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Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

Top toys for Christmas 2010  – Retail Therapy

Discussed two topics with Becky Want this morning on Retail Therapy, live from the Arndale on BBC Radio Manchester. Listen again if you fancy it here. The second topic was the top toys for Christmas 2010.

According to the Toy Retailer’s Association, the Lego Airport, VTech KidiZoom video camera, and Moon Dough Barn are amongst the ‘dream dozen’ toys this Christmas. There’s certainy a lot of high tech in the list — including semi-lifelike robot animals — but it’s these three ‘creative play’ toys that have really caught my attention.

Watching my own toddling daughter play I find it thrilling when she takes the most basic elements and starts to create her own game from them. Pouring water from jugs to cups and back again, stacking up simple wooden blocks, emptying coins from a jar and gradually replacing them. The enjoyment all comes from her imagination, and these toys offer interesting ways to extend that imagination.

As a kid I loved Lego, and if I’m honest I can’t wait for an excuse to play with it again. PlayDough type materials were also always good fun because you could make the toys you had in your head but that didn’t exist (Fimo, that you can bake hard is particularly good for this). I also have great memories of playing with an early video camera with my parents, filming silly movies on holiday. So the fact that someone has made one just for kids — even if it is £60 — is very cool.

Roll on Christmas I say.

Posted by Tom Cheesewright on

2011  – The Year of the Robot? Retail Therapy on BBC Radio Manchester

Discussed two topics with Becky Want this morning on Retail Therapy, live from the Arndale on BBC Radio Manchester. Listen again if you fancy it here.

The first topic we covered was robots. I think that we might finally see domestic robots coming into the mainstream in 2011. There’s a huge variety available today and they have been around in various forms for some years, but they don’t really seem to have caught on in the UK.

When I talk about domestic robots, don’t expect to see R2D2 and C3po roaming around your living room any time soon. Today’s robots are rather more function-specific: mowers, hoovers, mops and even soup makers (depending on your definition of a robot). But they are increasing in practicality all the time, and importantly, falling in price.

A really practical automatic vacuum cleaner is now just £200 from iRobot. I should be testing one in the next couple of months for what I hope becomes a new regular review slot on BBC Radio Manchester. If it works well, I will certainly be taking one: with a toddler it seems the cleaning cycle in our house is never ending!

I could also fancy a robot mower, with the grass on our lawn rapidly rising towards the ten inch mark. Maybe I’ll review one of those in the new year…

Tom Cheesewright