As sure as day follows night and tears follow being forced to watch that Tetley karaoke fella get through X Factor AGAIN, the beginning of November means two things. One: a million sheds are put up in the centre of town selling mulled Jagerbombs. Two: lots of helpful retailers stick out their lists of the best Christmas toys.
Yes, it’s ‘easy content’ for list articles such as this but warning – retailer lists tend not to prioritise the cheap stuff, there’s cash changing hands somewhere (we do this too sometimes but it’s marked out as an ad) and, well, why advertise something that’s selling loads already unless you had a bucketload to shift before Christmas?
Cynical? Hey, a little. Best Christmas Toys 2018 lists do a decent job of pointing you in the right direction – and Jesus knows we needs some direction right now.
So we’ve pored over lists from Hamley’s, Amazon, John Lewis, Argos, the bonkers middle aisle at Aldi and that weird shop off the High Street that just sells clown costumes. If you want to look for yourself, we’ve listed a few of these listicles at the bottom of this listicle (this meta enough for you?) but for those with Ocado lists to start filling, we’ve listed our five favourites below. Some are cheap, some are not so cheap but all will get you brownie points with the kids on Christmas Day and maybe a Boxing Day lie-in. Well, maybe.
Oh, and we’ve included all Amazon links as, if you’re like us, Prime 1-Click is just too tempting at this time of year. Do shop around as these RRP prices may not be the cheapest (Tesco is a good bet for rogue sale prices and Amazon itself drops prices regularly) and your local high street could do with a break.
Okay, it’s all Fantastic Beasts these days but LEGO have totes nailed this Harry Potter set. The train is as detailed as you would want it let alone your offspring – the accessories include a chocolate frog(!), ice cream, newspapers, a King’s Cross Station sign AND a Platform 9¾ sign! There’s five mini-figures (the Trolley Witch!) plus bonus Dementor and Scabbers ones. Potter fans have it good again this year – non-LEGO people (and they do exist) should try the amazing Training Wand.
Nerf has always ace for bring out the big kid (or survivalist maniac) in us all but the new AR-style gameplay makes it even better. How? Nothing to do with the gameplay – just the fact that it’s all done with lasers and electronic receptors which means no more lashing out loads on replacement bullets two weeks after Christmas! £30 will get you a two-gun kit (there are loads of options) and each one comes with an armband you can combine with your phone for some serious HUD and GPS fun. If you know what that means, get clicking.
Price: £35 (keep an eye out for sales!)
Now, we know most of you will be fleeced (or should that be flossed) for the official Fortnite edition but this is the most Beano-‘friendly’ version we could find outside of our own Beano edition (you do have one, right?). Essentially, Cheat Cards encourages you to fake dice rolls, pick pockets, squat properties and end up in festive choker thanks to the plastic handcuffs (included!). It’s essentially Monopoly: Remember The Seventies and… Oh, okay. Here’s a link to the Fortnite one. You’ll regret it come New Year, I promise you.
There’s a fair few ‘Scalectrix for millennials’ out these days – essentially, exactly what you’d expect (there’s a phone app, you control a car with your phone, something else with a phone…) but none have been all that. This award-winning ‘modern-day marble run’ beats them all hands down – make your own track design or use the blueprints, get your gravity spheres to the end before they fly off the track. There’s loads of add-ons (although the Starter pack has way more than enough bits) and the inevitable but fun smartphone app option, but never has a ‘gravity, magnetism and kinetic energy’ toy been so much infuriatingly addictive fun. Something you don’t say every day there.
Price: £25 (keep an eye out for sales!)
Enough edutainment – let’s get messy! Essentially, this one is this year’s Pieface. You put on a hat on with lots of food attached (stay with us), the music plays, the hat spins and the wearer then has to eat as many of the attached food bits as possible before the music stops. Essentially, a plastic version of the classic ‘donuts on a string’ party game and no worse for it – especially if you carry on playing it after the kids have gone to bed and you add a drop of sherry to the evening’s proceedings. You get us.
So! Those are our five – not the most adventurous but Christmas is a time for actually sometimes getting what you want over a well-meaning punt. What’s the worse thing YOU got for Christmas as a kid?