Got some Christmas money? Toys you might like to splash out on

The kids thinking of hitting the shops with their Christmas money?
No idea where to start?
We’ve tested many many toys on the run up to the present-buying season, so let my children and I assist . . .

Lego Atlantis Exploration HQ (8077), £39.97
★★★★★
Described by my 8 year old as “well cool” he actually built this on his own and I have to say it is very very good.
We have an awful lot of Lego in this house, but this set fired up his creative juices and it’s a great buy.

Silverlit Radio Control Heli Mission, £39.97
★★★★
This is one of those buy it for the kids but the dads will probably take over, toys.
It’s a radio-controlled SWAT truck, on which the back opens up to reveal a launch pad and mini radio-controlled helicopter inside.
Controlling the helicopter takes a bit of getting used to and the pair eat batteries (only reason for loss of a star), but set up and watch as father and son disappear into an hour of geekiness.
It’s not very big, but at £40 I think it’s a bargain.

Leapster Explorer Pink Console, £59.97
★★★★★
It takes a bit of setting up (you need to download some software on your computer) but this is an impressive bit of kit for your youngster (my daughter is 5 and adores it). Games, fun, learn how to write letters, she didn’t put it down for a week.
A bit like a chunk DS, the touch screen handset has a library of over 35 games and activities including cartridge games and downloadable learning apps.
Hubby even commented on what a great toy this is and he NEVER compliments electronic toys for the 5 year old!

VTech Storio Animated Reading System, £54.97
★★★★★
A bit like a child’s version of a Kindle. It’s another toy you need to hook up to the computer first, but it’s really quick and easy to set up and easily one of the best toys we were sent as part of the Toyologist programme.
The touch screen system is packed with educational activities (spelling, numbers, word understanding) and really allows your child to get involved in a ‘book’.
And they can follow a story as it highlights each word as it’s read aloud. It’s certainly no replacement for reading to your children but it is an excellent tool to encourage independence of learning.
Shh, just don’t tell them that’s it’s educational!
(Additional books can be bought, but at £17 a pop, they’re not cheap).

Tonka Ricochet, £89.97
★★★★★
We’ve had some remote controlled cars over the years, but this one is the business!
Robust and chunky like all good Tonka’s should be, it’s movement is varied and it’s a double-sided stunt vehicle so it can travel even when it flips over.
You can also alter the vehicle itself so it transforms from flat car into monster truck.
It’s expensive and the other downside is you have to recharge it quite regularly (hence the loss of one star), but this is a great remote-controlled car.

Nerf guns, from £9.97
★★★★★
EASILY the best fun we had over Christmas. Every adult male who entered our house has now left vowing to buy at least one Nerf gun!
My 8 year old’s favourite is the Nerf N Strike Rapid Fire which holds 35 foam darts and, as the name suggests, means you get to win when playing Nerf Wars with your 23-year-old cousin and his 72-year old dad . . .
And when the men went home and it got quieter? The grandmas wanted a go!

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