The 12 toys of Christmas, from ninjas to monster tree houses

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

The 2011 Dream Toys list reveals retailers' hopes for what will be the big sellers this festive season

A dog which excretes yellow putty, a model gun which fires rubber disks, and an all-singing all-drumming Elmo figurine that will teach you the alphabet, are amongst toy sellers’ top picks for the festive season. But it was the Moshlings that had our special correspondent Nancy Donaldson, aged nine, rushing for a closer look.

With just under two months until Christmas time, it’s now that toy manufacturers are gearing up for their big sales battle. And it’s here, in the unlikely milieu of a North London church, that they are laying down the gauntlet. In their annual prediction of what will be filling this year’s stockings, the Toy Retailer’s Association (TRA) has chosen its “dream dozen” – the twelve products it believes will sell particularly well come December. They range from a children’s version of a tablet computer - a LeapPad Explorer steeply priced at £79.99 - to the Moshling Tree House, a relative snip at £18.99. And they, alongside a host of other hotly-tipped products, are all here, gathered under one roof, for the TSA’s Dream Toys exposition.

But back to the Moshlings. An online game and social network which charges users according to their membership, the world of Moshi Monsters has become a fully-fledged phenomenon, with fifty million online users, all able to befriend one another, communicate, and interact as their Monsters – little creatures with individual characters - mature. The corresponding range of figurines is just as popular. What’s their secret? Harnessing children’s creativity, it seems. “To explain it all would take a year – more!” bubbles Nancy. “It’s just so imaginative. Playing with the toys, I make up my own world.” Already in possession of 75 figurines, the Moshling Tree House is next on her wish list: “Mum says it’s too babyish for me, but I completely disagree.”

Also receiving the seal of approval from Nancy is the Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, a fully automatic model gun which shoots out rubber disks while flashing lights and sound effects rattle away in the background. A variation on last year’s popular Nerf N Strike Stampede ECS, it promises a “fully awesome battlefield experience” – something not every parent will be entirely happy with. Nancy’s mum has other objections; after a few hours of playtime, she predicts, the disks would be lost and the Nitron Blaster would never get played with again. A set of Hexbug Nanos, meanwhile, prove to be something of a surprise hit, not having made the chosen dozen but attracting crowds nonetheless. “I think they’re really cool,” says Nancy of the scurrying plastic insects.

Not every toy fared as well. The Doggie Doo – a hot favourite on the dream dozen – earned a scathing review from our expert. “I mean, what’s the point?” she huffed, obligingly feeding the plastic dog putty and then pumping on the attached handle until it came out the other end. Equally unimpressive was Milky the Bunny (“that just freaks me out”), a cuddly rendering of Rastamouse (“weird”) and a Team GB cycling Scalextric set (“a bit boring”).

In all, the theme of the day was technology. Whether it is the LeapPad Explorer, or a digital camera that lets its users add special effects to their photos (Kidixoom Twist at £49.99), almost every toy in the dream dozen exhibited the industry’s technological advances. But for those mourning their own childhood favourites, some heartening news: sometimes the simplest pleasures remain the best. Midway through the sales pitch of a newly souped-up Star Wards light sabre (the Ultimate Force Tech Lightsamer Assortment, priced at £39.99), Nancy wandered off. The Play-doh stand had caught her eye.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 12 months

£12675 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Assistant is required...

Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler / Probate Assistant

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler/Probate ...

Recruitment Genius: Refrigeration Engineer

£24000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: These refrigeration specialists...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Coordinator - Logistics and Supply Chain

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an operational role and...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral