Sunday 27 October 2013

Christmas in July. Yep, you heard right.

So. Back in July (ahem. Where has that time gone?!) I was invited to attend the very popular Christmas in July event. My two favourite things being talked about together - Toys and Christmas, how could I refuse?!

Back when I had a LBC (Life Before Children) I was a stationery and toy buyer for some top retailers, so I always have one eye on what is happening in the industry. I actually attended this event in 2012 too, so I knew what to expect. Great brands, and a preview of what is going to be out there for all our girls and boys at Christmas time.

The most eye-catching product at the event had to be the radio control inflatable Minion from the Despicable Me film:

Sold by Bladeztoyz, this retails for around £39.99, and I can see hours of fun to be had with it. A bit like a Weeble, it always rights itself, and can be used indoors and outdoors. There are also Disney Cars and Planes versions of this product - lots of fun to be had with all of them! Bladextoyz also have fantastic helicopters; the one we have at home is much loved by both Mr C and Sasha. New versions shoot water and bubbles and I definitely see them being very popular.

Top of Tamsin's list for Christmas is a pet. I'm thinking we should get her a TEKSTA puppy.
Not quite as cuddly maybe, but the plus side is that it wouldn't need walking in the rain. These are amazing bits of kit - they respond to voice, touch and your hand gestures. They are wireless, interactive, programmable and apparently they even show emotion! Available from, they retail at about £59.99. Keep watching for my next post to see what amazing thing they have been up to!

Sasha's favourite characters is Doc McStuffins, and there's a whole host of great products out there under this brand. At the show I saw the Doc McStuffins Time for a Check Up Centre by Flair - Sasha would love one of these but for space reasons Mr C definitely wouldn't, so I guess we'll have to compromise on something else from the range. The Magic-Talkin-Check-Up-Set looks slightly smaller but just as much fun: were there, with their fabulous range of products - again, bound to put huge smiles on faces this Christmas. My girls loved travelling with their Trunkis which we bought a couple of years ago, and now there's a fantastic tie in with Moshi Monsters. There are Katsuma and Poppet versions which I know they would have adored.

I love the focus on innovation and design which this company has - their latest products are the PaddlePaks, splash-proof backpacks for little ones in funky underwater designs. Check out their BoostApaks and SnooziHedz too!

One of my favourite new products was Skwooshi from Flair (who also do the Trash Pack and plenty of other great products). Skwooshi is a mouldable compound which never dries out, and because it doesn't crumble (know that one, parents?!) it doesn't make a mess - a win-win situation as the children will LOVE playing with it!!
HABA toys were also on show and their products are always top quality and well thought out to give lots of play value. I bet most houses with children have a HABA product in them somewhere - and if they don't, they should! Just look at this fabulous Toy Shop With Yummy Veggies (although personally I'd go for the Pastry Pleasures):

Another gorgeous product I saw was the bedroom art from Illuminated Canvas - well worth a look if you have a bare wall or would like to freshen a room up.

We have been lucky enough to review a couple of products from Ravensburger before now - the 3D Big Ben puzzle and an Aquarelle set - and I'd definitely recommend both of these for Christmas presents. DKL are well worth a look too - Hama beads, which my girls have just started getting into, top quality wooden toys and a huge doll range (I have my eye on the bath one which dries out quickly for Sasha!). Drumond Park have a huge range of family board games, and I reckon there should always be at least one of these under the tree to force Uncles to play with the children share as a happy family activity on Boxing Day. I think we'll go for Catchphrase this year - very retro!

There were so many toys there that both my girls would appreciate - definites under the tree for us are the One Direction Top Trumps from Winning Moves, who have a fantastic range of products on their website (including the brilliant Bananagrams), and the squeezy Neep from Rainbow Designs. No doubt there will be a few more of the above in the pile too!

My personal favourite ranges shown at the event came from Great Gizmos. They have so many craft kits which make perfect birthday and party presents - but great stocking fillers too. Such as the Mosaic craft sets, at different price points, or the Science range (who doesn't want to make a volcano?!), or the Mould and Paint products - Glitter ballerinas, yes please!

Their Nici range of soft toys is totally adorable. I'm putting the Monster keyring on my Christmas list (hint, hint, everybody) ;)

It's fair to say, I do LOVE Christmas - and writing this post has definitely got me into the festive spirit now. Oh come on, it is nearly November...

Disclaimer: I was given a ticket for this Press event for free but all the views given are my own; I wasn't actually asked to write a post about any of this! I'm just hoping I don't get penalised for so many links, but I wanted to give all you parents some ideas of where to start that difficult shop!