Toy Retailers Association: The 2012 Dream Dozen

With Halloween over, retailers' attentions have officially turned to the festive season as they stock up on the 'must-have' toys on every child's wish list this Christmas.

With Halloween over, retailers' attentions have officially turned to the festive season as they stock up on the 'must-have' toys on every child's wish list this Christmas.

Around this time every year, the Toy Retailers Association (TRA), which represents 60% of toy retailers, unveils its 'Dream Dozen', which picks out the products which the experts at the TRA believe will be the best-sellers in the run up to the big day.

This year's list has a notably technical edge to it, but also includes some of the old favourites, including Lego, Cabbage Patch Kids, and Spiderman.

On the technical side of things, the list includes a new version of the Furby, a small, brightly-coloured creature which is marketed by makers Hasbro as having a "mind of its own", with a "distinct personality" that adapts according to the way it is played with. The interactive toy retails at £59.99 and comes with its own free app, which can be used to virtually feed the Furby.

Another recognisable toy coming to the table with a technical twist - literally - is Twister Dance, a game where players try out their dance moves by stepping on the multicolour Twister spots in time to the music and in sync with the flashing lights.

Anyone who is forever being begged for a go on their iPad by their children will be pleased to hear that not one but two tablets have made it onto the Dream Dozen this year, with products out by both Leapfrog Toys and Vtech.

The LeapPad2 is described as a "multifunctional educational tablet device", which comes with a two-way camera and video recorder, a library of 225 game cartridges and five apps.

Giving the LeapPad a run for its money is the InnoTab 2, which is also a tablet based around learning and education. The device, which is priced £84.99, comes with e-books, games and activities, as well as a microphone and camera.

No doubt the TRA are hoping that these tech-based toys will enable the UK toy market - the largest in Europe - to maintain an edge on its European counterparts. Currently, the UK is flat compared to the average of the top five European toy markets, which is -1.

With around a third of annual toy sales occurring at Christmas, equal to about £1bn in 2011, it is no surprise that retailers are also making a return to old classics in a bid to appeal to every corner of the market.

Such items on the list which might appeal to young girls include the newest Cabbage Patch Kids dolls, which each come with a different facial expression and outfit, as well as a birth certificate including name and birth date and adoption papers.

Parents looking for something old-school for their sons may be interested the Web Shooting Spider-Man, which shoots webs from both arms, and includes a target that looks like his arch-nemesis, The Lizard.

Also keeping the boys amused (and the grannies terrified) on Christmas day this year will be the Nerf N-Strike Elite Hail-Fire, a shooting device which fires foam darts and comes with four six-dart clips - if another four clips are purchased the Hail-Fire can hold up to an impressive 144 darts.

Girls looking for a slightly more modern doll may see the appeal of the Monster High Ghouls Rule dolls, which come in one of four ghoulish outfits which commemorates a well-known monster. Kids can choose between the appropriately named Frankie Stein, Draculaura, Cleo de Nile, and Clawdeen Wolf.

Gary Grant, Chairman of the TRA's Dream Toys selection panel says: "There are some toys that hold an enduring place in the hearts of children for generations and this year we've seen the toy industry come up trumps by reinvigorating these classic favourites for 2012.

"We also continue to see technology being woven into toys to add extra dimensions to the play experience - whether this is the use of apps, interactivity, touch screens or integrated multifunctions such as e-readers and cameras."

The selection of toys on this year's list might be varied, but they certainly aren't cheap, with the Leapad2 at the top end of the scale at £89.99 and the cheapest still coming in above £22.

However, with the average child receiving gifts worth £100.84 spent on an average of 11 toys it seems likely that there will be something for almost every budget in this year's Dream Dozen.

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