What to buy the grandkids this Christmas

The official Dream Toys list has been announced by the Toy Retailers Association, rounding up all the most recommended playthings, just in time for Christmas. All the big names are in there, from Lego to Barbie, as well as some new and innovative creations sure to wow any child on 25 December.

And the good news is, the price points are really reasonable, ranging from $15 to $129.99. So, the perfect gifts don’t have to break the bank.

Here are the top 11 Dream Toys, and what we think of them.

1. Barbie Dreamtopia Colour Change Mermaid, $27
Why is it brilliant?
It’s Barbie. And she’s always a popular choice. This particular one is a mermaid with rainbow hair and a colour-changing tail – dip her into hot water and her stripy tail fades to pastel shades, pop her in an ice-cold bath, and it returns to its vibrant original. Oh – and it’s available in two different skin tones, which is certainly a step in the right direction for diversity.

Who’s it for? Any Barbie fans, boys or girls. And this one is especially good for bath time.

Would we buy it? It’s not the most exciting Barbie we’ve seen, but kids will undoubtedly love the colour-changing mermaid tail. And toys that work in the bath always get extra brownie points in our book.

Read: From Furbies to pet rocks – the top-selling toys of Christmases past

2. Bluey Family Home Playset, $69
Why is it brilliant?
Bluey, for those who don’t know, is from the animated TV series on Disney+ and here, the Blue Heeler pup comes complete with her own home. Open-fronted, with 10 accessories such as chairs and beds, little ones can play out scenes inside the house. The bottom half also shuts up, which will help with tidying up and keeping mess at bay.

Who’s it for? Aimed at children aged three-plus, fans of the show will enjoy bringing Bluey to life.

Would we buy it? Honestly, we prefer our dolls’ houses made of wood and slightly prettier, but we can see the appeal for regular Bluey watchers.

3. Cocomelon Deluxe JJ Interactive Doll, $69
Why is it brilliant?
One of the best things about this toy is it’s a doll, which is also a boy, and, though that’s not unheard of, it is ridiculously rare. Big in size (think My Generation Doll), you can feed him food, undress and dress him, and he sings songs and makes a cute baby giggle sound.

Who’s it for? Aimed at boys and girls over the age of two, any little one who enjoys playing babies and role play will love this.

Would we buy it? It’s quite big and the songs will definitely get annoying, but we love the idea of encouraging equality in the doll world, and can imagine lots more boys wanting to play with this, so yes, we would.

4. Hot Wheels Massive Loop Mayhem, $69
Why is it brilliant?
Anyone who’s experienced Hot Wheels gameplay knows how many hours can be whiled away seemingly doing the same thing over and over again. As the name suggests, this set forms a huge loop, which comes with a motor and a booster, to enable the biggest car smash-ups possible.

Who’s it for? Aimed at over-fives, we suspect the perfect receiver of this set will be aged seven or eight, and their Christmas Day will be spent speeding round lots of loops.

Would we buy it? If you’re looking for something that will entertain for hours, without you necessarily having to get involved, this will certainly do the job. But it is big, so you’ll need plenty of space to set it up.

Read: Why old-fashioned toys are making a comeback

5. Jurassic World Scorpios Rex, $52
Why is it brilliant?
It’s a large-scale realistic dinosaur action figure, which rex-loving kids can play with, while interacting with its moving parts. Press buttons to activate the roar, claw slash, tail whip and slash and grab attack.

Who’s it for? It’s aimed at children over the age of four, but we suspect slightly older kids will be more likely to engage in the less-cutesy action role play, though possibly not anyone old enough to see the Jurassic World films.

Would we buy it? Probably not. The dinosaur fans in our lives might like this, but it doesn’t have much buyer satisfaction.

6. L.O.L. Surprise Movie Magic Doll, $15
Why is it brilliant?
The latest LOL range is somewhat sophisticated. The ‘movie magic’ theme definitely adds a touch of class. Encased in small round balls, each LOL doll comes with 10 surprises, including a secret message, 3D glasses, a fashion outfit and a movie script.

Who’s it for? Any LOL fans will love this. Perfect for Christmas stockings, the outfits and diverse skin tones get a big tick from us (but it would be great to see a range of body shapes in the future, too).

Would we buy it? Definitely. A great price and a lovely gift.

7. Little Live Pets My Pig Piggly, $35
Why is it brilliant?
In case we haven’t bought enough pets during lockdown, Piggly is keen to become a member of your family. Feed, walk and nuzzle the pig while it squeals and snorts, playing over 25 sounds and reactions. And it has a very cute little trot.

Who’s it for? Aimed at children over the age of four, any little one who fancies a pretend pet of their own will love this.

Would we buy it? The music that plays while it walks is slightly annoying and the squeal is really quite loud, so on that basis, probably not. It would be a well-loved but quite annoying toy to have in the house.

8. Magic Mixies Cauldron, $129.99
Why is it brilliant?
If you’re looking for the wow factor, this is it. We would prefer the cauldron to be a little less plasticky, but the idea of mixing a potion, with which you create a magical creature (or soft toy) from, is only going to be a huge success. Genuinely spellbinding, kids will adore the process (which can be used again with refill packs). A sure-fire hit this Christmas.

Who’s it for? Any child between the age of five and eight will absolutely love this.

Would we buy it? It is expensive, which would make us think twice, but it is an absolutely brilliant gift.

Read: Why board games are booming

9. Paw Patrol Chase’s Deluxe Transforming Vehicle, $45
Why is it brilliant?
Paw Patrol is still going strong and fans of the show would happily own all the paraphernalia. Featuring Chase the dog, kids can push the car’s spoiler to armour up his Deluxe Vehicle, revealing a projectile launcher at the back, which shoots discs at the press of a button.

Who’s it for? Paw Patrol fans aged three and over.

Would we buy it? More plastic cars aren’t really high on our wish list this year, but there’s no doubt show lovers will be delighted with it.

10. Pokémon 8″ Plush Assorted, $19
Why is it brilliant?
These soft toys are made from super soft fabrics, which are perfect for cuddles and bedtime.

Who’s it for? Suitable for kids over two, it’s a stocking filler for Pokémon fans.

Would we buy it? No. Sadly, we don’t love Pokémon enough to spend nearly $20 on a small teddy.

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11. Lego Star Wars Boba Fett’s Starship, $69
Why is it brilliant?
You won’t find many people who don’t think Lego is brilliant, and this set, based on The Mandalorian series, won’t disappoint. Containing 593 pieces, this detailed version of Boba Fett’s Starship comes with stud shooters, rotating dual blaster cannons, Boba Fett and The Mandalorian LEGO mini figures with weapons, a Carbonite brick and a transporter vehicle.

Who’s it for? Step-by-step instructions mean kids of all ages can get involved, but it is a trickier build aimed at nine-year-olds and over.

Would we buy it? Yes. We’re big Lego fans – it provides learning, play, quiet time, family togetherness and isn’t massively messy. Just don’t step on a brick barefoot …

Have you got presents for the grandkids sorted yet? Have they asked for anything in particular? Let us know in the comments section below.

– With PA

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Written by Claire Spreadbury

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