NEWS Shopper has been taking early deliveries from Santa Claus so we can test out some of the top toys for this Christmas.

Here is a rundown of some of the favourite things we’ve seen which will make great presents for the kids.

Stay tuned as we will be adding more toys to this page over the next couple of weeks.

Building blocks

No matter how hi-tech and advanced kids’ toys get, those colourful plastic building blocks known as Lego still remain hugely popular.

Part of Lego’s continuing appeal appears to be down to the brand’s ability to change with the times and go with the trends, focusing its products on particular themes.

One of the hot sets in the current Lego collection is the Japanese-themed Ninjago Epic Dragon Battle, featuring a four-headed Ultra Dragon with extendable wings, flame sphere shooter, flexible body and tail. Also includes The Great Devourer and snake prison. Weapons include Hypnobrai fang blade with blue anti-venom capsule, all four golden Spinjitzu weapons and seven regular weapons. £84.99.

News Shopper: Lego Star Wars Sith Fury-class Interceptor

Another great option, likely to appeal as much to big kids and sci-fi geeks as it does to small children, is the Star Wars Sith Fury-class Interceptor. Available for around £60, this includes an opening cockpit with folding control panel, folding wings, four flick missile and opening rear hull with space for two minifigures, two medium blasters and Darth Malgus' Lightsaber. It also features three minifigures: Darth Malgus and two Sith Troopers.

Transformers were once craved by kids in the 1980s and the adventures of those ‘robots in disguise’ are still proving popular, the long-running toy franchise buoyed by the recent movie series.

The KRE-O Transformers Optimus Prime vs Megatron set lets players construct the Optimus Prime and Megatron characters in both vehicle mode and robot mode before the leaders of the Autobot and Decepticon worlds enter into an epic faceoff to find one of the coveted Energon pieces. The set (£39.99) features four Kreon figures and nearly 400 bricks.

News Shopper: The KRE-O Transformers Optimus Prime vs Megatron set

Cuddly creatures

If cuddly creatures are more your child’s thing than waging war with Lego, the Flufflings: Jiggle n Dance toys (£22.99) are worth a look.

Not dissimilar from the infamous Furbies (they are a bit like Furbies which haven’t had their hair cut for a while), these talking electronic toys will provide great fun for small children.

News Shopper: Flufflings: Jiggle n Dance

Giggly and not immune to being bossy, these balls of fluff have a range of in-built emotions which are activated when they’re played with.

If the sign of a great toy is also being noisy and annoying to parents then Flufflings score highly on that as well!

Meanwhile, Tessie Goes Trotting is a super toy for horse-mad girls (£22.99). This battery-powered little pet provides all the fun of taking care of a pony without the mucking out. Tessie will neighs and trot along like a real pony and has soft fur that's great for snuggling up to.

News Shopper: Tessie Goes Trotting

The ticklish version of Sesame Street character Elmo was a must-have toy a few years ago and now he is in hot demand again for 2012. Available from Hasbro (£29.99), the Tickle Time Elmo loves to be tickled and the more you press the little red monster’s tummy or feet the more he laughs and shakes. It is the pinnacle of cuteness!

News Shopper: Tickle Time Elmo

Yet more cuteness comes in the form of the Join In and Play My Blue Nose Friends (£24.99 each) which include Binky the Panda, Cottonsocks the Sheep, Passion the Love Bug, Coco the Monkey, Blossom the Rabbit and Peanuts the Hamster.

These lovable interactive soft toys are real little chatterboxes who kids can chat with and who can also chat with each other! Press their paws to hear 12 cute phrases or the tummy to hear them talk to each other with their unique personalities.

News Shopper: Join In and Play My Blue Nose Friends

My 10-year-old daughter thinking Talking Tom Superstar is awesome should tell you a lot about its target market and the jubilant reaction you’re likely to get when giving one of these adorable plush creatures.

Talking Tom Cat and other virtual furry friends have become popular smartphone, iPod and tablet apps. They are particularly fun for children who can talk into their devices and have their speech mimicked by a cute animal on the screen.

Now the Talking Friends apps have been taken to the next level by maker Outfit7 with the launch of Talking Friends Superstar, a first-of-its-kind app-powered toy.

News Shopper: Talking Friends Superstars

The toys - Talking Tom Superstar, Talking Angela Superstar and Talking Ginger Superstar – ‘come to life’ by being able to chat with each other through their audio sensory technology and also talk with their virtual counterparts.

Each has its own particular characteristics and is packed with catchy tunes, riddles, jokes and whimsical sounds. As the Talking Friends create hijinks on screen, the Talking Friends Superstars join in the antics and respond.

The apps have already provided hours of interactive fun for my daughter, and now these toys extend the play even further into the real world. It’s very clever how a cuddly toy works together with an electronic device.

The new trio of Superstars are available to order now from priced from £35.

Creative play

Nominated as one of the top toys for Christmas by Dream Toys, Waggle Tagz lets kids’ creativity run wild as they decorate and personalise printed images, which can then be transformed into cool 3D, motion and morphing images that can be popped on to books, bags and pencil cases. This fun craft kit (£17.99) offers a lot of stuff to keep children busy during the holidays.

News Shopper: Waggle Tagz

Kids love getting busy with their hands and making things so a Play-Doh set is always a winner.

This particular one, Play-Doh Candy Cyclone Playset (£34.99, Hasbro) has a sweet shop theme, allowing little Willy Wonkas to create colourful concoctions such as lollipops.

The machine mixes lumps of Play-Doh into gumballs, which can then be put into the EZ Load Extruder to be pressed and moulded into other fun-shaped treats. Just watch out that little ones aren’t tempted to put any of their sweet inventions into their mouths!

News Shopper: Play-Doh Candy Cyclone Playset

Not bored games

Like Lego, property trading board game Monopoly has rightly or wrongly had to evolve and change with the time to stay relevant and pull in new players. The latest of many versions available from Hasbro is a blinged-up edition called Monopoly Millionaire (£19.99).

The twist given to it this time is that the winner is the first player to amass a million pound fortune. There are also some nice new touches to the presentation, such as players being able to upgrade their playing pieces during games. You could start out with a paper aeroplane, but by the end you might be moving around in a private jet.

News Shopper: Monopoly Millionaire

With locations such as Party Plaza and Themepark City, this is a Monopoly for the modern generation and should interest younger players more than the classic version.

Animal magic

The Zoological Society of London, the conservation charity that runs ZSL London Zoo and ZSL Whipsnade Zoo has a range of fun and unusual gifts for animal loving kids.

Among them is the Makedo elephant (£8.95) which turns paper cups, plastic bottles, lids and other household packaging into a cute creature.

This creative and charming kit gives all the tools, reusable connectors and stickers needed to create and decorate a unique elephant.

News Shopper: Makedo elephant

Meanwhile, if you feel like making a child’s day (or possibly even their year) take a look at the ‘Junior keeper for a day’ experience (£170).

It may be pricey but is sure to make a child’s dream come true as it allows budding keepers to get up close with some of the zoo’s most loved residents and gives them an exclusive glimpse into what really goes on behind the scenes.

Open to children aged 11 to 15 the junior experience includes zoo entry for participant and one accompanying adult.

Go to ZSL London Zoo’s shop in the zoo, or visit

Construction site

If, like me, you’ve got fond memories of playing with construction toys as a kid and you want to pass your love of things that are big, yellow and tough on to your own child you should check out the range of products from JCB.

My personal favourite, because it’s reminiscent of a big Tonka truck I used to have, is the Multi Construct Mighty Lift Crane.

News Shopper: JCB Multi Construct Mighty Lift Crane

There isn’t much this bad boy can’t do. For £29.99 you effectively get five JCBs in one, all based around one mighty vehicle.

The crane can be re-built and accessorised for endless construction fun using the 100-plus pieces and even comes complete with a battery-operated drill for easy building.

Suitable for three years plus, available from Argos.


Marvel has a range of comic book-inspired toys that are great for fans of superheroes.

News Shopper: Hawkeye Bow and Arrow

With the Hawkeye Bow and Arrow (£39.99) young hotshots can pretend they are one of the Avengers, training themselves to become master archers. The plastic bow can fire foam arrows up to an impressive distance of 12 metres.

News Shopper: Spider-Man Rapid Fire Web Shooter

If this year’s movie has stirred up a love of the web wonder in your little one, the Spider-Man Rapid Fire Web Shooter (£19.99) is a good toy to check out. They can strap it their wrist, pull the trigger and shoot five little plastic missiles more than 15 feet – perfect for hitting granny in the ear on Christmas Day!

Tree decorations

Obviously these aren’t toys but will still be loved by kids, or indeed any Disney fans, if you’re still looking for some late decorations for your Christmas tree.

News Shopper: Disney Vintage Baubles

The Vintage Disney Baubles 7 Pack (£10.99 from the Disney Store) is a charming set of ornaments in a retro style featuring artwork of classic Disney animations including Bambi, Dumbo and Pinocchio.

What toys are your children asking Santa for this year? What are the best (or worst) toys you've seen this year? Add your comments and recommendations below.