Parenting review site MadeForMums has announced the winners of its Toy Awards 2021, revealing the must-have toys for Christmas tested and recommended by parents and children.
From a record number of entries, around 300 toys in 44 categories were rigorously tested at home by children – from newborns to teens – and their parents. The products were rated for play potential and value for money. These scores were combined with the verdicts of expert judges from the MadeForMums editorial team and invited judges, including Toyologist Peter Jenkinson, to find the eventual winners.
Interactive, electronic toys were popular as always, but MadeForMums’ child testers also rated highly many low-tech ‘slower’ toys, often with no electronics or batteries. Other trends noted include a shift to family board games and eco-friendly packaging. Parents also commented positively on the increasing availability of sustainable, recyclable, and long-lasting new toys.
MadeForMums editor Susie Boone said: “From all our hours of testing, we’ve had some amazing, honest feedback from our child testers. They’ve loved the bright, loud ‘wow’ factor toys with interactive features, but they’ve also really rated lower-tech toys, such as the Dino Snore-Us board game (where you mustn’t wake the sleeping dinosaur), simple plush toys and the standout Peppa Pig Wooden Playhouse.
“We’re also seeing a welcome shift towards more eco-friendliness from toys that put sustainability front and centre, like the Planet Junko Zoomer Kit and the Build a Bee Hotel, to toys that have more recyclable elements, less packaging, or boxes that become part of the toy, and string ties instead of plastic ones.”
The Top 20 toys are:
1.Squeakee the Balloon Dino
An interactive pretend-balloon dinosaur which dances when you put his headphone on, plays chicken, and follows you when you squeak his bone.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a toy this interactive! It was great to watch my son figure out all the different things Squeakee could do. All I could hear was laughter!”
2. Planet Junko Zoomer Kit
A tube of recycled, reusable plastic parts and elastic bands with which you can transform old juice cartons and food tubs into speedy, pull-back-and-let-go vehicles.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “It’s absolutely fantastic. It’s been out every day and my son keeps jumping up with a different idea for something we could make and create. It really, really captured his imagination.”
3. Exploding Kittens: A Game of Cat and Mouth
A hugely original open-up-and-play battery-free board game with magnetic cat-paw catapults and balls to flick through the cat’s mouth.
MadeForMums toy tester parent said: “So much fun to play with! This game was loved by everyone, from our eight-year-old and both parents, right down to our four-year-old.”
4. Peppa Pig Peppa’s Wooden Playhouse
A 65cm-high three-storeywooden house for Peppa and the gang – complete with furniture and accessories including a telescope in the loft and a (painted) muddy puddle in the bathroom.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “It’s expensive but it’s well made and totally worth it for the hours of fun my children have had playing with this.”
5. DesignaFriend Mermaid Doll
A large (45cm high) doll with mermaid and human clothes – and hair that changes colour in the sun.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “My daughter has been attached to this doll every day since it arrived! She completely adores her and has made her a little bed next to hers.”
6. Xootz BMW X5 Ride On
Age: 5+ (2+ with remote control driving)
A ride on to turn heads in the park, this scaled-down BMW has three speeds, a reverse gear, adjustable seats, working lights – and an MP3 player.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “My kids love that they could play their own music in it and turn the lights on and off. They have been pretending to go on holiday in it and packed their favourite toys to take with them. A big hit!”
7. Orchard Toys Dino Snore Us Game
A board game that is all about collecting dinosaur eggs without waking the sleeping T-Rex. Great fun way to hone number and counting skills.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “Fun, educational and easy to set up, my child was very excited playing this game – and the anticipation of waiting to see if the dinosaur would wake had her giggling.”
8. CoComelon Learning Sheep
Age: 12 months+
A grabbable sheep (like the ones in CocoMelon YouTube shows) that, when placed on the colour chart – or any other object – tells you what colour it is, in a jolly version of Baa Baa Black Sheep.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “This is great for learning colours. My daughter loves it and loves to move and sing along with ‘my sheep!’”
9. Kindi Kids Poppi Pearl Bubble N Sing
A rigid doll with soft-touch limbs that sings songs and blows ice-cream-scented bubbles.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “The bubble machine is really good, and all my children try to catch them and pop them. It’s so easy to make the bubbles work too: my one-year-old can do it all by herself – which she loves.”
10. Build a Bee Hotel
A little kit containing all you need to build a home for solitary bees (or insects) in your garden.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “It is great. And your child can mostly build this hotel by themselves as the instructions are really well set out, with lovely colour pictures.”
11. Little Tikes My Jam Electric Guitar
A mini electric guitar you can rock out with solo or synch up with any Bluetooth-enabled device to play music through the guitar’s speaker and strum along.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “This was a big hit with my four-year-old: he hasn’t put it down yet and keeps asking for different guitar songs to strum along to from my phone. He absolutely loves it.
12. Barbie Dreamhouse Playset
An enormous wow of a Barbie playset with interchangeable rooms, lighting and sound options and masses of accessories including a fold-down bunk beds and a puppy slide.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “This brought so much excitement and shrieking to the house on its arrival! My daughters spend hours playing together. The sounds and light functions bring an extra dimension to their imaginative play.”
13. Little Tikes Tobi 2 Director’s Camera
A high-definition camera with tripod, green screen and a flip out lens, with which you can take selfies, play games, shoot video, edit footage and add effects.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “It has really good features and the picture quality is great for a child’s toy. It’s fun and easy to use. Any child would love this.”
14. Casdon Kenwood Mixer
A battery-powered working mini version of a Kenwood Chef food mixer (which actually mixes real cakes).
MadeForMums toy tester said: “My child was so excited that it just looked like a ‘grown up cake mixer’. I would happily buy one of these as a present.”
15. Kinetic Sand Sandisfactory
A box of squeezy, mess-free sand in different colours, with accessories that let you mould cubes of sand that look black on the outside but slice open to reveal rainbow stripes.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “This is very fun and creative. My boys played for ages. The set comes with much more than the standard kinetic sand kits. Definitely worth the money.”
A fidget toy that works a bit like bubble wrap – with the pop but without the bubble bursting.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “Both my children love these super-sensory toys. My daughter even takes them to school every day to help her feel calm.”
17. Thomas & Friends Trains & Cranes Super Tower
A huge (87cm tall) four-storey train set with a spinning turntable, switches and handles for changing the track, engine, helicopter, and accessories.
MadeForMums toy tester says: “Easy to set up and loaded with so many features and fun activities, it’s well worth the price.”
18. Funlockets Secret Fairy Musical Jewellery Box
A music box with secret doors, drawers and charms that open and reveal when you find the hidden keys.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “Full of fun and surprise. It was lovely to watch the excitement on my child’s face as she discovered each different key or charm.”
19. Kinderkraft GoSwift
Age: 3 to 6
A light balance bike with a 100% recyclable magnesium alloy frame, an eco-leather seat and air-filled rubber wheels
MadeForMums toy tester said: “Absolutely worth the money. Not only is it lightweight – but a child can also easily pick it up – it’s very stylish, comfortable to sit on and has the added bonus of a bell.”
20. Bluey Jumbo Plush
A big (46cm) super-soft toy version of the CBeebies star.
MadeForMums toy tester said: “We love Bluey in our house, so this is perfect. My son likes that it’s big enough to go on the slide in the garden with him and do things that he can do.”
See the full list of MadeForMums Toy Awards winners CLICK HERE