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.

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 good fun.

With the help of our crack team of experts – including children, parents and toy professionals – we’ve picked out the best.

Here’s our pick of the best toy vehicles for children…

1. GeoSmart FlipBot, £39.99 – best for construction fans

Age: 5+

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toy Vehicle – Gold

What it is: A colourful STEM-inspired remote-controlled vehicle which kids can build themselves using the snap-in motors and magnetic pieces.

Why we love it: With its colourful parts and cool big wheels, this toy provides endless fun for youngsters who can experiment with constructing different versions of the vehicle then use the remote to drive it around, flip and spin it.

This is a fairly expensive toy, at the upper end of the price bracket, but we think it’s reasonable for what you get.

MFM tester Colette Bonell, who’s a mum to 9-year-old Theo, said: “The FlipBot is a well-made toy that is fun to play with. My son enjoyed building the vehicle and constructing the different versions. He played with it continuously for around 45 minutes on his first go and since then he has been playing with it regularly.”

It doesn’t come with lots of accessories or offer opportunities for imaginary play (like the Playmobil options or Paw Patrol Sea Patroller – see further down our list), but for construction and stunt work fun, this is a real winner.

Available from: Amazon, Whirligig Toys and Bright Minds

2. Playmobil: The Movie Del’s Food Truck, £36.99 – best for imaginative play

Age: 5+

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toy Vehicle – Silver

What it is: A food truck toy from Playmobil which features a removable roof and windshield and comes complete with numerous accessories including two figures.

Why we love it: Fans of Playmobil toys will go mad for this food truck which has plenty of play potential. As well as the truck itself (furnished with a sink, fridge and storage space), there are loads of accessories including burritos, burgers and cooking utensils, and two figurines. It’s ideal for imaginative play and will keep youngsters occupied for ages.

Carine Du Plessis, MFM tester and mum to Chené, 9, and Elani, 6, said: “This is a perfect toy to really feed children’s imagination. It provides hours of fun because of all the different elements that come with it – it meant my daughter could make up lots of different scenarios. This is one of the most played with toys we have in our house and we’ve only had it two weeks!”

It’s not necessarily a vehicle to push around and race with (like the Playmobil Porsche) but we can guarantee it will be well-loved.

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys, John Lewis

3. John Deere Build A Johnny Tractor, £19.99 – best for tractor lovers

Age: 18 months+

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

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

MFM tester Colette, who’s mum to Chloe, 2, said: “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.”

It’s also fairly reasonably priced, considering it comes from the John Deere brand, and it offers more to do than some of the other options geared towards younger kids (such as Bigjigs’ My First Train Set).

Available from: Amazon, Smyths Toys and The Toy Shop

4. Slammin’ Racers Turbo Tyre, £19.99 – best for younger kids

Age: 3+

Awards: MadeForMums Toy Awards 2019 Best Toy Vehicle – Bronze

What it is: A slam-powered car that includes a ramp and all-terrain mega-wheel for any surface, and makes real sounds.

Why we love it: This vehicle is ideal for younger children who will love launching the car and seeing how far it travels. The all-terrain mega wheel adds an interesting element and kids will love the real-life sounds too.

It doesn’t come with as many parts or accessories as the Playmobil food truck, nor is it as educational as the FlipBot, but it is simple and fun to use. Emily Stafford, MFM tester and mum to Freddie, 4, said: “This car isreally well-made and sturdy, and stands a lot of bashing and crashing. My little boy had loads of fun sending it across different surfaces.”

Available from: Amazon, Argos and Very.

5. Hot Wheels RC Bladez Drone Racerz Drone & Vehicle Set, £34.99 – best for older kids

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) and 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 good for avoiding tears when kids (or adults) get a bit over exuberant with the stunts.

It also reaches impressive heights: just be careful not to lose it over the neighbours’ roof as one of our child testers did!

It offers great potential in terms of improving hand-eye co-ordination, but it’s perhaps not the right toy for younger kids or if you’re looking for an option with numerous imaginary play opportunities, like the Playmobil vehicles.

Available from: Amazon and Very

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6. Playmobil Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, £39.99 – best for car enthusiasts

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: This is another winner from Playmobil. 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). The two figures are also great additions and there’s lots of opportunity for imaginary play.

MFM tester Lisa, mum to Ted, 5, said: “This is Ted’s new favourite car toy! 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.”

This isn’t one for performing stunts with (like the FlipBot or Hot Wheels RC Bladez Drone Racerz Drone & Vehicle Set), but there’s lots to keep youngsters amused.

Available from: Amazon, Argos and John Lewis

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7. Paw Patrol Sea Patroller, £69.99 – best for Paw Patrol fans

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. It also comes with a baby octopus toy and features lights, sound, a shooting rescue ring and batteries. Be aware though – it’s not suitable for use in water!

Why we love it: Any Paw Patrol fan will be sold on this before they’ve got the box open and it’s a great toy for those who love the brand. We like the ramp that opens up, so you can load other vehicles inside, and the moving crane is another brilliant idea.

It definitely has the potential to offer hours of fun. It is fairly pricey though – and is the most expensive toy in this list. In fact, for about half the price you can get the Playmobil food truck, which offers just as much opportunity for imaginary play. Saying that, this is a super little boat/car and has some great features.

Available from: Amazon and Argos 

8. Monster Smash-Ups, £34.99 – best for rough-and-tumble play

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 and 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.

They work equally well over gravel and carpet, and the regulation vroom vroom noises are surprisingly bearable. It’s worth noting that some parents may not like the fact you’re meant to crash these into walls, and so may prefer something like the Slammin’ Racers Turbo Tyre – it’s just as energetic but not so rough.

Available from: Amazon and Hamleys

sylvanian families nursery bus

9. Sylvanian Families Sunshine Nursery Bus, £24.99 – best for hours of fun

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. There are no Sylvanian animals passengers, though; you’ll need to get those separately.

Why we love it: This is completely adorable and kept our child testers enthralled for a long time. The added elements are really thoughtful and the children particularly liked turfing out top-desk passengers to make the seesaw. It’s a shame that no figures are included, unlike with the Playmobil offerings and the Paw Patrol Sea Patroller, but it is cheaper than all of those offerings.

Available from: ArgosAmazon and Sylvanian Families

10. Bigjigs My First Train Set, £12.99 – best for gentle play

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: This is 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. It really is a train set that will grow with them – and it’s very reasonably priced too.

Older children may find the simplicity of the piece lacks entertainment somewhat (and may prefer something like the Paw Patrol Sea Patroller or one of the Playmobile options), but this is very much geared to younger kids.

Available from: Amazon, Hamleys and Pram World

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