10 of the best playsets for children

Toy aquariums, farms and dolls' playsets can make great pretend-play gifts for children aged 1 to 7. See which ones our child testers rate as the best...

MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.
Toy Awards best playsets

MadeForMums reviews are independent and based on expertise and testing. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission, but this never influences our product choices.

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Whether it’s simple slow-play or whizzily electronic, a good playset will give your child hours of imaginative fun, from pretending to be farmer, pirate, or a superhero saving the day.

Here are 10 great playsets, as tested and rated by children…

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1. L.O.L. Surprise! 2-in-1 Glamper Playset, £99.99 – best for Christmas morning wow-factor

Age: 3 years+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Playset – Gold

What it is: The first vehicle for the L.O.L. Surprise dolls takes the girls on a glamorous road trip! Measuring 21.5cm x 58.5cm x 29cm, the Glamper features over ten play areas with lights and sounds, 1 exclusive doll and more than 55 surprises to discover.

The front detaches to become a separate car with D.J. booth, working headlights and horn. The back opens up to 2 feet tall by 3 feet wide to reveal a large water slide, leading to the light-up pool (which you can put water in), plus there’s a fashion runway with a rotating end for twirling.

There’s also a café, BBQ patio, bunk beds and a full-size bed, too.

Why we love it: With 55 surprises to discover, and plenty of different areas to play with, the gold-award-winning Glamper will give L.O.L. Surprise’s many fans hours of imaginative, interactive glam fun – and when they’re done, it all fits away neatly in the glamper till next time!

Although it’s the second most expensive set in this round-up, our testers felt the sheer number of different features make it well worth the money.

MFM tester Parminder, mum of Ria, 7, says “My daughter absolutely loves this playset. She really enjoyed unwrapping all the different surprises and finds so many different ways to play with all the accessories.”

Christy, MFM Consumer & Reviews Editor and mum to Audrey, 4, says, “The styling on these dolls can seem a little grown-up for young children, but undeniably the number of surprises to unbox makes this a fantastic gift.”

Available from: Argos and Smyths Toys

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2. PLAYMOBIL Tiny Paws Pet Hotel, £59.99 – best for animal lovers

Age: 4+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Playset – Silver

What it is: A pet hotel (51.5cm x 35cm x 12.5cm) featuring various dog breeds, birds, two human carers, and with plenty of detail including dog flaps, pet-care accessories and cleaning tools, a doggy seesaw, animal toys and a flexible outdoor fence to suit any space. Comes with stickers. Can be expanded with the other four playsets in the range: Purrfect Stay Cat Boarding, Small Animal Boarding, Mobile Pet Groomer and Dog Trainer.

Why we love it: A Playmobil playset never disappoints and this one is no different. Unlike some of the other sets in this round-up, our silver award winner will appeal to both girls and boys, and price-wise it’s a great-value buy.

It’s packed with lots of details for plenty of imaginative pet play, plus the stickers mean you can make it your own – a sure-fire hit for animal lovers!

MFM tester Rhiannon, mum to Joseph, 1, Dylan 4, and Jacob, 6, says “Dylan and Jacob play for ages with it and use it alongside their other Playmobil toys. There is lots to play with and Dylan especially likes that there is a broom so he can pretend to tidy up, and he loved the dog flap. The hotel has plenty of equipment to interact with – it’s a really good toy.”

Available from: Smyths Toys, Amazon and Uber Kids

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3. PAW Patrol Mighty Pups Superpaws Mighty Jet Command Centre, £59.99 – best for active play 

Age: 3+
Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Playset – Bronze

What it is: A 2-in-1 PAW Patrol-themed jet that turns into a mobile command centre when you lift the handle. Includes Mighty Ryder figure, discs for firing from disc launcher, cargo pit for releasing pups out of the jet for rescue missions, plus lights and sounds. Measures 20cm x 56cm x 40.5 cm and uses 3 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: If your child adores the adventures of Ryder and his 8 heroic pups, then they’ll love our bronze award-winner as much as our testers did. However, as it only includes one figure (Ryder), buying a few of the pup figures separately will help your child get even more out of it.

MFM tester Maxine, mum of Theo, 3, and Ellis, 4, says “If your kids are massive PAW Patrol fans like my two, then it’s money well spent – they absolutely love it. They haven’t stopped playing (and fighting) over it! Thankfully, there’s a separate jet so they can take turns between playing with this and the main command centre.”

Available from: Argos, Very and Amazon

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4. Toot-Toot Friends Kingdom Pirate Ship, £39.99 – best for interactive pirate toy

Age: 1 to 5 years

What it is: An interactive pirate’s ship (16.5cm x 45.8cm x 35 cm) that opens up to reveal a treasure island. Features a cannon that shoots cannonballs, a trap door and a spinning octopus. Comes with 3 characters, 3 MagicPoints that trigger responses when you place a character on them and 3 light-up press buttons. Requires 2 AA batteries.

Why we love it: There’s so much to play with in this toddler-magnet playset: the shooting cannon was a particularly huge hit with all our testers. We also like the fact that the noises can be switched off if you need a break from whistling cannon balls and exclaiming pirates!

MFM tester Samantha, mum of Tyler, 3, says “Tyler loves spinning the octopus and shooting the cannons. This toy is really sturdy and the accessories are not flimsy or worryingly small. It’s compact and easy to store – and excellent value for money, too.”

Available from: Smyths ToysAmazon and Argos

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5. PLAYMOBIL Aquarium, £49.99 – best for water play

Age: 5+

What it is: A 40cm x 43cm x 16cm aquarium complete with pool, visitor terrace, deep sea cave, panoramic windows and an adventure dome. Comes with 3 figures, seals, and a gazillion aquatic accessories.

Why we love it: We adore the detail and the size of this playset – and that you can fill the pool with water! Oh, and the viewing area has a rotating platform. We also love that, like Playmobil’s Pet Hotel above, this one’s great for girls and boys.

MFM tester Michelle, mum of Lola, 6, says “Lola loves it. She’s amazed by all the animal figures and sits for hours creating her own sea lion shows. Her older brother joins in, too: it’s a fab toy for girls and boys. There is so much to play with, and it really gets their minds engaged. Makes a change from electronic toys!”

Available from: Playmobil and Argos

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6. Fisher-Price Little People Caring For Animals Farm, £34.99 – best for animal lovers

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A 41cm x 61cm x 15cm farm-barn playset, with working bell and light, chicks that ‘hatch’, a spinning corn silo and drop-through hole for hay bales – all with sound effects. Includes Farmer Jed figure and 4 animals to care for, plus a discovery button with words and songs. Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s solid and excellent quality, with tons of lovely little touches, like the hatching chicks. Our child testers really enjoyed feeding the chickens corn and tucking the horse into bed with a blanket. A great option if your child is too young for the Playmobil Pet Hotel above.

Available from: Argos and Smyths

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7. PJ Masks Mission Control HQ Playset, £49.99 – best for multiple players

Age: 3+

What it is: Measuring 43cm x 42cm x 16.5cm, this official PJ Masks playset offers three levels of action. It includes a secret trap door and lightning bolt cage, a light and sounds control panel that plays phrases from the show, a corkscrew pole, a moveable feather dart launcher to fight intruders, a built-in Gekko shield, a scroll-through mission tablet and 2 Catboy and Romeo figures. Uses 2 AAA batteries (included).

Why we love it: It’s got lots of features to inspire fans of night-time heroes Owlette, Catboy and Gekko to create some adventures of their own – including the trapdoor and lightning bolt cage, as well as great sound effects. We like the fact that you get two figures included – Romeo (the villain) and Catboy – although you might want to treat your child to Owlette and Gekko for maximum effect! 

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Very

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8. Chad Valley Driftstone Car Park & Cars Playset, £25 – best for mini racers

Age: 3+

What it is: A 40cm x 66cm x 30cm 3-level car park with ramps and 5 die-cast cars. Features a working car lift, car wash, fuel pumps, barriers, helipad and parking bays. Track pieces compatible with other Chad Valley track sets.

Why we love it: Lots of lovely little features for the price, and pushing the cars down the ramps is loads of fun. We were also impressed with the number of cars included compared to other sets available.

Available from: Argos and Amazon

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9. Sylvanian Families Grand Department Store Gift Set, £120 – best for detailed features

Age: 4+

What it is: The ultimate shopping experience for the furry residents of Sylvania. Featuring a working lift and revolving door, beautiful architectural details and over 95 pieces to be lovingly assembled.

Why we love it: It may be the most expensive playset in this round-up but the attention to detail that has gone into this set is incredible – you get what you pay for. And if you’re an SF collector, it can be combined with other buildings from the series. We’ll meet you by the macaron counter on the ground floor.

Available from: Debenhams and Amazon

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10. Hot Wheels Corkscrew Crash, £49.99 – best for car fans

Age: 5+

What it is: A looped race track, with 3 30cm loops, crash zones, high-speed boosters and 1 Hot Wheels die-cast car. Race tracks are a dime a dozen, but this one’s motorised, and your little one can use the 3-speed boosters to make their cars go faster. Some assembly required.

Why we love it: This fires off the cars at a satisfyingly fast speed. Be prepared to buy a few more Hot Wheels cars for maximum enjoyment.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Boots

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