Winners: Dad's Choice Awards 2021

The Christmas toys that are REALLY worth the price tag! Dads reveal their favourites after testing them out at home – from £200 Scalextric to an £8.50 Wiggly Words game

  • Dads from across the UK have revealed picks of best toys for Christmas 2021
  • Each father spent time testing the must-haves with their little ones at home 
  • Amongst the winners include £18 magic pen set and £199.99 Scalextric

Stuck for ideas about what presents to pick out for your kids this year? 

Dads from across the country have spent weeks playing with this year’s top toys with their own children to see which ones kept them most entertained.  

The winning toys were chosen because each had creativity, fun factor, value for money and impressed a selection of dad testers and their children.  

Among the 11 top-placing products from the Dad’s Choice Awards 2021 were a £23.99 digital metal detector, £199.99 Scalextric and a magic pen set priced at just £18.00.  

Here, FEMAIL reveals the top 11 winners…

Scalextric ARC AIR GT Challenge (Mercedes GT3 v Ford GT GTE) 

Available on the scalextric website and all good toy shops at around £199.99, this toy unlocks real world racing scenarios for the ultimate racing experience

What is it: Scalextric ARC AIR introduces real racing excitement to Scalextric. Connect to the Scalextric ARC app on your smart device to unlock real world racing scenarios for the ultimate racing experience. With over 6.8m of track, this Scalextric World GT set boasts 12 track layouts for added race thrills, and features the Ford GT GTE taking on the Mercedes AMG GT3.

Why dads love it: ‘This set was definitely a winner in our house as we absolutely loved the endless entertainment it provided for our family. 

It was super easy to assemble, not sure who loved it most – me or the kids. 

Balancing Game – Space

With a suggested retail of £33, this fun and educational game, from Viga Toys, is designed to train children’s concentration, thinking skills, logic, hands-on skills

What is it: This is a space theme balance game. This toy includes the sun,8 planets and other 7 space theme blocks. Bright colors, cute pattern,kids will love it at the first sight! 

It is designed to train children’s concentration, thinking skills, logic, hands-on skills, and improve their emotional control and pressure resist through the process of play. 

 Why dads love it: ‘We loved this game because not only can it be used to as a balancing game it also teaches the names of the planets. Really lovely bright colours as well!’ 

Science Mad Digital Metal Detector

Any metal object is treasure to young explorers starting out in metal detecting, so this detector is sure to be a hit. Priced at £23.99-£24.99 and available on Very, The Studio, The Range, Rymans, Bright Minds and Amazon

 What is it: This metal detector will beep and LED lights will flash, speed up and change colour to alert you that a metal object is close by. It could be old or lost coins, jewellery that has been accidentally dropped, or a host of other possibilities. 

Controls are provided to change both the sensitivity and sound volume of the detector. 

Why dads love it: ‘The kids couldn’t wait to get outside with this and see what they could find – we took it too the beach where we found loads of coins. It was a great outdoor activity, and we loved the excitement that it brought.’ 

Hue Animation Studio 

HUE Animation Studio fosters 21st Century skills such as problem solving, artistry, curiosity, self-direction, planning and personal expression. It’s priced at £49.95 from huehd.com

What is it? This highly engaging, gender-neutral educational toy will bring hours of pleasure to young film directors who with the click of a button can animate anything from LEGO® figures and clay creations to 2D drawings. 

Designed for children aged 7-13, the kit includes a HUE HD camera in a choice of bright colours, a 64-page animation activity book full of tips and tricks, and HUE Animation software. 

Why dads love it: ‘We thought that this was a really great educational toy, combined screen time with learning and we made some really cool time-lapse videos.’

Wiggly Words Game 

Children will be able to practise spellings they already know as well as learning new words with this £8.50 brainteasing word game from www.orchardtoys.com

What is it: A brainteasing word game for the whole family that makes spelling fun! 

The race is on to play all your cards in this brainteasing literacy game for players 6-adult! Players use their worm cards to add to the wiggly line by joining heads with tails to spell words. 

Not only are the cards double-sided to maximise the number of combinations, but they also feature hilarious characters that children will love! 

There are sailors, superheroes, and even a punk, to name just a few! 

Why dads love it: ‘Loved this game – easy to set up, simple to explain and it got the kids practising their phonics without them even realising! We are happy that Wiggly Words has joined our collection!’  

Ladybird – Build Your Own Mini Build

Made using 100% sustainable cardboard and paper, the Build Your Own Ladybird, £9.99 from www.buildyourownkits.com, is not only fun and engaging to play with, but also eco-friendly

What is it: This fascinating mini beast is beautifully bold with its bright red wings and contrasting black spots. And the pull-tab rotating wing cases perfectly capture a ladybird’s flight movement. 

Easy to assemble using slot-together techniques – there’s no glue, no mess, no fuss. Everything you need is provided in the kit – simply follow the instructions: press out the pre-cut parts, build and play! 

 Why dads love it: ‘It’s great to see them play with something that isn’t a load of plastic. There’s no glue or mess, everything you need is in the kit, and you just slot the cardboard and paper together. 

The ladybird was fantastic when it was finished, and the kids loved that the wings move!’ 

Tig Tag

Instead of physically pushing or hitting another child to make them ‘It’, kids simply throw the lightweight TIG-TAG, resulting  in fewer accidents. It’s available at www.tig-tag.co.uk with a suggested £10 retail price

 What is it: TIG-TAG is a soft-to-the-touch throwing and flying toy that makes playing ‘You’re it!’ safer, fairer and more fun.

It not only encourages children to ‘unplug’ and enjoy collaborative play but also enhances hand-eye coordination. 

Just as importantly, TIG-TAG ensures a wide range of ages and abilities get to run, jump and exercise while playing and laughing together. 

 Why dads love it: ‘Our kids really loved the added challenge of throwing the Tig Tag. Plenty of noise and lots of laughter but all our kids could play together. 

‘Later the older ones played with their friends and added other rules…can only Tag left arm and that took competition to another level…really brilliant fun.’  

Marvin’s 30 Amazing Magic Pens 

The magic pen set, which comes at the suggested retail price of £18, includes 9 colour-changing pens, 14 erasable pens, 5 multi-layer over pens and 2 magic white pens

What is it: Create marvellous works of art using 30 magic pens with amazing powers! 

Write secret messages, create stunning 3D lettering, make your pictures vanish , change colour & create a multi-layer of colours. 

Creativity with a touch of magic for ages 5+. Includes 9 Colour Changing Pens, 14 Erasable Pens, 5 Multi-layer Over Pens and 2 Magic White Pens. 

 Why dads love it: ‘HUGE thumbs up from all of us here. The kids loved writing secret messages to us and making their pictures vanish! I am sure that these pens will be used over and over again.’  

Windy Bums Panda, Monkey and Unicorn    

With a suggested retail price of £15.99 and sold by Smyths, Amazon, Argos, B&M and Very, these great value, safe and very funny children’s toy make a perfect present for Christmas or an ideal gift on a birthday

What is it? Tasteful, sophisticated and clever. These are just three words we don’t use to describe really funny gifts for kids – like this farting plush toy. Bump to make it trump!

Once set off, the bottom coughs continue… When it stops, bop it again. This is a funny gift that lets rip, wiggles, jiggles and giggles on the floor.

Why dads love it: ‘We had enormous amounts of fun with this. Absolutely hilarious when such a cute toy makes farting noises – provided a lot of laughter in our house!’

T-Rex Truck    

Kids will love pretending to be park rangers in the all-new £109.99 T-Rex Truck by Little Tikes®!  £109.99

What is it? The large T-Rex has a cool design, makings roaring sounds and sparks kids’ imaginations while they ride. 

Kids love being behind the wheel, while adults love the durability and comfortable design. 

The T-Rex Truck is easy to manoeuvre with its 360 degree spinning front wheels and durable tyres that are designed for both indoor and outdoor play. 

Why dads love it: This was a massive hit with its cool design and roaring noises. It’s perfect for indoors or outdoors and can be manoeuvred by the kids or pulled or pushed by Daddy. Really well made and sturdy too! 

UpRoar!

UpRoar! which currently retails on Amazon for £11.99 is a hilarious card game where zero tactics are required

What is it? UpRoar! is the £11.99 super simple yet hugely hilarious card game where mooing like an angry cow can win you the game. 

With zero tactics required, literally anyone who can read can play. Take two cards, spot the only matching pair of words, and be the rest to sound out the answer.  

 Why dads love it: ‘It’s a perfect game for anyone who likes to laugh a lot. We loved that the whole family could play and even got Nanny and Grandad round for game.

The Highly Commended Winners 

BrainBox: Football £12.00

Micro Scalextric Batman vs Joker Set Battery Powered Race Set £59.99

Big Box of Magic Set £24.99-£25.99

Smart Ball Counter Football £19.99

Rainbocorns Fairycorn Surprise (Series 4) £24.99 

Chuggington Safari Park Track Set £39.99 

Exploding Minions £19.99

Cozy Coupe Shopping Car £40.00

Commended Winners 

Ticket to Ride Europe £39.99

My Living World Bug Photography Kit £13.99

X-Shot Excel Crusher £29.99

Small Starter Set NEW Supermarine Spitfire MkVc £10.99

Rainbow High Fashion Doll – River Kendall £28.99

Flying Aces F-35® Lightning® £7.99  

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