As a toy buyer, I’m professionally required to indulge my inner child – which is great fun! Every year the toy industry is very keen to tell us what the biggest toys will be for Christmas, but this year I wanted to take a different approach and consult the real experts – kids – and give them the chance to choose the toys that fill our shelves this Christmas.
It’s an approach our parent company Walmart has taken before, and it’s gone down really well in the US, so my team and I set about arranging a toy testing event and invited hundreds of children to come along and spend a day playing with a huge range of different toys and tell us which ones they’d be putting on their Christmas list.
The event took place in Harrogate and was attended by over 300 children of all different ages. It was wonderful to watch them trying out as many toys as they wanted – and chat to them about the ones they loved most.
We asked the testers to score each toy they tried – and everyone was given one golden ticket to give to their favourite.
As you’d expect from the toy team, we’re pretty clued up on toys – but there were quite a few surprises for us. We’d expected a lot of the kids to make a beeline for all the tech toys and gadgets. But there was just as much excitement about some of the traditional favourites that have been around for ages.
Yes, Nintendo and the tech brands did well – but it was great to see old stalwarts like Lego scoring highly and still capturing the imagination.
Ten-year-old Tyler and his eight-year-old cousin Rhys – in the photo above – put the Lego Batman Batmobile through its paces and gave it a big thumbs up. Rhys said he will definitely be putting Lego on his Christmas list – and that he really wanted to have some Lego mini-figures to play with on Christmas morning. The Batmobile comes with five – Batman, Robin, Man-Bat and the Kabuki Twins.
Rhys was also a big fan of the Lego Ninjago Fire Mech, which features in the recent Lego Ninjago movie. With the seal of approval from Rhys and lots of others at the toy testing event, the Lego kits made it on to the list of more than 100 products in our Chosen by Kids Christmas range.
Other old favourites that proved popular on the day were Playdoh and Baby Annabell, who was up against the new and much-talked-about Luvabella doll but scored really well.
Nerf blasters also show no sign of losing their appeal. Boys and girls couldn’t get enough of the Nerf N-Strike MEGA Mastodon Blaster, which is motorised and sends 24 foam darts flying out of its rotating barrel in rapid fire.
Seven-year-old Andrew was one of many toy testers who gave top marks to the Nerf Mastodon. As you can see from the photo below, he also had great fun playing with my personal favourite: Laser X 2 Player Pack.
Each pack comes with two infrared blasters and two receiver vests which gradually change colours as you're hit by your opponent. Ten hits and you're out! With more packs, you can have unlimited players – Andrew and his eight-year-old sister Millie got together with several other toy testers to battle it out. I have to say … if I was that age again, Laser X would be on my Christmas list!
Here’s Millie and Andrew when they popped in to our Pudsey store this week to see the full range of Chosen by Kids toys hitting the shelves.
When it came to the tech toys, Nintendo 2DS XL went down really well – and lots of toy testers awarded their golden tickets to an exclusive edition Nikko Air Elite 115 Racing Drone that comes with an accessory pack with arches and obstacles to fly through. Andrew described it as “hard - but not too hard” to master the controls. For younger ones we’ve also got a Little Tikes My First Drone that’s easier to control.
All the children said they had a great time at the event – and that their friends didn’t believe them when they said they’d got the chance to test toys and choose the ones to go on sale at Asda.
For me, it’s been a great way to ensure we have plenty of the right toys on the shelves this Christmas – the toys kids really want to find under the tree. And with the help of our young toy testers, I think we’ve ended up with the most impressive toy collection for many years.
Here are some of the most popular toys in the full Chosen by Kids range:
- Luvabella blonde
- Baby Annabell
- Nerf Battle Racer
- Lol Big Surprise doll
- Lego Ninjago Fire Mech
- Lazer X 2 Player Pack
- Dareway Revolution Electric Ride On (blue & pink)
- Barbie Camper
- Paw Patrol Jungle Patroller – exclusive
- Lego Boost 5 in 1
- Little Live Pets Dream Kitty – exclusive
- Playdoh Magic Oven
- Little Tikes My First Drone
- Ben 10 Rust Bucket playset
- Peppa's Family Home
- Nikko Drone exclusive
- Disney Princess electric scooty
- My Little Pony Canteriot & Seaquestrian Castle – Value Added Pack