In these recession-hit times, parents may be relieved to hear that the "Dream Dozen" Christmas toys all cost less than £100 this year. However, eyebrows in some households may shoot skywards at the news that one of the toys bears more than a passing resemblance to an AK-47 assault rifle.
The yellow plastic Nerf N Strike Stampede ECS was among the 12 toys tipped as affordable best-sellers by the Toy Retailers Association yesterday.
Thanks to a machine gun-style ammunition clip, the £54.99 hand-held weapon unleashes a burst of 18 soft bullets. Toy guns have fallen out of favour with some parents in recent years, but judging by the enthusiasm with which small children were firing the weapon ("Launch an all-out assault with the fully automatic Nerf Stampede ECS blaster!"), they may be heading back into fashion.
Among the other eye-catching toys at the Toy Retailers Association annual showcase in central London was a centimetre-thin electric guitar. For £24.99 The Paper Jamz Guitar can turn a teenager into an instant rock star, who can be accompanied on an equally thin electronic drum set.
VTech has updated last year's Kidizoom electronic camera hit with a cine camera-style device which takes moving as well as still pictures and also has a games function. At £59.99, the Kidizoom VideoCam is cheaper than the most expensive item selected by the TRA, the £84.99 Lego Airport, which recreates Heathrow.
In a nod towards more traditional playthings, three items were action figures, including the flashing Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear from 2010's biggest film Toy Story 3.
The others were a motorcycle and sidecar carrying members of the Sylvanian Families and a Fireman Sam fire station complex. For younger children, the Moon Dough Barn (£19.99) converts dough into farm equipment and animals.
This year has been better than 2009 for the toy industry, with sales rising 8.4 per cent to £1.2billion between January and August, compared with £1.1bn last year.
Unsurprisingly, most sales come in the two month pre-Christmas period.
Verdict on the toys that will fill the stockings
By Kate Hickman, 7, and Finlay, 4
Nerf N Strike Stampede ECS
Hasbro (£54.99) Large yellow machine gun that fires soft bullets
Kate "I thought it was really cool because you can shoot the bullets really high."
Finlay "It's run out of bullets again. [Grumpily] None coming out."
Jet Pack Buzz Lightyear
Mattel UK (£39.99) Star of Toy Story... with flashing lights
Kate "You can press all the buttons."
Finlay "He flies and he can bounce and bump his head. Can I take it home?"
Lego UK (£84.99) Lego plane, airport and aviation paraphernalia
Kate "I like the fact you can sort of re-make it."
Finlay "Want to play with some more toys."
Fireman Sam Deluxe Fire Station
Character Options (£29.99) Small firemen inhabiting plastic fire station
Kate "I like it because they can slide down the pole and then they forget their hats."
Fur Real Go Go Walking Pup
Hasbro (£59.99) Small remote-controlled puppy than can be taken for walks
Kate "You can go round in circles. It's white and fluffy."
Finlay "Can I take it home?"
Hasbro (£29.99) Version of the money-making game with sound and lights. Kate and Finlay both too young for Monopoly
Moon Dough Barn
Spinmaster Toys UK (£19.99) Mould maker that turns dough into farm animals
Kate "Look, you put some dough in the moulder and it comes out in shapes."
Finlay Liked it, but declined to comment
Paper Jamz Guitar
Wow Wee Europe (£24.99) Thin, light electric guitar
Kate "It's very loud. I enjoy playing it because you can make your own tunes."
Finlay Look of shock
Pumpaloons action game
Drumond Park (£19.99) People-shaped balloons pumped up by children
Kate "It's really fun, because you can do it over and over again. And you're actually getting exercise."
Finlay Enjoyed it, but couldn't say why
Sylvanian Families Motorcycle and Sidecar
Flair Leisure (£24.99) Small furry animals on two wheels
Kate "You can go round in circles and they have real letters on the motorcycles."
Finlay "Wheee! Good."
ZhuZhu Grooming Salon
Character Options (£22.99) Beauty parlour for electronic guinea pigs
Kate "I like it because you can press the button and make them go to lots of different places. They're very furry."
VTech (£59.99) Video and still camera with games
Kate "You can put a custard pie on people's faces and you can watch and make videos and play games and do loads of things."
Finlay "Daddy, can we take it home?"Reuse content