For all the times I have been a bit of a rubbish parent, I hope to cancel that out by one big good deed I did for my children: I took them to be toy testers for the day.
The occasion was the launch of Playskool's new Autumn range, which they marked by moving their toy testing laboratory from Rhode Island in the US to the UK for one day only. TV presenter Kirsty Gallacher, who's just revealed she's expecting her second child, came along to play. And so did ParentDish.
The event took place at the V & A Museum of Childhood in London, which I really recommend for a fab, free day out - lots of toys to play with, even when the Fun Lab's not in town.
And what does being a toy tester involve? Well, basically, playing with toys, whilst the experts from Playskool observe to see if kids are getting what they need to out of the toy. In the original Fun Lab, prototypes are used, in case they need to be changed as a result of feedback from kids. But in this case, we were given a chance to try out the new range of toys you'll be seeing in the shops over the next few months.
So what did our mini toy testers make of the range?
Far and away the biggest hit, as far as my children were concerned, was the range of Dino Roar Stompers. I can see these being a huge success in the run up to Christmas. They are baby dinosaurs that roar, move their heads
They had quite sophisticated movements, and a lot of personality for a toy that's less than £20. It's suitable for age 3+, although my nine year old loved them too. She even preferred to play with these rather than go have a chocolate brownie, and that's a first. In the end, I could only drag my children away from this toy by agreeing that no, August was not too early to start your Christmas list.
I was also impressed by the Clipo range, which is a building toy along the same lines as Stickle Bricks or Lego, but suitable for younger children from 18 months onwards. Toys like this are great for stimulating a child's imagination and developing hand/eye co-ordination.
One larger toy for babies that was also showcased was the Step Start Walk n' Ride. Unless you live in a mansion, larger toys really have to earn the space they take up. I liked this because it was versatile - transforming from an activity centre to a ride on toy. Suitable from 9 months, you'd get a lot of use out of this.
The Playskool range is widely available from all good toy shops.Suggest a correction