Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Christmas in July 2011

The sun had just risen as we set off on the 180 mile journey to London to experience Christmas in July!  I know that time is flying by...but seriously, thinking about Christmas in summer!  Apparently though, while most of us are hoping to soak up the summer sun, the retail industry has its sights set firmly on December 25th, hoping their their products will be this year's must have!  For the toy trade this is an extremely important time as they begin the marketing that will hopefully see their toys on every child's letter to Santa.

Christmas in July was like a giant toy shop showcasing all the wannabe must haves that will be showing up under Christmas trees and in stockings this year.  I attended as a panellist Mummy Blogger who was helping to decide which of the toys on display would have the Mum's Choice seal of approval.  It was a tough job...but somebody had to do it!            

There were toys suitable for tots to teens and some that the whole family would enjoy.  With brands such as Flair, Trunki, Drummond Toys and Megabloks, there were some well known household names displaying their products alongside lesser known brands such as Red Tool Box and Globee.  It made for an interesting mix of toys.

It wasn't easy picking five favourites in each category (ie Boys', Girls', Pre-School, Gadgets, Creative, Games and Puzzles etc.) from the exciting and diverse range of toys as there were so many great products, but here are some of my personal highlights from the day.

Bladez Toys Pump & Play are an innovative jumbo sized inflatable range of remote control toys.  With a piggy, a puppy, a cement mixer and a racing car to choose from, there is a style that would delight any child.  They were easy to control and because they were so big, it made the experience all the more fun!  After play, they can be deflated and stored away easily.  Simply inflate with the included pump and they are ready to play with. They are lightweight, durable and furniture friendly and can be used in small spaces using the 360 degree spin feature.  Suitable for ages 3 and up, I think these are the most amazing child friendly remote controlled toys I've ever see.  I had a play with one and it was easy to manoeuvre and hugely fun.  (RRP £35)

Character have a fabulous range of Doctor Who 3D Micro figures.  They combine construction and collectability and include ten beautifully detailed figures!  Individual micro figures come in secret foil packs for £1.99 each and include the Doctor (Matt Smith), Amy Pond and an assortment of  most feared foes!  The component parts can be interchanged adding an element of fun.  Multi-packs are available and my absolute favourite was a collection of all eleven doctors.  Tom Baker was the first doctor I remember and his figure was instantly recognisable by his stripy scarf!  The Weeping Angels, Daleks and Cybermen made an impressive display.

Also from Character came DaGedar, an addictive game of speed and skill.  The collectible DaGedar balls are  dropped down the excitingly designed tracks where they swoosh through loops and jumps.  You can race to get to the end of the track adding a competitive element to the game. The balls were beautifully designed and had a really nice weight to them.  To really enjoy this game to the max, you'd need enough space to lay out the track.  From just £9.99, DaGedar is an action packed game that you can keep adding to.  It really is a bit addictive trying to get those balls through the twists and turns of the track.

With a Club Penguin fan in the house (aka Kizzy), how could I not include this fabulous air-hockey table from Flair!  The compact sized table was sturdy and the characters were solid and well made.  The icy adventures enjoyed online by Club Penguin fans translate beautifully to merchandise. This would be a perfect game for the family on Christmas Day.  I had a good game with QWERTY Mum...she won!  But it was great fun! My kids would love it.  Also the range of plush Puffles would be a huge hit Inside the Wendy House!

Paper Jamz guitars are a toy that has bypassed me, but after having a go I think I'm a convert.  They are so much better than I imagined them to be.  They are sturdy and you can play power chords on them.  They were really fun

You can download your favourite songs onto them to play along to and you can be an instant rock god or goddess!  There are loads of designs to choose from and you can also add an amp or microphone.  Perfect for budding rock stars!

My 2 year old loves Disney Junior and will be over the moon if Santa brings him any of Flair's new collection of character figures and playsets from the popular Jungle Junction TV Show.

It's the perfect Jungle Junction experience for pre-schoolers.  The Jungle play set allows children to re-enact scenes involving their favourite characters Ellyvan and Zooter and includes their houses, the school, the clock tower and a working elevator all joined together by a track roadway.  It is so nicely made and  my little boy would love it!

The display of toys that had all been picked as favourites of the show included many of my top choices.  Hexbugs, Micro Scooters and Zhu Zhu Pets were also tipped to be the toys that kids would be asking for this year.

One stand out product in the nominated toys is the Red Tool Box range of real carpentry tools made for children.  The innovative concept offers parents the opportunity to spend more time with their children while they learn new skills. With help from a parent, a child can make a range of items from a beginner's treasure chest to an advanced toolbox.  You can even make a mini billiard table!  The tools are real tools...maintaining the performance of the adult versions.  So parental guidance is an absolute must.  But it is lovely to have an activity that a parent and child can do together, learning new skills and making lovely wooden items in the process!  

It was a great day made even better because I met up with lots of lovely bloggers over a delicious lunch.  I love being a part of this community.  Thanks know who you all are!

The results are due soon...what will be this year's Christmas must haves???


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