Hamleys is usually thinking about what will feature on the Christmas lists of children but for the first time this year the retailer has served up toy-buying ideas for “kidults” too, and they include a £150 kit for a cult radio-controlled car from the 80s.
Lifestyle changes during the pandemic led to a big rise in demand from adults for games, building sets and collectible toys linked to their favourite shows and childhood interests. This new toy-buying habit has not gone away and accounts for about a third of the UK’s £3.6bn annual toy sales.
The most expensive recommendation for kidults (buyers aged 12 and over) is the £150 “Lunch Box” van from the Japanese brand Tamiya, which first went on sale in 1987. Other suggestions include £45 collectible figures from the anime title Cult of San Reja and a £40 soft dart “blaster”.
Victoria Kay, the head of buying at Hamleys, said kidults were an increasingly important demographic, with anime also a big trend for toy collectors. “You have to consider kidults and anime to be relevant in the market,” she said.
In a nod to the cost of living crisis, most of the toys on its traditional top 10 for children cost £50 or less. They start at £18 for the Marvel Squish-A-Boos soft toy range, which features characters such as Spider-Man and the Hulk. At the top end is the £90 experiment-themed “Beast Lab”, where would-be scientists unleash a shark play figure from a tank.
Given the financial challenges faced by many people in the UK, Kay said the retailer, which is known for its store in the West End of London, had recognised the “importance of providing parents with a range of pricing options” that gave them “the flexibility to plan and purchase thoughtfully”.
Hamleys thinks LOL Magic Flyers will be a bestseller – the brand’s latest iteration in which a (battery-powered) fairy flies out of a box. Barbie is ever present on toy store shelves and, buoyed up by the success of Greta Gerwig’s film, the “Pop Reveal” fruit series of the doll is expected to be popular. The £27 scented dolls cover all bases with hair and makeup that change colour, slime and accessories to “unbox” – capitalising on a social media trend whereby people film themselves opening items for the first time.
For younger children its buyers have picked the Playmobil Winnie and Piglet’s Treehouse (a tie-up with Disney, which is celebrating its centenary this year) and a toy rescue jet from the film spinoff Paw Patrol: The Mighty Movie.
Finally, with games for the family to play together always popular at Christmas, the retailer tips Twister Air. It dispenses with the mat used in the classic version of game, with players instead using an app and motion-activated wrist bands.
Hamleys’ Christmas top 10
1 Barbie Pop Reveal “fruit series” doll, £27
2 LOL Magic Flyers, £35
3 Ty Marvel 14” Squish-A-Boos, £18
4 Harry Potter Hamleys bear, £30
5 Beast Lab, £90
6 Hamleys magic moving car, £40
7 Disney Winnie & Piglet’s Treehouse, £50
8 Hamleys wooden bus, £35
9 Paw Patrol Skye rescue jet, £50
10 Twister Air, £25