Toy Fair 2013: New toys on the market
We headed to the Toy Fair, at London's Olympia, to bring you the scoop on the stuff that will top children's Christmas lists in 2013.
At Toy Fair we can always count on LEGO to have an absolutely ginormous stand, split into loads of different 'rooms' for each of sub-brands (e.g. City, DUPLO, Friends)and all brimming with cool new launches. This year was no exception.
Starting with the popular preschool range, DUPLO, LEGO has stretched the 'starting age' of some of the products downwards from two years to 12 months, with slightly larger bricks and simpler models. The cute new Numbers Train caught our eye with its lovely, bright colours and very reasonable £12.99 price tag. Within DUPLO there were also film tie-ins for some of Disney's big 2013 kids' releases such as Planes and plenty of Jake and the Never Land Pirates gear.
Moving through to the LEGO City area, there was much to please wannabe firefighters, with a fabulous new fire station set (£69.99) complete with working alarm, fire engine, helicopter and van and a fire pole for the Minifigures to slide down as quickly as possible.
If locking away evil criminals is more your child's thing, there's the new CITY Elite police range, including the Museum Break-in Set (£49.99) and the dinky little Police ATV (£4.99).
Next up was the major launch of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles sets. Those 'Heroes in a Half Shell' have been given the LEGO treatment, thanks in part to the popularity of the Nickleodeon and soon to be ITV1/ CITV show. Products launch in mid-April and cost from a save-up-your-pocket-money sized £9.99 to a proper birthday or Christmas present £59.99.
More screen-inspired LEGO products came in the form of The Lone Ranger (Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter's movie comes out soon) and the smartphone app and voice-controlled Mindstorm robotic models.
After (finally!) leaving LEGO, we moved over to another mega brand of the toy world: Playmobil.
The stand was another must-see and with tons of new launches for all budgets.
At the other end of the size scale, the Police Headquarters, £70, complete with alarm system and prison cell for the baddies. It's full of cool little details, such as criminal record files and mug shots of the baddies. It was declared the Toy Fair's Preschool
best new toy winner and we can see why.
Here, the brand launched its new much bigger Scarab XL range (£39.99) which will be out in the shops in time for next Christmas. Using the same sort of technology as their little cousins, these are large enough to scare the average grown-up!
We were also shown a big update on the main Hexbugs range but we're under strict instructions not to reveal anything until after the company's big launch in New York in the next couple of months.
From modern robotics we leapt back in time to the traditional toys of House of Marbles. Every child should surely have a set of good old-fashioned marbles in their toy box! New for this year is the Marble Reward Jar, £8.99. To help manage behaviour, a child (or a whole class in the case of schools - marble jars are a popular tool among primary teachers) is rewarded with a marble for good behaviour but they can also be taken away for misdemeanours.
When they fill the jar they get a pre-agreed reward. Of course you could make your own but The House of Marbles' set includes particularly lovely marbles and a jar with a gauge up the side, so little ones can see exactly how close they are to reaching their goal.
Manhattan Toy is one of our favourite baby toy brands and there's now a mini version of their extremely popular Whoozit toy. Priced at £7.99, it can be attached to a pushchair, car seat or baby gym and is small enough to fit in a parent's coat pocket. The new handheld Wobble A-Round bead frames are sure to captivate slightly older babies and reasonably-priced at £7.99.
The Aurora range of cuddly animals from the ever-popular Julia Donaldson books were not so new but had us ooh-ing and aah-ing at their gorgeousness. The Gruffalo shown here, £5.99, was joined by his 'friends' from Room on the Broom and a host of other well-known stories.
Over at Esdevium Games, we loved the retro Fisher Price goodies
See more of the new toys in our gallery below.