toys are a new phenomenon, born of toy companies cashing in on the allure of YouTube unboxing videos. They are kind of that, but also they are an old thing — back when I was a kid, I squandered many quarters of my allowance on the plastic egg toy vending machines in the hopes of getting the perfect rubber ball or hologram unicorn sticker.
Allowance is how my own son got into L.O.L. Surprise dolls, Hatchimals, and the many other toys whose packaging and unknown nature are as much a part of their appeal as their big eyes. Those plastic balls, eggs, and treasure chests called to him from beside the cash register at the toy store, their price tag exactly within his reach. And with so many tiny accessories and packages within packages to unwrap, it still felt like he was getting many toys in one.
Of course, excessive packaging might be one reason some parents might recoil at the idea of these toys. It can sometimes feel like we might as well be tossing plastic straws straight into the ocean. That’s one reason we’d like to applaud L.O.L. maker MGA Entertainment, which has pledged to make all of its packaging recyclable and/or biodegradable. The company further worked its way into our hearts this spring by pledging to put $5 million toward procuring personal protective gear for medical workers and is working on using Little Tykes factory to make ventilators. (That should ease your mind as you wonder whether you should really get your kid a doll that looks like Kylie Jenner dressing up for a ’90s rave.)
Baby dolls and cute animals aren’t the only surprise toys on the market right now. If your kid is more interested in trucks, robots, or buried treasure, there are blind backs and secret boxes aplenty for them too. Here are some of our favorites.
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