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Must-have Top Christmas Toys 2020 from the biggest sellers

The dancing unicorn that's all over YouTube? The latest Lego set? The new Paw Patrol vehicle? We've tried and tested hundreds of toys to bring you the definitive list of the best Xmas toys of 2020, with prices from 80p to £699...

MadeForMums Top 100 Christmas Toys

After weeks of testing, we reveal the best and hottest toys for Christmas 2020. Is it worth shelling out for that sloth that flosses, the unicorn that dances or the flamingo that poos? Laser-shooting battle trucks and the new Super Mario Lego sound awesome but will your child actually play with them for more than 5 minutes?


And how good are the “must-have” toys that stores such as Argos, John Lewis, Amazon and Hamley’s feature on their must-buy lists?

We’ve got the answers and 100 best toys to delight children from babies to teens on 25 December 2020, which are definitely worth their place on your child’s Santa wishlist.

Hundreds of toys tested – why you can trust our list

We expertly reviewed over 300 brand new and classic Christmas toys and, with the help of a small army of child testers, narrowed them down to the very best top 100 Christmas toys.

We scrutinised each toy for its play potential, value for money and Christmas Wow Factor and then asked over 200 children and their parents across the UK to test our shortlisted toys and give us honest, unfiltered feedback.

The result is the Top 100 Christmas toys for 2020 – tested by kids, parents and experts. It covers a huge range of toy types, from baby rattles and train sets to scooters and laser guns; it spans all ages from newborn to teen, and it includes all price points, from the 80p collectible to the £699 trampoline. There are plenty of the retailers’ favourites in there (although some didn’t make the grade) and uncovered amazing hidden gems…

Here are the hottest toys on MadeForMums 100 Top Xmas Toys 2020 list:

Gotta Go Flamingo, £32.99

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 6+
Batteries required:  3 x AA batteries (included)

Yep, it’s an interactive flamingo that does a poo on his own special toilet, after you’ve fed him some (reusable) Magic Flamingo Food. Sherbet is 31cm high, his necks wiggles and wobbles as he feeds, and he sings, “Uh oh, gotta go” when his furry bowels need to unload. He also has a record-and-repeat function. Our tester Tara, 6, says, “He’s kind of like a pet and I like that he poos! It’s really funny when you press the star button and he repeats what you just said.” (Tara’s mum Puneet says it’s not quite so funny the 2, 437th time…)

Available from: Smyths ToysArgos and Amazon

Little Tikes First Washer-Dryer, £49.99

Age suitability: 2+ | Best for age: 3
Batteries required:  4 x AA batteries (included)

Not just a mini washing machine, this offers tumble dryer fun too! It’s a chunky size (40cm x 40cm x 20cm) and features spinning dials, a tumbling drum, sliding detergent drawer and sound effects. “I love this toy for 1000 years!” says our child tester Maisie, 3. “The best bit is turning it on.” Maisie’s mum Abigail says, “Maisie played with it for a full hour before stopping and has been excited to play with it every day since. It’s so, so easy to put together and it seems like great quality. The beeping can get a bit annoying (like a real washing machine!) but it really is a great role-play toy.” Comes with a toy detergent bottle (empty), stacking laundry baskets and toy clothes.

Available from: Asda, Argos and ELC

Power Treads, £24.99

power treads

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6-7
Batteries required: 2 x AAA batteries (not included)

This whizzy all-surface vehicle (ASV) comes with 22 pieces of track plus a Power Trekker that ‘walks’ on its own over the floor once your vehicle’s on board. You can customise your ASV with your colour choice of treads, add glow-in-the-dark stickers (brilliant for racing in the dark) and even include household furniture into your track. But, for our child tester Josh, 7, it’s the Power Trekker that makes this toy special. “I think Power Treads is really good, especially the walking trekker,” he says. “My brother and I pretend it’s an alien dog! It is an exciting and cool toy. I will play with it again and again.”

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and Amazon

Designafriend Sisi Doll, £35

DesignaFriend Doll Sisi

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5-6
Batteries required: None

Meet Sisi – a large (45cm tall) doll who’s designed for dancing and choreography. She has a body soft enough to hug, moveable arms and legs, stylable hair, long eyelashes and sparkly silver trainers, plus she comes with a silver charm bracelet. “She makes me feel so happy,” says our child tester Roselyn, 5. “The best thing is the sparkly shoes. Nothing is the worst bit!” Roselyn’s mum Janet adds, “We really like that this doll has hair texture that’s similar to our own and my daughter enjoys doing Sisi’s hair to match hers. I think this doll will last the test of time.” Comes with dance clothes, plus an additional tutu rainbow dress (pictured, left) with pink sparkly wings, a wand and rainbow trainers.

Available from: Argos

Smoby Chef Corner Restaurant, £149.99

Smoby chef restaurant

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5
Batteries required: 1 x CR2032 (included)

This height-adjustable mini kitchen/café totally bowled our tester family over with the sheer wealth of play opportunities it offers. It’s a substantial toy (101cm x 138cm x 44cm) featuring a fridge, oven, espresso machine, hotplate (with sound effects), till, sink with real water function and over 70 accessories, including food, utensils and money. “This is fantastic!” says Sarah, mum of our child tester Annabelle, 6. “It’s by far the best toy kitchen I’ve seen. There is so much to play with. The accessories are very well thought-through: the pasta changes colour in warm water to look cooked, you can chop the carrot, change the toppings on the pizza and crack open the egg. And the tap really squirts out water when you fill the sink!” Annabelle adds, “I really love washing the dishes in the water. I like the credit card and the till – it pops out receipts.” A fair bit of self-assembly required (definitely not a job for Christmas Day!)

Available from: Argos and John Lewis

Lego Super Mario Adventures with Mario Starter Course, £49.99

Lego Starter Mario

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+
Batteries required: 2 x AAA batteries (not included)

The new Super Mario Lego set brings together Mario video game experiences with Lego construction fun (231-pieces). A speaker plays iconic Mario music and sounds, while a responsive Mario figure shows instant reactions through the LCD screens in Mario’s eyes, mouth and belly plus colour sensors. The aim is to build Mario a course and then earn virtual coins as you send him round. Our tester Alfie, 8, was a bit thrown by the lack of paper instructions (they’re all on the free app you need for collecting your coins) but ended up playing for 2 hours on the trot. “The best bit is that you can set up different courses,” he says, “and it makes cool noises. I’ll tell my friends about this!”

Available fromAmazonArgos, Lego and Smyths Toys

Froggit, £24.99


Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7-99
Batteries required: None

This really is a fun board game for all the family. The idea is to be the first to get your frog family across the lilypads to the other side – without being blocked by another player or running into the big fish that can send you back to the start. You can play it fast and furious or be strategic and drive everyone hopping mad with your froggie cunning. “This is a really cool game,” says our child tester Archie, 7. “I like trying to beat my brother at it by moving the big fish. I want my friends to come round and play it at my house.” Comes with instructions for 2 levels of play (Junior and Expert). For 2 to 6 players.

Available from: SmartGames, Amazon and Wicked Uncle

Hatchimals Pixies Crystal Flyers, £35


Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6
Power: Charger and USB charging cable (included)

Hatchimals Pixies just got wings! Launch your 25cm-high pixie into the air and you can guide where she flies with your hands (there’s also an auto-stop feature, so those glittery wings will safely stop if you touch them by accident). “It was a little fiddly to launch her at first,” says our tester Lucie, 6, “but when I got the hang of, it’s so much fun. I love her – she’s magical! And I like that we can just charge her up because we always run out of batteries.” Lucie’s mum adds, “Lucie got super-excited when she flew in the air for a long time. She enjoyed chasing after her and catching her and doing it all over again.” Choose from Krystalina Rose (pictured) or Violet Onyx. Comes with crystal egg display case and base.

Available fromArgos, Amazon and Smyths Toys

Lamaze 3 in 1 Airtivity Centre, £69.99

Lamaze Airtivity

Age suitability: 6 months + | Best for age: 1-2
Batteries required: 4 x C 1.5V (not included)

Let’s face it, an air-powered baby activity centre sounds like fun, whatever your age. Based on a sea scene, with floating seaweed, a spinning starfish , swimming fish and a whale with a spinning spout of  ‘water’, the centre works as both a floor-based toy (52cm wide) and a table (48cm high), taking your baby from sitting to standing. Tester Lottie, 18 months, was transfixed (in fact, Lottie’s mum tells us that all 3 of her children loved playing with it). “Lottie was drawn to the colours straightaway and loves watching – and trying to grab – the colourful creatures as they hover over the centre,” says her mum Claire.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Very

Large Dino Research Station, £79.99

Schleich large dino

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 8+
Batteries required: None

This beautifully-made dinosaur playset from Schleich imagines a hidden world of dinosaurs deep in the Amazonian jungle. Lots of elements for imaginative play including a viewing platform with rotating crane and cable winch, tranquilliser gun plus opening gates, ladders and a trapdoor. The shooting cannons were a particular highlight for our child tester Matthew, 8. “It’s such fun to play with,” he says. “And I like that I could build it.” Comes with a dinosaur researcher figure, a velociprator, a brachiosaurus and loads of little accessories, including a mobile phone, binoculars, bait, acacia leaves and a knife. Requires a little assembly (no tools needed).

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Schleich,

Peppa’s Clever Car, £34.99

Peppa Pig clever car

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required:  2 x AA batteries (not included)

Watch your feet! This Peppa Pig car has, wait for it, infra-red obstacle-avoidance technology. It also has push-button activation, flashing lights and sounds, plus it comes with 4 Peppa characters that your toddler has to place in their colour-matched seat (adults in front, obvs) before the car will start. “I like it very much,” says our child tester Charlie, 3. “I like all of the people in it and the noises it makes. But I don’t like the boot because it doesn’t open.” Charlie’s mum Amanda says she’s impressed by how robust the car is. “It’s much better quality than I’d expected,” she says. “We’ve had Peppa Pig toys in the past that have been very flimsy, so this was a pleasant surprise. The car does say lots of different phrases which may become quite annoying for me – but Charlie absolutely loves it!”

Available from: Smyths Toys

Drone Home, £19.99

Drone home

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 8+
Batteries required: 4 x AAA batteries (not included)

This game was a HUGE hit with the whole family of our 8-year-old child tester Wyatt. Mum Rebecca tells us they were all “screaming in excitement” as they played this novel toy that costs just under £20. The idea is to launch your aliens up a ramp and into the drone, where it will – thrillingly – lift off into the air. But other players can sabotage your flight by knocking your alien out of the drone with theirs. Huge fun. “I love how the drone flies off with the alien inside it,” says Wyatt. “It flies so high to the ceiling, it makes me laugh so much. The best part is pressing the lever to launch the aliens. This game makes me so, so happy. I love it!” For 2 to 4 players.

Available from: ebay, Interplay, Argos and Smyths Toys

Laser Battle Hunters, £59.99

Laser battle hunter

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 10-11
Batteries required: 14 x AA batteries (not included)

Ready for a laser clash? Open the pack to find two remote-control 4-wheel-drive vehicles (Shadow and Reaper) with inbuilt infra-red cannons that not only fire laser beams but also feature cool recoil action and explosion sounds. The speedy vehicles are 19cm high and our child tester Theo, 10, loved how they drift and spin, as well as shoot forward and back. “This is a great toy – well-made, with an element of competition, which makes it fun to play,” says Theo’s mum Collette. You can either play with another person (battle each other with 1 vehicle each) or on your own (turn the other vehicle into a moving target and see how often you hit it). Running time for each car: 30 minutes. Do be warned that this toy is a battery-eating monster: you’ll need 5 for each vehicle and 2 for each controller.

Available fromArgosSmyths ToysVery and Amazon

Leapfrog Magic Adventures Globe, £80

Leapfrog globe

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6-7
Batteries required: 4 x AA batteries (included)

Tap your stylus on any country on this 30cm interactive globe and the video screen will show you BBC videos and animations all about that nation’s geography, languages, culture and animals. You can also play 3 games to test your knowledge. Our child tester Ruby, 7, was captivated, and loved spinning the globe and picking countries to explore. “I really like the different categories, especially the animals,” she says. “I also love playing the quizzes with my brother.” Ruby’s mum’s only quibble was that some of the countries are quite small to pinpoint accurately with the stylus: it can take a couple of tries. A lovely gift for a fact-hungry child.

Available from: John Lewis, Smyths Toys and Amazon

Paw Patrol Dino Rescue Dino Patroller, £64.99

Paw patrol dino patroller

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+
Batteries required: 6 x AA batteries (included)

PAW Patrol and dinosaurs? We can hear the pint-sized squeals of excitement from here! This large (38cm x 57cm x 13cm) and sturdy push-button-controlled motorised truck has oversized wheels and 2 projectile launchers. It comes with a Chase figure and a T-Rex figure – push the button on its tail and its jaws will open. “I like best that it moves by itself without me pushing it,” says our child tester Max, 5. “It makes me feel very happy and I love the dinosaur!” Max did wish more pup figures came with the set (there’s certainly room for them); other figures are available separately.

Available from: Smyth Toys , John Lewis and Argos

SmartMax Sound and Senses, £17.99

smartmax sound and senses

Age suitability: 1-3 | Best for age: 18 months
Batteries required: None

Boost your toddler’s imaginative skills with this colourful magnetic playset. It features 4 bars and 4 balls that each have different faces, different sounds and different textures. The magnets mean your child can ‘stick’ the balls and bars together in all sort of different combinations. Our twin child testers, Karter and Kai, 18 months, were immediately excited by the bright colours. “Then,” says their mum Melissa, “they were fascinated as they realised that pieces could come apart and stick to each other again. They played around by mixing up the colours and shaking the toys for sound effects. It’s such a great toy – brilliant for colour-sorting, too!”

Available from: Kinder La La

Playmobil Mission Rocket with Launch Site, £49.99

Playmobil Mission rocket

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 7+
Batteries required: 2 x AA (not included)

Ready for lift-off, this 72cm-tall rocket comes with a launch platform, lights and impressive countdown sounds – plus 1 astronaut and 2 engineers and a clutch of clever accessories. It’s proved a big hit with all of our tester family, including mum Rebecca. “I think this toy is absolutely amazing,” she says. “There is so much creativity, so many scenarios a child can create. And I love the details with the accessories, from little hammers to tiny phones. My three boys (5, 6, 8) and I played with this all together last night.” While our official child tester Kayden, 6, loved taking bits of the rocket apart and putting them back together, the biggest fan in the family was definitely his 8-year-old brother Wyatt, who’s been playing with it non-stop.

Available fromAmazonSmyths Toys and Playmobil

Squeakee the Balloon Dog, £59.99

Squeakee the balloon dog

Age Suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7
Batteries required: 4 x AA batteries (not included)

Squeakee may look like a balloon animal but this toy is actually an interactive pet with over 60 sounds and movements. At 40cm-tall, Squeakee will sit, beg, lie down, do tricks and play ball. And, if you poke them with their (pretend) pin, they’ll deflate with funny balloon sound effects (you can reinflate them with a little pretend pump). Our child tester Sienna, 7, loved how cheeky and different Squeakee is. “My favourite thing is when you pop him with the little pin and he bursts! He even does a wee and a big fart, which is really funny.” Sienna’s mum Kerry was impressed, too: “It’s really worth the money. I’d definitely recommend this.” Comes with a ball, pump and pin.

Available from: Character, Amazon and Argos

Tobi Robot Smartwatch, £49.99

tobi robot watch

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 5+
Batteries required: 1 x LiPo (included, rechargable)

There are SO many functions on this smartwatch, it offers long term play value. At just under £50, the Tobi Robot takes selfies, stores photos and video, plays games, has a stopwatch, timer, alarm and pedometer – and features a friendly LED robot with responsive sound effects and facial expressions. According to mum Claire, our tester children, brothers Elijah, 5, and Teddy, 7, “loved the way Tobi giggled and got angry depending on how you treat him.” She says it’s a bit fiddly at first, “but once you are familiar with the instructions and how it works it’s such a hit. The games are good and the camera and recorder are great.” Teddy adds, “It’s so cool! I rate it 5 stars. I love the step tracker. I wish one of my friends had one, too, so we could use the walkie talkie and messaging.” Available in blue or pink.

Available from: Amazon, Little Tikes and The Toyshop

Studio Creator, £24.99

canal toys studio creator

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 9-10
Power: USB charging cable (included)

A nicely thought-through video-making set, including an adjustable tripod, a light unit with 3 different brightness settings, a green-screen drape and an instruction guide. We liked that the instruction guide include lots of advice about staying safe on social media and being careful about which background-enhancing apps to download. Our child tester Lola, 10, took it straight up to the attic to make her own ‘studio’ and her mum Emma says she’s been making videos and writing scripts ever since. “This is an awesome set, especially if you want to be a YouTuber or just make funny videos,” Lola says. “The idea of a green screen is really cool and I’ve been having fun experimenting with different backgrounds. My friends are going to love this. Lots of kids would like this for Christmas!”

Available from: Smyths Toys, Bargain Max and Very

Fifi the Flossing Sloth, £20

Fiffi flossing sloth

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3-99
Batteries required: 2 x AA (included)

She’s purple, she’s cuddly and she flosses (as in dance moves, not dental care) to 3 different songs. Our child tester Brooke, 6, was beside herself with excitement even before the packaging came off, and started to dance and giggle the moment 29cm-high Fifi started strutting her stuff. Brooke’s mum says she wishes there were more than the same 3 songs but can’t deny how over the moon her daughter is with her new flossing friend. “I love how Fifi’s eyes move and her bottom wiggles,” says Brooke. “I like cuddling her and brushing her hair. She makes me happy and she makes me laugh. I’ll play with her for ever.”

Available from: Argos, The Entertainer and Asda

Musical Hop Out Mizzie Music Box, £25.20

Mizzie kangaroo box

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 2
Batteries required: None

A toddler surprise toy, this retro-style, battery-free jack-in-the-box toy is all about classic playtime fun. Wind the lever to start the music and out of the 13cm-high tin pops soft and furry Mizzie the kangaroo. Samantha, mum to our child tester Taran, 2, was delighted by his reaction. “I had to show him how it worked and his first reaction to Mizzie hopping out of the box was brilliant. He was surprised and thought it was hilarious. When his friend came round, he went to get it to show him and they both spent time playing with it, laughing and saying, ‘Again! Again!'” Super cute.

Available from: Mizzie The Kangaroo and Amazon

Bright Fairy Friends, £12.99 each

bright fairy friends

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5-6
Batteries: Not specified (but included)

Unbox the magical fairy jar to reveal which one of the 12 Fairy Friends dolls you’ve received. Press her necklace to make her wings glow and don’t forget about the jar which comes with sparkly motion-activated lights. Vicky, mum of our child tester Yaasmin, 6, says, “This toy has a magical wow factor. Yaasmin likes playing with the fairy’s hair and she takes the jar to her bed as a night light. Great quality for the price!” Each doll comes with 3 little accessories, including hair clips, which Yasmin says is her favourite part: “You can put it in your hair and match your fairy as best friends for forever. That makes me feel so happy!”

Available from: The Entertainer and Amazon

Eco Gelli Play, £2.99


Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4-5
Batteries required: None

Add your bag of Gelli Play powder to water and watch it turn into coloured goo – perfect for fun sensory play. And because it’s biodegradable, when you’ve finished, you just add more water to dilute it and then pour it away. Louise, mum of tester Harry, 4, says it kept him entertained for a good chunk of time: “He loves helping me mix it up which is a bonus and he went and got some dinosaurs to use it for imaginary play. Really fun and I can’t fault the price – it would make a good stocking filler.” Each box from Zimpli Kids makes up to 8 litres of Gelli and the packaging and instruction leaflets are fully recyclable. Available in orange and aqua.

Available from: Amazon and Pound Toy

Hexbug Mechanical Dragon, £24.99

HEXBUG mechanical dragon

Age Suitability: 8+| Best for age: 8
Batteries required: 2 x LR44 (for the remote); 1 x LiPo (for the dragon, included, rechargable)

You can bring this ‘fire-breathing’ Hexbug robotic dragon to life, making it scuttle around with rubber rotating paws, adjustable wings and moving tail. Our child tester Connor, 8, liked it so much he’s been taking it to bed with him (despite being 25cm long). According to his mum Lauren, he has played with it every day since it arrived, and loves using it to try and climb walls, knock over blocks and crawl under the sofa. “This is so fun!” says Connor.”I like the fire light that comes from his mouth and I like that he has big feet that can knock things over. The controller is small, which is fine as I am not big, but the buttons get stuck sometimes. I am very happy with this toy and will play with it a lot.” Available in black, red or green.

Available from: Amazon and Hexbug

Eugy, £7.99

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7-8
Batteries required: None

Eugy is a great-value craft kit that enables children to build their own miniature 3D animal models, simply by slotting and gluing together the pieces of biodegradable card in a numerical sequence. Our child tester Bohdi Rae, 9, made the tiger and dragon and gave them 10 out 10 as, she says, they aren’t too fiddly and she didn’t get stuck making them. Bodhi Rae’s mum Tara adds, “We loved the fact it wasn’t messy but kept her off screens doing something tactile. I think this is one of those surprise presents that doesn’t look much at first but gives great satisfaction when you actually do it.” There are lots of animals to choose from, including a unicorn, narwhal (pictured), parrot, sloth and more. The kits are ready to make straight out the box with glue included.

Available from: Amazon and Hamleys

Robot Factory, £25

kids first robot factory

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7+
Batteries required: 2 x AA batteries (not included)

A good-quality construction kit, Robot Factory offers 8 different robots to make, each with motor, gears and moving parts – impressive for the price. The chunky parts are easy to handle and the build isn’t fiddly but definitely requires some parental involvement if your child’s under 7 – our child tester Teddy, 5, needed lots of help. “It’s very fun building it with my mummy and daddy,” he says. “The robot has a funny face and can go very fast.” This Kids First toy comes with stickers and a 32-page instruction book that doubles as a nice storybook, telling the tale of 2 engineers fixing wacky robots at a factory.

Available from: Thames & Kosmos and Amazon

First Pedal Frog 40 bike, £290

Frog bikes

Age Suitability: 3-6 | Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required: None

A top quality first bike, this Frog cycle features a lightweight (6.5kg) aluminium frame, 14-inch wheels, Tektro brakes with small, easy-to-reach levers and slim-grip handlebars. “The bike looks brilliant, rides well and is fantastic quality,” says Jenny, mum of our child tester Carter, 4. “It’s also very light considering its size – vital when your child is first learning to cycle as you don’t want them struggling to lift it up after a fall or push it up a hill. It’s expensive but I can see that Frog bikes hold their value really well – you could resell it for a decent price after your child’s grown out of it.” Built for children with an inside leg measurement of 40cm to 48cm. Comes in a choice of 6 colours, with reflectors, mudguard and bell.

Available from: Frog Bikes, The Little Bike Company

Kindi Kids Shiver n Shake Kate, £39.99

kindi kids shiver n shake kate

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required: 2 x AA batteries (included)

Rainbow Kate is not feeling very well! When you pick the 25cm doll up, you can feel her shiver and shake but you have everything you need to help her feel better, including a thermometer to check her temperature, stethoscope to listen to her heartbeat, vitamin stars to feed her with a spoon, and more. She’s super interactive with over 40 phrases and sounds, including burps and farts, which (no surprise!) is our 4-year-old child tester Chloe’s favourite bit. “It looks good with the beautiful big eyes and soft colourful hair,” adds Chloe’s mum Colette. It’s a noisy toy but can (thankfully) be enjoyed with the sound off. Interactive accessories include a thermometer, stethoscope, blanket, water tray, mini swab towel and sticker sheet.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and Very

Let’s Play Noah’s Ark, £15.99

Noah's Ark playset with child tester

Age suitability: 10 months+ | Best for age: 3
Batteries required: None

A thoughtfully designed, affordable 25cm wooden ark that features 2 decks, a fold-out ramp, Noah, his wife and shape-sorter slots for the 14 animals to fit through. “We love this ark,” says Charlie, mum to our 23-month-old child tester Arlo. “Arlo’s spent long periods of time concentrating and playing with it – it’s really kept his attention and he’s regularly returned to playing with it. It’s been dropped a few times but hasn’t broken at all. It only has shape sorter holes for 3 of the animal pairs but Arlo doesn’t care – he uses the door and windows for the others!” Created by Jacques of London, the ark comes beautifully packaged and tied with ribbon – a extra-lovely touch for a gift.

Available fromJaques of London and Amazon

FunLockets Secret Journal Diary Set, £20

Fun Lockets Golden Bear

Age Suitability: 8 | Best for age: 9
Batteries required: None

Pink and perky, this lockable playset contains a treasure trove of fun within its 16cm x 19cm plastic casing. You need to find the hidden key to open it up and then it’s full of surprises as our child tester Kaiya, 9, explains: “The best features have got to be the secret compartments and seeing what’s behind each door after discovering a key in each compartment!” Comes with over 30 accessories, including a notepad, glittery pencil, unicorn charm keyring, sticker sheets, stencil shapes, a rubber, and 2 secret messages.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

Unicorn Defender wooden sword and shield, £15

Unicorn Defender

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4-5
Batteries required: None

Take a step back into a time of knights and dragons, this wooden toy shield and sword set is perfectly designed for little hands and big adventures. The shield (35cm tall) comes with an easy-to-hold thick cotton strap across the back while the 48cm natural-wood sword can be painted with poster paints (not included) to make it unique to your child. Our tester Toby, 5, loved role playing as a knight with his shield and sword, enthusing, “The best bit is fighting dragons and trees!” Toby’s mum, Bryony, was also impressed with the quality the sword-and-shield set from Green Owl Toys. “I love that it’s wooden and not likely to break easily. Toby wasn’t light with it a lot of the time!” Ready for battle straight out the box.

Available from: Green Owl Toys

Bee Smart My Baking Cookie Set with Glove, £26.99

baking set

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required: None

Now toddlers can bake without mess – even when it comes to breaking eggs! This gorgeous-looking 20-piece wooden role-play set includes a baking tray, mixing bowl, whisk, rolling pin, spatula, brush, oven glove, 3 cookie cutters, 6 cookies, and 2 clever ‘breakable’ eggs. Our child tester Evie-Rae, 3, says, “I love it!” and her mum Roxanne is super-impressed by the quality of the chunky pieces. “Evie-Rae was so excited to unpack this,” she says, “and then she and her 5-year-old sister took the set into their bedroom and now they’re baking each other cookies. It’s keeping them so well occupied and I am very pleased.”

Available fromBee SmartOnBuy and Amazon

Animal Rescue Large Truck, £44.99

schleich large animal truck

Age suitability: 3-8 | Best for age: 5-6
Batteries required: None

Take Ranger Tom and Ted the Meerkat on incredibly detailed wildlife adventures with this playset from high-quality model-makers Schleich. This 23cm-high animal rescue truck has moveable parts that include a rotating crane (for lifting the animal transport box onto the truck) and a removeable container with a loading ramp. Our child tester Khail, 6, loves how the doors on the back of the truck open so he can put all the pieces inside. And his mum Karen is blown away from this toy’s quality: “It’s so well made – nothing looks or feels flimsy. It’s been played a lot since we got it – the imagination can go wild with this toy.” Comes with 3 figurines (Tom, Ted and a lioness).

Available from: Schleich, Amazon and Fenwick

Baby Clementoni My First Ride On, £24.99

Clementoni my first ride on

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 18 months+
Batteries required: None

Beep beep! This vintage-style ride-on car is 59cm long and made from 100% recycled materials. Brilliant for toddlers, it has a squeaky horn and steerable wheels. “Lola got the hang of the car straightaway and loved the beepable horn!” says Laura, mum of child tester Lola, 20 months. We’d say it’s probably more of an indoor ride-on than and outdoor one, as the front is quite low, which can make it hard going on very uneven surfaces. “We absolutely love the look of this car and really like the fact that it’s made from recycled plastic,” says Laura. “It’s well-made and sturdy – and what a great price!” Some self-assembly required.

Available from: Smyths ToysAmbrose Wilson  and Amazon

Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, £10.99

taco cat goat cheese pizza

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 9-99
Batteries required: None

Fast, funny and food-flavoured, this card game has its roots in Snap and is stuffed with laughter. The cards (mostly) have either a taco, a cat, a goat, a cheese or a pizza on them. Divide them up and take it in turns to place them down – but you also take it in turn to say either Taco Cat Goat Cheese or Pizza as you do so. And when the card you lay down matches the word you have said, it’s a race to slap your hand on the table. Our child tester Georgie, 11, had seen the game on YouTube and was thrilled to try it out. “The drawing on the cards are super cute,”she says, “and it’s so easy to play but SO much fun! I can’t wait to play it with my friends.” Includes 3 extra picture cards to change things up a little. For 2 to 8 players.

Available from: Amazon, Board Game Geek and Thirsty Meeples

Hexbug Nano Flash Nanoplex, £39.99

Hexbug Nanoplex

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 6-7
Batteries required: 6 x LR44 (included)

Fancy building a playground for bugs? Your child can turn this 40-piece playset into a (roughly 30cm x 30cm) playzone for little scuttling robot creatures called nanos. There are all sorts of different ‘nanoplex’ combinations to build, using jelly walls, straight and curved tracks, arches and even 3 merry-go-rounds. “Ted was very excited by this toy,” says our child tester’s mum Katherine. “He loves building train tracks, so creating the Hexbug platforms and ramps was a big hit.” Ted, 6 adds.”I like the way 2 of robots flash, which is exciting!” Worth noting that the instructions could be clearer (you can download the Nanoplex instructions in advance if you like). Comes with 4 nanos (2 of them flashing).

Available from: Hexbug and John Lewis

Smashers Dino Ice Age Surprise Epic Egg, £24.99

dino smashers surprise egg

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 6-7
Batteries required: None

An Ice Age surprise toy, your child gets to smash, unwrap and de-goo their way through 25 slimey, snowy, icy surprises contained inside this 28cm dinosaur egg – and then they can build a moving T-Rex, pterodactyl or woolly mammoth with the parts they find. Our child tester Eoin, 7, says, “It was so cool to open – and the slime was great!” Comes with an Arctic scratch map, a Dino bag and a digging tool.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Smyths Toys

Hubelino Marble Run Maxi Set, £120

Hubelino Maxi Set with child tester

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required: None

A Duplo-a-like 213-piece marble-run set with left and right slides and loads of different build options. “I liked it super much,” says Ellis,our child tester, 5. “When I put the marble in, I like watching it whizz down the track. The best bit is putting it together and building it. The track has curves and bumps wherde the marbles stop, so it’s fun to work out how to build tracks to make them move.” Ellis’ mum Maxine was initially a bit put off by the price but, she says, “it’s been a struggle to tear Ellis and his brother away from it, so I envisage this being played with for a really long time”. Comes with (not the clearest) instruction booklet, 4 marbles and a base.

Available fromAlza and Amazon

Imaginext Jurassic World Thrashing Indominus Rex, £29.99


Age suitability: 3-8 | Best for age: 5-7
Batteries required: None

This is a mighty dinosaur, standing 35cm tall with a large thrashing tail, gnashing jaws and a flailing head. All powered by moving the tail (no batteries involved), the wow moment comes courtesy of a small raptor. “The best bit is when you throw a little dinosaur off the big dinosaur’s back,” says excited tester Jack, 7. His mum Kayleigh adds, “It resulted in a lot of entertainment and giggles from all of my children as they watched the little dinosaur getting flung off.” It’s proved a Jurassic-sized hit with Jack, who plays with it daily, but Kayleigh does warn families to be careful if small toddlers are around, as the small dino can get flung off at speed!

Available from: Argos, Very and Smyths Toys

Bee Smart Wooden Vehicle Set, £23.99

Beesmart wooden vehicle set

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 2
Batteries required: None

A beautifully designed and nicely priced set of 9 responsibly sourced, wooden vehicles with rolling wheels. They’re perfectly sized for little hands (8cm-long) and decorated with colourful, non-toxic paint. “Xavier was excited by these and played with them all day,” says Lyla, mum to child tester Xavier, 2. “They’re really robust – they even survived being dunked into water by his younger brother!” The set, neatly packaged in a wooden case, includes a London bus, a black taxi, a fire engine, a police car, an ambulance and an ice cream van.

Available from: Bee SmartDotty Hippo and Amazon

Kid k’nex OOdles of Pals, £30

Kid K'Nex

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required: None

You can create over 60 different fun creatures, vehicles, monsters, and more with this 116-piece set of spinning wheels, tractor scoops, big feet and curly tails. “When my son first opened the box, he wasn’t too impressed,” says Catherine, mum of our child tester Arthur, 4. “He had no idea what it was, and only plays with Lego at the moment. However, as soon as we looked at the pictures and started to build the different animals, he was captivated. The pieces are really easy for small hands to put together and take apart, and Arthur ended up having so much fun with it that he managed to convince his 6-year-old brother to put down his tablet and get involved too!” Arthur’s verdict? “The best bit about this toy are the googly eyes and the horns. The animals are so funny!”Comes with instructions.

Available from: ToyStreet, John Lewis and Amazon

KidiZoom Studio, £59.99


Age Suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 7
Batteries required: 1 x LiPo (included, rechargable)

A smart-looking, child’s size digital video camera with flip-up lens, mini tripod/handle and 6cm colour LCD screen. It records in HD video (720p) and you can swap in 20 different dynamic backgrounds, including a TV studio with green screen. Our tester Arabella, 7, found the backgrounds “so realistic and funny” – she likes the one where you run away from a dinosaur best. Her mum Georgina adds, “It is also great as a camera and compact enough for carrying around – Arabella took hers to the zoo and got some great animal shots. It has some games, too, which went down well. I think this is at a really good price point and it has quite a lot of longevity.” Comes with a watch strap.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

Munchin’ Monkey, £19.99

Munchin Monkey

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4-6
Batteries required: 3 x LR4 (included)

An all-action board game with a difference: exploding nappies! You feed the chattering monkey with coconuts and coconut water while his nappy gets more and more full until – well, you get the picture. “This cheeky monkey makes me smile,” says 4-year-old child tester Cameron. “I get to feed him and he poos out coconuts. This is very funny!”  The game comes with Charlie the monkey, a tree for him to swing in, 20 coconuts, food bowl and spoon and 30 tissue nappies. Be aware that the nappies can only be used once, so you’ll need to order more (you can buy spare doll nappies from Amazon) once they’ve run out. For 2 to 4 players.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and Amazon

Tobar Wooden Stack n Sounds Train, £19.99

Tobar wooden train

Age suitability: 18 months+ | Best for age: 2
Batteries required: 2 x AG13 batteries (included)

A sturdy, retro-looking pushalong wooden train with carriages that have pegs for coloured stacking shapes and a funnel that makes 3 different train sounds when you push it. Our child tester Joel, 2, loves playing with the train – his mum Ijeoma says he keeps humming to himself as he stacks the shapes. “His favourite bit is pressing the funnel and hearing the train sounds,” she says.”And I love the stack and sort feature. It is a great way for kids to learn about shapes and colours and problem-solving. There are so many possible ways to stack the shapes!”

Available from: Grizzly Kids and Tobar

Laser X Morph, £29.99

LaserX morph

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 9/10+
Batteries required: 6 x AAA batteries (not included)

A laser tag game you can play indoors or out – and even in the dark. Strap a receiver to your arm, pick up your blaster and fire infra-red beams at each other. You can also turn a blaster into a target for skill-boosting solo play. Our child tester, Roni, 11, had hours of fun with this toy. “I love playing with my brother,”says Roni, “but love that I can play a game on my own, too. It’s like target practice to get me better a beating my brother!” Roni’s mum adds, “Wow, wow! This the best thing they’ve played with that’s not a computer game!” Each blaster has a range of 90m.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Very

Kinetic Sand SandWhirlz Playset, £19.99

Kinetic whirlz

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5-6
Batteries required: None

An innovative mash-up of kinetic sand and a soft-dough play set, this playset enables kids to make brightly-coloured eruptions of squidgy sand. The set comes with nearly 1kg of blue, yellow and red sand (so you can mix the colours to make new shades), 6 shape creators, 2 extruders, a plunger, scoop and 2 rollers – as well as a neat portable case to carry it all in. Our 5-year-old tester Ewan was thrilled, saying, “My favourite bit is making mini ice-creams and mixing the sand colours together to make new colours.” We should note that this is a messy toy (obviously) and Ewan sometimes needed help pushing the sand through the moulds.

Available from: The Entertainer, Argos and Smyths Toys

LOL Surprise! OMG House, £199.99

LOL house

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+
Batteries required: 3 x AG13 and 3 x AG3 batteries (included)

A huge (94cm x 26cm x 84cm) 3-storey, 6-roomed wooden doll’s house with lights and sounds, working lift, patio, spiral staircase, pool, sandpit and hot tub. Comes with 85 surprises (to furnish your house with) and can be spun around (if you’ve the space) to reveal a shopping centre backdrop on the other side. Our child tester Marnie, 7, was amazed by its size (and the bathroom with flushing toilet sounds). “This house is amazing! I love the sounds and lights – and the lift goes up and down!” Marnie’s mum was impressed by the attention to detail in the surprises. Pricey but a real, long-lasting treat for an LOL devotee. Dolls not included. A fair bit of self-assembly required.

Available from: Amazon and Argos

Thomas & Friends Walking Bridge Set, £39.99

Thomas & Friends Walking bridge

Age Suitability: 3+| Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required: 2 x AAA batteries (not included)

A train set with 245cm of configurable track and a broken bridge. Thrillingly, when Thomas (who comes with the set) rolls onto the bridge, the bridge detaches from one side and ‘walks’ to the other. “It’s amazing!” says our child tester Oliver, 4. “Thomas can make the bridge walk! I’m going to play with him for ever.” Samantha, Oliver’s mum, says he loves that there are 3 track layouts in the instructions and he could choose which one to build. There are also hidden trapdoors and secret tunnels under the bridge. Set includes 2 hill pieces, 17 track pieces, 6 track risers, 1 buffer and 1 sign; compatible with other Thomas & Friends sets.

Available from: Asda, Amazon and Smyths Toys

Ragtales Baby Plush Fifi/Alfie Toy Rattle, £14.99

Ragtales Baby Plush Fifi/Alfie Toy Rattle,

Age suitability: 0+ | Best for age: 6 months+
Batteries required: None

These lovely 23cm rabbit toy rattles are made from fluffy, super-soft velour  – choose from Fifi, in her pink kniited jumper, or Alfie, with his corduroy dungarees. “The rabbits are made a lovely quality material and got a great reaction – lots of cuddles, cooing and kisses,” says Jessica, mum to our baby tester Sophie, 1. “They are very pleasing to the eye with a pretty design, and the attention to detail is great.” Fifi and Alfie are sold separately.

Available from: Toy Street (Fifi and Alfie) and Amazon

Baffled, £21.99


Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7-8
Batteries required: None

In this fun, quick-paced board game, you have 60 seconds to memorise the position of the 12 symbols before they are covered. Your memory will be put to the test as these constantly swap and change positions across the board. See who can survive on the board for the longest amount of time to be crowned winner. Our child tester Thomas, 6, enjoys trying to remember where the different symbols are. He even likes getting one wrong so he could “lose a life”! But Thomas’ mum, Helen, does think 6 is probably a little too young to enjoy the game to the max. “It’s a great game,” she says, “and I think 7 or 8-year-olds would absolutely love it.” For 2 to 4 players.

Available from: Amazon, The Range and Wicked Uncle

Boom City Racers 2-pack, £9.99


Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 6
Batteries required: None

Boom City Racers are palm-sized cars that burst out of their firework-shaped launchers and explode apart on impact. All the parts can then be easily reassembled, for more explosive, high-speed fun. “I had to show my son how to hold the car in place to set it up,” says Sarah, mum of our child tester Harry, 5, “but he was soon able to do it alone and spent hours having fun smashing the cars up and putting them back together.” “They are awesome!” confirms Harry. “The cars zoom along and go really fast. I like the size: they are not small but not too big. I can race them in my house but also outside on the path.” A brilliant stocking filler. Choose from 4 different packs – each contains 1 exclusive car and 1 mystery car hidden inside the launcher.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

Wooden Cargo Ship, £29.99

Eduk8 cargo ship

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required: None

This 35cm-long wooden cargo ship comes with 26 magnetic blocks, each printed with upper and lower-case letters, as well as numbers, shapes and symbols. Our tester Andy, 5, loved using the magnetic hook to grab hold of the blocks, with his mum Oana noting, “It is one of his favourite toys at the moment. It’s very versatile. He can find letters, and can form patterns of shapes and colours. It’s nicely designed, well made and durable. It would make a lovely gift.” Oana adds that it can take Andy a little while to find the correct side of each cube for the crane to pick up (there are only magnets on 1 side) but this means he can only ever attach the letters and numbers the right way up, which is great for early literacy.

Available from: Eduk8 Worldwide, Amazon and Onbuy

Lego Duplo Modular Playhouse, £54.99

Lego Duplo modular playhouse

Age suitability: 2+ | Best for age: 3
Batteries required: None

This 130-piece set of chunky bricks builds into 3 different dollhouses (the largest of which is 36cm x 39cm x 10cm) that can be furnished with loads of fun accessories, including an opening fridge, a rocking horse and a toilet. “I love the guitar, the animals and cake,” says our tester Elliott, 5. “I can’t wait to play with this again and make my house bigger.” Elliot’s dad, Matthew, was impressed by the playability in this set and the various homes to build and thought the price was spot-on for “a set that will last for years”. Comes with instructions and 5 figures (check out the dad’s hipster beard!)

Available from: LEGOJohn Lewis and Amazon

Peppa Pig Grow & Play, £9.99 each

Peppa Grow and Play

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required: None

Pretty 15cm-high pots designed like little houses that each come with a Peppa Pig figure and a packet of quick-sprouting seeds, so you can grow pea shoots with George, for example, or basil with Rebecca Rabbit. Jessica, mum of our child tester Charlotte, 4, says her daughter loves playing with the little houses: “She really likes the pretty colours and found the plant-growing exciting. It’s a nicely made itemwith easy instructions – a great gift idea.” Each pot comes with an extra accessory and ideas for an additional growing project – and if you buy all 4 pots, the fences join up to make a little street.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Crafty Arts and Amazon

Build Your Own Paper Plane Launcher, £16.99

BYO paper plane

Age Suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8
Batteries required: None

A neatly packaged kit of 47 press-out heavy-duty cardboard pieces that builds (no glue needed) into a snazzy elastic-band-powered launcher for the 10 included (different) paper planes. “I think it’s really good,” says our child tester George, 8. “It’s fun building it by myself and the best bit’s seeing how far the planes go. My friends should get one too and then we could all have a big flying contest!” George’s mum, Kayleigh, says, “This is really good value for money – and a lovely, fun way to get the kids away from their electronics!”

Available from: Build Your OwnThe Happy Puzzle Company and Amazon

Magformers Amazing Transform Wheel Set, £24.99


Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 5
Batteries required: None

Ready, set, build with 15 magnetic shapes and double wheels (one of which can fold to make robot arms) from which you can create 30 vehicles – from cars and bikes to trucks and SUVs. “They’re easy and fun to build – and I can use my imagination or the instructions, which I like,” says our child tester Zephy, 5, with his mum Thea adding that she was impressed by just how long the set held her son’s attention. Perhaps, for the price, the set could have a few more shapes but, like Thea, we think this would make an excellent gift because it combines construction so well with imaginative play. Comes with a model-building guide and play ideas.

Available from: Magformers, Smyths and John Lewis

Osmo Genius Starter Kit, £99.99

osmo starter set

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+
Power: requires iPad or FireTablet (no WiFi needed for gameplay)

This is a smart-tablet-based learning kit that combines multi-level counting, spelling and problem-solving games with physical objects (letter tiles, shapes) you can place in front of the screen as you play. The focus is definitely educational but fun, too. Our twin child testers Zac and Eva, 8, played for 3 hours straight the first time they tried it. “It’s good because I want to move up to the next levels on the games,” says Eva. “I love the Newton and Tangram games,” says Zac. “There was nothing I didn’t like about it. I’d recommend it to my friends.” Comes with a base for iPad or FireTablet (be sure to order the kit that’s compatible with your tablet), tangram pieces, number tiles, words tiles, stackable storage for each game and access to 5 game apps. You can buy more apps separately.

Available from: Osmo, Amazon and Smyths Toys

Tonka Metal Movers Combo Pack, £11

Tonka Metal covers

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required: None

Not only do you get a little pack of 2 x 9cm diecast vehicles, there’s also a mound of Tough Dirt (a no-mess play sand that looks just like the kind of earth diggers and dumpers move). Our child tester Zachary, 4, had great fun playing with the metal digger and bulldozer. “Zach was really excited to open this,” says his mum. “It’s great value and very well made.” Built for rugged play, these trucks will cope with all types of terrain. Choose from a dump truck and bulldozer combo or a dump truck and front loader. A great stocking filler for a truck-mad child.

Available from: Argos, Gulliver’s Toys and Amazon

Mini Mizzie, £9.95

Mini Mizzie Teether

Age suitability: 0+ | Best for: teething babies
Batteries required: None

A hit in Australia, this kangaroo-shaped teething toy is made with 100% natural rubber and offers a slightly cheaper alternative to some other popular teething toys on the market . “It’s soft to touch and the pointed angles of the nose and ears fit nicely in a little baby’s mouth,” explains mum of baby tester Bran. “At 3 months old, my son is only just starting to hold things, so I was surprised to see he was quite happy to grab and hold onto this and give it a good chew.” It has no hole and is free from BPA, PVC, nitrosamines and phthalates. With its loop design, it’s also easy to hang from a pushchair, and Bran “spent ages staring at it on our walks”.

Available from: Mini Mizzie UK

Spirograph Scratch and Shimmer, £20

Spirograph and Shimmer

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 8-9
Batteries required: None

This 75-piece 50th anniversary edition of the classic pattern-making art toy includes a special glitter wheel and black scratch paper that reveal shimmering rainbow colours beneath. “The designs are cool and I love the sparkly papers,” says our child tester Imogen, 9. “I think it would be good if it had some practice paper though as I made a few mistakes at the beginning and that’s wasted some of the sparkly sheets.” Her mum Ruth adds, “The instructions are good and the wow factor is definitely the sparkly pictures. My daughter loved how the patterns looked once she’d done them.” Comes with a guide book and 3 fine-line design pens.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Argos and The Entertainer

Beehive Toys Magnetic Farm Maze, £11.99

Magnetic Farm Maze

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3
Batteries required: None

This 30cm x 23cm farm-themed wooden puzzle has 2 magnetic wands attached that your child uses to guide (integrated) beads through the maze. “This is a huge hit in our house,” says Cathryn, mum of our child tester Zosia, 3. “The board fits perfectly on Zosia’s knees and 2 magnets means that she and her sister can play together as well as her playing on her own. They went from colour-sorting to racing to see who could get the balls from top to bottom and into the correct coloured section the quickest. It’s such a simple toy but has the imagination working full-time!”

Available fromBee Hive ToysDunjagra and Amazon

LOL Surprise! Series 3 OMG Fashion Doll, £31.99

LOL Surprise OMG Fashion Doll

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7
Batteries required: None

A ‘smart and fierce’ 31cm-high doll with styled hair, 20 surprises and packaging that becomes a resuable playset. Our child tester Marnie, 7, a big LOL fan, tested the Class Prez doll:”I really like her; she’s cool. Her clothes are nice and I like her red hair.” Marnie’s mum Bonnie was pleased to see that the packaging has been reduced since the early LOL days and some of it is recyclable. There are 3 other dolls in this series (none of them, we’re assured, will reveal underwear if put under water, as some dolls in earlier series – shockingly – did). Each come with shoes, shoebox, accessories, hat box, purse, hair brush, garment bags and doll stand.

Available fromSmyths Toys, John Lewis and Amazon

Cat Steel Dump Truck, £34.99

Cat steel truck

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4-5
Batteries required: None

Constructed from steel with 40cm wheels, the Cat Steel Dump Truck is one big, sturdy toy vehicle. Load up objects into the working dump bed, made all the more realistic with movements that mimic a real-life dump truck. Our tester Carter, 4, loves the moving dump bed which can carry lots of his cars and building blocks and says he will play with it for a “long long time”. “It looks very sturdy and not likely to break any time soon, which is important to survive in our house with 3 rough and ready boys,” says Carter’s mum Jenny. She also adds, “It’s a lovely size – not too bulky but big enough to be impressive.”

Available from: Amazon

Ladybird Balance Bug, £39.99

Beehive ladybug

Age Suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 12 months+
Batteries required: None

A cute 43cm x 30cm x 40cm wooden ride-on ladybird, with a wipe-clean padded foam seat, handle grips and 360°-rotating castor wheels that mean your child can ride it in any direction. Leighann, mum of our child tester Dara, 1, says, “This ticks all the boxes for me. It’s sturdy and Dara loves that he can get around on it so easily indoors and out. It’s also become his favourite chair – he sits on it when he’s watching TV, eating – everything! I’d say it’s worth every penny.” Not suitable for any child over 20kg. Some assembly required.

Available from: Beehive Toy Factory and Amazon

Launch and Defend Batmobile, £39.99

launch and defend batmobile

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 4+
Batteries:  2 x AAA (not included, for the remote); USB charging cable (included, for the car)

A sleek-looking, 30cm-high remote-controlled Batmobile with a 10cm-tall Batman figure you can fire out of the seat. “Four-year-old Tim was quick in learning how to use the controls on the remote,” says our child tester’s mum Ijeoma. “He says it’s excellent and fast and he loves launching Batman – loads of squeals. This toy had all the buzz and thrill to make a fab Christmas gift for young superhero fans. It is also good value for money.” Do note, though, that the Batmobile needs charging before it’ll work.

Available from: Smyths ToysJohn Lewis and Amazon

Mealtime Magic Mia, £64.99

Spinmaster Mealtime magic

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5-6
Batteries required: 4 x AA batteries (included), 1 x AAA battery not included

Mia is an interactive doll (a new version of the bestselling Luvabella) with a range of facial expressions and over 70 sounds and phrases which can be triggered by feeding her any of the 50+ food combinations on her double-sided tray. With each different taste, she’ll pull a face and let you know whether it’s tasty, sour or not very nice! After feeding, you can then burp her and use the 2-in-1 bottle and pacifier to soothe her. “I love being Mia’s mammy and giving her breakfast,” says our child tester Ava, 6. Mia’s mum Fiona is impressed but does point out that the doll doesn’t always guess her food correctly: “When Ava scoops strawberry, she says, ‘Mmmmm broccoli’, which puzzles Ava a bit!” Includes an outfit, bottle/soother, spoon and food tray.

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Selfridges

Muro Mega Board, £189

Muro megaboard

Age suitability: 12 months+ | Best for age: 2
Batteries required: None

A 75cm x 33 cm wooden modular activity centre that you can place on the floor or fix to a wall. It comes with a peg sorter, bead maze, door, peg slider, handle, traffic lights, latch, abacus and xylophone – which you can secure to the frame (and remove) as you like. “She’s so excited by this toy,” says Leigh, mum of our child tester Hallie, 2. “She keeps going back for more! There’s so much to do on it, it really does keep her entertained for quite a while.” This is a pricey buy, that’s for sure, but Leigh would say it’s worth it: “This is definitely a toy that’s built to last – and I’d say it will really develop your child’s fine motor skills and imagination. It’s hard to pick the best feature but Hallie’s favourite part is the xylophone– which she does play rather loudly at times!” Further attachable toys available separately. Some self-assembly required.

Available from: Muro and Babipur

Carddies, £8.99 each


Age suitability: 3-10 | Best for age: 6-7
Batteries required: None

A colouring set containing 12 double-sided hand-drawn characters to colour in (colouring pencils included) and then fix in their plastic stands for imaginative play. The perfect gift for quiet-time play when your child has had Christmas overload and you’ve had one sprout too many. Our tester Claudia, 7, loved her Christmas-themed playset (pictured). “Claudia spent ages colouring them all and setting up little scenes,” says her mum Christy, adding, “I love the fact that you get 2 activities out of this and that it comes as an easy-to-pack kit – perfect for Christmas mini-breaks.” There are 16 Carddies playsets to choose from, including knights, fairies and cavemen.

Available from: Amazon, Mama Brown & Co and Carddies

Petooties Pets, £2.99


Age suitability: 0+ | Best for age: 4-5
Batteries required: None

Super soft, mini plush dogs, cats, horses, cows, donkeys, sheep and other animals (there are 17 to collect). “The best thing is that they are really, really little and cute, so that I can put them in my bag and take out with me. They all have their own names and birthdays!” says our child tester Matilda, 5 who played with Hickory the Labrador puppy and Smokey the French Bulldog.

Available from: Smyths Toys

Sylvanian Families Adventure Treehouse, £49.99

Sylvanian families treehouse

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4
Batteries required:  3 x AA batteries (included)

A 43cm x 32cm x 21cm tree house set with 4 rooms, a removable hut, a slide, a rope swing – and a secret passage. “I like the swing,” says our child tester Margo, 6, “and I like making the figures go down the slide. I haven’t got a least favourite thing. I find it nice and big and I think it would make a good Christmas present because it looks nice.” It’s certainly very cute and great for imaginative play but be warned that, as with all Sylvanian Families sets, you’ll need to buy the little mice figures separately.

Available fromJohn LewisThe Entertainer and Asda

Peppa’s Shopping Centre Playset, £39.99

Peppa shopping centre

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 3-4
Batteries required: 3 x AAA plus (not included)

A 40cm-high, 2-floor Peppa-themed shopping centre that can be made into 6 shops in total by swapping the backgrounds and swivelling the signs. Press a button to send Peppa up and down the working lift, and use the microphone to make your own shopping centre announcements. Jenny, mum to our child testers Cameron and Cooper, 3, says, “The boys were very excited by the buttons and especially the working microphone.” Her only quibble was the number of small pieces included – she says, in her house, they have a tendency to get scattered and end up down the back of the sofa. Includes a Peppa Pig figure and 12 accessories.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Very

Coding Critters Bopper, Hip & Hop, £40

Coding critters Hip Hop

Age suitability: 4+ | Best for age: 5
Batteries required: 3 x AAA batteries (not included)

This sweet little playset is also an interactive STEM toy that introduces your child to entry-level coding. You can push the arrows on 13cm-long rabbit Bopper’s back to code her to look for carrots, pull them along  in her cart and play with her friends Hip and Hop. You can also switch Bopper into Play mode and feed her. “I think it’s good and I like the bunny,” says our child tester Emielia-Rose, 5. We’’re impressed to see a coding toy that’s properly fun – and with pieces that are cute enough be played with by themselves. Comes with a storybook that doubles as an instruction guide.

Available from: Learning Resources, Amazon and Primary ICT

Playhouse Little Sous Chef’s Kitchen, £69.99

Playhouse little sous kitchen

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: