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“Battling remote control robots, every boy and daddy’s dream”
When you are going away on various UK Christmas breaks you can never be sure of the weather, so it always pays to0 take a number of toys with you. However, you need these toys to pack away as small as possible so they do not take up too much precious packing space. You also want them to be fun for all the family.
If you’ve ever had the chance to watch Toy Hunter on TV, you’ll know full well how even the most obscure toy from a few decades ago could have a value far beyond what you would expect. Renowned toy dealer Jordan Hembrough, who hosts the show, always does his best to be fair to those he buys toys from as he travels the East and West Coasts of America.
Best of E3 Gamergraphic – by the team at NetVoucherCodes.co.uk
Less than 50% of UK children leave school with the ability to swim the minimum requirement of 25 meters (as set by the UK government). This is something which really saddens me and I am a great believer in introducing children to the pool as soon as possible.
I have two boys aged six and seven who are hard task masters when in comes to toys. So we have put our heads together and products our list together. Some of these items I have received to review, some we have bought for the boys and others they have played with and lusted after at friends houses )yes you know who you are)!
Have you always wanted to make things from scratch? Perhaps you want to learn to knit or sew your own clothes. Maybe your kids are getting to an age where craft is the only way to keep them occupied with an activity that doesn’t take place in front of a screen.
But if you’ve never been a crafty person you might need a few pointers about how to fill up your cupboard so that you’ll have the equipment and craft materials you need to begin.
Top in electronics this year is the LeapFrog LeapPad2 Explorer. Suitable for children aged three years and upwards, this electronic learning tool is perfect for curious minds. It has cameras front and back and comes pre-loaded with five apps designed to get children thinking while they play, with a range of over 255 further apps available to download or as cartridges. The LeapPad2 records progress and adapts in difficulty according to your child’s ability, asking increasingly tough questions as they move forwards.
Piran always loves a fire engine of any description so we were thrilled when the Big Boots Blaze Brigade Vehicle was sent to us to play with. It arrived on a difficult afternoon and was the perfect distraction. Thankfully, the toy came out the packaging really easy, none of those annoying plastic coated ties, just simple plastic locking mechanisms. Piran only cared that it was out any ready to play with in seconds but I was thrilled it was so simple.
You lucky readers of Great Toy Guide have the chance to win a £50 gift voucher, courtesy of Argos. With an enormous range of kid’s toys, children’s clothes, electronic gadgets and pretty much everything under the sun for your home and garden – you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Initial Thoughts: Having got a child that is totally attached to his bear, I know how hard it is when that bear gets misplaced or woe betide lost. So I think Return my Ted is an ingenious idea. You buy a return my ted tag and attach it to your toy. Register the ID along with your address and that is it. If the toy gets found the finder contacts Return my Ted and they do the rest.
I can’t make up my mind about Chuggington. It seems oddly placed, geographically, and the mystery of its mid-Atlantic vocabulary bugs me. But frankly little of that matters when you’ve got a colourful, robust and entertaining toy like this remote controlled Wilson to play with.
It’s true that Cookie is extremely cute, and Flea was incredibly excited to get her out of the box. She has weirdly lifelike features, and is just the right size for younger children to be able to carry around. But I think for the price, I expected a lot more from Cookie my Playful Pup. Some of the featured worked well – Flea likes that Cookie can sit up or lie down, and she is very cute and cuddle. But the animatronics simply didn’t work and were noisy to boot – so overall, the toy just didn’t engage Flea at all. Disappointing, and not nearly as fun as other FurReal toys we’ve tried.
Soft toys can be a costly hobby for young kids, and I shudder to think how often I’ve forked out over £10 or £15 for some ‘must-have’ puppy or rabbit for Flea’s entertainment. So I think these Ikea soft toys are affordable, cute and have lots of play value. Thoroughly recommended.
The Leapster Explorer is a nice option for younger children, and the games are all appropriate for younger children and definitely boost spelling and reading skills. However, the fact it runs on batteries and the fact that games are all geared to younger kids means it won’t last as long as a DS might – we felt kids would grow out of the Leapster Explorer well before the age of 9.
If you have children who look dragons, fantasy, knights and castles then the Playmobil Great Dragon Castle is a brilliant investment. You can attach Dragon’s Dungeon to is via the broken bridge and than you truly do have the ultimate play set with the Green Dragon and Knights to pit against the Reds.
The Playmobil My Take Along Princess Fantasy Chest is a fantastic Playmobil set that will become a well loved toy. My niece has played with it each day since she received it and even took it to Grandma’s house for a sleepover, where all three children enjoyed it.
The Tomy Travel N Doodle Aquadoodle gets a big thumbs up from my children and I. It’s relatively inexpensive, and mess and fuss free. We’ll be keeping it in our car to help pass the time on long journeys.
Lego Universe, the brand new online game from the boffins at Lego, is a must-have toy for many youngsters this Christmas. We think the game will naturally appeal to kids more than other online games, particularly those who are big fans of Lego games on DS and Wii. However, the gameplay here is relatively tricky. To control the game, you need to use both mouth and keyboard and the instructions are text rather than audio, so players need to be confident with computers, and good readers.
Fancy winning your own Maileg Christmas Pixie Advent Calendar?
We’re offering one of our readers the chance to win a magnificant Maileg Christmas Elf advent calendar. These magnificant characters stand at more than 1.5m tall and would make a fantastic addition to your festive decor!
Read on for details of how to enter, and see our guide to the best advent calendars of 2010…
Designed by a company called Maileg in Denmark, these Pixies stand at nearly one and half metres high. Made from beautiful pure cotton in a gorgeous rustic, quintessentially Scandinavian style, Little Girl Pixie is something really rather special. With a tab to hang on a door or wall, her dress is covered with different size numbered pockets ready for the filling, with a rings on each hand for numbers 8 & 9, and a big pocket on her rear end for Christmas Eve.
Lego Heroes are the successor to the Lego Bionicle range, and word in the playground is that these figures are WAY cooler than Bionicles. That’s not a cliché – I took this figure with me when I collected Flea from school and her friends thought they were brilliant. The figures are designed for ages 6+ so I wondered how Flea would cope assembling her villain figure, but she was fine, and managed to put it together with minimal assistance from her cousin, who’s also five.
All in all, this a good value for money educational toy, that teaches rather than preaches to a young mind. I recommend it is bought for a younger child as I believe it will be used again and again, and become a firm favourite.
he look and feel of Monopoly City is very similar to the original. The aim of the game is to move around, buy districts, collect rent and the richest player wins. The difference is that players are now property developers too, and can add 3D buildings to their districts on the centre of the board. It’s like the original game with buildings, and some borrowed elements from Sim City and other popular online games. In fact, Monopoly City even has a website at www.monopolycitystreets.com, bringing it right up to date for children.
The VTech Kiddizoom VideoCam camcorder is a fantastic idea for families who aren’t happy handing a Flip camera to their kids – at £60 this is considerably cheaper than those cameras, and is designed for the odd bang and bump. The additional special effects and video games make this lots of fun for children.
Back in the day, learning to use a pogo stick was all about skinned knees and frustration, with days of practice before you managed half a dozen jumps. But kids these days have it so much easier. The bungee bouncer is much easier to use than a traditional pogo stick and did prove to be lots of fun for both my children. Plus it can be used (supervised) indoors – bonus! Maybe a tad on the expensive side for what it is, but if it gets your children outdoors and bouncing then it could be worth the investment. Just don’t expect too much of a challenge.
The Totscar Mercedes SLK 09 electric car looks just like the one mum and dad would drive if we had the money! The boys have had a fantastic time driving up and down the pavement on it. You do need a pretty smooth service to get the best ride and at £299 it is a considerable purchase, but one that would be well used. A real treat for some lucky child.
The Tomy Micropet is possibly the most annoying toy that has ever graced our house. Mia smuggled them in her suitcase to take on holiday with us and one started to ‘sing’ at baggage check! The airport staff did not raise a smile. The children did love them, though, it has to be said.
Rosemary loves the Didicar, even if she does get hurt a lot, and she’ll probably come round to using it properly. It seems very sturdy and I think will last a long time. It’s something she can share when a friend comes round, without arguments (except perhaps who gets to sit in front!). All in all, the Didicar is a good toy and good value for money, but older children may well be better at using it in the right way.
These beautiful activity bricks from Pure Love aren’t something Mums would tend to buy for themselves but the soft feel, quality packaging and organic credentials make them a perfect gift for newborns. They’re a perfect way to introduce little ones to letters and numbers, but they’re pretty enough to put on a shelf away from curious fingers!
The Imajo Organic Classic Softie Rag Doll is a lovely and soft organic rag doll which has become a firm favourite with my daughter – but at £18.95, I think you could find a cheaper rag doll with similar features. However, if organic and ethically sourced toys are for you, the Imajo Organic Classic Softie Rag Doll is a great investment, and perfect for a first doll.
What’s not to like? Lego + Star Wars = little boy’s dream come true. And when Dan saw the size of this Lego Star Wars Tie Defender craft and the number of pieces involved his response was “cool!”. The end product is a rather great looking craft which Dan now has by his bed. He may have even stroked it at some point. We do have quite a lot of Lego and the Lego Star Wars Tie Defender certainly didn’t disappoint.
The fact that we were all very excited to see that you can also buy trailers and farm equipment for the Britain’s Big Farm radio control tractor probably speaks for itself. This study radio control tractor makes a wonderful first remote control vehicle for children aged three plus. It’s lots of fun, easy to use and the quality means it stands up to lots of indoor and outdoor play.
As an adult, it’s easy to laugh the slightly formulaic nature of Scooby Doo cartoons – oh look, the alien/monster/witch/robot is really just a person dressed up in a suit. But I think Flea loves knowing that it’s not going to be real in the end – so she can enjoy being scared witless in the meantime. Oh, and the DVD includes a cute little feature showing you how to make your very own Gryphon (in case you’ve forgotten, the Gryphon is half-eagle, half-lion). Ours was rubbish, but we had fun trying.
Set in the wonderful seaside world of Sunnysands, where the sun always shines and characters abound, this gently amusing programme reaches parts no other children’s TV programme can quite reach. It’s unique charm is the way it manages to bring nostalgia up-to-date and dispense liberal quantities of feel-good factor.
The Nerf Maverick dart gun is just the most fun EVER, and I’m amazed you can get a Nerf this good for under £10. Having said that, I’d recommend spending the extra £4.99 to get a spare pack of 20 Nerf darts, because you will inevitably end up losing some down the back of the sofa.
Lovely quality and design, and lots of fun, these robots will help build fine motor skills and problem-solving. Flea has also enjoyed playing with them imaginatively and they’re sturdy enough to stand up to lots of energetic play, with no small pieces or sharp edges to bother the little ones. A lovely option for children of all ages.
A lovely quality children’s play tent, with bags of retro charm, and brilliant if you have two or more children. If you’ve got a garden you’ll get bags of use out of the Cowboy Print Wigwam – but at this price, you’d want to.
It’s cute. Simple as that, and little ones can’t help but like it. It came really well packaged in a beautiful presentation box, and we enjoyed being able to attach it everywhere and anywhere! Since we have had our Sleepytot, we have seen Sleepytots everywhere – they must be the must have comforter! It’s not surprising though. The Sleepytot comforter is lovely: beautifully made and comes in a fabulous little gift box. Top marks from us.
As a mum who is always on the look out for toys that are not branded and are ‘home made’ I was thrilled with the Creative Charlie jewellery making kit. I loved so many things: the ethos of the company and the fact that they have obviously taken time to source quality items being the two main ones. The beads were made by woman’s cooperative; the labels are biodegradable; the shipping packaging recycled. If you’re looking for a great ethical gift idea then look no further.
This is a lovely, offbeat way to spend an afternoon, and I think if you add some pretty pens and stickers, this charming vintage-style book makes a perfect gift. It’s a refreshing change from branded and character-led Disney books. It’s also a big hit with girls of all ages – my eight year old loves it, but many of my friends with younger kids are big fans, too.
A lovely, stylish and beautifully made toy that’s a perfect gift for children who are fond of animals. It’s a great toy for imaginative play, and we loved the attention to detail – the knitted blanket, the mouse’s clothes and even the little pillow are all just lovely.
A great quality wooden toy that will stand up to a lot of bashing and dropping and whatever else your little monsters can throw at it – and will still look great. But my advice would be to use generic figures and accessories unless you have a hardcore fire engine fan, because the Pintoy ones are pretty expensive.
The Vtech Animal Fun Bounce and Ride Giraffe is a popular toy with both our boys. It has been played with every day. It’s brilliant if you have no outdoor space, or for the winter when you don’t want to go outside!
A massive hit with my animal-obsessed daughter who, for the 3 weeks we’ve had him, has taken him everywhere with her. I do question the price tag though – when she moves on to something else in a couple of months time, it will have been like spending £100 on an ornament for her room. Or am I just being cynical?