Christmas gift guide 2013: Top toys and games for children
In a few weeks’ time all the nice children (and probably the naughty ones too) will be getting a visit from Father Christmas.
Of course children’s wish-lists will go before parents’ eyes before being sent off so our round-up here will help prepare you for what might be on there this year.
It could also help give you some ideas if you’re looking to help Santa out with a bit of extra shopping to add to your little darlings’ stockings or present piles.
Our guide to the top toys and games for 2013 is based on the annual Dream Toys list and some of our own recommendations.
Tech is set to be the star of the show this Christmas. Here are some gizmos likely to be high on many lists.
A combined electronic learn-to-read-and-write solution for children, the LeapReader provides interactive guidance by reading aloud words and sentences.
It features 'interactive paper' and the ability to trace letters, words and numbers through stroke-by-stroke audio guidance. It can store 40 books or more than 175 songs. Suitable for ages four to eight. £39.99, available from www.leapfrogstore.co.uk
The InnoTab 3S is a multi-media tablet with new wi-fi features which allow children to access a Kid Safe web browser and the Kid Connect app, through which children can send photos and voice recordings to others through both tablet-to-smartphone and tablet-to-tablet communication.
Also features a rotatable camera. Suitable for ages four to nine. £99.99, available from www.vtechuk.com
A new Kindle Fire HD tablet that gives children access to thousands of books and games, and will soon feature the new Kindle FreeTime service, through which parents can create a profile for each child and choose the content they can access.
The 7" version is available at www.amazon.co.uk, £199.
The adorable Teksta pooch is much more than a cute face. Teksta is jam-packed with technology to let it perform all manner of actions. Through your gestures, you can get your 'pet' walking, talking and reacting to sounds, lights and movements - or you can use an iOS or Android based app for even more fun. £48.49 from smythstoys.com
The new RED-i mini camera from Zinc has been designed for kids to capture their sporting tricks.
The nifty camera can be attached to almost anything, such as clothes, helmets or handlebars, and doesn’t involve putting expensive smartphones in peril.
It has a recording time of 120 minutes and recharges quickly through a USB port in just 30 minutes. The camera is compatible with both Mac and PC and with super-fast download speeds makes video footage quick and easy for kids to view and share.
Available from Argos, £29.99
Best board games
There seems to be an endless flow of special Monopoly editions which provide variations on the classic trading theme.
One of the new versions for this year is Monopoly Empire. Gone are the dog, old boot and top hat, now kids can play with a Coke bottle, Xbox controller and carton of fries, as they battle it out to buy and sell modern multinational brands like Apple, McDonalds and Samsung, rather than hotels in Mayfair. RRP £19.99.
5 Second Rule is a fast and frantic family game that should provide many lively hours of fun (and arguing!) over the Christmas holidays.
During each turn the player has just five seconds to provide three answers to a particular questions such as 'Name three breeds of dog' or 'Name three woods or forests'. The pressure will lead to some people getting very flustered and the fact all the answers given must be approved by all other players means there will be plenty of good old-fashioned festive squabbling to keep things interesting. RRP £19.99 from Argos and Amazon, ages eight and over.
Pointless, with Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman, has grown into a very popular show on BBC1. If you want to relive some of the fun from the TV quiz and show off your obscure knowledge about famous people or countries of the world (which must be members of the United Nations!), this board game will be right up your street.
Guess the least popular answers to general knowledge questions in this new edition of the game available for £19.99 from Amazon and Argos, ages 10-plus.
Furbies continue to be phenomenally popular and one of the toys expected to be a big seller this year is the Furby Boom! (RRP £59.99).
It comes with an app that kids can use to feed and shower it, or even help it have a baby - a Furbling!
New out is the Join in and Play Tatty Puppy, an innovative toy from the Tatty Teddy & My Blue Nose Friends range.
Simply pat or stroke Tatty Puppy and listen to him bark, yap, pant or whimper. The soft, pink character also sits, stretches, wags his tail and lifts his ears, just like a real puppy!
Returning to the tech theme, the cute character also responds to the free Blue Nose Friends – Tatty Puppy app with a range of adorable puppy sounds and movements. Available from various stockists, £39.99.
Meanwhile, the My Blue Nose Friends range has four new characters which could make nice stocking-fillers at £5 apiece. Choose from Ziza the African Elephant, Flash the Pink Dragon, Avery the Fluffy Chick and Tinsel the Arctic Fox.
For pre-schoolers, Something Special’s much-loved Mr Tumble has an exciting range of toys and goodies this year. New for this year is a delightful Mr Tumble talking soft toy to thrill and entertain little ones.
From the Zoological Society of London comes these very cute hand puppets (£7.95 each) which bring any story or game to life. There are various animals available, including lions, penguins and giraffes.
The puppets make great companions for our next gift idea …
The ZSL & Bloomsbury Wild Things! stories are fun for all the family. Full of beautiful illustrations and captivating tales, Wild Things! will have children reaching for the bookcase time and time again.
See zsl.org.uk for more details and ideas.
For children who love making and doing, toucanBox is a cool idea to consider.
It delivers boxes of hands-on activities to children aged three to eight years old, by monthly subscription. The activities are specially designed by a team of experts to help children develop core skills such as hand-eye coordination, concentration, creativity and numeracy.
Each box includes all the materials to complete at least four projects, colourful step-by-step instruction manuals, and a book.
For children fascinated by the pre-historic, there are toys and puzzles galore in the Walking with Dinosaurs collection from the BBC.
Kids really can become little monsters with the help of the electronic Gorgon Stomping Feet or can fire their imaginations with the Ultimate Gorgon toy. Little minds will also be stretched by 3D puzzles and jigsaws, while pocket-money priced gifts include figures of Patchi, Scowler and Juniper.
Build them up
Lego is set to be big once again this year. The City Coast Guard set (RRP £59.99) makes the Dream Toys list compiled by retailers.
For another construction toy idea, check out Animal Nanoblocks (£9.95 each for small packs), again available from the ZSL.
Nanoblocks is a micro-sized building system, and with a range of animals to build these are a top stocking filler providing hours of amusement.
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