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Calling Father Christmas! These Are The Must-Have Toys For 2018

Most Wanted Christmas Toys

This Christmas, parents will be on the hunt for a farting monkey, a mini robot, and an educational jigsaw to stash in stockings and under the tree.

That’s according to parenting website MadeForMums, which has revealed the 2018 winners of its annual toy awards.

The winners were chosen with the help of 500 child testers aged between 12 weeks and 15 years. Each toy was scored for play potential and value for money, and the children’s scores were combined with the verdicts of expert judges from the MadeForMums editorial team.

Commenting on the results, Susie Boone, Editor of MadeForMums, said: ‘The results of this year’s MadeForMums Toy Awards judging show clearly that children are loving toys they can collect – especially if they can unwrap, hatch or discover them in a pot of gunge.

‘That’s not to say classic toys have had their day: wooden toys scored highly this year, too, with a timber mud kitchen winning Best Toy for Pretend Play, and a train set wowing our child testers’ parents with its quality – for only £15.’

Christmas lists at the ready – here are the winners:

BEST SOFT TOY

Fingerlings Hugs

Fingerlings Hugs, £29.99

Age: 2+

What is it? A 38cm plush version of the bestselling interactive monkey with long arms and Velcro-tipped hands that you can wrap around you for a snuggly hug. It can kiss, giggle, whoop in delight, snore and fart. You can also record you own voice for it to play back in its own way. Chose from pink Bella or blue Boris.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘They’re super cuddly and super funny. And will withstand a lot of active play. The farting feature thrilled our child testers to bits. We can’t think why….’

The child testers verdict: ‘We’ve had fun discovering all this toy’s different features,’ says Kerry, mum to five-year-old Sienna. ‘Sienna’s favourite is the kissing; she thinks it’s very cute. You can also throw your Fingerlings Hugs up in the air and she’ll say ‘’whee’’, and if you hang her upside down, she makes monkey noises. She’s soft enough for cosy cuddles and sturdy enough to be thrown about and played with. A firm favourite!’.

Available at Argos.

BEST ROBOT TOY

Boxer

Boxer, £79.99

Age: 6+

What is it? A quirky mini robot on wheels who responds to hand movements with funny expressions. Boxer comes with ten activity cards which he can read to play games like Bot Bowling, Paddle Bot or Go Kart. If you place a card down in front of him he’ll roll over it, scan it and start playing.  Full of personality, Boxer can express a full range of emotions, from happiness to sadness and grumpiness to sleepiness.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘Boxer is very cute, his tricks are cool and his facial expressions are wonderful – you really can tell if he’s happy, sad, grumpy, sleepy. And, while he’s not cheap, he’s not as pricey as other robot friends out there….’

The child testers verdict: ‘Noah’s absolutely delighted with Boxer,’ says the seven-year-old’s mum, Carly. ‘It’s a huge hit and he recommends it to all his friends. He loves doing tricks with it and learning how to do new things.’

Available from Argos.

BEST DOLL

Cry Babies

Cry Babies, £29.99

Age: 3 to 5

What is it? A 31cm onesie-wearing doll with moveable arms and legs, who will cry real tears if you take away her dummy and make cute gurgling noises when you soothe her. Choose from 6 different characters, including new additions Dotty, Nala, and Lady.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘OK, so hands up: we first thought these dolls, with their over-sized heads and enormous eyes, were a bit yuk. But then we saw our child testers collectively lose their hearts to these onesie-clad wailing wonders, and we changed our minds completely.’

The child testers verdict: ‘I really like her as she moves and cries. She cries proper water and I really like the noise she makes when I put her dummy in,’ says four-year-old Nancy. ‘I love that she’s a tiger too [Nancy tested Nala, the Cry Baby in a tiger onesie]. I can play lots of things with her…She’s really fun.’

Available from Argos.

BEST TODDLER TOY

Lego Duplo

LEGO Duplo Farm Adventures, £54.99

Age: 2 to 5

What is it? A farmyard-themed Duplo set with a mighty 104 pieces, including a farmer and 2 children, a sheep, cow, goat, rooster and a rabbit, plus a farmhouse with a bedroom, barn, tractor, picnic bench and slide.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘The working pulley on the side of the barn is a proper toddler magnet. And we also really rate the attention to detail in this chunky, small-finger friendly set: accessories include a pitchfork and waffles for the farm kitchen – and there’s even a loo in the farmhouse!

The child testers verdict: ‘The quality is absolutely fantastic, the detail is amazing, and it’s not gender-specific so it appeals to all children, says Joanne, mum to two-year-old Heidi. ‘Heidi loved playing with the pulley; it’s her favourite piece out of the box and she got very excited the first time she was able to successfully loose it and then rewind it.’

Available from John Lewis.

BEST BABY SLEEP-AID TOY

SweetDreamers Ewan Deluxe

SweetDreamers Ewan Deluxe, £39.99

Age: From birth

What is it? A fleecy sheep with light and sound sensors that plays 4 soothing sounds (womb noises, vacuum cleaner, harp music, rainfall), all with a resting heartbeat sound in the background, volume control and automatic shut-off after 20 minutes. This new Deluxe model also features a MoonMode smartCRY sensor that automatically activates if your baby stirs in the night.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘Ewan’s cute design, calming sounds and soft-pink glow has already made it an iconic sleep-aid toy, but we really rate the smartCRY upgrade. Oh, and the cry-sensor pod is now removable, so Ewan is machine-washable.’

The child testers verdict: ‘I think Ewan is great value for money. In fact, I’d be prepared to pay more for what it offers,’ says Aisha, mum to four-month-old Habbibah. ‘I love the sounds it makes. Habbibah took a few days to get used to it but Ewan now knows how to soothe her.’

Available from John Lewis.

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Rainbocorns

Zuru Rainbocorns, £24.99

Age: 3 to 6

What is it? A large 28cm cuddly creature with a unicorn horn and tufty rainbow hair. The toy comes in a brightly coloured egg and has a sequin heart on its chest which reveals a secret message when swiped. Each Rainbocorn comes with a surprise Booboocorn; a miniature collectable baby Rainbocorn hidden inside another secret egg. There are 12 Rainbocorns to collect and unhatch.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘Well, this is a soft toy that combines unicorns, unhatching, secret messages, surprises and collecting – enough said.’

The child testers verdict: ‘Eleanor is a great fan of unboxing things, so this toy delivers a lot of that thrill, with the added benefit of having a sturdy shell to keep putting it back into at night,’ says five-year-old Eleanor’s dad, Tim. ‘She’s a massive fan of the ‘’hidden message’’ that changes when stroked – and the toy is now a regular fixture amongst her soft toy family.’

Available at Argos.

BEST BABY TOY

Skip Hop Explore Crawl Toy

Skip Hop Explore & More Follow Bee Crawl Toy, £30

Age: 5 months +

What is it? An interactive cloudy crawl toy that encourages little ones learning to crawl with colourful lights, energetic tunes and sweet buzzing sounds.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘We like its two whizz-around modes – a circular one for just-about-to-crawlers and a more random one for can-do-this crawlers. It also has an in-built sensor to stop it bashing into furniture, and the bee rattle has moveable beads and teeth-friendly rubbery stripes for babies taking a crawling time out.’

The child testers verdict: ‘It’s a well-made toy and appears indestructible. High quality, cute design and nice (non-irritating music. Teddy’s very drawn to the bee – which he finds fun to rattle and chew,’ says Nicki, mum to Teddy, 10 months.

Available at John Lewis.

BEST BATH TOY

Bloopies

Bloopies, £14.99

Age: 3 to 5

What is it? A 19cm bath-time doll kitted out in swimming costume, snorkel and flippers that squirts water from her/his mouth and snorkel when you press her/his tummy. Choose from six different characters (four girls; two boys). 

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘We were overwhelmed by the hugely positive response from our child testers on this one. There’s obviously something slightly naughtily thrilling about a doll squirting water from its mouth…’

The child testers verdict: ‘Oh wow, this is awesome. I love her – she’s going to be my best friend,’ says three-year-old Maseline.

Available at Argos.

BEST BOARD GAME

Make 'n' Break

Make ‘n’ Break, £24.99

Age: 8+

What is it? A game where you race against time to build as many colourful wooden structures as you can. To take things up a level, you will be faced with challenge cards that will have you trying not to knock down one structure while you race to build another.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘It sounds super-worthy but it’s actually huge fun – and requires steady nerves and fingers. We like the way you can make it a teamwork challenge too.’

The child testers verdict: ‘Olivia loves how this game makes you think. The race against the clock makes it more intense but she likes how you can work in teams, meaning that, as much as you are competitive, you must work together too,’ says Sarah, mum to nine-year-old Olivia.

‘It’s the perfect game for us as we usually fall out because of competitiveness!’

Available from John Lewis.

BEST OUTDOOR TOY

Nighthawk

Nighthawk, £169.99

Age: 6+

What is it? A sit-and-glide ride-on for older kids that’s like a cross between a zoomy sledge and a futuristic go-kart. It nips along at a top speed of 12kph, and you steer by leaning, using the pedals to control how fast you go. Comes side handles, a safety flag. Comes with rechargeable 12V battery (needs overnight recharge) and has a run time of about 90 minutes.

Why MadeForMums love it: You should see how this turns kids’ heads in the park! This is one seriously cool piece of kit that every primary-school child will covet like crazy.

The child testers verdict: Danielle, mum to Georgie, nine, said: 'This is brilliant! Georgie absolutely beams from ear to ear riding this – she screams with joy! It's really quite nippy and speedy, so more suited to parks than streets. What an absolute joy of a toy!'

Available from Hamleys.

BEST PUZZLE

The World Atlas & Jigsaw

The World: Atlas & Jigsaw, £9.99

Age: 5 to 10s

What is it? A beautifully illustrated, 300-piece jigsaw of the world map that comes with a 32-page picture atlas full of facts and famous sights. There are 100s of animals, landmarks and attractions to spot on the jigsaw and look up in the atlas.

Why MadeForMums love it: ‘There are so many layers of enjoyment and learning here. There’s the actual piecing together of the puzzle, the learning about the geography of the world, what animals live where and what famous landmarks you’ll find around the globe and then the enriching experience of referencing the Atlas once you have pieced together all the different countries.’

The child testers verdict: ‘I really liked putting the jigsaw together. I was very interested to learn where all the countries are around the world,’ enthused eight-year-old Abbey. ‘I liked the colours, it took me nearly two days to complete it because I had to stop and start a few times, but I wanted to finish it.’

Available from WH Smith.

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