The countdown to Christmas has begun with the launch of a definitive list of the most sought-after toys this festive season.
DreamToys named this year’s 12 top toys as well as a longer list of 72 products that are likely to be included in many children’s letters to Santa this year.
The Toy Retailers Association, which devises the list, has gone further than ever before in editing the list to make sure it includes toys that are less expensive.
It comes as the cost-of-living crisis in the UK has worsened, with food inflation hitting a record 14.7 per cent and warnings that there is no sign of a peak.
“We knew [prices] would be at the forefront of people’s minds because when we selected the list, we knew about the energy price rise in October,” Aimee Hill of Associated Independent Stores, a buying group for independent retailers, told The National at an event in London.
“And then we had an inkling about January price rises. We were very aware there would be cost increases to families. So we were very careful not to select massive sets with big £200 [$228] or £300 lines, like in previous years. So we have been quite cautious with that.”
The top toys
The most expensive toy on the list, Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse — one of the top 12 — costs £79.99.
But the average price of toys on the expanded list is £28, and 49 of them cost less than £30.
Toys on the 12 most wanted list include Little Live Pets — Mama Surprise, a mother guinea pig that gives “birth” to three pups; Barbies in a series of different animal costumes; and Rainbow High dolls with the skin conditions vitiligo and albinism.
Mama Surprise, the runaway hit with the children at the launch, is expected to be one of the season's bestsellers. It costs £64.99.
“She is a guinea pig which has three babies,” Emma Trimble, from Moose Toys, told The National at the list launch event.
“You have to love and nurture her, and feed her some celery. She makes noises,” she added, stroking the toy.
“You pop her into the hutch. The heart glows at the front of the hutch, which shows the babies are about to arrive. You just have to wait a few minutes and the babies will magically be born.”
The first comes within 10 minutes, but the next takes another 10 hours, to help “teach children the skill of patience”, said Ms Trimble.
A board game called Sink N’Sand, which retails for £19.99, is also tipped to be a hit.
David Harms, brand manager for toy manufacturer Spin Master, explained the rules of the game.
“It's for children age 4 and up. So it is a kids' action game, perfect for family board game night.
“It's for four players. So the whole idea of the game is to be the last one standing. You choose your character. The roll of the dice will depict which shape on the sand you are, so that's where you place it.
“And then after that, you take it in turns to roll the dice and that will then correspond to the colour of a straw.
“Once you start taking these out, the sand starts to fall. And you have to be the last one standing.”
The list is compiled using data from shops on how much is selling throughout the year.
Ms Hill said: “We do tend to look at the bestsellers, the most sought after. And also the ones that are getting a lot of attention on TikTok and trends.”
The Top 12 toys are, in no particular order:
- Sink N’Sand Game
- Pokemon Elite Trainer Box
- Magic Mixies Mixlings Magic Castle Playset
- Rainbow High Series 4 Fashion Doll
- Gabby’s Purrfect Dollhouse
- Heroes of Goo Jit Zu Goo Shifters Hero Pack
- Paw Patrol Big Truck Pups Themed Vehicles
- Lego Star Wars Hoth AT-ST
- GiGi the Giraffe
- 7.5” Squishmallows
- Barbie Cutie Reveal Doll
- Little Live Pets — Mama Surprise
The expanded list of all 72 toys is available on the DreamToys Facebook page.
Brian Simpson, commercial director at Toytown, an independent retailer and a member of the Toy Retailers’ Association, said parents have started buying presents early this year.
“What we have seen in our own retail stores is parents are spreading the cost. It’s still quite early,” he said.
“There is a huge amount of business to be done between now and the big day. But the spread seems to be more this year.”
Because of that, the company is expecting a “softer sales peak” in the final few days.
“Parents, uncles and aunties have maybe already banked a few of the key toys early, just to get ahead of the game, knowing there are going to be cost increases on a lot of their daily expenses,” said Mr Simpson.
Shoppers are also looking for bargains and items on promotion, he said.
“But to the same extent, the new key items you see … are very much what they will put on their list,” added Mr Simpson.
“That’s what they will be looking for. So although it is a guide of what is representative of the newness in the industry, people are still shopping about to make sure they get the best price possible.”
Figures show sales slowed in October as retailers braced for consumers opting for second-hand gifts and strict budgets this Christmas to cope with soaring bills.
Retail sales during October grew by a little more than 1 per cent in value year-on-year, driven by inflationary pressures and masking falling sales volumes, as shoppers bought fewer items per visit, British Retail Consortium (BRC) figures show.
Helen Dickinson, chief executive of the British Retail Consortium, said it was a “difficult time” for consumers and retailers.
New data may show a 1 per cent rise in retail spending, but it masks a “much larger drop” in volumes accounting for inflation.
“The sales we have put out today, they are measuring the pound value of retail sales in October, compared to the pound value of retail sales last October. And they show there was a small increase, about 1.6 per cent year-on-year,” she told Radio 4's Today programme.
“But they are not … adjusted for inflation. So given that both our data, the shop price index, the ONS [Office of National Statistics] inflation data all show inflation data running at historically high levels — that small rise in pound value of sales masks a much larger drop in volumes in the numbers of items we are actually buying once inflation is accounted for.”