Amazon's top toy tips for Christmas 2011
Like Hamleys, Microsoft, Hasbro, Currys/PC World and John Lewis before it, Amazon has held its Christmas in July event, showcasing all the gifts that it believes will not look out of place in Santa's bulging sack come the end of the year. And while there were plenty of cameras, TVs, gadgets and gizmos to look at, naturally we made a bee-line for the toy section.
To be honest, there's little tech-wise out there that we haven't already covered here on Pocket-lint (in triplicate), and the consumer electronics industry saves its autumn/winter launch announcements for the annual IFA convention in Berlin at the end of August, so these events are best suited to getting some hands-on time with stuff that we wouldn't normally have a chance to.
And where else would we get a gander at a life-sized adult pedal car...
First up, though, is Activision's Skylanders: Spyro's Adventure, a videogame/toy combo that we think could take off in a big way.
The game itself, which will be available on Wii (the version we saw), Xbox 360 and PS3, is a 3D puzzle adventure set in the Skylands, and is essentially aimed at kids from four to 14-years of age. Players have to battle enemies and find objects, such as keys, to get them to the next area - fun, friendly stuff.
However, the clever bit is that Skylanders allows a gamer to introduce new playable characters to the world in the form of physical toys. Each copy comes with a "portal" which is connected wirelessly to the console (or wired on Xbox 360), and whenever a new character model is placed on top of the real-world device, the character instantly appears inside the game. And each has different abilities and powers.
Three characters are initially supplied and then kids can add to their collection. The game, portal and first three adventurers (including Spyro himself) will cost £60 and be available from 14 October. Each additional model (not needed to complete the game, but can unlock new sections) will cost around £7.50.
We originally saw Dance Star Mickey at the Hamleys Christmas in July event (in June), but we didn't get to see him in action. Now we have and we can honestly say that it's great fun - if not a little creepy.
Costing £70, this definitely falls into the category of main (or only) present, but could be considered value for money as he's got a stack of songs he dances to. Mickey also encourages kids to dance along, and gives instructions for the moves he's pulling.
Plus, with wheels in his feet, he can properly shift around (as long as it's not on carpet) and even moonwalk. Now that's something that Hokey Pokey Elmo couldn't do...
We've already brought you news of Cars 2 Scalextric Start so we won't dwell, but we've now seen the cars up close and they're mighty, meaty and exactly what we'd expect from the brand.
The track is a decent size too, and you can even buy the cars individually if you've already got a stack of track in the loft or whathaveyou.
Cars 2 Scalextric Start costs £99.99 for the set, with the officially licensed cars available separately for £31.99 each.
The Mookie Lunar Buggy (or, to give it it's full Amazon listing tile, "Mookie Lunar Rescue Team Fire Radio Controlled Car (Red)") is a great, reasonably priced present as it's only £24.99, and for that you get bonkers RC action and a lot - and we mean a lot - of lights.
The car itself can flip any which way you like and it still manages to keep going. Its front can be twisted independently to the rear, so it jumps about like barefooted Brit on a Tunisian beach.
Lastly, and certainly not leastly, we come to the Berg Jeep Wrangler Go Kart, an adult-sized pedal-powered behemoth that'd make any Dad go weak at the knees - partly because to see it is to covet it, and partly because it costs a cool £700 (or, currently, £689.74 on Amazon - with a strange £0.32 per oz listing alongside).
This is no mere toy, this is the future of whizzing around festivals with nary a care for your fellow revellers. And, as it's your own pedalling that drives the kart, you can feel ecologically responsible, to boot.
There is a kids' version available too, for £260, but where's the fun in that?
What would be on your Wish List this Christmas? Let us know in the comments below...