Amazon's Top Toy Tips for Christmas 2012
Amazon has held its annual Christmas in July/Wish List event in London, and it's now a Pocket-lint tradition to pick out best (most relevant) of the toys on show in order to get a sneak peek on what might be the biggest sellers come the end of the year.
The first to catch our eye this time around was rather obvious, really. Not only is it jam-packed full of electronics and from a company we cover a lot here on Pocket-lint, V-Tech, it's actually called Gadget: Gadget the Robot.
Costing £39.99, Gadget the Robot has several different modes that a child can interact with, selectable on his stomach. He also has a black and white LCD screen that supports his speech or actions with pictures and words.
His head, arms and torso all move, and you get a selection of tokens that can be slotted into his head in order to play different games - spelling, for example. It's fun, friendly, educational and current, muttering about TV talents shows and the like. We can see it being a hit on Christmas Day... as long as you remember the batteries.
Another of V-Tech's educational launches for 2012 is an update to its InnoTab, children's tablet device. The InnoTab 2 looks very similar to the former model but features a rotating (front and back) camera for capturing still photos and video.
There's a microphone this time too, which can be used by some of the games and applications outside of video recording.
Its LCD touchscreen is the same size - 5-inches - and there's a g-sensor again, for motion gameplay. And it comes in either pink or blue, as last time. It'll cost £84.99 when it's released later this year.
LeapFrog too has updated its "iPad for kids" in the guise of the LeapPad 2. It also sticks with a tried-and-trusted form factor, with the toy manufacturer also opting for enhanced and improved functionality, rather than a complete overhaul.
It has a faster processor, bigger memory and is definitely speedier than its predecessor. The cameras have both gone up a notch in resolution terms over the ones found on the original LeapPad Explorer, and the company claims that battery life is much better than before.
The LeapPad 2 will be available from August for £89.99.
Also improved over a former iteration is the LeapsterGS. The handheld educational games console will cost £64.99 on release and will replace the Leapster Explorer. It's thinner than before, but features a larger touch screen and we have to say that, from our quick play at the Amazon event, it's definitely more vibrant.
Games cartridges will play on both the LeapsterGS and the LeapPad 2 and both can also connect to a PC in order to download more games or apps.
Out now, but you may have to save until Christmas to afford one, is one of our favourite toys of all time the Character Building Wembley Stadium. We first saw this back at the London Toy Fair in February, but that was just a demo concept model. Now we've had a chance to see the real thing, and it's incredibly impressive - even more so than before.
As a bit of background, toy company Character Options has its own Lego-style bricks and minifigure collections, including Doctor Who-licensed sets. And recently it signed a deal with the English Football Association to create Character Building sets out of England and football-themed properties. Wembley Stadium is one of those.
And because Character Building uses a similar form to Lego, it's actually compatible, so you can fill the stands with Harry Potter figures if you like.
We're very keen on this magnificent toy set, and can fully understand why it costs £149.99. It even has a minifigure version of the Bobby Moore statue on the outside. Ace.
The SpyNet Video Watch 2.0 with Night Vision is also already available, but more affordable at £49.99. It allows you to record video and take photos both in daylight and at night, and its full colour 1.4-inch TFT screen doubles as a monitor and normal digital watch.
Although we didn't get to see one of the Moshi Monsters App Monsters in full swing, as the app part is not yet available, we can't have a Christmas toy round up without featuring the latest addition to the British sensation.
App Monsters are a series of different plush Moshi Monsters, but with a difference. You can slot a smartphone or iPod touch into a pouch on the front of each toy's noggin and the application will replace the soft and cuddly face with an animated one.
The owner will then be able to interact with the Moshi Monster, poking it in the eye and stuff. We're not sure from when exactly the App Monsters will be available, or how much they'll cost, but it's yet another cunning way to combine the brand with modern consumer electronics in a way we approve of wholeheartedly.
Finally, we couldn't ignore the cuddly plush toy versions of Henry and Hetty (£7.99 each), the smiley-faced vacuum cleaners. There truly is nothing better than encouraging your children to love household appliances when they're young. Think of all the housework you'll be able to pass on when they grow up.
It's a long game, but think of the benefits if you get it right...