14 best toys for 2018

Wondering what to buy the small people in your life? It’s that time of year when the toy companies launch their new ranges.

There are hundreds of enticing toys and games to choose from, but which are the ones that will keep those little ones and slightly larger ones busy for hours and still be enjoyed long after the first use?

We’ve put a whole load of toys through their paces to discover the ones that will have kids screaming with excitement and continue to keep them entertained weeks after their novelty value has worn off.

Many of the most sought after toys this year feature the latest animatronics, robotics and tech, but we’ve also included a few more traditional construction and pretend-play toys and some challenging puzzles.

Following the testing, the majority of these toys were donated to the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospice for their patients to enjoy.

i-Top Electronic Spinning Top Game, aged seven plus, £14.99, John Lewis & Partners

This toy triggers the competitive streak in all who play it. Spin it and it measures the number of revolutions you can make it do. It’s the sort of game that you will watch a child play for a while, see what score they get and then be itching to have a go yourself.

Before long everyone its owner meets will be encouraged to try and beat the highest score. There are other challenges you can try too, such as attempting to get it to stop on its 99th spin - harder than it sounds.This game is small enough to fit in a pocket, so it’s great for travelling. With batteries included, this is reasonably priced toy that has everyone hooked.

Buy now

Fisher-Price Dance & Groove Rockit™ for ages 6 months to three-years-old, £24.49, Argos

Babies change tremendously in the first few months and years of life and this cute interactive toy is designed to grow with them.

Level one keeps babies from six months up to a year entertained with alphabet, number, shape and colour rhymes. Level two introduces some French words for eager to learn one-year-olds and level three encourages eighteen-month-olds plus to perform actions, sing along and even record and playback their first words. The toy also features textured surfaces, buttons to press, balls to spin and discs to slide. This is a great first, reasonably-priced toy that provides hours of entertainment well into toddlerhood.

Buy now

Crate Creatures Surprise, 4 years and up, £40, Hamleys

Treat those little monsters to their very own beastly friend. They will have to work out how to release this adorably gruesome looking creature from its cage before they can play together though. Once set free the fun begins.

Tug the extra long tongue for a torrent of ghastly noises, feed it with its favourite snack for some more gross sounds, get it shaking with fury or flapping its arms when you make one wrong move. Then press record and have it repeat some of your favourite sayings in its rather uncouth monster accent. There are four grizzly, yet cute crate monsters to collect. Each comes with three AA batteries. This is a fun toy that kids enjoy playing with alone and with friends.

Buy now

Fingerling, from £11.25, 4 years and over, The Entertainer

The Fingerling species is diverse. These endearing little creatures are found in the shape of monkeys, dinosaurs, unicorns and sloths and they are at their happiest when clinging to a finger.

Clap your hands, tap, pet or cradle the Fingerling and watch its surprise reactions. There are plenty to collect and you can get them a jungle gym and monkey bars to play on too. Each comes with four LR44 batteries included. This is a fun, but noisy, inexpensive toy, that you may be pleased to discover comes with an off switch.

Buy now

Poopsie Surprise Unicorn, 3 years and over, £49.99, Argos

Surprises are a big thing in toys this year, so are unicorns and so still – you may or may not be pleased to learn – is slime. This unicorn doll toy has all three trends covered.

Mix it up a dish of unicorn food, then feed it to it with its spoon, place it on its potty and wait for it to poop slime. It comes with a bonus surprise unicorn, a range of accessories and a mane of rainbow-coloured hair made for hours of braiding, pony tail and bunchy practice. Batteries not required, which is always a bonus, but this toy can get messy – after all slime is involved – and the packaging is rather excessive. It may not be to your taste, but kids love it.

Buy now

Paw Patrol Ultimate Rescue Fire Truck Playset, 3 years and over, £62.99, Early Learning Centre

Paw Patrol TV show fans will love this giant toy fire truck. Turn on the flashing lights and siren sounds with the push of a button, use the pull-out grabber to pick up obstacles, operate the rotating ladder, that extends up to two foot, to put out any fires and fire the water cannons when faced with a major incident. This truck is guaranteed to provide hours of imaginative play alone or with a group of friends. It requires two AAA batteries, which are included.

Buy now

Hasbro FurReal Ricky the Trick-Lovin' Dog, 4 years and over, £89.99, John Lewis & Partners

If your kids are nagging you for a dog, but you are put off by the expense of feeding and caring for it, the daily walks and the poop scooping, the Ricky is the breed of dog that you need. It does tricks, it eats, and it loves to be cuddled and tickled.

This little robot pooch can perform over 100 sound and movement combinations. It even poops, but only little plastic pellets. It won’t go after the postman, chew the furniture or throw up on the carpet. It does require four 1.5V C batteries, which aren’t included, but it still works out cheaper than the upkeep required for a living, breathing Labrador.

But now

Lego Harry Potter Hogwarts™ Express, £74.99, 8 years and over, Lego

Mixing creativity and challenges, Lego is one of the few toys that children and adults enjoy playing together. Everyone will love constructing this train set - it took us three enjoyable hours - and once built there are days of imaginative playtime to be filled with the mini figures of Harry Potter™, Ron Weasley™, Hermione Granger™, Remus Lupin, the Trolley Witch, Dementor™ and Scabbers™ all playing their part. Wands are included and platform 9¾™ even has a moving brick wall entrance.

Buy now

IQ Stars, age six plus, £9.99, Smart Games

Families that love logic problems will relish the challenge of this mentally stimulating pocket-size puzzle. Fit the star pieces into the grid as illustrated in the challenge book then solve the puzzle by filling the rest of the grid with the remaining pieces.

There is only one possible solution to each of these single-player brain teasers and there are 120 to complete. This a great budget travel game with different levels of difficulty that people from six to 106 will enjoy playing.

Buy now

Chow Crown Game, age 8 and over, £23.99, Argos

This is one of the most ridiculous games ever created. Following a fiddly set up, which includes adding three AA batteries that aren’t included, you securely load a bunch of forks that are dangling from the crown with tasty treats from your kitchen.

Crown your first ruler and press the button for a burst of music and the game begins. Without using his or her hands the crown wearer must get as many forkfuls of food gobbled up before the music stops. As the crown is quite large and unsteady, this is not as easy as it sounds. When the music stops, the forks are then washed, reloaded and the crown moves on to the next player. The winner is the person who manages to eat the most snacks. A novelty game for a good laugh.

Buy now

HEXBUG Robot Wars Arena, age 8 and over, £47.99, Smyths

This is the game for fans of HEXBUGs and the BBC TV show Robot Wars. It’s quick to set up and one of those games that is likely to never be returned to its box, so room needs to made for it.

Design your own mini robot with an assortment of armour and weapons, place it in the arena and then grab the mini remote control to do battle with your opponent. Batteries included, this is a fun, creative game, which can get a bit aggressive. It’s one of those games that brings out the child in every adult and it won’t be long before you’re challenging the kids to a dual.

Buy now

Boxer Robot, ages 6 and over, £54.99, The Entertainer

Robots are going to play an increasingly integral role in the lives of the next generation, so we might as well get kids used to interacting with them now and they’ll have fun instructing this little expressive bot and be amazed at the stunts it can do.

Use your hands or the remote control to get it following you around and once you’re working well together you can get it to do flips and other stunts or have it rolling over one of the ten activity cards that it arrives with to play games such as football - it comes with its own ball. Older kids can experiment even further by downloading more games for it to play on the app. This is a great interactive tech toy that appeals to kids young and old.

Buy now

3Doodler Start Essentials, ages 8 and over £49.60, Amazon

This rechargeable 3D pen is not only a fun, creative toy, it will be useful when it comes to homework projects too. Insert your chosen colour of non-toxic plastic strand into the pen, let it gently warm up and then draw over one of the included templates.

Once you’re feeling more confident, start creating 3D masterpieces from your own imagination. We made a pretty impressive, spectacle frame that is actually wearable! The kit comes with 48 plastic strands, enough to make quite a few projects. A refill kit of 144 strands costs around £30. Money well spent for any child that enjoys being creative.

Buy now

Creative Coder Kit, £54.99, age 8 plus, Tech Will Save Us

Learning to code is almost as important as learning to read when it comes to a child’s education these days, and this kit helps to instil the basics of coding in a fun and interactive manner. First built your own little piece of wearable kit, then connect it to a computer, input some basic blocks of code and then watch as your wearable lights up as you’ve instructed it to. Then you can wipe that piece of code and reprogram it to do something completely different. A great STEM toy that gets children learning through play.

Buy now

The Verdict: Best toys for 2018

Choosing the best toy from this fantastic bunch has been very tricky. Each of these toys was chosen because of its unique selling point and each appeals to different ages and stages. But if we’re looking for the one at a manageable price point with widest appeal, the overall best toy from this bunch of great playthings has to be the i-Top Electronic Spinning Top Game. At £14.99 it’s a bargain. It’s likely to become a playground trend and it appeals to all ages, even us grown ups. See if you can beat our top score of 640!

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting