Every year, the Toy Insider panel of experts chooses the hottest toys for the upcoming holiday season. And these typically are the most in-demand playthings for kids all year long. Twenty of the toys are the must-have items on kids of all ages' wish lists, whether they're based on favorite TV shows or movie characters or they're simply selling out in stores. Twelve of the tech-based toys incorporate the latest in digital play, creativity and innovation, while 10 are based on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), from the basics of coding and circuitry to complex robotics.
To see more holiday gift guides, visit newsday.com/giftguides .
First Order Star Destroyer
Inspired by the upcoming movie "Star Wars: The Last Jedi," the First Order Star Destroyer includes five minifigures: Supreme Leader Snoke, a First Order Officer, First Order Stormtrooper Sergeant, First Order Stormtrooper and a First Order Shuttle Pilot, plus BB-9E and a medical Droid kids can build. The set also comes with two blasters, two blaster pistols and more; $159.99 at lego.com.
Hatchimals, the popular toy from last holiday season, is back and holds a very special surprise that will officially hatch on Hatchimals Day, Friday, Oct. 6; $69.99 at hatchimals.com.
Lightseekers Starter Pack
This new gaming system, built for mobile devices, combines fantasy and reality, video games and action figures. A mini-computer is embedded within each figure, kids can add physical accessories to them and scan trading cards with the Lightseekers app; $69.99 at tomy.com/lightseekers.
Combining artificial intelligence (AI) and customizable programs, M.A.X. is the most-advanced Meccano robot. It also features Infrared Navigation (IR) and custom apps to bring M.A.X. to life, as well as a built-in gaming system; $149.99 at spinmaster.com.
Scoop & Learn Ice Cream Cart
This toy ice cream cart from LeapFrog features buttons, lights, sound effects, music, phrases and more. It comes with four flavors of ice cream (two scoops each), three toppings and three flavors of sauce so kids can create their favorite sundaes, and includes a cash register and magnetic scooper; $39.99 at leapfrog.com.
Dance Code Belle
Kids can bring Belle to life with an interactive story app and simple coding techniques. Choreograph dance sequences for Belle and watch her move, hold the doll's arm to lead her in a dance or press her necklace to watch her dance to the choreographed routines. The doll also features more than 100 phrases and seven different songs; $119.99 at hasbro.com.
With this all-in-one VR gaming system, kids can play Jurassic World VRSE or Batman VRSE. Simply download an app onto a smartphone, which is then inserted into the headset to begin the VR experience; $59.99 at amazon.com.
Soft'N Slo Squishies Sweet Shop
The latest trend in collectibles, the super squeezable, slow-rising toys come in a variety of shapes and sizes. In the Sweet Shop collection, you'll find slices of cake, cinnamon buns, ice cream cones, s'mores and more; $5.99-$14.99 at softnslosquishies.com.
Star Wars Hero Droid BB-8
Standing more than 16-inches tall, the BB-8 Droid features built-in voice recognition, a two-stick remote and more. The "Follow Me" mode allows BB-8 to roll beside kids and he also comes when called and reacts to key phrases and "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" characters; $299.99 at spinmaster.com.
Fingerlings Baby Monkeys from WowWee hang onto your finger and know when they're being touched and spoken to, and even hung upside down. They come to life with 40 ways to play and 50 sounds to let you know how they are feeling. They make realistic monkey sounds and have blinking eyes and a curly hanging tail. There are six different Fingerlings to share and collect; $14.99 at wowwee.com.
The motion-activated device plays music and sound effects as kids move and dance. Using Bluetooth technology, download the free app and choose from more than 400 sounds, such as Robot, Karate, Instrumental and Musical. The set comes with two bands; $79.99 at cra-z-artshop.com.
R2-D2 App-Enabled Droid
Kids can control the droid with a smart device or watch it move on its own. R2-D2 also comes with front and rear LED lights, an integrated speaker for authentic sounds and can interact with other Star Wars App-Enabled Droids; $179.99 at store.sphero.com.
PJ Masks Rival Racers Track Playset
Disney Jr.'s popular nighttime heroes Catboy, Owlette and Gekko can zoom through the raceway to save the museum from Night Ninja. Launch the vehicles using one of the two built-in mega launchers and watch them loop around the curves. The playset comes with a Catboy figure, Cat-Car and Night Ninja Bus; $39.99 at justplayproducts.com.
This life-like baby doll comes with interactive accessories, such as a spoon for feeding, play time with Lamby, nap time with a bottle and a pacifier. The boy or girl dolls laugh, blink, purse their lips, chew and more; $99.99 at spinmaster.com.
Ultimate Justice League Batmobile
Using an app-enabled device, kids can take complete control of the Batmobile, which features smoke release from the exhaust pipe, moving missiles on the hood of the car, roaring engine sounds and four armored wheels. It also includes a camera in the cockpit so kids can drive from Batman's POV and the "jump mode" creates hydraulic-like movement. An included Batman figure can press the gas pedal, his arm shifts gear and his head turns; $249.99 at shop.mattel.com.
Rube Goldberg The Acrobat Challenge
Make the acrobat fly through a cannon using STEM-based principles of gravity and spring forces. Kids will build it, test it and complete the challenge until it's just right; $14.99 at spinmaster.com.
Shopkins Shoppies Super Mall
The Shopville Super Mall has room for Shoppies and Shopkins and features an elevator lift for three levels of fun, a food court, fashion boutique, beauty parlor, cinema and more; $79.99 at moosetoys.com.
The Merge Cube is the first holographic object kids can hold in their hands. Simply download the app to view the cube through the device's camera and watch it come to life; $14.99 at mergevr.com.
L.O.L. Surprise! Tots
These collectible toys feature seven layers of surprises -- a secret message, stickers, a baby bottle, shoes, an outfit, an accessory and the L.O.L. Surprise doll. The playset (ball) can be used as a doll stand or bath tub -- feed or bathe the doll with water to reveal another surprise; $9.99 at lolsurprise.mgae.com.
LEGO Boost Creative Toolbox
Build and code the ultimate 847-piece robot using the step-by-step instructions in the free LEGO tablet app; $159.95 at shop.lego.com.
Peppa Pig Lights & Sounds Family Home
Inspired by the popular Nick Jr. TV show "Peppa Pig," this four-story playset home has seven rooms, 13 accessories with lights and sounds and three figures: Peppa Pig, George Pig and Zoe Zebra; $59.99 at target.com.
LeapFrog Epic Academy Edition
The new tablet from LeapFrog includes 20 educational games that incorporate spelling, reading, math, coding, science, music and more. It comes with a removable silicone bumper, stylus, LeapSearch Web browser, which allows kids to safely surf the internet, parental controls and more; $119 at leapfrog.com.
Sky Viper v2450 GPS
This GPS streaming video drone is lightweight and can maintain its coordinates in a hover without drifting away. It also features a "Return to Home" feature so the drone can fly back to its launch point; $149.99 at toysrus.com.
Droid Inventor Kit
"Star Wars" fans can create their own R2-D2 and take him on more than 20 missions with the free Droid Inventor app. The kit comes with littleBits motor, sensor, light, sticker and Droid parts. What's more, kids can create a variety of new Droids. It also features more than eight modes and 10 classic R2-D2 sounds; $99.95 at shop.littlebits.cc/starwars.
FurReal Roarin’ Tyler, the Playful Tiger
Make a noise or roar at Hasbro's new Furreal friend and he will roar back in response. He can also crouch, respond to squeaky toys, make 100-plus sounds and motions, and more; $129.99 at hasbro.com.
Aura Drone with Glove Controller
Aura is a gesture-controlled drone with a wearable glove controller. The flying robot is controlled by hand motions made inside the glove, and the rolling cage protects the robot from crashing; $99.99 at toysrus.com.
Mickey Transforming Roadster Racer R/C
This R/C vehicle is based on Disney Jr.'s popular cartoon "Mickey and the Roadster Racers," which features two cars in one, lights, sound effects and even Mickey's voice. The car can move in multiple directions, honk its horn and transform using the remote; $39.99 at walmart.com.
VEX Robotics BattleBots Minotaur/Tombstone
Simply snap together the pieces to build the mythical Minotaur, from the "BattleBots" television show. The set comes with 345 pieces; $39.99 at hexbug.com.
Go! Go! Smart Wheels Race & Play Adventure Park
Kids can move the go-kart up the hill with the hand crank, pull back the lever and launch the vehicle to the top of the track. The go-kart can race down the track, through a 360-degree loop and out the jump ramp. It also includes a Ferris wheel, carnival game and swinging gate; $39 at vtechkids.com.
JoJo CD + G Karaoke Machine
Connect the karaoke machine and sing along to teen sensation JoJo Siwa with this Walmart exclusive. JoJo's song lyrics will appear on screen using the included CD and kids can access their music library, which can be streamed wirelessly through Bluetooth from any compatible device; $39.97 at walmart.com.
Nintendo Switch Console with Gray Joy-Con
This new home video game system provides single and multiplayer games, and can be taken on-the-go.The two new Joy-Con controllers allow the mobility of a handheld. Slip a set of Joy-Con into the Joy-Con grip to mimic a traditional controller. It features a Capture Button, motion control with a gyroscope and accelerometer, HD Rumble, IR Motion Camera, amiibo and Release Button; $299.99 at nintendo.com/switch.
Barbie Fundamental Chemistry Set
This portable science lab comes with six safe potions and concoctions, tools and other materials for kids to create slime, fizz, crystals and more; $29.95 at thamesandkosmos.com.
3Doodler Start Robotics Pen Set
Kids can follow the step-by-step guide to create two-legged, four-legged and six-legged walking or crawling robots. The 3-D printing pen uses BPA-free plastic; $69.99 at the3doodler.com/store.
Wicked Cool Toys is bringing the iconic toy from the 1980s back. The 14-inch-tall Teddy Ruxpin will read stories with a motorized mouth and features LCD eyes with more than 40 expressions that are synched to the stories. The touch sensors in the hands and vest allow children to start, pause or fast-forward through the books and songs. It comes with three built-in stories and a free app; $99.99 at wickedcooltoys.com.
Will this be the next Rainbow Loom? Digiloom, from WowWee, is an app-controlled weaving machine that lets tweens make custom bracelets, anklets, headbands, bookmarks and more. Using the Digiloom app, drag and drop letters, emojis and icons to create a fashion statement, then weave your creations with the help of the Digiloom machine; $49.99 exclusively at Michaels stores or michaels.com.
Power & Play Motorized Building Set
With this unique building set, kids can construct 50 different things, such as cars, planes, robots and more. It comes with more than 500 pieces; $49.99 at knex.com.
Oonies Mega Starter Pack
Kids can inflate Oonies and watch them grow. They stick together and to windows without glue, water or heat. The set comes with 90 Oonies, 14 Oonie connectors, 42 Deco Bits, 28 Oonie Eyes and other accessories to decorate, as well as six display connectors; $29.99 at moosetoys.com.
Nerf Rival Nemesis MXVII-10K Blaster
This motorized blaster holds up to 100 high-impact rounds with an easy-loading hopper that blasts rounds of 100 feet per second. The blaster is available in blue and red; $99.99 at hasbro.com.
Disney Junior Doc McStuffins All-in-One Nursery
Kids can care for their baby dolls with this set that features a light-and-sound stethoscope, a portable electronic patient laptop with a light-up screen, sounds and lullaby music, scale and more. For ages 3 and older; $79.99 at toysrus.com.
Remote-Control Machines: Construction Vehicles
Build eight models of heavy-duty construction vehicles and control them with a remote. Step-by-step instructions help kids build a bulldozer, backhoe, dump truck, crane, skid-steer loader, road grader, forklift and a concrete mixer. The tools on the vehicles move, such as buckets, shovels, forks and cranes; $99.95 at thamesandkosmos.com.
Thomas & Friends Super Station
This multisystem track set includes 10 Sodor locations (Tidmouth Sheds, Knapford Station and more), three engines and enough room to store more than 100 Thomas & Friends engines; $99.99 at fisher-price.mattel.com.
In this video game, kids can create different environments and structures made of digital LEGO bricks. Use the landscaping tools to design mountain ranges or tropical islands, explore using helicopters, dragons, motorbikes and more. Keep a lookout for the hidden treasures, characters, vehicles, castles and weapons in each new world. Available on PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and more; $29.99 at warnerbros.com/videogame.