Hot Toys: The gifts you didn’t know your child wanted

‘Tis the season for toy shopping but, in many cases, that must-have item will end up at the back of a closet by the end of January.

Many parents are looking for gifts with a longer-lasting impression.

Shoppers who are looking for gifts for little ones, you may want to think about going beyond the big names.

Liz Gumbinner, with Coolmompicks.com, said, “2013 is the year of the Rainbow Loom. There’s no doubt about it. Boys and girls are both obsessed with these kits. They’re great. Parents like them because they’re crafty.”

Families are searching for toys that can also teach their child a lesson.

Gumbinner said, “Looking what toys were out there for girls today, a lot of the options are mostly dolls and princesses.”

Bettina Chen met Alice Brooks while they were among the few female engineering graduate students at Stanford.

They drew upon their own experiences to create “Roominate,” a wired dollhouse with circuits and motors.

It combines science and engineering with a feminine twist.

Chen said, “With a dollhouse, it’s easy to see that connection of, ‘I’m building this setting for a story,’ or ‘I’m building this house for my doll.’ Whereas a lot of building toys, they build it but they don’t really see a reason to reach that end goal.”

“Roominate” is one of those items found in boutique toy stores.

A website can help parents find independent stores with similar education-based items that are available locally.

Many times, the hot toy of the season may not be what is best, or even what a child wants.

Gumbinner said, “It doesn’t matter what every other kid in the block is getting. Get your kid something that you know that they want, that they’ll enjoy and that’s all that matters.”