I spent many a childhood evening scouring the infamous Argos catalogue, highlighting all the toys I wanted Santa to deliver and writing down all the codes on my wish list.
These are very fond memories for me and played a big part in shaping how I do my Christmas gifting today. While we've seen the internet dominate over the high street recently, I think there's still definitely a place for the Argos mode of shopping to continue.
Argos has revealed a list of the toys set to be on the top of children's gift lists for 2016. Fortunately we've managed to get our hands on them to put to the test and see if they're right.
This is an hilarious toy! The chimp takes on a life of its own as it literally 'goes ape', performing tricks and listening to hundreds of commands. Once the kids got wind of how it worked, they put Zoomer to work dancing about on two legs, changing his mood and crawling along on the floor. Just like my own kids, Zoomer is prone to some ferocious mood changes that are fun to see.
Is it Christmas without a LEGO set to get your teeth stuck in to? Aimed at slightly older kids around eight, this is a great one for Dad to get stuck in to. With drones and excavators around a volcano site, it takes some concentration to create this environment, but the rewards are worth it as kids will enjoy playing out the scene with the included figurines and accessories.
My daughter is desperate to have a dog, and this cute puppy is one for any kids that want the real thing but without the responsibility! Its super soft fur makes it a great cuddle toy and the lifelike interactivity adds to the realistic characteristics of the toy - complete with facial movements and cute sounds.
This is the king of all missile-launching guns out there. Nerf do some great blasters and this one won't disappoint! It's a huge piece of kit guaranteed to give some ‘wows' on Christmas morning. With three different ways to shoot and a set of three distinctive blasters that that shoot out individually or as a group, Grace and Noah loved racing round the garden with it.
I believe 'selfie' was a recent addition to the Oxford English Dictionary, so I therefore wonder whether ‘selfiemic' will ever make it too! The great thing about being a kid is the power to not care about certain things, like how you sound when singing your heart out. My kids and I loved it and created our own whacky music videos with the SelfieMic. It comes with an enhanced obligatory selfie stick with microphone and earpiece to create your own star-studded performance. Taylor Swift eat your heart out!
Star Wars fans young and old will delight at this toy. Imagine being at the centre of the greatest space battles in the universe with this 12" figure from Star Wars The Force Awakens! If you've managed to avoid the Star Wars frenzy, then BB-8 is the spherical, loyal Astromech Droid of the Resistance pilot Poe Dameron! It's good for kids to recreate their favorite moments of adventure and fun in the Star Wars universe and it comes with accompanying custom weapon accessories.
Paw Patrol is big TV viewing in the Mason household. I know it like the back of my hand so, taking spectating to a new level, I enjoyed the role and creative play that comes with this familiar Air Patroller. The transforming patroller adapts between helicopter and jet mode with lights and sounds so kids can continue on the tales from Adventure Bay in their own home, crafting their own narrative and exploring their imagination.
We have been fans of VTech's Toot Toot range for some time; it's very colourful and easy for little ones to construct - inviting them to go wild with imagination to create their own world. This goldmine is one of the newest additions to the collection and mixes up the more traditional scenes, so it's a great addition if you already own some Toot Toot sets. The motorised train brings oodles of excitement as seeing it chug along is the best part of constructing the track.
For a lifelike doll, this gets top marks. At 18 inches it's a pretty hefty thing and is about the same weight as a newborn baby. Even when I was carrying it, I naturally went to hold it as I do my own little one. It helps to harness children's maternal instincts and goes as far as having a baby scent as well as a soft skin and silky hair combination to make it an incredibly realistic experience.
This is a great introduction to computer coding for children. Taking interactive play to a new level, it encourages little ones to experiment while honing in on their sequencing and critical thinking skills. You may think this is one for older children, but you'd be wrong as it's actually targeted at children up from two years. The body pieces of the caterpillar click together to form different sequences that control the movement of the insect based on the formation – simple yet really effective learning that resulted in loads of fun!
This doll is a classic 'big girl's' girl with super long soft hair to style and all the get-up you need to dress her. Slightly more edgy as an 'older' doll, you can accessorise her with earrings and a clutch bag to name a few. The doll's carry case is a nice keepsake and opens to showcase a wardrobe and fold-out catwalk.
I'm not sure if I'm showing my age here, but I remember Furby from the first time around! Furby has been given a 21st century makeover (again!) and now, when connected to the App, phrases, music and videos bring your Furby to life on a whole new level. The App updates regularly to give you loads of surprises from your Furby.
by Laura Mason
Mum to two energetic toddlers and a new baby. Laura is a journalist and Mum and enjoys reviewing products with her children, exploring new trends, and more importantly, life as a mummy. Continuously trying to get a grip of motherhood and maintaining a realistic life balance!