10 of the best toy vehicles

From buildable tractors to classic wooden buses, here's our pick of the top toy vehicles for boys and girls of every age

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Toy trains, planes and automobiles – not to mention fire engines, trucks, buses and boats: there’s something about toy vehicles that fascinates children of all ages. And, from the simplest, baby-friendly chunky car on wheels to the super-detailed, high-tech vehicles remote control trucks and drones, they’re all great for honing hand-eye coordination – and having some seriously vroomy good fun.

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Here are 10 best toy vehicles, as rated and tested by children…

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1. John Deere Build A Johnny Tractor, £24.99

GOLD winner, Best Toy Vehicle, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 18 months+

What it is: A 20cm-high tractor that comes with a battery-powered toy drill so your child can take it apart (wheels, cab and all) and put it back together. Comes with 2 drill bits. Batteries included.

Why we love it: It’s a great toddler-sized toy tractor in and of itself but the fact that you can unscrew all the bits with your very own child-size drill nearly make our child testers die of excitement.

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘Chloe’s been playing with this daily since we got it. The parts are a good size for toddler hands, and it’s helping to improve her hand-eye co-ordination.’ Colette, mum to Chloe, 2
  • ‘It’s great fun and Zachary has hours of fun attempting to unscrew and screw the parts together. He also enjoys just playing with it as a normal tractor.’ Sarah-Jane, mum to Zachary, 2

Available from: Smyths Toys and Argos

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2. Carousel Pick It Up Recycling Truck, £14

SILVER winner, Best Toy Vehicle, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 3 to 8

What it is: A toy recycling lorry with flashing lights and sounds effects. Load up the rubbish bin on the side of the truck, lift it up and empty it into the truck’s hold. Comes with a miniature truck.

Why we love it: This is a nice simple, does-what-it-says-on-the-tin toddler play magnet – and such great value for money.What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘I love tidying up and hiding things in my lorry!’ Zachary, 4
  • ‘Charlie has lots of fun playing with this toy – it really sparks the imagination.’ Rachel, mum to Charlie, 4

Available from: Tesco (instore only)

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3. PLAYMOBIL Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, £39.99

BRONZE winner, Best Toy Vehicle, 2018 MadeForMums Toy Awards

Age: 4+ years

What it is: A pint-sized (9 x 25 x 34 cm) Porsche with light-up headlights, working wheels and a detachable roof. Comes with 2 sets of wheels, adjustable spoiler, 2 play figures and loads of accessories and tools. Requires 3 x AAA batteries (not included).

Why we love it: It’s well-made, as you’d expect from such an iconic brand and the accessories are brilliant (even including a jack, hand drill, podium and trophy). We like the auto power-down feature, too (to save battery life).

What our child testers made of it:

  • ‘I like that the lights shine and there are loads of extra things to play with, like changing the tyres. I like that there are 2 people to play with. That means that 1 can race the car and the other 1 waves the flag and, when he wins, they can high-five!’ Matthew, 6
  • ‘A great toy car – Ted’s new favourite! It’s really helped him learn about how a car works, using the jack to prop it up and then unscrewing the tyres to replace them. He asks endless questions about how the engine works, and he loves racing with it.’ Lisa, mum to Ted, 5

Available from: Amazon and John Lewis

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4. Monster Smash-Ups, £34.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A range of 3 high-speed radio-controlled tilt-turn monster trucks (choose from Raptor, Viper and Rhino) that, thrillingly, you’re actually meant to crash into a wall – or another monster truck – at up to 15 kmph. The rechargeable battery offers up to 30 minutes run time, and the trucks come with stickers, cones and flags.

Why we love it: Our testers went crazy for these crash-and-smash trucks, which won it Gold in our 2017 Toy Awards. They loved the way the drivers are ejected into the air mid-smash. The easy-to-reassemble building block bodies are a novel idea and make racing against friends extra entertaining. Works equally well over gravel and carpet, and the regulation vroom vroom noises are surprisingly bearable. Bonus!

Available from: Amazon and Hamleys

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5. Hot Wheels RC Bladez Drone Racerz Drone & Vehicle Set, £34.99

Age: 8+

What it is: A lightweight radio-controlled drone with LED lights that you clip onto a Hot Wheels car (included) to make it drive, flip, jump and fly. Comes with a stunt kit, USB charger and spare rotors and has a flight time of 4 to 5 minutes. It’s compatible with a Hot Wheels track (not supplied). Needs 4 AA batteries.

Why we love it: It’s small enough to fly and flip indoors as well as out, and it’s great to see a drone that’s designed for pre-teen kids. The spare chassis and rotor blades are great for avoiding tears when kids (or adults) get a bit over exuberant with the stunts. Reaches impressive heights: just be careful not to lose it over the neighbours’ roof as one of our child testers did! A Silver winner in the 2017 Toy Awards.

Available from: Argos and Amazon

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6. Tonka Steel Mighty Dump Truck, £29.99

Age: 2+

What it is: A scaled-down but still pretty large (26cm x 43cm) toy model of a real Tonka dump truck. Both the cab and the (working) rear tipper are made of steel.

Why we love it: It’s big and robust and perfect for pushing round the garden or living room, loading and unloading toys. It was a Silver winner in our 2016 Toy Awards, when some of our child judges spent a very happy time just sitting in it!

Available from: Amazon and Asda

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7. John Lewis Wooden Toy London Double Decker Bus, £20

Age: 12 months+

What it is: A chunky wooden bus (20cm x 18cm) with a removable roof and six wooden figurines that fit inside.

Why we love it: It’s oh-so-beautifully made while being simple and sturdy enough for toddlers to bash around the place. Hours of fun putting the little driver and passengers in and out of their seats. The sort of classic toy you’d be happy to give or receive.

Available from: John Lewis

8. Paw Patrol Sea Patroller, £69.99

Age: 3+

What it is: This large boat turns into a land vehicle and comes with a crane and ATV to help the Ryder figurine on his rescue missions. Also comes with a baby octopus toy and features lights, sound, a shooting rescue ring and batteries. Not suitable for use in water however: be warned!

Why we love it: Any Paw Patrol fan will be sold on this before they’ve got the box open, obvs. We like the ramp that opens up, so you can load other vehicles inside. Allows for plenty of imaginary play.

Available from:  Argos and Smyths Toys

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9. Sylvanian Families Sunshine Nursery Bus, £22.99

Age: 3+

What it is: A 17cm x 26cm x 12.5cm bus, fully kitted out with 12 seats. The seats and rainbow section upstairs are removable and can be turned over to make a slide or a seesaw – and if you take the pink lower-deck seats out, there’s a little paddling pool underneath. No Sylvanian animals passengers, though; you’ll need to get those separately.

Why we love it: It’s completely adorable and kept our child testers enthralled for a long time. They particularly liked turfing out top-desk passengers to make the seesaw.

Available from: Argos, Amazon and Sylvanian Families

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10. Bigjigs My First Train Set, £12.99

Age: 3+

What it is: This 20 piece wooden kit includes 8 pieces of wooden track, an engine, 2 carriages with magnetic couplings and freestanding items like a house, trees and figurines. Its diameter is 44cm when assembled.

Why we love it: It’s the ideal starter set for little train spotters at a bargain price. The wood is lovely quality, really sturdy and it’s compatible with other wooden railway brands if they want to expand the track and add to their collection. A train set that will grow with them.

Available from: Amazon and Pram World

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