Top Toys For Christmas As Chosen By Retailers And My Verdict

The 2023 DreamToys for Christmas list was released today. This list is created by The Toy Retailers Association and the toys are selected by an independent panel of toy retailers and toy experts. These people know the toy industry inside out and the DreamToys list is their prediction of the hottest toys for this Christmas. They believe these are the ones that will be on everyone's Christmas lists, the most sought after toys that are at risk of selling out. In my experience they also tend to be some of the most heavily publicised toys which then drives demand, but to get on to the DreamToys list it’s not just about the commercial influence of the brand, there is something about the toy which the experts think is a little bit special. 

There are toys on this list that your children might already have requested for Christmas, but what are the toys really like? Which ones will still be entertaining by New Year and which will be abandoned? This is my opinion of the DreamToys top 20 toys based on hands on experience, my children’s impression and over 10 years experience reviewing toys. Ultimately though you have to decide whether it’s more important to buy that toy that is going to light up their eyes on Christmas morning as they rip open the wrapping paper, or one that they will play with the most. No one wants a disappointed child, especially not at Christmas.

My Thoughts On The DreamToys Top 20 Toys For Christmas (in alphabetical order) 

A christmas tree shaped stack of shelves with the toy retailers DreamToys for this Christmas
The best toys to buy this Christmas according to toy retailers

Barbie Pop Reveal - Mattel

Thanks to the hype around the film it’s no surprise that Barbie features on this top toys for Christmas list. Barbie Pop Reveal range combines the popular doll with a surprise element with 4 different fruit scented Barbie figures in the range. You can tell from the picture on the packaging which doll you will get but you can’t see the actual doll or the accessories until you open her.

Combining 3 of the ever popular children’s toys aspects: dolls, blind bag toys and slime you open Barbie up by popping a straw through a pot of slime which sits on top of a plastic cup holding all the blind bag parts. The slime oozes from the top on to the packages and you have to dig around in the slime to find them and open them up. Don’t like the idea of the slime? Don’t worry it is in a sealed container and it’s completely optional to have a slime lucky dip. Each Barbie comes with roller skates, a squishy pet, clothes, a fruit ring and a mini squishy drink. The Barbie also has a colour reveal element where you can reveal a streak in her hair and a fruit themed tattoo on her cheek with cold water.

It’s a fun take on Barbie which will appeal to many fans. The reveal and slime element means extra packaging (which in the increasingly eco-conscious world feels a little uncomfortable), but it adds to the theatre in the opening which children will enjoy. 

Available from Sainsburys, Argos, Very and other retailers.

Barbie Pop Reveal dolls next to their packaging
Fruit Themed Barbie Pop Reveal dolls

Beast Lab - Moose Toys

This toy has caught the attention of my son both on TV and in the shops. It is an impressive set up where the child can make like they are an evil scientist and do experiments before a toy is revealed. The theatrical toy reveal is very cool, you get to add ingredients to the top, there is fizzing, lights and and you even get smoke released.

When you are thinking about the value and playability it depends on whether your child is likely to use the lab parts as a playset or if it is just elaborate, expensive packaging. The set looks a bit like a large conical flask on a base. The flask looks like it is full of liquid and at the end of the experiments drains away to reveal the toy inside. The toy is one of two different shark like beasts, but there is also a reptile which is exclusive to Argos.  The beasts themselves have lights and sounds and a weapon, but I think the reveal element and lab playset is the real selling point of this toy. 

You can press a button at the bottom of the flask and make the liquid fill the flask again allowing you to repeat the reveal as many times as you like. The smoke that comes out when you press buttons also works for about 50 plays apparently. If you want more you can get refill packs which has more of the ingredients that go in the top to fizz up and a new smoke pack. It’s worth knowing that you need 6 AA batteries for the lab to work so make sure you are well stocked up.

Available from Argos, Amazon, Smyths and more.

Beast Lab next to the two shark beasts you can get
Beast Lab

Bitzee Interactive Pet - Spinmaster

This toy looks really cool on the adverts, but when my children and I first saw it in person we were underwhelmed. I've now had a proper demo and after being talked through the features I am coming round to it, I think it’s one of those toys where it really pays to read the instructions. Bitzee is basically a little box which opens up to reveal a flickering holograph like display. You get pets to look after and play with. 

I think I was judging Bitzee Interactive Pet by the basic Tamagotchi which my children soon lost interest in, but Bitzee definitely has selling points over that classic pocket pet. For starters Bitzee doesn’t need babysitting, so when your children aren’t playing with it and you close the box it is asleep and doesn't need attention.  If it is ignored for long enough it gets in a car and drives off, but it can be enticed back if you are nice to it which definitely beats virtual pets dying while you are at school which we have some experience of. You can stroke your Bitzee Interactive Pet (although it’s just a pop up bit of plastic), rock it to show love and interact via a control panel at the front. The other thing I like is that you can earn additional pets so you can look after lots at the same time (up to 15 I think) so if one pet is feeling happy and loved you have others to care for and interact with.  

If your child prefers a more tangible toy that they can cuddle, move or play with in a less virtual way then it’s probably not the best gift, however for children that loves screens this is a great halfway house that will get them off a device. I also like that it’s compact so they can take it out with them.

Available from Smyths, Amazon, The Entertainer and more.

Bitzee Interactive Pet
Bitzee Interactive Pet

Cookeez Makery Oven Playset - Moose Toys

Am I being cynical if I say this feels like it was created as a girl’s alternative to Beast Lab? While both toys will appeal to both genders Cookeez is definitely more pink aisle. This is another toy where the big selling point is the theatre in the reveal. The packaging is an oven and you get ingredients, very specific instructions and a mould to make an animal shape. Pop it in the oven and wait 90 seconds for a ping to open the oven. Inside the animal creation has vanished and a freshly cooked animal plush is it's place. Thanks to a heat pad inside the oven it even feels warm when you get it out and it smells of fresh baking. The magic works by the roof of the oven dropping down to hide your animal shape and reveal the plush. This can be reset to be played with after the initial reveal, but it might lose a bit of the magic for some children. 

The plush are interactive and make noises. There are a range of different plush you can collect with each oven style having a number or plush unique to that oven. There are two ovens on general sale and a Sweet Treats Assortment exclusive to Smyths.

The oven can be played with as well as the plush. It’s a combination of plastic and cardboard so fairly sturdy for pretending to cook. 

Children apparently love that they feel they have made their plush and they will enjoy the magic of the reveal. I’m dubious how long my children would play with the plush for as I don't think it is interactive enough or cuddly enough to hold their attention.  However my son has asked for this toy repeatedly so maybe I’ll get to find out if I buy it. 

Available from Smyths, Amazon, John Lewis and more.

Cookeez Makery Oven Playset showing the pup and mould
Cookeez Makery Oven Playset

Fingerlings Monkey - Character Options

Fingerlings has been a popular toy for a number of years with various spin-offs including a large plush version which we loved. The style chosen as a top toy for this year is closer to the original, but with a fuzzy head, moveable tail and a heart on its chest that senses when it’s on your finger. The moving tail means that it can now sit on a surface which seems like a small thing, but I think will mean it’s left in more visible locations and played with more. 

As far as interactive animal toys go there are toys that do more, but the Fingerlings Monkey costs less than many and it’s small enough that it is easy to play with. My children love playing with them as they are cute and make funny sounds. They do get bored after a while only to rediscover them as the battery is dying and it starts making strange noises in the toy box and then I have to replace the battery and the cycle repeats again.

There are 4 different coloured monkeys in this wave of Fingerlings as well as a unicorn style exclusive to Smyths.

Available from The Entertainer, Smyths, Argos and more.

The new 2023 Fingerlings Monkey
Fingerlings Monkey

Fluffie Stuffiez Large Plush - MGA Entertainment

This is a toy that would probably drive me a bit nuts as a parent, but I can absolutely see the appeal for children with it likely to be a particular hit with Tweens and Teens. Fluffie Stuffiez are basically cuddly toys, but they have a reveal element to them. The outer layer of fluff can be pulled off to reveal a different pattern underneath. You can either pull all the outer fluff off, or create your own unique design by creating a pattern with which bits you remove. The toy underneath is much softer than the outer layer of fluff though so I would personally remove all the fluff if it is going to be cuddled.  Removing the fluff is going to be one of those sensory activities that some people will absolutely love, I know it would be a hit with my eldest. I suspect she would also leave a layer of the fluff all over my house though, which is why I think it would drive me a bit nuts. 

I love that this is both a cuddly plush, an activity and a collectable reveal toy, generating that little bit more interest. You can choose different shapes including a rainbow, panda, unicorn and ice cream cone in the large size. There are also smaller versions available and I can see children building up a whole collection that you have to move every time you change their bedding.

Available from Smyths, The Entertainer, Argos and more. 

Fluffie Stuffiez Large Plush reveal a different pattern plush underneath
Fluffie Stuffiez Large Plush

Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle & Grounds - LEGO

Combining Harry Potter and LEGO is always going to be a winner and previous sets have been popular (the LEGO Hogwarts Hall was in the DreamToys top list in 2018, the Knight Bus in 2019 and Hedwig in 2020). This year's Harry Potter LEGO recommendation is targeted at an older audience with a recommended age of 18+. 

It is a great looking set with lots of detail and I suspect some bits will be pretty fiddly to build. I think it has been designed to be made and put on display rather than to be played with.  It is a relatively compact size (given it’s Hogwarts) and should comfortably sit on most shelves when built. There are lots of interesting bits to look at from a chess board in the basement, to the whomping willow and the Beauxbatons flying carriage. It comes with one Lego figure, a special golden Hogwarts Architect statue, but the castle is too small for figures to go in it anyway.

I wouldn’t recommend this for children who like to smash up their designs after initial build or put them back in the box never to be played with again as it’s too expensive for that. This is a great gift for the advanced Lego builder who loves Harry Potter and likes to have their completed sets on display. From the shimmering lake around the castle to the special display board it is very special.

Available from LEGO, Amazon, Very and more.

Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle & Grounds Lego
Harry Potter Hogwarts Castle & Grounds

Hot Wheels City Ultimate T-Rex Transporter - Mattel

Hot Wheels continues to be a popular choice with children who love cars and racing. This T-Rex Transporter is a large playset, although smaller than many of the Hot Wheel sets which can be huge. It will appeal to children just getting started on their Hot Wheels journey right through to those adding to a well established collection. The transporter, or hauler, is essentially a blue and orange dinosaur with spaces on its sides for 20+ cars (1:64 scale size). 

Great features of this toy are that it comes with 2 cars and as well as the dinosaur aspect you can transform it in to a 2 lane race track to watch the cars zoom off across the room (or connect onto existing Hot Wheels track you might have). The dinosaur makes noises and lights up and it can gobble up cars when wheeled along which come out the back.   It is a well thought out toy with a good amount of playability that is compatible with the rest of the range. On the downside if this is the child’s first Hot Wheels toy you can be sure it won’t be their last. 

Available from Smyths, The Entertainer, Asda and more. 

Hot Wheels City Ultimate T-Rex Transporter
Hot Wheels City Ultimate T-Rex Transporter

L.O.L. Surprise! Magic Flyers - MGA Entertainment

L.O.L. Surprise! continue to have a popular following. In this version you get a large plastic bottle which lights up and moves as it reveals it's surprise doll inside. Open the bottle up and the doll takes off and flies. The L.O.L. doll has wings and a propeller above her head so she goes spinning up into the air. You can control her movements with your hands so she is basically a hand controlled drone which is pretty cool.  You can repeat the reveal from the bottle or launch from your hands. 

The magic bottle is rather large compared to the size of the doll and not ideal if you are short on space, but it will keep the doll safe when not being played with and it doubles up as a charging station (it includes a USB cable). 

This is likely to be a hit with L.O.L. doll fans, but it will have a wider appeal too due to the flying capability. After the excitement of making it fly is over I don't know how much it will get played with as I'm not sure it would get played with as a doll. I suspect it would be fun for a few days then forgotten about, but L.O.L. fans will love to add it to their collection.

Available from Hamleys, Argos, Smyths and more.

L.O.L. Surprise! Magic Flyers
L.O.L. Surprise! Magic Flyers

Little Live Pets My Puppy's Home  - Moose Toys

The Little Live Pets range contains some great interactive toys. This My Puppy's Home version features a puppy (there are 2 colour styles) which responds to your touch and it's bone with more than 25 different noises. In itself that is pretty cute, but as seems to be a theme on this year's DreamToys list, there is a reveal aspect to this toy too. 

When you open the box there is no visible puppy and instead you get a plastic home for your dog that needs assembling. Put the pieces altogether, shut the door, choose a name for your puppy and write it on a name plate them hammer the name plate (with the plastic nail) onto the front of the dog house. Open the door and the pet puppy will have appeared inside! Sorry for the spoiler, but the puppy is hidden in the roof and the ceiling comes down when the nail goes in. 

You can repeat the reveal again if you want by pushing the panel back up and there are also features like a doormat which has paw prints appear if you add water, but I suspect this will mostly lead to a soggy doggy and will only be done the once. Overall though I think this toy makes a great present. The doghouse is more than just a fun reveal aspect, but a prop which will encourage imaginative play. The dog is cute and I can see that the toy would be played with time and time again. 

Available from Smyths, Amazon, Argos and more.

Little Live Pets My Puppy's Home
Little Live Pets My Puppy's Home

Miniverse : Make It Mini Kitchen - MGA Entertainment

I fully admit that the Miniverse toys have totally passed me by. The round ball capsules look like many other blind bag toys where you get miniature items in, but these are a little different and pretty cool. You basically get the ingredients in to make fake food and it all gets set it resin using a UV light. So it’s not just a collectable item, but a craft that older children can really put their art skills to the test with. 

The Make It Mini Kitchen pulls together the range by having shelves to display your creations, cute mini oven gloves and an oven which contains a UV light you can use to set the creations. It also contains 2 recipes and a mystery ingredient to get you started. This is a great present for Tweens who can focus on the fiddly detail, but I can see a lot of adults would love the concept too. It does look tricky though and a steady hand will create the best finished results. The mini food replicas could be used with a doll house or other playset, or simply displayed depending on your child’s preferences. I’m also loving the Make It Mini Lifestyle collectables range which have lifestyle items including plants, a number of aquariums and candles.

Available from Smyths, Amazon, The Entertainer and more.

Miniverse : Make It Mini Kitchen
Miniverse : Make It Mini Kitchen

MINTiD Dog-E - Character Options

If your children are always asking for a pet dog then this robotic dog might be the answer. It’s an interactive robot dog that you can play with and train. Each one is ready to go straight from the box and will have a unique pattern of lights (there are thousands of possible combinations). To get the most out of it you do need to download an app, but there are options to play with it without the app. The app works via bluetooth and doesn't need a live internet connection. Dog-E need recharging via USB every so often.

It has some cool features like it’s tail wags revealing a light trail with a message. You can also have one dog unit played with by siblings with each child having their own version of the dog which will have a different light combination and can be trained to do different things (and then switch between them in the app).  

I’m always dubious about app controlled toys, but this has more to it than others I have seen. I like that you don’t need to use the app, that it has over 200 sounds and reactions and lots of different personalities. I can see it being played with longer than most interactive style pet toys. 

Available from Argos, Smyths and more.

MINTiD Dog-E robotic dog

PAW Patrol Mighty Movie : Skye Deluxe Vehicle - Spinmaster

The latest PAW Patrol movie focussed on the story of Skye, the smallest pup and showed just how important she is despite her small size, so it’s no surprise the merchandise includes a special deluxe vehicle for Skye alongside the smaller pup vehicles. I really like this latest range of vehicles as they have translucent parts which light up and the pups have see through sections too really making them stand out compared to previous pups you might have. 

Some of the PAW Patrol vehicles are pretty big, but this one is more of a medium size at 38 x 35.5 cm. It has lights, sounds, the wings spin round when you pull a trigger and it has 2 projectiles that fire out on each wing. Skye is easy for little hands to get in and out of the plane. Due to the trigger part the aeroplane doesn’t sit flat comfortably and it feels much more of a flying round the room type of toy. It’s a hit with my son who is a big PAW Patrol fan, but I think I personally prefer the smaller version of Skye’s jet which accompanies the movie which also has great lights and sounds. Maybe that’s because we own the small version though and I have seen how much it has been played with?

Available from Smyths, The Entertainer and more.

PAW Patrol Mighty Movie : Skye Deluxe Vehicle
PAW Patrol Mighty Movie : Skye Deluxe Vehicle

Pictionary vs AI - Mattel

While generally I prefer to avoid the complication of app integration for toys and board games, this version of Pictionary uses technology in a clever way that I think really adds to the game. Players battle against each other to draw an object and to predict whether Google will be able to guess what it is.  

There is a QR code in the box which when scanned takes you to a webpage for the game. You can use a timer on this page as well as take photos of the images drawn so Google can guess what it is. There is a deck of cards with object names on and when one is turned over players have to draw a picture at the same time. Before checking the image with Google all the other players predict if it will be recognised or not. If they are right in their prediction they move forward one place on the game board.

The downside of the game is it requires the use of the internet and a device with a camera and web browser, but I can see this being a lot of fun for families and friends as long as there are no more than 4 of you. You could even theoretically play on your own to see if you can get Google to recognise your picture. A good game to add to your board game collection.

Available from The Entertainer, Smyths and more.

Pictionary vs AI
Pictionary vs AI 

Pokémon 151 Elite Trainer - Asmodee UK

The latest version of the Pokémon Trading Card Game is Scarlet and Violet 151 based on the original 151 Pokémon. In the box you get: 9 trading card booster packs, a limited edition foil art card featuring Snorlax, card sleeves with a matt front and patterned back to keep your cards looking fresh, energy cards, dice, coin flip die, 2 plastic condition markers and a players guide which includes images of all the cards in the series. 

This is a niche toy which is only going to appeal to those who already have an interest in Pokémon TCG, whether or not they have started their collection. You get a promo card which will appeal to existing collectors and it’s a nice way to start collecting this series. But it’s a bit Marmite and while some people will be excited to receive it and spend ages checking out their cards, it will be of no interest to others. If you aren't buying for someone you know will appreciate it I wouldn't bother. 

Available from Amazon, Argos and more.

Pokémon 151 Elite Trainer
Pokémon 151 Elite Trainer

Squishmallows 7.5" - Jazwares

I struggle to find a bad thing to say about Squishmallows. They are basically a cuddly toy but the cute styling and wide range of designs mean they appeal to a wide age range from preschoolers to teens (who am I kidding, I love them too). They come in lots of different sizes but it’s the 7.5 inch version that takes home the DreamToy award this year. They are a good size for collecting and with designs as diverse as a duck with a sweatband and rugby ball to an alien and a macaw they’ll be at least one for all personalities. 

In case you’ve never picked up a Squishmallow it’s not just about how they look, they are super soft and squishy too making them ideal as a collectible and to hug. We have had a few similar style toys before, but they have come apart at the seams in places. Whether by luck or design none of our Squishmallows have come apart so far and they have been squished plenty of times.

Available from The EntertainerSmyths and more.


Star Wars Ahsoka Starship - LEGO

Star Wars isn’t a big thing in our house, but if your children are fans of the franchise and LEGO then they will probably appreciate this LEGO set. When complete it has a number of moving parts and even has a firing mechanism.  It comes with 4 LEGO figures giving you plenty of options for playing with it once assembled. Recommended for age 8 plus by LEGO it is a little more complex than some of the basic builds, but children used to LEGO should manage fine. If you are considering this you'll already know how much your children play with LEGO. My children tend to build, disassemble and then recreate meaning the more expensive licensed sets aren't great value for us, but if your children play carefully and like to leave them on display it will make a good present choice. 

Available from LEGO, Amazon and more.

Star Wars Ahsoka Starship - LEGO
Star Wars Ahsoka Starship LEGO

Super Mario Movie 7" Feature Bowser Figure - JAKKS Pacific

Of all the toys recommended by DreamToys this year this is my least favourite. Based on how all 3 of my children have played at different ages I don’t think this would be played with much in our house. I get that Bowser was really popular in the Super Mario Movie, but I think that was the combination of the Jack Black effect and that Peaches song. On it’s own the character is basically just a bit of a bruiser and it doesn’t seem a great size to mix with other characters for play. 

This Bowser has an articulated body so you can move it’s arms, legs and head, it looks great and it’s stand out feature is it breathes 'fire' (you add water which comes out as vapour spray while a red light is illuminated). This is cool and would entertain children for a while, but I’m really not sold by this toy, especially when there are other Super Mario Movie toys on the market which I think are more fun. In the same franchise Jakks Pacific have really cute mini (3cm) Super Mario figures and several play sets for the mini figures to go in which I can see being played with for much longer. If you have a massive Bowser fan though then it will probably be a hit. 

Available from Smyths, ASDA and more

Super Mario Movie 7" Feature Bowser Figure
Super Mario Movie 7" Feature Bowser Figure

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Pizza Fire Van - Character Options

This is another DreamToys choice of toy which is expected to be popular because it's merchandise relating to a film, in this case the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie. The pizza fan is a good size which can accommodate all 4 Turtles.  The vehicle doesn't come with any characters which is good because it means than fans that are buying multiple sets in this range wont end up with duplicate characters, but you do need to factor in the cost of buying them if not already owned. 

I find that vehicles often get played with more than playsets so I think the van was a good choice over the larger sewer lair playset from the same range. The van has a pizza slice on top which if you press makes the side door swing open and the pizza launcher slides out.  You get 8 pizza discs to fire out which is hopefully enough that they wont all go missing. 

How much this toy gets played with will depend on if you have the characters to play with it, but I think it's a good size and is open ended enough to have ongoing staying power.  

Available from Very, Smyths and more.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Pizza Fire Van
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Movie Pizza Fire Van

Twister Air - Hasbro

Everyone is familiar with the original version of Twister right? There is a mat and a spinner thing and each player takes turns to place a body part or a coloured dot without falling over. Well the air version takes the different colours and moving body parts, but otherwise it's a pretty different concept. It can be played by one or two players who each put a sensor on their wrists and their ankles. You need to download the app on to a device and then there are various game modes available, but they basically involve moving the right body part at the right time to get points. There is a hand only version which makes it nore adaptable for those not able to stand and kick their legs around. 
I think this is a fun game and a good price which gets people moving. It has the added benefit that people playing looking ridiculous so it will entertain others too. If your children have enjoyed playing Just Dance on a games console, or a dance mat arcade game they should love this. The need to use with a device is likely to reduce how often it will be played, but it has good potential. 

Available from Argos, The Entertainer and more.

Twister Air
Twister Air 

***DreamToys is a press event. This post contains Amazon affiliate links***


  1. I miss buying toys for my girls. A few years ago a lot of these things would be on their Christmas lists. My youngest has asked for a Fluffie Stuffiez though and I would love the Hogwarts Castle. x

    1. I can definitely understand why Fluffie Stuffiez appeal. I would love the Hogwarts LEGO too, when I saw it on the list I thought it would be huge, but it's a really good size to not take over the house.


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