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Introduction to 10 Must-have Toys for 2012
Image Gallery: Holidays in the U.S.
Image Gallery: Holidays in the U.S.

If Santa's bag isn't filled with toys from this list, this idyllic scene could turn to one of tears and disappointment. See more pictures of holidays in the U.S.

©iStockphoto/Thinkstock

Play helps kids learn about problem solving, decision-making, and building and managing relationships with others. But kids generally don't care about that. Kids care about having fun, and when word of this year's must-have toys breaks, it's big news.

Maybe you were in the generation who had to have a Cabbage Patch doll or the latest G.I. Joe, or maybe you were part of the Beanie Babies phenomenon. Remember the excitement about that "it" toy from your own childhood? Well, you're not alone. American shoppers are poised to spend an estimated $586.1 billion during the holiday sales season (November and December) in 2012, which will be about 4 percent more than in 2011 -- and about $2.55 billion of that will be in toy sales [sources: National Retail Federation, Gifts and Decorative Accessories].

We've compiled a list of this year's must-have toys, which should help narrow down what you spend your chunk of that $2.55 billion on. This year's most-wanted list includes everything from rag dolls to Android-based tablets that rival your own iPad or Kindle. First things first, let's talk about WowWee's augmented-reality toys.

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