So you stand in Toys R Us and are faced with wall upon wall of stuff, tear your hair out, spend an hour walking around like a zombie, swear to never step foot in the shop again, spend an hour looking at one game . . .
Or is that just me?
Anyway, these things are always infinitely easier if you have some idea of what you’re looking for in the first place.
You want your mate down the road to say ‘I’ve bought this and it’s brilliant’. Or ‘I’ve bought this and it sucks/wasn’t worth the money/broke the minute it came out of the wrapping’.
So today, I’m being your mate.
This year we have been part of the Toys R Us Toyologist programme. Which basically means my kids had the amazing opportunity to test toys. Lots and lots of toys.
We gave some away, donated to the school, roped friends in, but essentially I have a lot of info on what you should – and shouldn’t – be buying this year.
So, in no particular order here is what boys will want/be disappointed in this year.
Star Wars Ultimate FX Lightsaber, £39.99
Trust me, we are BIG Star Wars fans in this house. So when this arrived we jumped around a little bit. Yes, yes OK, I did too.
But we found it a bit of a let down. I mean it didn’t lop anyone’s limb off. And we tried and tried.
Great sound effects and brilliant in the dark, but for the price, well, I didn’t want my boy to put it in his wardrobe and leave it there after half an hour of play.
Nerf Vortex Vigilon Blaster, £14.99
Ah Nerf, how you are very much loved in this house!
Only this one is different. This one doesn’t have the ‘bullets’ (ie long, thin orange missiles) we’re used to. This one has flat, green discs which, oh my goodness, you can fire even further!
BUT it only holds 5 discs. In fact the blaster only comes with 5 discs included in the box which is woefully inadequate, meaning you end up having to buy additional ‘bullets’.
Plus you can pretty much guarantee that those first 5 discs get lost within 15 minutes of playing.
And when you’re playing Nerf wars, this is BAD.
A minor disappointment it seems as all his friends are asking for one this Christmas!
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, £29.99 (starter pack)
Just genius. Now you can put your Hot Wheels tracks ON THE WALL.
Don’t go into a tizzy just yet mums and dads, it comes with snazzy strips designed to go on your wall without damaging your paint job.
These are fab fun. It is worth pointing out that you really should read the instructions first however, and not put them on a wall that’s too small and have to start again . . . *ahem*.
Great fun, and not a bank breaker at £30 for the starter set.
Smelli Gelli, £4.99
Hell if you’re a parent, heaven if you’re a kid.
It’s basically a packet of foul-smelling crystals that you add to their bath to make the water turn to jelly.
I wanted to hate it but my kids think it’s the most wonderful invention in the whole wide world.
Be careful how much water you put in the bath or your goo will be too runny. And fear ye not, you get another packet to ‘disolve’ the goo once you’re finished.
Also, they’ll need to get out the bath and have a shower to get the goo off!
But this is a great little present and a perfect stocking filler.
SUCH a simple toy, but my boy just loves it.
Two different coloured LED lights on either end of a small paddle of plastic which is in turn attached to two lengths of string and you spin them around to make a light show.
Dan loves it so much he’s insisting we buy his best friend one for Christmas.
It’s such a simple idea (two lights on a plastic paddle which you spin around to make a fabulous light show.
If you can get passed the fact that they spell the name WRONG, it’s a great stocking filler.
Children’s World Map puzzleball, £19.99
Educational, a bit of a challenge and it builds in to a great globe to keep on your bedside table.
It’s a 3D jigsaw with numbers on the reverse of each of the hard plastic pieces.
Excellent product – but definitely one for ages 8 and over if they want to complete on their own.
Light Strike, £Various
Being big fans of Nerf guns in this house, we were a bit ‘what? A pretender to the Nerf crown? Really?
These guns are basically laser quest at home. So no bullets. No someone firing a missile at your head. Or your bum as you bend over to empty the dishwasher.
These guns use light. And so it’s brilliant fun if you turn the lights off and play in the dark.
Trouble is they work out very expensive. Our basic gun was around £40 but then there a whole heap of accessories you can add on (Scope, Rapid Fire System etc at £9.99 each) all of which bump the price right up.
Also, the included targets are a bit rubbish so you end up wanting to buy the target vest too, but that right there is yet another expense.
A great toy, but can be costly.
Any of it, frankly. Every boy should have a stash of Lego under their bed.
This game for the Wii, Xbox or Playstation3 is apparently a ‘must have’ toy for many youngsters this Christmas – and judging by the number of Dan’s friends who have it on their list, I’m guessing those in the know have got it right.
The Skylanders are basically plastic characters that come to life. Or at least, you pop them on the Portal of Power and they ‘leap’ into the computer game.
Unfortunately there are 30 characters to collect . . .
Dan has had his for about 3 months now and his love of it shows no signs of diminishing. In fact he has some character called Voodood on his Christmas list . . . ,
The mind boggles.
You can see many more reviews from myself and other parents on the Toys R Us Toybox – a one-stop shop for loads and loads of honest toy reviews.
TOMORROW: What to buy a 6 year old girl. In which I slate lots of stuff!