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.

Sport
Thiago Silva pulls Arjen Robben back to concede a penalty
world cup 2014Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: More misery for hosts as Dutch take third place
Sport
Robin van Persie hands his third-place medal to a supporter
Van Persie gives bronze medal to eccentric fan moments after being handed it by Blatter
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
scienceScientists have developed a material so dark you can't see it...
News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
News
Gavin Maxwell in Sandaig with one of his pet otters
peopleWas the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?
News
Rowsell says: 'Wearing wigs is a way of looking normal. I pick a style and colour and stick to it because I don't want to keep wearing different styles'
peopleThe World Champion cyclist Joanna Rowsell on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, Accreditation, ITIL)

    £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Information Security Manager (ISO 27001, A...

    C# Developer (HTML5, JavaScript, ASP.NET, Mathematics, Entity)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

    C# Integration Developer (.NET, Tibco EMS, SQL 2008/2012, XML)

    £60000 - £80000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Integration...

    Biztalk - outstanding opportunity

    £75000 - £85000 per annum + ex bens: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: Biztalk Te...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?