There are a few toys that have caught my eye this year but sadly, not as many new releases as I’d hoped. It’s not been a very good year for the launch of new toys, and there’s no single craze that everyone is clambering for or that parents are sweating over buying before the stock runs out ( except the PS5 – if you see a Playstation 5 to buy or to pre order, please let me know!) If I’m wrong here, please let me know, as many seem to be favouring tablets and consoles, such as the Nintendo Switch Lite (which we have reviewed) over LOL dolls or Hatchimals.
However, the ones we have reviewed and loved are delightful. They’re all of a superior quality, they’re all made beautifully, they could all be the next big thing and they’ve entertained the children for hours and hours. If you don’t see a toy listed, it’s because it’s either too young for our age group (age 6 and below) or we didn’t rate it. Very happy to add at a later date so if you see a toy or gift for a child that you believe should be on this list, do let me know on Twitter @martinamercer or LinkedIn.
I’ll admit it, when I first heard of the Tonie’s Box I thought, why? There’s Alexa, there’s digital radio, there’s ipods, there’s tablets and mobile phones. Do children really need their own storytelling machine when these can be accessed in a multitude of ways. The answer is yes, they do, as all the other ways of listening to stories are inferior compared to this bright little box that engages, entertains and is just shy of being as good as a parent reading to a child themselves. It puts the child in complete control and allows them to listen while they play or drift off to sleep, it’s clear and easy to use and there are so many stories to choose from. Percy (Persephone), my daughter, uses it constantly to listen while she crafts. She’s also recently moved on to reading books on her own accord, when previously she’d only have them read to her. I’m not sure if this is connected but I think it is, as it’s shown her what worlds await when you open that first page!
Nintendo Switch Lite
Is the Nintendo Switch Lite as good as the Nintendo Switch? The short answer is not really but then the two aren’t really comparable. I see it like this. The Nintendo Switch Lite is the next generation Nintendo DS. In that respect it’s excellent and is more than capable of enhancing the previous DS experience and is ideal for a first Nintendo device or someone who loves their 2DS or 3DS. The Switch is more of a console, to play with others, to compete with the likes of the Playstation and Xbox. Bearing this in mind, when buying, ask if you’re buying for solo game playing, or for a family or friends to play together on the TV. Either way, if you’re shopping for gaming products, do go to our favourite store AO online, as they have incredible deals and their delivery and customer service is second to none. The Nintendo Switch Lite is just £199 right now, and over £200 everywhere else. They’re worth checking out!
I’ve also had it pointed out, that if you want the functionality of the Nintendo Switch with the lite, you can buy controllers separately. You would need a stand for the Lite too.
Christmas wouldn’t be festive without the annual Nerf gun battles on Christmas Day and this one makes sure there’s no interruptions when loading bullets as it fires a reel of them effortlessly. The closest toy to a safe machine gun you’ll ever find, and the fortnite collaboration just makes it stand out more
Smiggle Budz Backpack
We love Smiggle but have left them alone for a little while as we weren’t keen on the last year’s designs. However, they’re back, bolder than ever with great washable school products that catch the eye, are sturdy, practical and beautiful. We adore their waterbottles in this range, and their backpack and lunchpack and are happy Smiggle are once again fighting to be the best stationary brand for children, as they know how to make it fun.
Smiggle also has a great Advent Calendar this year!
Planet Buddies provide cool, fun technology accessories for children and we adore their penguin headphones and Bluetooth speaker. They’re tough and durable while the headphones are super comfortable and they look amazing too. Your go to brand for anything sound related, you’ll find them adorable.
We had hours of fun playing with these Harumika dolls and designing some excellent outfits. Easy to use with gorgeous fabrics and pins, you can be a fashion designer for the day. We loved it and even got the sewing kit out to make the outfits properly for Barbie Dolls.
This Playmobil princess Castle is large, generous and a great toy for role play however that’s not what we reviewed here. We reviewed the store we bought it from, as they have a whole host of very popular toys with huge discounts. Delivery is fast and the website is easy to use, so if you’re looking for popular brands to buy at a lower price, hop on over to Bargain Max, the best place to buy top brand toys on a budget (and we’re not sponsored!)
Vtech Kid SuperStar
Let your child have the X factor with this super strong singalong from Vtech. The sturdy stand and microphone make it easy for any child to sing along to their favourite tracks. We loved it and had a lot of fun, even the adults, while our youngest needed private time in her bedroom to practice.
Melissa and Doug Lion
I think we have all the safari animals now, and the lion is the now the king. Extremely lifelike from Melissa and Doug!
Slime is still big business and what child wouldn’t like all the ingredients to make their own. This set is fabulous as it includes all you need along with containers to keep it in one place and colours and fragrance. A great introduction to making your own slime!
Vtech Hope the Rainbow Husky
This pastel rainbow husky is so huggable and is the next best thing to a real pet.
A great play set that’s sturdy and easy to add on to for anyone wanting to role play the farming life!
Tomy Animal Crossing Plush
This is so soft and squeezable that it not only makes a great plush it’s also ideal as a pillow. Perfect for any Animal Crossing fan it adds a little friendly fun to the bedroom.
Baby Yoda is everywhere this year but with over 25 sounds and motions we believe this one to be the best. Animatronic, this baby Yoda is so lifelike, we love him. Find yours.
Robo Wunderkind is a fabulous gift for any child as it teaches coding in a unique and fun way. The pieces are tough and durable while there’s so much to do and explore. As it says, one kit, a universe of projects. Easy to navigate and to use straight out of the box, present unwrapping will wait while your child creates. It wins our top toy gift award this year.
It has a distance sensor, smart motor, universal connector, push button, wheels and our favourite – a LEGO connector!
You can make a lighthouse, an obstacle avoider, a distance meter and so much more, is it any wonder it won our top product award?
Tybo Tie Dye Set
This set is brilliant for making your own tie dye t-shirts and accessories. It has everything you need and is easy to use and virtually mess free! You’ll find it at Smyth’s Toys!
Harry Potter Pins
As a stocking filler these pins are very well made from the Wizarding World – the home of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. They’re great for adding to particularly love this one from Slytherin.
In the Run Up to Christmas
Letters from Elves
From the International Elf Service. A letter for everyday in the run up to Christmas and they are presented beautifully, looking as if they’re handwritten. Your elves can deliver one daily, and these can be personalised too. A beautiful idea and so well crafted. These definitely win our Top Product Award.
Christmas Around the World
This is a great set for teaching children about Christmas in different parts of the globe. It’s a genius idea for this year and so well presented. We love it.
Elves Behavin’ Badly
Every year Elves Behavin’ Badly bring out new accessories to delight children. This year we love (and hate) the squishy elf poop, the bag of elf farts and the leather jacket and dressing gowns for dressing up the elves. They’re not expensive either, so you can have fun with your elf throughout December. Personally, I’ve a love/hate relationship with our elves, as I’m in the 8th year of doing this and running out of ideas. Also, on most nights during December, I get snuggled up in bed with a good book and a horlicks, ready to nod off, then remember I haven’t moved the elves. The accessories make it easy to do something with the elf that doesn’t require too much imagination on those nights!
Some Elf on the Shelf Ideas
We have some elf traditions too. For example, one of our Elves is called chubby balls, as he’s a Ty Beanie Ball. 5 years ago I started a story where if Chubby Balls ate chocolate after midnight he would have babies and multiply. Of course the children smeared chocolate all over his face. Then the next day lots and lots of TY Beanie Balls appeared. For a couple of years I’d scour EBay finding new TY Beanie Balls to add to the collection of babies until I realised that in January I could just hide the current ones and bring them out again!
We also have the tradition where we have a cinema night, we go out for a meal (the elves bring vouchers for Frankie and Benny’s or Pizza Hut) and the elves deliver tickets for the Polar Express (used to be at Dartmoor Railways but has since moved). Of course, this year it will be different. I’m going to plant a treasure hunt around our village so we can go out on a night with a torch and see all the Christmas lights while finding clues. I’m also going to give the kids the chance to be an elf for the day, where they deliver home baked goods to elderly and vulnerable people in the village. I think we’ll also have a small bonfire at home with marshmallows, and may have a little Easter egg type hunt around the garden. If you have any more ideas please do get in touch!