According to analysts NPD, about 30% of annual spending on toys comes at Christmas, with £86 spent on the typical child up to the age of 11.
With so much choice in the toys market, how do you know what’s going to be popular with your children and grandchildren? Here’s your guide to the best toys of 2019 that your family will love this Christmas.
Age 0 to 5
Toys based on popular TV shows and films are hugely popular with children, and so there’s likely to be huge demand for the PAW Patrol Mighty Pup Super PAWS Mighty Jet Command Centre this Christmas.
According to Gary Grant, who chairs the DreamToys committee, if you’ve got a two to five-year-old, this is likely to be your number one toy this year. The vehicle transforms from a jet into a mobile command centre for all the PAW Patrol pups to use on their missions.
With real lights and sounds, it might be a noisy addition to Christmas morning, but your children and grandchildren will love it.
Earlier this year, Toy Story 4 became one of the highest-grossing animated films of all time, and so you can’t go far wrong with the Ultimate Walking Buzz Lightyear toy for children aged three and over.
Included in the Argos ‘Top Toys for Christmas’ list, this special Space Ranger comes to life with lights, sounds and signature action moves. Your children and grandchildren will love his animated effects as he walks forward and back and speaks lines including “Buzz Lightyear to the rescue” and “We’re on a mission to find our friends”.
Age 5 to 8
Despite celebrating her 60th birthday this year, Barbie has rarely been more popular. According to global toys industry analyst Frédérique Tutt: “Mattel has been focusing on women’s empowerment, reinventing the message around Barbie. With Barbie, you can be anything.”
The dolls have been remodelled in all shapes, colours and sizes and the Barbie Dreamplane Playset includes a transforming plane, a puppy and snack cart among other accessories.
If you have a young child, it’s likely that you will be familiar with the phenomenon of Baby Shark. One of the GHI ‘Hottest New Toys of 2019’, Baby Shark Fingerlings respond to sounds, motion and touch and have a special fin that lights up different colours when a child blows kisses.
When your little one pets this toy, Baby Shark blinks his eyes to show how he is feeling. And, Magic Motion Sense lets your child or grandchild move him in a wave-like motion to hear him splash around and break into the Baby Shark song.
Another singing doll that is one of the best toys of 2019 is the Frozen 2 Elsa Into the Unknown doll.
Set to become one of the biggest cinema hits in recent years, Frozen II will dominate the box office over Christmas and this new doll follows up the Elsa singing doll from the original Frozen range.
This doll sings the standout song from the new movie, Into the Unknown, and is expected to be a huge hit. “Frozen was the second most successful movie of all time in the UK in terms of toy sales so people’s expectations are high,” Tutt says.
Age 8 to 12
Christmas is a great time for a family game and Dixit is an intriguing and entertaining choice.
Dixit involves looking at cards and inventing stories to go with them. Once you’ve told your story others secretly give you a card of their own which they think matches it. You then present all cards to the group and everyone tries to guess your original inspiration.
The unique element of Dixit is the scoring. If you tell a story everyone recognises, you’ll get no points – but if you tell a story nobody recognises, you’ll also get no points. In-jokes, call-backs and suggestive themes are, therefore, the order of the day if you’re playing to win!
If your child or grandchild is a budding climate activist or just a fan of the outside world, then the Apples to Pears Make Your Own Insect House Kit is an ideal gift.
Nature-loving children will enjoy making a home for insects of all kinds and then watching their little hotel fill up with fascinating creatures like ladybirds and bees.
You could even pop in a copy of No One Is Too Small To Make A Difference by climate activist Greta Thunberg. This book consists of a collection of eleven speeches which she has written and presented about global warming and climate change.
Age 12 +
Polaroid cameras are back and the Polaroid OneStep+ is pure, classic Polaroid.
Easy to use, this retro-styled camera produces high-quality, nostalgia-laden photos and was recommended by the Daily Telegraph as the best instant camera available.
If you’re looking for an entertaining and fun family game for older children, then Unstable Unicorns is a great choice.
In Unstable Unicorns, each player must build and maintain a stable of unicorns and magical narwhals, with victory going to the first person to amass six of the mythical horned beasts.
On paper, it’s easy to win, but in practice, Unstable Unicorns encourages as much backstabbing as possible. All the time you are playing, you have to beware of those who don’t seem close to winning; with the right strategy and combination of cards, it’s possible to pull off an instant win that no one sees coming.
There are few more popular gifts at Christmas than LEGO and this year one of the most popular TV shows of the last 25 years has been brought to life by the little bricks.
The LEGO Friends Central Perk set consists of more than 1,000 pieces and includes seven Minifigures of Friends characters. It’s the perfect LEGO set for fans of the show.