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The question all parents are asking…What is the ideal Christmas gift for kids for 2018? With more top toy lists than I’ve seen before, most of which are chosen by people with spreadsheets in front of them and profit margins in mind. It’s good to take a look away from the well-trodden path of retailer lists, as you’ll find some unsung heroes around.
As someone passionate about the industry, the lists I refer to above are great at keeping toys in the news. However sometimes I bash my head on my desk when the same over-priced tat makes multiple lists.
Of course, there is an element of pester-power when it comes to those TV adverts, that bring the inevitable “that one please.” But Perhaps some of these considered choices from me and our team of Toyminators might be worth passing on to friends and family unsure of what to buy your kids.
The considerations for this list is the overall longevity of the plaything. If it is consigned to a cupboard, much like where the Breville toastie maker lives, then it is a no-no. Price is always a consideration. However if your toy gets regular use over a longer period of time you’re onto a winner. Here’s a few to consider:
Super-cute is a term bandied about a lot, but these collectable Rainbocorns (warning 12 in the series) combine several items on-trend with the kids. Not a drop of slime in-sight, and are so very awwwwww. A sequin heart stomach that transforms into a hair band or badge. Inside is a baby Boo-Boocorn – Others in the range include a Bunnycorn, Kittycorn, Puppycorn and Hamstercorn. So that’s unboxing, sequins, surprises, collectables and Unicorns all in one toy.
The world of STEM based play has expanded to such a degree over the past 12 months. It can be hard to see the real coding toys amongst those manufacturers just slapping this moniker on a box to appeal to parents keen to give stealth learning kits. This one from Learning Resources is an all box ticker. It’s fun, teaches some basics, has lots of elements to keep the kids interested. Above all, it’s easy to dismantle and put away. Botley itself is a real character that’ll appeal as a shelf-worthy toy that you’ll not mind keeping out of the cupboard.
First of all a warning – This playset should absolutely be filled with water for maximum enjoyment (for you and the kids). The H2O is needed so all the inhabitants have room to perform to the viewing platform with rotating platform. There is also a cave for the three Playmobil figures to watch all of them perform under water. A bucket of fish to entice the seal to leap through a hoop a clock with moving hands so you can set performance times. I’m thinking a mini “at-home show” could be on the cards.
There are tractor toys aplenty from which to choose. Numerous ones as remote control machines, ones that sort shapes and numbers but this one is aimed at budding engineers. It lets you deconstruct and put it back together. Even as an adult it was quite satisfying to take this John Deere tractor apart and put it back together with the battery powered drill. The younger testers absolutely loved it when they’d destructed it rather than reconstructed it – No big surprise.
Yes, another cute collectable but these are different. Each one wraps around the wrist and, as an interactive plush plaything. It will tell you when they’re happy, sleepy, hungry or grumpy (ok, we made up that last one). A soft fur face with wrappable tail to hold on to your hair or backpacks maybe. Each one reacts with its colourful eyes and 50 reaction sounds that you help create. These feel like something quite different; perhaps taking their inspirations from a couple of other toys. BUT these are a fun wearable for kids.
A pretty decent size play-table here at 110cm x 79cm x 53 cm from a respected manufacturer and at a price that made me rub my eyes. There are so very many elements to this table with its moulded edges and landscape design. We wager it’ll keep a small group of junior town planners busy for hours. There are 120 pieces to play with including train track, vehicles, people, a crane and a helicopter, then add your own toy collection to the role play. Underneath are storage bins for put away time when this table space can be used for other playful pursuits or tea time.
Peter Jenkinson is the Action Man of the batteries not included market. Peter and the team put toys to the test to try and avoid parents spending their hard-earned on landfill. He’s a journalist and broadcaster and one of santa’s very secret helpers.