The toys that stick with us are those that allowed us to explore new worlds and create experiences.

“Ultimately, play is something that happens in the imagination,” said Byrne, content director of “What makes each Barbie doll unique is how a little girl creates and projects her sense of self and her fantasies onto that piece of plastic.”

Other toys create strong memories simply because of their nostalgic appeal.

“Some, just by looking at them, reflect the design sensibility of the time, becoming almost works of art,” he said. “We identify with them in the cultural context of their time.”

So, how can you tell if a toy will be a hit for your child? When it comes to gift-giving for children, the most important rule of thumb is to know who you’re shopping for, Byrne said.

“The hot toys are only hot if they’re hot for your child,” he said. “The toys that become memorable are the ones that connect with our interests.”

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