Making our children go green with envy, we headed to the Toy Fair at London Olympia to find out what goodies kids will be hankering after, pestering for, and playing with, in 2012.
Whilst we traipsed the trade show's aisles (rubbing shoulders with a convincing Queen Elizabeth II lookalike, hordes of promotions people in cuddly toy costumes and some incredibly lucky 'official toy tester' children), we spotted several big themes:
Olympics-related and London-inspired toys
Football-themed games to tie-in with Euro 2012
Even more film tie-in ranges than normal – Lego in particular are going down this route in a big way this year (see our gallery).
It could be a case of move over Moshi Monsters, with a race to create the next playground collectible craze. There were 'pocket money' toys in sealed bags galore, carrying on the 'lucky dip'/ trading concept of Lego Minifigures, Gogos and the like.
Many of the toys we've included in our gallery aren't in the shops yet, so with these, we've given the manufacturer or distributor's website for more information, rather than a link to an online store.
Which ones will you be buying?
1. Playmobil Take Along Soccer Stadium, £39.99, from Playmobil.
Cool soccer stadium which cleverly folds into its own carry box – ideal for taking to grandparents' or football-loving friends' houses. Four 'Click and Kick' figures can boot the ball around the pitch, whilst the two 'sliding' goalies try and save the day. Although it's portable, unfolded the pitch is almost a metre long - large enough to allow two children to play with it at once.
Hits the shops in April.
Athletic kids might also like Playmobil's new sport-themed figures (£3.99 and £4.99 each depending on size) - from javelin throwers to tennis players, there should be one to appeal whatever their game.
Whilst many a doll's house comes without any furniture, leaving new homeowners frustrated when there's nothing to play with on Christmas morning or their birthday, the Princess Dream Castle includes key items thrown in. There are also some fab features – our favourite is the revolving ballroom floor, so your Playmobil people can have a 'Strictly' moment.
Out in mid-June, the castle will come in at around £130.
Playmobil's staff were also making much noise about their 'Future Planet' concept. All about a futuristic energy-starved world where special crystals are needed to provide power and there's a battle going on between the E-rangers and the Dark Rangers. There will be a cartoon DVD available for free in toy shops, allowing kids to get a handle on the 'backstory'.
2. Carddies Colouring kits, £8.99, from Carddies.com and Amazon.
Compact colouring-in kits which feature sets of people and a background scene, based around themes with kid appeal - school, family, ballet, football and knights are a few examples. Children can get to work with the crayons (included) and later prop up their newly-colourful gang with little plastic stands provided in the pack, perhaps even staging a mini theatre performance. Perfect for those "I'm bored" moments when travelling.
3. Le Toy Van London Bus, around £42.50, from Letoyvan.com.
Le Toy Van's stand at the fair was brimming with their beautifully-designed wooden toys. One of our favourites was this gorgeous London bus complete with conductor – a fantastic souvenir for those visiting the capital for the Olympics.
Further figures can be bought separately so you can ensure the bus actually has some passengers.
4. Treasure Trove Sticky Mosaics, from £4.99, from Amazon.
Brilliant craft kits to keep offspring occupied on long plane and train journeys (they weigh practically nothing so are very portable unless you buy the huge four picture packs).
Taking the 'painting by numbers' concept and applying it to mosaic images, kids pick out the right colours for each numbered square and stick on pre-glued foam tiles to create their picture.
The main range isn't new but due out in April is the Disney Princess line. There are plenty of less pink and girly themes too (think pirates, dinosaurs, animals).
5. Monster Marbles, £1.99, TBC (these are SO new, we don't even have a stockist yet!)
Vying to be the next cool collectible, and priced for pocket money spending, these can best be described as a cross between Gogos and marbles.
Little monsters with a marble underneath, they're sold in sealed packs along with a guide to the points each is 'worth' and a piece of chalk for players to mark the ground (and hopefully not your brand new wood floor!) to help with scoring.
Due out in September and sure to be seen in many a school playground shortly after.
6. Lego - pictured Batcave, £69.99, from Lego.com.
Lego's designers must have been working over-time (and who can blame them with a job like theirs!) to produce tie-ins for two of this year's big film releases, The Hobbit and the Batman movie, Dark Knight Rises.
The Superheroes range includes the brilliant Batcave (shown) but also one of the coolest mini figures yet – a mini-Superman.
At the Toy Fair, a man dressed as a hobbit (his outfit only convincing until we saw he was wearing Crocs instead of over-sized hairy feet!) did a fine job of showing us the Lord of The Rings/ Hobbit sets. The dinky little Ferrodo figure even has the all-important ring on his finger.
Other new launches encompassed classic horror stories - a ghost train, Frankenstein and Dracula - all will be out in time for Halloween - and a dinosaurs range.
The Lego Friends section was full of lovely sets too and was a good antidote to the overt boyishness of much of the rest.
If your child has a burgeoning Lego people collection, check out Re:creation's Lego Minifigure display cases, from £12.99, brilliant for both keeping the Lego figures tidy between plays but also making a funky decorative accessory out of them for kids' bedrooms.
7. Millhouse kitchen, £100, from Millhouseathome.co.uk.
Play kitchens are an enduringly popular choice for toddlers and those from Millhouse are among the cutest we've seen.
Well-crafted with sustainably-sourced wood, they might not be cheap but they are certainly built to last and lovely to look at (important, given they'll probably be sitting out in your own kitchen or living room for some time).
8. Ravensburger London 3d jigsaws, £19.99, from Amazon.
Part of the 'all-things-London' trend, Ravensburger's superb Big Ben puzzle brings a new dimension to jigsaw-making - a three-dimensional one at that.
Big Ben is already available (as well as Paris' Eiffel Tower and NYC's Empire State Building), with Tower Bridge coming later this year.
9. Penbo, £49.99, from Iloverobots.com.
A quirky little penguin robot with stacks of appeal for younger children. Her furry outer means she's nice and cuddly but she's also interactive too - she'll chirp and chatter to her little baby, which children can pop back into its egg and tuck secretly in mummy Penbo's tummy.
Launching in the UK in the summer.
10. Magic Chocolate, £4.99, from Magic-choc.co.uk.
We love the idea of this - combine confectionary scoffing with model-making using this mouldable 100VIRTUAL-Gallery-145700%