Rocio the dinosaur, a member othe "Prehistoric squad," is one of the collectible Squishmallow plush toys by Kellytoy.

Don’t know which contemporary toy is the best one to buy for everybody on your list this holiday season? While many toys make great gifts, some toys will be collectibles of the future. So, as an expert who reviews and researches the patterns of collecting in the art, antiques and collectibles markets, I have my picks of the toys to buy and keep for the long run.

What is my pick for the holiday toy of choice in 2021? Squishmallows.

I think these soft plush toys that second for cuddly pillows, with cutesy and culturally significant names, complex back stories and strong designs, are highly collectible and will hold their value with collectors for the long term. Squishmallows are to the 2020s what Beanie Babies were to the 1990s.

Squishmallows are not only the next big toy craze, they are the current big toy craze. Only a few years since their introduction in the autumn of 2017, the collectible Squishmallows toys in their many versions have achieved the type of widespread interest that was enjoyed by Boyd’s Bears, Cabbage Patch Kids and Ty Inc. Beanie Babies.

Squishmallows are organized and marketed differently than most plush toys. For example, Squishmallows debuted in thematic squads like the Fantasy squad, Prehistoric squad, Buddy squad, etc., with certain items included within a category or squad. Each Squishmallow has its own character name, “squishdate” (likened to a birthdate), collector number, character backstory and, of course, the all-important — and God forbid you remove it — printed tag. The fun plush toys are available in four sizes: 5, 8, 12 and 16 inches tall, and ranging in price from approximately $5 to $20 each. The cost is attractive to all ages. Kids can afford their low price in order to make additions to their Squishmallows collections.

Adults collect them, too. In fact, I was interviewed about appraising collectible Squishmallows recently, and the 20-something reporter admitted that she and her friends are wild about collecting the cuddly creature toys, too. That didn’t surprise me, as young adults are enthusiastic plush toy collectors for many reasons. One reason is that the age group grew up with the 1990s collectible toy crazes.

Kellytoy, the California plush toy manufacturer that makes and markets Squishmallows, introduced the brand in 2017 and enjoys widespread interest and sales — more than 55 million sales to date. The complete Squishmallows Squad includes more than 800 plush characters in various sizes.

The plush toys are simple in their design and feature colorful and textural attributes that make the toys attractive to the collecting public. Squishmallows are made from super-soft spandex EF and polyester stuffing. Each toy is washable.

Collectors look for some of the same elements in a Squishmallow as Ty Inc. Beanies Babies. Tags are important to authentication and value since there are fakes out there trying to imitate the toys. To an appraiser and market analyst like me, Squishmallows have all the stuff that will make them a mainstay in the collectible toy market for many years to come. Get yours now while you can. All the kids and adults on your holiday shopping list will thank you for it.

With a Ph.D. from Penn State University, Lori Verderame is an award-winning antiques appraiser, author and TV personality. She appears on “The Curse of Oak Island” on the History channel. For information on antiques and collectibles, visit DrLoriV.com and YouTube.com/DrLoriV or call 888-431-1010.

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