WITH 54 shopping days left until Christmas, busy parents and grandparents are unlikely to have given a great deal of attention to drawing up their shopping lists for the festive season.
But at the national Toy Retailers Association, months of frantic work came to fruition yesterday as the top toys for 2012 rundown was unveiled at Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre.
As the half-term crowds flocked through the doors, children were encouraged to try out some of this year’s must-have gadgets, including tablet computers which cost around £90.
But some traditional favourites are still to be found among the InnoTabs and Furbys, with a Lord of the Rings Lego kit and an updated version of family favourite Twister also featuring.
Toy Retailers Association spokesman Ashley Ryan said the list was usually a “dream dozen” but this year 13 toys had been selected by its panel of members who help compile the chart.
Mr Ryan said: “The list is based on the opinions of toy buyers from a number of leading retailers who judge the toys on their innovation and what they do for children.
“This year there are quite a few old favourites on the list, like Lego and the Furby, which we have seen before, but they have been updated and offer something completely new.
“Alongside those we have the InnoTab and the LeapPad tablet computers which have been designed for children, but allow parents to log on to monitor their activities and progress.
“The average price across what we are calling the Dream Baker’s Dozen this year is £46, which is quite reasonable for the price of a child’s main present.
“In 2011, the average spend for toys at Christmas was around £100 and although we don’t expect to see the market grow signficantly this year, we don’t expect it to decline either.”
The Meadowhall event was the only one in the north of England yesterday, with the association also unveiling its top 13 in London and Cardiff.
Among the toy testers was Tom Peacock, from Norristhorpe, West Yorkshire, who said a £35 web-shooting Spiderman toy and a NERF gun which costs £45 were his favourites.
The 10-year-old said: “The NERF fires bullets and you can have wars with them but I also like the Furby and the Spiderman because it shoots the web.
“Last year I got a NERF gun and some Lego and a Darth Vader keyring, but this year I have asked for a new Samsung mobile phone and a new game for my Nintendo DS.”
Georgia Pearce, five, from Harrogate, picked out the £60 Furby as her favourite but also pointed out a £70 Lego kit which built into a dolls house and a £23 Monster High Ghouls Rule doll as well.
She added: “I have got a list of things that I would like for Christmas and I have already asked my mum for some of them, but I have decided that I really want the Furby now.”
According to statistics compiled by NPD, which collects data from point-of-sale machinery, the UK toy market is the biggest in Europe, ahead of France, Italy, Spain and Germany.
Christmas is worth £1,013m to toy retailers across the country and makes up 34 per cent of the industry’s annual sales, with 110 million toys being sold for Christmas last year.
This year is the 46th year that the Toy Retailers Association has announced the top toys for Christmas. The association represents around 2,500 stores nationwide owned by more than 100 different companies.
Spokesman Ashley Ryan added: “The predictions are based on our 50-year experience and take into account what consumers are requesting what excites children and the latest trends in new products.”
Meadowhall centre director, Darren Pearce, who was at yesterday’s launch said: “As one of the country’s leading family shopping Centres we are very proud to have worked with the Toy Retailer Association on the big reveal of this year’s top predictions for Christmas.
“Each year the list seems to be better and better, and this year is no exception. Christmas is certainly one of those occasions which bring the child out in us all, and it is brilliant to see that some of those iconic toys and styles we remember as children have come back into fashion.”
Top 13 toys of 2012:
• Cabbage Patch Kids, JAKKS Pacific, RRP £29.99
• Furby, Hasbro, RRP £59.99
• InnoTab 2, VTech, RRP £84.99
• Jake and the Neverland Pirates - Pirate Ship Bucky, Mattel, RRP £49.99
• LeapPad 2, Leapfrog Toys, RRP £89.99
• Lego Friends: Olivia’s House, Lego, RRP £69.99
• LEGO The Lord of the Rings: The Mines of Moria, £68.99
• Mike the Knight’s Deluxe Glendragon Playset, Character Options, £29.99
• Monster High Ghouls Rule Dolls, Mattel, RRP £22.99
• My Moshi Home, Vivid Imaginations, RRP £39.99
• Nerf N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire, Hasbro, RRP £44.99
• Twister Dance, Hasbro, RRP £26.99
• Web Shooting Spider-Man, Hasbro, RRP £34.99