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17 of the best toys for 8 year olds

There are some great new toys out there for 8-year-olds - from games, crafts and construction toys to dolls, playsets – and even a DJ mixer. Take a look at our favourites...

17 of the best toys for 8 year olds

Your 8-year-old now plays for extended periods of time, requiring much less help and direction from you, and is usually quite happy to spend time working out and completing builds, games and other challenges.


They enjoy games they can play with others their own age, and are (finally) learning how to lose – and win – with grace (sometimes).

It’s worth remembering, though, that your child may have started to develop an idea of the kinds of activity they like or are ‘good at’, so they may sometimes need a little coaxing to try something new.

Here is our pick of the best toys for 8-year-olds, as tested by children and rated by their parents

1. LEGO Super Mario Adventures with Mario Starter Course, £49.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A 231-piece set, which builds into the iconic Super Mario course and includes a responsive Mario figure with LCD screens in his head and belly. Send Mario round your course to earn virtual coins on a special (free) app. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: Our child tester Alfie really enjoyed setting up different courses for Mario to tackle – although he was initially puzzled by the lack of paper instructions (they’re on the app). We really like Mario’s light-up eyes and the gaming noises, which, according to Alfie, are “very cool”. We picked this for our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available from: Amazon, ArgosLego and Smyths Toys

2. GraviTrax Starter Set, £39.99

Age: 8+

What it is: A construction set with 120 interconnecting pieces. You can build multi-layered tracks and watch ‘gravity spheres’ roll and twist through the twists and turns and ups and downs of your creations. For 1 or more players.

Why we love it: GraviTrax has taken the old marble run game and brought it right into the here and now. Our child testers loved how you could make so many different kinds of tracks – and how you can start small and not too complicated at first. There’s an accompanying (free) GraviTrax app where you can design more complicated tracks, and view the track from the ball’s perspective, which is pretty awesome too.

Available at: John Lewis and Smyths Toys

3. Eugy, £7.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A craft kit from which you make a 6cm-high 3D model of an animal by slotting and glueing together card pieces in numerical sequence. Comes with (non-toxic) glue. Choose from 21 animals, including a dragon, tiger, unicorn, narwhal and sloth.

Why we love it: Building the animal is challenging enough to be fun but doesn’t take forever (between 10 and 20 minutes, judging by our child testers) and there’s no mess! Our child tester Bodhi Rae gave her dragon “10 out of 10”. We really like how cute the finished animals look – and that they’re made from biodegradable card. An easy choice for our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available at: Amazon, Hamleys and The Gift and Gadget Store

4. Barbie 3-in1 Dream Camper Playset, £79.99

Age: 3+

What it is: An 11-cm high campervan that unlatches to reveal a pick-up truck that has a boat under the back seat. You can also pull the roof up to reveal loft beds and open the back to find a bathroom. Comes with 50 accessories, including a picnic table, camp fire, pool, fishing tackle, sleeping bags, pots and pans and food. No dolls included.

Why we love it: It’s a nice size and it’s well thought-through, with lots to play with and some lovely details – we love the little toothbrushes and the shower at the back! Our child tester was very taken with the boat and the fishing rods, and also liked the rooftop beds. We like how well everything stores away, too.

Available at: Argos, Smyths Toys, and Amazon

5. Build Your Own Paper Plane Launcher, £16.99

Age: 8+

What is it: A 47-piece kit from which you can make 10 different paper fold-and-fly planes and an elastic-band-powered launcher.

Why we love it: It’s great value for money and, as our child tester’s mum observed, “a lovely, fun way to get the kids away from their electronics”. Our child tester George really enjoyed building his launcher all by himself and then firing the planes into the air: “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!” This toy made our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available at: Build Your OwnThe Happy Puzzle Company and Amazon

6. Dog Crimes, £12.99

Age: 8+

What is it: A logical-thinking ‘whodunnit’ game in which you work out from clues which dog committed the crime. Includes 6 dog tokens, 6 crime tokens and 40 challenge cards and instructions. For 1 player.

Why we love it: This follow-up to the bestselling Cat Crimes games is just as simple and engaging. Our child tester David wasn’t sure he was going to like it but “it’s actually really fun and I’ll play it again. The best bit was the card where I had to work out what dog had pooed!” David’s mum was impressed that there were so many crimes to solve, with difficulty levels moving up from beginner to expert.

Available at: Amazon and Crafty Arts

7. LEGO Creator 31107 Space Rover Explorer, £44.99

Age: 8+

What it is: A 510-piece set that builds into 3 different models: a space rover, a space base or a space flyer. Comes with a small robot with moving arms and an astronaut minifigure.

Why we love it: We really like that this is a 3-in-1 set (great value) and we think the buildable little green alien is fantastic! Your child may need a little help with the build itself – it’s definitely not for under-8s. Our child tester loved the moveable crane and the rover best – and was impressed by the little details, like the coffee pot inside.

Available at: John Lewis and Smyths Toys

8. Vtech Kidi Super Star DJ, £49.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A 75cm-high DJ mixer with a microphone, adjustable stand, colour changing disco lights, 6 built-in songs, 5 sound effect modes, a recorder and 4 games. Comes with audio cable for using with an external music player. Requires 4 x AA batteries (included).

Why we love it: Our child testers loved the record function – and spent ages listening to playbacks of their performances. The funny-voice sound effects and coloured lights are fun, too. The stand is a bit wobbly and the microphone could be a little better, volume-wise, but this has fantastic child-entertainment value.

Available at: Amazon, Smyths Toys and Argos

9. Drone Home, £19.99

Age: 6+

What it is: A fast-paced action board game featuring a real flying drone. The aim is to launch your aliens up a ramp and into the drone, which will take off once one is inside. But other players can try to knock your alien out with their own before the drone lifts off. Requires 4 x AAA batteries (not included). For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Our child tester Wyatt LOVED this game – as did his whole family – and his mum Rebecca said there were all “screaming with excitement” as they played. Wyatt said, “I love how the drone flies off with the alien inside it. It flies so high to the ceiling, it makes me laugh so much.” A really fun family game that easily made our our Top 100 Xmas Toys 2020 list.

Available at: InterplayArgos and Smyths Toys

10. Rainbow High Fashion Dolls, £28.99 each

Age: 6+

What it is: A 28cm-high doll with posable limbs, long eyelashes, brushable hair and 2 complete outfits which can be mixed and matched. Comes with a hair comb, 2 hangers and a doll stand. Choose from 6 different dolls, each styled in a different rainbow colour.

Why we love it: These dolls are a good size (a little bigger than a Barbie), their hair is super-soft and their outfits are really quite amazing. “I love how she looks,” said our child tester Carys, who played with Poppy Rowan (pictured), “especially the butterflies in her hair. They are my favourite bit – and the boots have butterflies too, which match!” Our only quibbles would be that it’s a bit of a struggle to get the doll out of its packaging and that the clothes are quite fiddly to take off.

Available at: Smyths Toys, Argos and Amazon

11. Brainstorm Toys 450x Microscope, £24.99

Age: 8+

What is it: A 28cm-high illuminated microscope that magnifies objects on 3 settings, up to 450 x. Comes with 3 prepared slides, blank slides, a petri dish and a booklet. Requires 2 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it:  Jackson, our child tester, said: “I like using this. You can see spidery shapes through it and things look very close up. I feel big using it!” We like that the instructions explain how to make your own slides (the prepared ones feature algae, plastic and synthetic fibres). Good value for money, too.

Available at: 365 Games, Amazon and Toy Street

12. Nickelodeon Experimake Sludge and Slime, £20

Age: 8+

What it is: A super-slimey experiment kit. Comes with protective googles and gloves, plus the tools, ingredients and step-by-step instructions to make an invisible monster, slimy snakes, sludgy goo and slime balls.

Why we love it: It’s messy play spliced with science and maths! Our child testers really enjoyed cooking up their potions and their parents were impressed that the kit has been developed by proper scientists. You can do additional experiments using the kit and easy-to-find extras such as milk and washing up liquid, too.

Available from: The Entertainer and The Works

13. Learning Resources Artie 3000, £54

Age: 7+

What it is: A 12cm-high robot that you can programme to draw all sorts of colourful patterns. Mac, PC or tablet compatible, with 4 modes of play. Comes with 4 felt-tip colouring pens, activity cards and instructions. Requires 4 x AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: This little guy is easy to set up (with grown-up help) and lots of fun. There are freeform coding modes of play but it’s best to start with the pre-programmed ones – which our child testers all enjoyed immensely. A really nice combo of coding and arts/creativity which we haven’t seen in many other toys.

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

14. BrainBox Cities of the World, £13

Age: 8+

What it is: A box containing question cards about famous cities. You get 10 seconds to study the card and then try to win it by answering a question based on the roll of a dice. The person who’s won the most cards after 10 minutes wins the game. Comes with sand timer, dice and instructions. Other BrainBoxes on different themes are also available. For 1 to 4 players.

Why we love it: It may all sound a bit worthy but our child testers really liked being tested on what they could remember – and actually ended up playing for far longer than the 10 minutes suggested in the rules. The speed of the game – and watching the sand fall through the timer – makes this a lot of fun.

Available from: John Lewis and  Word United

15. Clementoni Amazing Chemistry, £32.99

Age: 8+

What is it: A science set that contains equipment and materials for more than 180 chemistry experiments. Comes with a detailed manual.

Why we love it: Mili, our child tester, was thrilled when she opened the box up and liked how easy the kit is to set up. “It’s so exciting to see what is going to happen at the end of each experiment,” she said. “This is fun!” The instructions are good but complex – this is definitely not a toy a child could play with without adult supervision. And be warned that, although there are lots of (safe) materials included, there are still a few props and ingredients you’ll need to supply yourself.

Available at: Very and Amazon

16. Melissa & Doug Suspend Game, £16.99

Age: 8+

What it is: A balancing game where you try to hang your notched wire pieces onto the tabletop stand. Comes with 24 coloured game rods and a coloured die. For 1 to 4 players.

Why we love it: This looks nice and simple but it’s fiendishly fierce on the hand-eye coordination – every time a new piece is added, the balance of the whole structure shifts. Our child testers had a lot of fun giggling at their less steady-handed parents. A great buy for a fun, cross-generational game.

Available from: Bright Minds, Argos and Amazon

17. Game of Life, £26

Age: 8+

What it is: A game where you move your car along the board, making ‘life choices’ along the way about everything from jobs to kids to money. The player with the most money at the end wins. Comes with cards, tokens, spinner, play money and instructions, For 2 to 4 players.

Why we love it: Well, for a start, this game has been around since we were little so there’s a warm nostalgia factor here. It has been updated and is a little more modern, and it is still lots of fun (though the pieces are a bit fiddlier to handle). Our child testers quickly picked up the rules and particularly enjoyed adopting pets and winning the paper money. Takes about an hour to play.

Available from: Amazon and Argos

Images: Product websites


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