8 must-have children’s toys for 2016

Our pick of the most exciting new toy releases for children aged 1 to 12

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We’ve been having a sneak peek at some of the best children’s toys around – or about to be around – in the UK right now. And, with the help of our super-excited but super-critical band of MadeForMums toy testers (aged 4 to 9), we’ve tried and tested everything from family games to toddler toys, and from remote-controlled gadgets to craft and construction sets.

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And, after lots of deliberating and debating – and a fair bit of (play) fighting – here is our shortlist of the 8 best children’s toys we’ve seen in 2016, along with a quick demo from our testers of each toy in action… 

1. Jumbo Radio-Control Inflatable BB-8 Droid

What it is: A remote-controlled 43cm-high inflatable BB-8 that your child can make scoot along (indoors or out) and spin in all directions, like the new Star Wars droid. 

Why it’s cool: Well, it’s a properly child-friendly piece of Star Wars merchandise, so case closed, really! But we also love it for its inflatable shape (meaning it bounces rather than bashes, into furniture, and it can be deflated for easy storage), and for the simple lines of the remote-control handset that makes it a synch for small hands. Oh, and it comes with (pretty neat) BB-8 sound effects.

What age range it’s for: Ages 3 and up

When it’s available: Right now, from Bladez Toyz or Amazon

What it costs: £36.99

2. Greedy Granny 

What it is: A ‘roulette-style’ suspense game: take it in turns to pinch biscuits from sleepy Greedy Granny’s tray and press the button next to her. Who’s going to be the one whose biscuit-filching and button-pushing tips the balance and makes Granny wake up and spring out of her chair?

Why it’s cool: The quivering sense of anticipation before Granny wake up mounts really nicely. And the way Granny does wake up is quick enough to make everyone gasp – especially when her false teeth fly out of her mouth! 

What age range it’s for: Ages 5 and up

When it’s available: July 2016

What it costs: £19.99

3. Kiddimoto Toddler Bus 

What it is: A wooden ride-on London bus that doubles as a walker/cruiser.

Why it’s cool: It’s retro and sturdy – and a toddler magnet. You can sit on it or toddle along pushing it, using the cruising bar at the back – and there’s a ‘secret’ lift-up lid on the top deck for stashing small toys (and half-eaten rice cakes) in.  

What age range it’s for: 12 to 24 months (up to 20kg).

When it’s available: Right now, from KiddimotoJohn Lewis or Pram World

What it costs: £69.99

4. Soggy Doggy 

What it is: It’s a suspense game crossed with a pet-grooming toy. Soggy Doggy sits in his bath in the middle of the playing board and you throw dice to move round the outside, completing shampooing and brushing tasks as you go. But can you make it to the doggy basket before Soggy Doggy shakes his wet coat and sprays you with water?

Why it’s cool: We love how realistically Soggy Doggy shakes his shaggy hair – and how you do get wet enough when he does for it to be slightly naughty fun (but not so drenched that it’s scary).

What age range it’s for: Ages 5 and up

When it’s available: July 2016

What it costs: £19.99

5. Fungus AmungUs

What it is: A world of ‘microscopic mayhem’, where you collect different sticky, squishy (pretend) germs, moulds, spores, bacteria called Funguys (geddit?) and the Bio Busters whose mission it is to hunt them down. 

Why it’s cool: There are over 100 Funguys to collect (so that’s the pocket money blown for a while), and they come in pairs (in a petri dish, natch) or in a vac pack of 5. You can also save up for a Superbug that comes in its own Toxic Chamber and an Exgerminator to vacuum them all up in. Revolting fun!

What age range it’s for: Ages 4 and up

When it’s available: Right now, from Toys R Us, Argos, Amazon, Tesco,The Toyshop or Smyths Toystore

What it costs: From £1.79 to £14.99, depending on which packs you buy.

6. LEGO Duplo My First Truck

What it is: New from LEGO Duplo, My First Truck includes a very easy-to-build food truck, a market stall, coloured bricks of ‘produce’, and crates for loading and unloading.

Why it’s cool: It’s a lovely gender-neutral construction set that’ll spark off loads of food-stall role play. The coloured brick pairs can also be used to play matching and memory games – and there’s a cute white cat who’s definitely got her eyes on that blue fish brick…

What age range it’s for: 1 ½ to 5 years

When it’s available: Right now, from John Lewis, Toys R Us, Argos or Amazon

What it costs: £16.99

7. Sands Alive 

What it is: Kind of a cross between sand and modelling clay, Sands Alive is light and runs through your fingers but retains its shape when you squish and shape it. 

Why it’s cool: Well, who wouldn’t want to make a sandcastle that stays looking cool every time you take the mould away? It doesn’t dry out and it doesn’t stain clothes. A starter set comes with basic moulds and a play tray but you can get sets with castle or animal moulds – and even sand that glows in the dark!

What age range it’s for: Ages 3 and up

When it’s available: Right now from Amazon, Smyths Toystore or Toys R Us.

What it costs: £14.99 for a starter set.

8. K’NEX Thrill Rides Infinite Journey Roller Coaster 

What it is: A jaw-dropping construction set that lets you build a rollercoaster that stands over 2 feet high and shoots a car from a slingshot launcher over 6 feet of track.

Why it’s cool: K’NEX already has an awesome reputation for its kits of interlocking plastic rods, connectors, gears and wheels – and its Thrill Rides range of rollercoasters and ferris wheels, in particular. This might just be their best coaster yet.

What age range it’s for: 7 and up

When it’s available: Autumn 2016

What it costs: £24.99

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