Many of the toys follow an 'animal' theme. We all know 'a dog is for life and not just for Christmas' but toy animals are perfect Christmas gifts. If little Johnnie is begging for a pet dog have a look at Teksta, a robotic eight-month old dog with artificial intelligence. Some may remember the original 1999 Teksta but just know this one does so much more. If you download an app it even interacts with its friends on your iPad. Yep, that's bonkers, I know. Teksta is £75 and available from August 2013.
Another cool pet idea is the £14 Robo Fish as it's a science kit first and then you can pop it in a fish tank/bath/paddling pool, etc and it has the swimming patterns of a real fish.
If your toy falls ill there's Doc McStuffin's Doctor's Bag which is a Disney Junior character. I felt a little uncomfortable with the 'Asian child becomes a doctor' stereotype but when there are not many Asian-looking toys it's still good to see and all kids like doctor's kits. This one's glittery and £26.
If you're in the 'money is no object' category then Hamleys do some enormous plush toys. A Clydesdale Prancing Pony is near life-size and retails at £850.
Another theme is 'monsters' but nothing is intended to give children nightmares. The Monster High 13 Wishes dolls are from the new Monster High DVD and are £23 each. I've never been too sure about these dolls as although they don't look like a standard 'catwalk' fashion doll they are still freakishly skinny with that over-sized head thing which Bratz dolls also did. But with the excessive make-up and micro-mini skirts it still seems like mini-prostitute styling to me and not something I'm ready to give a child to play with.
But I would give a child the £40 Monsters, Inc./Monster University Sulley mask as the wearer gets to control the facial movements so yes, when the child smiles the mask smiles. And when the child raises their eyebrows the mask mimics that too. I hope adult heads can fit inside as I really want to try this one.
Some traditional toys were on the recommended list such as a wooden chess set (£250) and a large jigsaw puzzle - although at 32,256 pieces the Keith Haring Jigsaw (£200) is officially the largest commercially available jigsaw in the world. I do love a traditional toy and, yes, LEGO is still on the list but the technology available this year really impressed me too. LEGO Mindstorms EV3 (£375) still involves building with LEGO but in a whole new way as you wire them up and it comes to life! A voice-recognition app lets you control the models. Seriously, how cool is that?
The other technology that stood out was the LeapPad Ultra for 4-9 year olds as it has a screen that gets fully used (not like lots of children's tablets which are the same size product but only operate on a tiny screen) and it has completely kid-safe wifi. That really appeals for this technology-loving age group and I reckon £125 is a good price.
There are plenty more recommended toys on the list but I suggest a trip to Hamleys with the kids and let them decide what they want to ask Santa for this year.