For four and under
Until they start school, boys tend to be less aware of the toy ranges based on TV programmes. So you can be fairly safe with generic stuff like pirates, dinosaurs and robots. Discount retailer Aldi currently has some great toys for younger boys in store, including wooden magnetic vehicles and walking dinosaurs. This is also a good age to introduce a scooter.
One toy that will bring out your little boy's caring side is the Playskool baby dinosaur range. My son played with one of these for about 5 minutes in August and still talks about it. And from Hasbro, the Helmet Heroes range is a great toy to encourage imaginary play. Don't tell him, but I've ordered one of these for my four year old nephew.
For boys aged four to six
Once boys get to school, peer pressure kicks in, and boys of this age seem to move in packs, hunting out the same stuff. Well established boy favourites like Playmobil, Ben 10 and Power Rangers all have new ranges available. Ben 10 is now a teenager, battling alien forces. But this is still mainly a range for younger boys - by around six or seven they've probably moved on. The main reason for this being Lego Star Wars. Ask any little boy of this age what he's after, and it seems to be Lego Star Wars all the way.
The Star Wars brand is huge this year - probably helped along by dads getting nostalgic about toys they would have loved as a kid. So as well as figures of the main characters, you can now get jigsaws, duvet covers, Play Doh - even a kit to build Darth Vader's robotic arm. And how about a Darth Vader costume for your teddy. How cool is that?
For boys aged six and over
K'Nex is one of those classic building toys that boys seem to love. My six year old has been playing with the junior range, Kid K'Nex, for years now, and is just starting to move on to the older version. This year they have a terrific robot set, k'Nex Moto-Bots. They're designed for children aged seven and over, so it's quite challenging to build. Kids who like the virtual creatures on the CBBC show Bamzooki will enjoy this kit as a way to build their own futuristic robot pets.
More role play opportunities in the shape of the HM Armed Forces series of figures - these are similar to Action Men, but with very detailed costumes based on the real RAF, Army and Royal Navy. If there's a Forces connection in your family, your son would probably love one of these.
One the book front, Red House Books have some great great value sets including the popular Beast Quest books. My nine year old bookworm daughter gives a big thumbs up to War Stories for Boys (though she finds the title somewhat sexist and points out that girls will like this too).
So what are you buying your boys for Christmas? Leave a comment and let us know your recommendations
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