This is going to be M’laddo’s 3rd Christmas. He was only 8 months old when his first came around but still grown up enough to rip the wrapping paper off most of his toys.
Buying toys for babies (in fact for anyone) can be bewildering, especially when they see stuff they think they want. I remember wanting a King Kong robot Zoid thing when I was about 9. Really lusting after it, only for the anti climax of wondering what to do with it after I’d built it to hammer home on Boxing Day.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d do a quick guide for what to get the under 3’s for Christmas. This is based on my extensive market research (we have a house packed to the rafters with toys you know), and a good rummage through the excellent Great Toy Guide. (You may spot some of Wifey’s reviews on there!)
Top of any list for the older end of toddlerdom has to be Playmobil. It lacks the instant recognition of character based toys (Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Peppa Pig and so on) but more than makes up for it in sheer quality. As an adult, all the Playmobil toys actually feel nice and are evidently well made. There are plenty of things to choose from, ranging from the inexpensive like the Child in a Wheelchair we got M’laddo when he broke his foot last summer to the special present from Grandparents level of expensive like the Rock Castle Playset. A lot of the items say 4/5+ years but to be honest as long as you’re careful on making sure any small bits are kept out of the way of younger children, you’ll be fine. The range is extremely comprehensive, covering all the emergency services, to Castles, Zoos, Hospitals and Vet Clinics, so there should be something for everyone. I’m particularly looking forward to pitched battles at the Castle, followed by a trip to A&E for the wounded knights. We’ve already got him the executive jet for one of his Christmas pressies.
On a similar vein but for children a wee bit younger, Fisher Prices Little People are really good. The people aren’t articulated like Playmobil, so its easier for little hands to put the people in the cars and so on. The playsets themselves, like the Zoom Around Garage we got M’laddo for his first Christmas (8 months) are chunky and durable enough for little hands to give a hammering to (he even managed to use the garage as an impromptu walker at one point) and slobber over without showing any ill effects. The mechanism on the lift takes a bit of working to loosen up, but two years on he’s still playing with it which show remarkable concentration in my book.
And another one for the boys (can you spot a theme here?) is the perennial role play favourite of toy wood working/power tools. Manys the time M’laddo has “helped” me assemble flat pack furniture with his toy hammer and saw(!) or used his electric screwdriver to make sure the table is securely screwed together and not about to fall to pieces. I have to admit here we got the wrong set. We instructed M’laddos grand parents to get the JCB workbench set for his second Christmas and the build quality is way below the excellent Bosch range that one of his little friends has. John Lewis sell them in store, so I’d advise you trek down to your local if you’re considering buying anything like this.
Well that’s my top 3 boys toys, although of course none of these are gender specific to any great degree (the Bosch set happens to be owned by one of M’laddo’s little lady friends). I’d be interested to know what suggestions anybody else has?