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Must-have Top Christmas Toys 2021 from the biggest sellers

We've tried and tested hundreds of toys to bring you the definitive list of the best Xmas toys of 2021, with prices from 80p to £699. Plus, the latest on stock shortages and availability for Christmas

100 best Christmas toys

The lists of the hottest Christmas toys for 2021 – from all the major stores, such as Argos, John Lewis, Amazon and Hamleys – have been a bit slow to appear this year, largely because there have been some issues in the global supply chain and some newer toys haven’t yet arrived in the UK.


So does that mean that the must-have toys that every child wants in the run up to 25 December will be short supply? Should we panic? “No,” says toy expert John Baulch, founder of Toy World, the leading magazine for the UK toy market. “There will undoubtedly be product shortages this year but reports in the national media suggesting there will be ‘no toys’ are way wide of the mark.

There is no need to panic (or even panic buy). But if your child already knows what they want this Christmas, and they have specific toys high on their wishlist, my advice would be to buy them now, rather than waiting
John Baulch, founder Toy World

“Prices won’t be going down and items will go in and out of stock so, if you see something they’ve asked for, I’d be inclined to grab it while you can. There are plenty of great toys launching but, equally, demand for toys will be high – after the year we’ve had, every parent wants to give their child a Christmas to remember. So once they’ve made their list or ringed what they want in a toy catalogue, I would start keeping an eye out to make sure what they want is under the tree.”

So what are top toys for 2021? And are they worth buying?

Are any of these ‘top Christmas toys’ that stores feature on their must-buy lists actually any good? Is it worth shelling out for that doll or train or playset that’s all over YouTube and TikTok? And how can you be sure that the ‘hot’ interactive toy that sounds so awesome is something your child will play with for more than 5 minutes?

We’ve got the answers! We’ve been taking a good long look at the most recommended buys as the lists come out and singling out the toys we think are definitely worth their place on your child’s Santa wishlist. The lists from Hamleys, Selfridges, Amazon, John Lewis, Smyths Toys, Tesco, Bargain Max, Toy Of the Year and the Independent Toy Awards are already in – and, as more appear, we’ll add the best of those in, too.

We’ve also been busy testing Christmas toys aimed at all ages from babies to toddlers to preschoolers to primary-school age to teens. Some of them are on the retailer ‘top toys’ list and some are sourced by our expert in-house toy team. Our thorough testing and knowledge of the market means we can bring you the definitive list of the Top 100 Christmas Toys for 2021, voted by kids, parents and experts.

To make our top choices, we’ve been reviewing the toys for play potential and value for money, getting kids to play with them and give us feedback, and finding out the cheapest places to buy the toys – updated in realtime whenever we can.

Here are the hottest toys on the MadeForMums 100 Top Xmas Toys 2021 list:

Squeakee the Balloon Dino, £79.99

Recommended by: Amazon

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

A cheeky 36cm-high pretend-balloon dinosaur with over 70 interactive features, including dancing when you put his headphone on, chomping on his bone when you put it in his mouth, playing chicken and tug of war – and following you when you squeak his bone. He also noisily pretends to deflate (and reinflate) and lets off the occasional fart. He does rather guzzle the batteries but he’s enchanted every one of our child testers – and us too! “It’s like I have a dinosaur pet,” said our child tester Rowan, 7 (pictured) delightedly. “I can even tickle him! My favourite is making him fall asleep and then I get to pump, pump, pump him up like a real balloon. I showed all my friends his dance moves.”

Available from: Amazon and Argos

Kaloo Tendresse Monon My First Doll, £19.99

Recommended by: John Lewis

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

A gorgeously huggable 18cm-high soft doll with a pastel-star-scattered dress and little peach hat and matching ‘boots’. She’s the perfect size for small chubby hands and we really rate her long, super-grabbable knitted legs. She’s machine-washable (hurray!) and comes in a cute presentation box. There are 8 other Kaloo dolls to choose from in various sizes, including the ballet-themed Valentine and the rather raffish sailor-themed Lucas.

Available from: John Lewis and Jo Jo Maman Bebe

Jiggly Pets Tan Tan the Orangutan, £24.99

Recommended by: Tesco and Selfridges

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

This year’s proper fun purchase, Tan Tan is a shaggy-haired orangutan who dances and plays tunes when you touch his foot. And he has some serious booty-shaking, hair wiggling action! Comes with 2 pairs of ‘party sunglasses’ – one for Tan Tan and one for you.

Available from: Smyths Toys

PAW Patrol Transforming PAW Patroller with Dual Vehicle Launchers, £69.99

Recommended by: Smyths Toys and Amazon

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

A 16cm x 35cm rescue vehicle with sound effects and side doors that flip up at the touch of a button to reveal 2 swivel-out vehicle-launcher ramps inside. Press the launch buttons and whoosh! out speed the vehicles. Comes with just the 1 all-terrain vehicle (you’ll have to buy the other separately) and a Ryder figure.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Amazon

Barbie Dream House, £309.99

Recommended by: Bargain Max and Hamleys

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 4+

Batteries required:  3 x AA (not included)

A HUGE (109cm x 104cm) 360° playhouse with a layout you can customise by moving the 10 interchangeable living areas between the 3 floors. Comes with coloured lighting options, ‘soundscapes’ (including party music), a slide, a pool, a grass area, furniture and over 75 accessories. We particularly like the little pet slide and the bunk bed that folds down from the wall. Our child testers were delighted that its size means you can play with it standing up. And Izzy, 4 (pictured), added, “I really like the pool – it’s so much fun and my dolls can do swimming. The lights are pretty and it’s so funny when the toilet flushes. It’s my favourite toy ever!”

Available from: Bargain Max and Smyths Toys

Linkimals Dance n Groove Cool Beats Penguin, £34.99

Recommended by: Amazon

Age suitability: 9 months+ | Best for age: 9 months+
Batteries required: 4 x AA (included)

The latest addition to the bestselling Linkimals range, the 24cm-high Cools Beats Penguin flaps his flippers and bobs from side to side when you press his buttons, along with lots of lights and musical sounds. Other features include sounds and phrases to help teach numbers, shapes, letters and opposites. Apart from his soft flippers, he’s a very solid toy (not very cuddly) but his dancing is very cute – and very appealing to babies. If you have other Linkimals, they will interact together and have a mini dance party.

Available from: Amazon and Smyths Toys

LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Luigi Starter Course, £49.99

Recommended by: Amazon, Hamleys and Selfridges

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

A 280-piece LEGO set that builds on the success of last year’s bestselling Mario Starter Course. The idea is the same but this time Luigi is the star: you build him a course and then earn virtual coins as you send him round – while his speaker plays the iconic Super Mario music and he shows instant reactions to the game through LCD screens in his eyes, mouth and belly. We really like the Spinning Seesaw Challenge that’s included in this course – great fun! Comes with Pink Yoshi, Boom Boom and Bone Goomba figures.

Available from: Amazon and LEGO

Kindi Kids Kids Poppi Pearl Bubble N Sing, £29.99

Recommended by: Bargain Max and Tesco

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

A 27-cm high rigid doll with soft-touch limbs who, thrillingly, blows ice-cream-scented bubbles. You feed her the bubble mixture in a bottle and then press the shell on her swimsuit to see the bubble come pouring out (and they do pour!) She also sings a Happy Bubble song. Our child tester, Addie, 3 (pictured), absolutely loved this doll – both for the bubbles and the songs. Her mum Anna is impressed by how good the bubble machine is and says Addie’s taken “her Poppi” everywhere with her since she got it.Comes with a dummy, a wand for you to blow bubbles with yourself, and an instruction manual.

Available from: Smyths ToysThe Entertainer and Argos

Nerf Blaster Inline Scooter with Blaster & Darts, £20

Recommended by: Bargain Max

Age suitability: 5+  Best for age: 5+ |  Max user weight: 50kg
Batteries required:  None

A 3.5kg scooter with PVC wheels, anti-grip footplate and – thrillingly –a handlebar-mounted Nerf blaster! Features include a rear-mounted footbrake and easy-grip handles. It’s worth noting that, at 77.5cm tall, it’s not the biggest scooter and you can’t adjust the handlebars for height, so it’s not suitable for children over about 6. The holster that holds the Nerf blaster is also a little flimsy. Comes with 5 pellets.

Available from: Bargain Max, Amazon and Argos

John Lewis My First Train Set, £20

Recommended by: John Lewis

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

A cheerful-looking little 17-piece starter train set, made from FSC-certified wood. Includes a train with 2 carriages, an elegantly moustachio’d conductor and a signal set with turning cogs and a magnetic pulley. Compatible with other John Lewis wooden train sets and with sets made by other brands. Great value for money.

Available from: John Lewis

LEGO Friends Heartlake City Shopping Mall, £89.99

Recommended by: Tesco

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

A 1032-piece set that builds into a 26cm-high and 40cm-wide mall with 5 well-stocked stores, a photo booth, a slide, a fashion turntable and – best of all – a moving escalator. Comes with 6 figures (we love the dinky baby in a pram) and accessories including an ATM, shopping baskets and money.

Available at: Amazon, Smyths Toys and LEGO

Pictionary Air Harry Potter, £24.99

Recommended by: Amazon and Tesco

Age suitability: 8+ | Best for age: 8+
Batteries required: 1 x AA (included)

A special Hogwarts version of the popular board game where you have to draw the clue you’ve picked for you teammates to guess – but you draw with a wand and people can magically see your drawings appear on a smartphone, tablet or Apple TV. You’ll need to download the free Pictionary Air app to play. We haven’t tested this yet and, though it sounds brilliant, we do hear that it’s tricky to set up – and not compatible with some devices. For 4 or more players.

Available at: Amazon and Smyths Toys

Build Your Own Mini Builds Honey Bee, £9.99

Recommended by: Independent Toy Awards

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

A clever, eco-friendly craft kit, containing 20 press-out cardboard parts that you slot together (no glue needed) to make a striking model of yellow and black honey bee – with a 27cm wingspan and wings that actually flap (with a little pull-tab action). A properly rewarding – and beautiful looking – stocking filler.

Available from: Build Your Own

Projex, £54.99

Recommended by: Smyths Toys

Age suitability: 6+ | Best for age: 7+
Batteries required:  4 x AA (not included)

Lights off for this in-the-dark target-shooting game! You set up the game unit to project targets, ducks or UFOs on a wall and then see how quicky and accurately you can blast them – with accompanying sound effects– while the game unit keeps score. You can play solo or with 1 other player, and choose from 3 levels of difficulty. Comes with 2 blasters and 3 target slides.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

CoComelon Musical Bedtime JJ Doll, £20

Recommended by: Bargain Max

Age suitability: 3+ | Best for age: 18 months+ (with supervision)
Batteries required:  3 x AAA (included)
A lovely soft 35cm-high plush version of JJ with his teddy in his hand. He’ll talk and sing his Yes Yes Bedtime song (from the much-loved YouTube series) when you squeeze his tummy. Do be warned that he’s quite loud for a bedtime doll and, unlike his body, his head is hard. Also, if you forget to switch the button on his back off ‘Try Me’ mode, not all the sounds will work.
Available from: Bargain Max

Hot Wheels Massive Loop Mayhem, £62.99

Recommended by: Bargain Max

Age suitability: 5+ | Best for age: 5
Batteries required: 4 X D (not included)

A brilliantly wide (71cm) and high (70cm) racetrack with, yep, a massive loop – as well as crash zones, a electronic propel gate and a slam launcher, so you can race (and crash) several cars at once. Easy to set up and not too much of a battery guzzler. Only comes with 1 Hot Wheels race car, though.

Available from: Bargain Max, Argos and Very

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Grow-The-Fun Garden to Kitchen, £79.99

Recommended by: US Toy of the Year Awards 2021

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

A sturdy 44cm x 57cm x 76cm 2-sided interactive playset – kitchen on 1 side; garden on the other – that lights up and plays music. In the garden, you can play-plant produce and drop eggs down a collecting chute to collect in your basket; in the kitchen you put the veg in the fridge, mix pretend smoothies and serve up eggs on toast. There are plenty of number, letter, shapes and colours games that you can dial up in difficulty as your child grows. Comes with 30 play pieces, including a trowel, a saucepan, plates, cutlery, a taco (with removable fillings) and a fetching fried egg. Requires some self-assembly.

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys and Next

Blue’s Clues & You! Peek A Boo Blue, £32.99

Recommended by: Independent Toy Awards

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

This 25cm-tall plush version of the much-loved TV puppy, comes with his paws firmly placed over his ears. But press his belly – and his ears pop up (like in the pictures) and he barks. Simple, sweet fun. Also available in Magenta.

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

Spidey and his Amazing Friends Marvel Web-Quarters Playset, £67.99

Recommended by: Amazon

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

A 66cm x 40cm light-up and open-up ‘arachno-hub’ featuring web ramps, an escape hatch, a spiral slide and sounds and phrases from the Disney Jr show it’s based on. We think the ramps are a bit steep for optimum sliding but we’re not sure that’ll spoil the play thrills for top Spidey fans. Comes with a Spidey figure and a Web-Crawler vehicle (other figures and vehicles sold separately).

Available from: Amazon and The Entertainer

My Little Pony Sing and Skate Sunny, £49.99

Recommended by: Smyths Toys

Age suitability: 5+  | Best for age: 5+

Batteries required:  2 x AA and 2 x AAA (not included)

A 22cm-tall interactive friend from Maretime Bay who flashes lights, sings and shakes her head and wings as she skates along – controlled by you with a cordless remote control/microphone. You can also use the microphone to sing along with Sunny or play the ‘Sunny Stop’ freeze-action game. Comes with sparkly stickers so you can customise her look.

Available from: Smyths Toys

Retailers’ Top Christmas Lists #1: Hamleys

Playmobil City Action Police Special Operations Police Robot | Orboot (Earth): The Educational AR Globe | Magic Mixies Cauldron | Barbie Dream House | L.O.L Surprise! Movie Magic Doll | Ralleyz Warrior 3 in 1 RC | Lego Super Mario Adventures Luigi Starter Course (Lego) | Nerf Elite Flip 2.0 8 | Huggables Range | Hamleys Dicii Snakes and Ladders

And here are some of our top tried and tested toy picks that we can see are selling well for Christmas 2021…

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

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

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: 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

Retailers’ Top Christmas Lists #3: John Lewis

Scalextric Batman vs Superman (not yet on sale) | Lego Elf Clubhouse | John Lewis FSC Wooden My 1st Train Set | Space Puzzle Ravensburger (not yet on sale) | John Lewis FSC Wooden Waitrose Supermarket | GraviTrax Pro Starter Extreme | Kaloo My First Doll Manon | Scrabble Harry Potter Board Game | Tonies Soft Cuddly Friends: Hoppie Rabbit Audio Play (not yet on sale) | The Secret Garden Book

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

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

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

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 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

Retailers’ Top Christmas Lists #5: Selfridges

LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Luigi Starter Course| Jiggly Pets Tan Tan the Orangutan | Little Live Pets Gotta Go Turdle | Paw Patrol Ultimate City Tower |Playtent Grey Star |Micro Scooter Eco Mini Deluxe| Cocomelon Deluxe Interactive JJ Doll | Barbie Transformer SUV | Le Toy Van Shop & Café

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

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