Top toys to make yours a happy Christmas story

Shopping for toys this Christmas need not break the bank, according to the Toy Retailers Association. Its annual 'Dream Toys' list is the official prediction of Christmas bestsellers and, happily, 2009's list only contains toys under £50, with many under £30. Here we recommend the 10 best


Sylvanian Families Caravan (Flair), £39.99

The Sylvanian Families go from strength to strength, encouraging imaginative play among children aged four and over. This fabulously quaint caravan opens up to reveal a well-equipped kitchen, seating area and shower room – and by unfolding the sections, more space, including sleeping areas, is created. With more than 30 accessories, including miniature postcards and maps, it offers hours of play value.



Go Go Pets (Character Options), £9.99

These fast and furious hamsters are the latest craze in the playground and satisfy children's desire to collect, interact and nurture. There are four hamsters in the litter – Mr Squiggles, Num Nums, Pipsqueak and Chunk – and the makers already have plans for more. But best be quick, these cute little critters are selling out fast so you'll probably have to shop around to find one.



Bendaroos Mega Pack (Spin Master), £19.99

Develop your children's artistic streak by encouraging them to create magical creatures with these flexible building sticks. The Mega Pack has everything you need to get really creative – including 400 Bendaroos in 12 rainbow colours, stencils and a "cut'n'join" tool for extra neat finishes. Aimed at children aged 5-9. A dream for parents longing for their kids to spend a bit of quiet time at the kitchen table.



Monopoly City (Hasbro), £24.99

If you thought that laughing at someone for ending up in jail was as brutal as it gets with Monopoly, think again. In this brand new 3D version aimed at children aged eight and over, players can devalue each other's properties by building sewers and prisons on their opponents land. Players can build their very own property portfolio from the first roll of the dice – and indeed start destroying their opponents' with unrivalled ruthlessness.



Princess Peppa Pig's Palace (Character Options), £39.99

Peppa Pig is the fastest growing pre-school concept in the UK. This play set reflects Peppa's love of playing at princesses. When the palace folds out, it reveals a well-appointed banqueting hall with thrones for king and queen, along with lots of other spaces in which to have adventures. A bed, table, chairs, cauldron and even a guardsman are all included. Also consider the Royal Carriage (£14.99), and Sir George and the Dragon play set (£12.99).

Battle Strikers Starter Set (Mega Brands), £9.99

A new, unique twist on the old children's favourite the spinning top, these super-charged tops require no rip cords and their powerful motorised launcher means they can gain mega-fast speeds. Battle Strikers can also be directed around using a special magnetic controller on your finger, meaning it takes skill to knock your opponents out of the game. The starter kit contains a turbo launcher, finger controller and striker, and is aimed at boys aged six and over.



Kidizoom Multimedia Digital Camera (VTech), £49.99

Take pictures, make movies and play games with this fun and easy damage-proof digital camera for kids. Aimed at children aged three and over, it features easy-to-use controls and a dual viewfinder. You can edit and view photos when connected to a computer and even change the faceplates to personalise it. And when linked to the television, it lets you play games too.



Lego Games Minotaurus (Lego), £17.99

Build the maze using the template provided, then play to be the first knight to reach the secret temple in the Minotaur's labyrinth. Watch out for opponents blocking you as you travel through the maze, and take care as other players challenge you by moving the Minotaur playing piece to send you back to the start. Aimed at children aged seven and over.



Ben 10 Alien Force Kevin Levin Action cruiser (Bandai), £10.95

Kevin's DX Action Cruiser – which comes with an exclusive Kevin figure – is a replica of the vehicle from the Ben 10 Alien Force episodes. Aimed at kids aged four and over, this is fully loaded with unique features, allowing it to transform into "battle mode" and shoot out DNA alien capsules filled with "planetary powder".



GX Racers Tightrope Terror (Flair), £22.99

After a new concept that will satisfy kids with a need for speed? These 1:64 scale cars achieve extreme speeds and perform unique stunts. The Tightrope Terror Stunt Set has cars that can travel between the tracks along a tightrope, as well as performing other breathtaking stunts and tricks. Ideal for children with a love of toy cars aged seven and over.

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