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Toy story; Knowing what to buy your kids for Christmas can prove a mine-field amidst the vast array of toys on the market. Consumer Editor EMMA McKINNEY asks the experts which toys they think will be this year's top buys.

Byline: EMMA McKINNEY

IT'S going to be an interactive Christmas for kids, according to the UK's "toy experts".

Bosses at the Toy Retailers Association (TRA) have made their list of which gifts they predict will be making it to the top of children's Christmas wish-lists this year.

And the vast majority of the top 12 toys featured here have the latest in technology - ensuring a new generation of computer whizzes. Gary Grant, chairman of the TRA's top toys selection panel, says: "This year we've seen some amazing technological advancements from the toy industry - from high-tech tablet computers for kid's to dolls that double as bedroom lights, and toys that can hold a conversation or that will play in a band with you, children now have the opportunity to interact and engage with their toys more than ever before.

"This doesn't mean to say that the toys are 'techy'; rather that technology has been used to enrich the whole experience of play. It also proves that the industry continues to be incredibly forward thinking, innovative and adaptable."

It's the 45th year that the TRA has announced its independent predictions for festive bestsellers, chosen by a panel of experts and done by looking at what's on offer at more than 100 toy companies across the high street, as well as online. They judge the best based on what they believe would excite children, as well as what consumers have been demanding and the latest trends in new products.

UK TOY INDUSTRY FACTS: The UK toy market was worth pounds 2.9bn in 2010 Last year 436 million boxes of toys were sold - an increase of eight per cent on 2009 The UK toy market is the biggest in Europe, and 10 per cent bigger than in France The sale of dolls is up 11 per cent this year compared to the same time last year - with top-sellers including Disney's Tangled Princess and the Monster High range from Mattel. Building sets are the fastest growing toys within the industry, with sales currently up 22 per cent this year compared to last.

THE TOP 12 FOR KIDS 1. Doggie Doo, by John Adams, RRP pounds 22.99 Players throw the dice to determine how often they squeeze the dachshund's lead. Each squeeze pushes the plasticine poop nearer to fruition and when the deed is done, players scoop the poop.

2. Fijit Friends, by Mattel, RRP pounds 54.99 With clever voice recognition built in, Fijit Friends respond to you with loads of movements, phrases and jokes. Beat sensors mean you can dance along as she rocks, twirls, 3. Moshling Tree House, by Vivid, RRP pounds 18.99 Moshlings like to run and play but also need a place to stay and the tree house is the perfect abode, with lots of cool hide-away spaces and even a basket lift for them to play on.

4. Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, by Hasbro, RRP pounds 44.99 The first fully automatic, clip fed disc blaster in the Nerf Vortex line, Featuring a removable clip that can hold up to 20 discs, an Electronic Targeting Scope accessory, a front handle to help steady your shots, and the Tactical Rail System compatible with most Vortex and Nerf N-Strike Mission Kit accessories.

5. Star Wars Ultimate Force Tech Lightsaber Assortment, by Hasbro, RRP pounds 39.99 Arriving from a galaxy far, far away the all-new Ultimate FX Lightsaber will provide one of the most authentic Jedi experiences ever for kids. The toy features a progressive light-up blade with vibrant LED lighting, allowing kids to experience the Force in a whole new way.

6. Fireman Sam Pontypandy Rescue Set, by Character, RRP pounds 29.99 Open the playset and help put out the building fires with the hose, save naughty Norman when he traps his head in the railings, help Sam get the cat down from the tree. There's never a dull moment.

7. Kidizoom Twist, by Vtech, RRP pounds 49.99 Get snapping with this two megapixel camera using the twisting lens: take pictures and movies of your friends then take fantastic self portraits. Edit and enhance your photos with a variety of frames, stamps and wacky effects. There's a great voice recording function with five different voice changing effects: pitch up, pitch down, slow, robot and echo.

8. LeapPad Explorer, by Leapfrog, RRP pounds 79.99 The first learning tablet created for children with a built-in camera, video recorder and microphone with more than 100 learning games, book apps, videos, and more. With the interactive e-books you can listen or read along to the story, sound out words, play fun activities and record your own story. Bring characters to life with the animation studio and create over 27,000 story combinations featuring you in the story studio app. Teaches mathematics, reading, science, music, geography and more.

9. Lets Rock Elmo, Hasbro, RRP pounds 69.99 Elmo comes with his very own microphone, tambourine and a drum set. Pre-schoolers can choose which Elmo plays, and he magically recognises which one you give him. Kids can also play along on Elmo's instruments.

10. Milky the Bunny, Flair, pounds 59.99 Milky the Bunny is a gorgeous interactive plush toy that is sure to be popular with his moving eyes, nose, ears and ticklish feet. Milky will call for you to play and waits for your cuddles. Hear his belly grumble when he is hungry and feed him with a juicy carrot.

11. Monster High Lagoona's Hydration Station, Mattel, pounds 39.99 Lagoona Blue is the daughter of the infamous sea monster so she loves nothing more than time in the water. After a long week at school, even monsters like Lagoona get dead tired. This fun playset is also a cool bedroom accessory, including Lagoona and her hydration station, her pet neptuna with eye mask plus cute accessories.

12. Ninjago Fire Temple, Lego, RRP pounds 91.99 Battle for control of the four Spinjitzu weapons has begun. Sensei Wu, Kai, Zane and Nya need help to keep Lord Garmadon and his evil skeleton army from taking the ultimate Spinjitzu weapon - the Dragon Sword of Fire. As the temple splits into two, the fearsome Fire Dragon emerges to protect the sword by spitting fire at Lord Garmadon.

KIDS' CHOICE AWARDS FOR the first time in the TRA's history, the team asked a panel of children to put together their favourite 12 toys, testing them based on the fun and boredom factors; coolness; durability and which ones they could play with alongside their friends.

The winners were Angry Birds, by Mattel, RRP pounds 19.99; Bop-It! XT, by Hasbro, RRP pounds 27.99; Fab Effex Variety Pack, by Spin Master, RRP pounds 19.99; Flufflings, by Vivid, RRP pounds 19.99; Gelarti Designer Studio, by Flair, RRP pounds 19.99; GX Buggy, by Tomy, RRP pounds 39.99; Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, by Mattel, RRP pounds 29.99; LeapPad Explorer, by Leapfrog, RRP pounds 78.99; Milky the Bunny, by Flair, RRP pounds 59.99; Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, by Hasbro, RRP pounds 44.99; Star Wars Millennium Falcon, by Lego, RRP pounds 129.99; and Top Agents Super Racer, by Playmobil, RRP pounds 19.99 MUMS' CHOICE: MUMS were also asked by the TRA to choose their favourite toys for pre-school aged children, their favourites were Imaginext Batcave, by Mattel, RRP pounds 49.99; and the Kidizoom Twist, by Vtech, RRP pounds 49.99 (left).

Nifa Mclaughlin from Gurgle.com who helped judge the Mum's Choice Awards, says: "All the toys we looked at were fantastic but we found the girls especially loved the Kidizoom Twist and the boys couldn't get enough of the Imaginext."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Nov 7, 2011
Words:1284
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