26 of the best toys for 2023 - as recommended by industry experts

Our pick of the best new toys for 2023, from dolls and vehicle play sets to much-love brands like Barbie and LEGO.

An image of The Best New Toys for 2023
(Image credit: Future)

The best toys for kids should be fun and engaging, but they should also support their development - whatever stage their at. Here's our top pick of dolls, playsets, bath toys and more for 2023.

A new year brings with it new prospects for play as toymakers everywhere strive to create fresh, innovative products that children of all ages will be pleading their parents for over the coming months.

So, as a parent, what can you expect to be top of all those Birthday and Christmas lists to come? Well, according to the experts at the British Toy & Hobby Association (BTHA), traditional toys - including plushies, action figures, vehicles and building kits – will all continue to be popular. And 2023 is also looking like a big year for licensed toys, with Disney marking its 100th anniversary, Paw Patrol turning 10 and movie releases from Barbie, Transformers and Super Mario all predicted to drive sales in the sector.

Nostalgia is also proving to be a big seller for the toys and games industry as parents today seek to relive their own childhood through the products they buy for their children - so you can expect brands such as Playmobil, Sylvanian Families and LEGO to keep making those wish-lists. 

The BTHA announced their own list of Hero Toys for 2023 at London Olympia’s Toy Fair in January with Rebecca Deeming, communications and events manager at the BTHA, saying: "We are confident that our winners represent everything our industry is about: ensuring every childhood is filled with play."

The best toys to buy for kids in 2023

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Bluey Wooden BBQ and Salad Set

Age range: 3+ | Batteries required: 2 x AAA | RRP: £29.99 / $21.89

As we all strive to be more sustainable, the move away from plastic toys towards eco-friendly alternatives such as wood continues to gather pace. And who better to take the plunge with than lovable Aussie blue heeler Bluey? Made from responsibly sourced materials, the wooden products are certified by the The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) - and the attention to detail in this barbecue role play set is bound to get the child seal of approval too. With a grill which “sizzles” when food covers the light sensors, a clicking ignition and a temperature control to turn, children will love the interactive features. The easy-to-follow recipe cards can help to guide their play while they gain their confidence - and will help them rustle up a Sausage Sanga or a Shrimp Salad that even Dad would be proud of.


Bandai UK Ltd Miraculous Magic Heroez Dolls 

Age range: 4+ | Batteries required: No |RRP: £22.99

If you had hoped the unboxing trend was a thing of the past, think again – reveal toys and collectibles remain big business and the Miraculous Magic Heroez Dolls are some of the latest to market, which is why they're one of our picks of the best toys for 4 year olds. With three designs (ladybug, rabbit and fox) to find (and no, you can’t choose which one you get) unboxing and unveiling your character is all part of the fun. Every Miraculous tube comes with a mystery superhero in a red packet, and a set of surprise accessories in a pink packet – you just have to add water for the big reveal. It’s a fresh, more feminine take on the superhero genre. Children will love the interactivity of having to get the dolls wet to reveal their character and the element of surprise at not knowing which design it’s going to be. Parents will love that there are – mercifully – only three to collect. 


Green Science Magic Water Tap

Age range: 5+ | Batteries required: 2 x AAA | RRP: £23.37 / $21.99

The plus points to this toy are almost endless – it’s educational, exciting, unique, attractive and affordable. Aimed at introducing young minds to the principles of physics and engineering while also drumming home the message about how the earth’s resources – such as water – are finite, it offers great scope for both learning and play as is one of the best toys for 5 year olds out there. The fact that your child has to build the tap before they can use it extends the appeal of this toy – plus it makes a cool accessory once they’ve finished it.


Just Play Sesame Street Potty Time Elmo 

Age range: 18 months+ | Batteries required: 2 x AA (included) | RRP: £34.99

First aired in 1969, Sesame Street reached its 53rd season in 2022 and is still going strong – and this Potty Time Elmo is proof that it’s still as popular with kids and (perhaps more importantly) parents today. Aimed at toddlers – many of whom will be potty training themselves – this is a really positive role play toy and one of the best toys for two year olds. While fun and interactive thanks to accessories and sound effects, Elmo can also help reinforce the key skills you are trying to teach your toddler – including the importance of washing your hands after using a potty or toilet. Complete with reward stickers and sound effects, this toy can be used as an aid to make the difficult transition out of nappies a more fun, relatable and – hopefully - positive experience.


Moose Toys Magic Mixies Colour Surprise, Magic Cauldron Plush Toys

Age range: 5+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £24.99 / $19.97

According the BTHA and data experts The NPD, the best performing category of toys in 2022 was plush – that’s soft toys to you and me. Plush sales increased by 29 per year-on-year, proving that traditional toys still hold a lot of play appeal. Cashing in on that, Magic Mixies have launched a new range of colour surprise plush toys that also piggy-back on the unboxing trend. Revealing your Mixie is a really interactive process with children having to add “bubble and fizz” mix alongside water and a name tag before the cauldron bubbles up to reveal the friend inside. There are then various colour-changing surprises to reveal with water. This is a scaled-back version of the original Magic Mixies Cauldron and while not quite as “magical” at the crucial point, at under £25 rather than nearer £80, it’s a much more cost-effective alternative and still impressive.


Orange Tree Toys Ltd Woodland Animal Balancing Game

Age range: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £15.99

Another toy aimed at the pre-school market, this balancing game is made from sustainable wood, is certified plastic-free and comes in 100 per cent recyclable packaging so ticks all the eco-friendly boxes – it’s also adorable to look at. Aesthetics aside though, this is actually a great piece of kit for early years development – the individual characters can be picked up and placed on the big bear to balance, helping to hone fine motor skills such as hand-eye coordination. By introducing the different animals and exploring the noises they might make you can also help boost their early speech. Role play and imaginative opportunities are endless too.


PLAYMOBIL 71202 City Life Ambulance with Lights and Sound

Age range: 4+ | Batteries required: 3 x 1.5 V micro batteries | RRP: £49.99

German toymakers Playmobil have been in business since 1974, making their distinctive brand of hardy plastic role play characters and accessories. The latest Ambulance with Lights and Sound promotes imaginative play while tapping into children’s fascination with the emergency services. The two different siren sounds that can be switched on and off will appeal to their interactive nature and help to bring their games to life. As it comes with three figures and multiple accessories, it’s a good standalone set – meaning you don’t need to have an extensive Playmobil back catalogue to get good value play from it.


LEGO Friends Heartlake Downtown Diner

Age range: 6+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £24.99 / $29

The play appeal of Lego is ageless – just ask John Lewis, who this week (early Feb) reported a 33 per cent rise in sales of complex Lego sets aimed at adults. The Lego Friends range is particularly well-suited to primary-school aged children and makes for some of the best toys for 6 year olds, as the slightly larger, smoother pieces are easy to handle yet still contain all the attention to detail and design we’ve come to expect from the iconic brand. This 346-piece diner set can help boost fine motor skills during the build phase and offers endless opportunities for imaginative play afterwards with children able to build, customise and serve Lego food or play at being customers – as a result, 100 per cent of the customers who have reviewed it on the Lego site would recommend it. 


Zonkers Matching Dice Game

Age range: 6+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £10.95 

Zonkers, from Gibsons, is a wonderfully versatile game. Once our little tester had mastered the basics of this colourful dice game - which only took a few minutes - what he most enjoyed was that there are 7 different versions of the game that can be played, and after 20 minutes of trying these out, he was busy creating his own variations too. 

The excitement of Zonkers is in both the speed of game play as you rapidly roll and re-roll your own dice, and the age-old thrill of rolling a 6 (or whichever number you need to win!) as you match your rolled dice to the corresponding dice picture on the cards.  

In the box, as well as the required rule book, playing cards, and dice, you also get a sturdy mesh bag which holds all of the above, making it great to take with you to the grandparents' house and get them involved in playing too. 


Crayola Washimals - Dino Waterfall

Age range: 3+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £27 / $22.97

For the creative little person in your life, this is one of the best toys for 3 year olds. The set contains everything needed (except the water for rinsing) to have fun colouring, designing, and washing these little dinosaur characters over and over again. 

The tree and waterfall combination is a great set up, meaning the dinosaurs, inks, and water are all held in the right places to avoid any unnecessary mess while your 6 year old goes to town with their creativity. 

The 4 dinos - Randy, Sid, Walker, and Dolly - are adorable little creatures with a velvety feel, which makes them easy to hold and add designs with the provided washable pens. 

Our tester most enjoyed using the little brush to wash the dinosaurs clean after they'd enjoyed adding colourful patterns to their bodies. 

RRP: £23.50

Halilit Baby’s First Birthday Band

Age range: 12 months + | Batteries required: No | RRP: £23.50

Life with toddlers is never quiet, so embrace the chaos with the Halilit Baby's First Birthday Band Gift Set - which we've selected as one of our best toys for one year olds. The set includes five delightfully noisy shakers, such as a rattle roller, ocean drum and a baby maraca, which make a variety of sounds to thrill your toddler, and which aim to teach motor skills, coordination and creativity. Our little one loved shaking each rattle to make different sounds and enjoyed using them as teethers too. 


Wheelybug Ride On Bee 

Age range: 1-3 years | Batteries required: No | RRP: £69.95

Life is never the same once your baby becomes a toddler - so help them on their journey of mobility by buying them a developmental toy such as this Wheelybug ride-on bee. Coming with multi-directional wheels, the toy enables your child to push it around, and when they get more confident with the way it moves, to ride it around in all sorts of directions: forward, backwards, side to side or round and round. We loved the quality of the plywood base and the padded body, while our little tester really liked pushing the bee, poking its antennae and expanding her range of movements by riding it. 


Mega Bloks Build n Learn Table 

Age range: 1-5 years| Batteries required: No | RRP: £27 / $39.97

This sturdy, colourful table from Megablocks comes with 30 chunky bricks and 1 vehicle, and the table itself works as a platform for play and a place to store everything away at bedtime. While it’s light enough to move around the house or take away with you, it's sturdy enough to hold a toddler’s leaning weight, and sits at a good height too. 

“The large blocks mean no concerns about choking, as I would with my older son’s lego,” says Ben Addis, who tested the toy with his 2-year-old son Joe. “The table also helps keep the mess in one area, and I appreciate being able to quickly dismantle it and slide it under the sofa when not in use. Joe especially loved using the blocks to build towers, and I liked that they didn’t fall down easily and cause disappointment!”


Vtech Touch & Teach Tablet

Age range: 1-3 years | Batteries required: Yes | RRP: £24.99 / $15.88

Vtech’s Touch and Teach Tablet offers 25 light-up buttons that support and encourage kids to learn numbers, letters, colours, animals and shapes. There are 20 melodies onboard and 3 singalong songs, and little people can make pretend phone calls, check the time and take virtual pictures.

“It’s a perfect size and weight for small toddler hands, but feels sturdy enough to be knocked about a bit!” said Ben Addis, whose son Joe tested the toy. “Joe was enthralled by the animal buttons for a while, and there are so many different buttons and functions for him to explore too. This will be an especially good toy for long car journeys, I think- the two volume levels will come in handy here, too!”


VTech Splash & Play OctopuS

Age range: 12-36 months | Batteries required: No | RRP: £24.99

This octopus bath toy from Vtech is all-singing and all-dancing...literally! 'The different arms of the octopus all do something different with water, whether that’s sprinkling it, pouring it, making bubbles, or spinning the arms around,' says Kate Mckenzie, who tested the toy with her son Elliott, who is three. 

'The octopus goggles light up and make it talk when they are pushed or if water is tipped on its head, and there are lots of sounds, phrases, and songs so it doesn’t get boring or repetitive. He found it so engaging and loved repeating what it said, making it great for speech development.'

Our tester also noted that the different arm actions taught cause and effect, and helped her son practice hand-eye coordination in a fun way. 'I would buy as a gift without hesitation,' she adds. 


Janod Bath Explorer Map 

Age range: 3+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £14.99 / $69.99

This bath jigsaw contains 20 pieces that stick to tiles to make a world map, plus 4 additional transport-themed pieces to fuel creativity. “This was a great activity for bathtime, and would keep a child entertained for them long enough to have a good soak,' says Kate Mckenzie after testing the toy with her 3-year-old. 

'It needs a bit of help from parents at this age, but once put together the picture is interesting and gives us lots to talk about. The extra pieces, like the airplane and boat, gave us a chance to creatively explore the different parts of the map and imagine we were visiting the different countries together.'


Barbie Cutie Reveal Doll with Unicorn Plush Costume 

Age range: 3+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £34.99 / $39.99

Barbie has been a toy-box staple, seemingly forever, and with the addition of the unicorn, this is bound to be a hit.

This particular Barbie comes with 2 outfits, accessories, and a mini pet - which arrive in 'surprise' bags, adding to the thrill of unboxing. And if that isn't enough 'reveals', cold water applied with the included sponge-comb activates face paint details on Barbie's face and makes the mini pet unicorns' eyes open.

Dressing up dolls is a great activity for developing fine-motor skills, as well as the unlimited imaginative social play this Barbie will encourage. A good choice for a 4 year olds' play.


Learning Resources Mathlink Cubes Numberblocks 1-10 Activity Set

Age range: 3+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £25.95 / $13.39

You can count on these Numberblocks to bring fun to numeracy!

With all the Numberblock characters from the hit CBeebies show, character cards, and write-and-wipe activity cards with loads of activities to try included, this set will help your child build their essential early maths skills in an exciting way. 

The blocks themselves easily click together and then twist apart, so are great for little hands too. The perfect addition (!) to your 4 year olds' toy collection. 


Aquabeads Deluxe Carry Case

Age range: 4+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £35 / $39.99 

Crafty kids will love getting stuck into the water-activated fuse bead craft activity Aquabeads, and this mega deluxe carry case includes everything your child could want in order to make their very own bead creations. There are over 1,400 solid, jewel and star beads in 48 colours, a flip tray, a wearable bracelet base, and much more, plus, the fact it’s designed as a carry case is great for portability and storage. All it takes is spraying with water in order to fuse the beads together. 

'Milo loved the bright blue colour of the carry case and the novelty of having a toy he could carry around,' said Nilufer, mum to Milo. 'He has a smaller Aquabeads beginner’s case already, but much preferred this one as it comes with 1,400 beads and 24 colours along with lots of designs you can follow. There is also a nifty little bead dispenser with compartments so you can put different beads in each and combine the colours. Milo simply had to turn the wheel to dispense the various beads and he liked having the choice to change colours instantaneously. The beads did occasionally roll away from the dispenser, making application a little tricky at times, but Milo was so focused on the end product, he didn’t grow bored. 

'He made a rainbow first, copying the bead design underneath to follow the bead colour pattern, then spraying with water to ‘mould’ the beads together, before putting the drying tray on top. The rainbow design came away easily and intact and looked like a pretty jewelled ornament. Milo liked it so much, he put a thin ribbon through it and wore it around his neck.'


Melissa & Doug Super Smile Dentist Kit Play Set

Age suitability: 3+ years | Batteries required: No | RRP: £34.99 / $29.99

If your five-year-old wants to be a dentist one day, encourage their training early on with this realistic pretend play dentist kit. It includes 25 pieces, including an oversized set of toy teeth to help your little one get to grips with cleanings, cavities and even fitting retainers and braces. 

'My son absolutely loves playing with this dentist toy set,' Ilana, mum to Jonah and Millie, told us. 'Coming from a dental background myself, the pieces included are really life-like from a vibrating drill to the hand mouth mirror. I have my teeth checked by my son a few times a day, as has everyone else in our family. It’s a really great educational and interactive way to learn about teeth and the dentist - I would highly recommend this product.'


L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G Styling Head

Age range: 4+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £33.99 / $106.38

The age of 7 is a big moment for the development of identity, so being able to play around, harmlessly, with lots of different 'looks' is more important than brushing a dolls' hair may appear. 

This L.O.L. Surprise! Styling head comes with tons of accessories for endless styling possibilities- and best of all, the head sits on a plinth which features a draw, so there's somewhere to keep all of those clips etc when they are not adorning the hair!


Chilli Pro Reaper Stunt Scooter 

Age range: 7+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £154.95 / $150

For the energetic 7 year old, this sleek scooter is an ideal way to burn off excess energy with standard scooting, or as an introduction to the skatepark.

The Chilli Pro Reaper is lightweight, strong and safe- it even has a rear-wheel brake, so you know that your child old can stop when they need to. 

A super-sleek and speedy way to get to school, this scooter is one of the best toys for 7 years olds - Just remember to get them some safety gear too!


Playmobil 9453 City Life Furnished School Building with Digital Clock 

Age range: 5-10 years | Batteries required: 2 x AAA | RRP: £108.06 / $154.95

Stereotypes such as 'boys become doctors' and 'girls become nurses' may start to creep in around the age of 8 or 9, so buying the best toys for 9 year olds that dispel these assumptions are a great idea. You can choose from a range of Playmobil play sets that include a range of figures and reflect real-life environments such as schools, hospitals, vets, fire stations and shops. Not only does Playmobil encourage imaginative play, but collecting the sets can help build up a world of imaginative play.

'When my daughter was 5 years old I bought her a Playmobil set, but I soon found that the pieces were just a little too small for her,' says Emily, mum to Bethany and William. 'By age 8, however, she seemed more engaged with the set and loved playing with it. Now we've collected quite a few.'

The School is an accessible building with classrooms, office, and a stairwell with lockers, toilets and a lift. The clock is digital and has a school bell too. As with all Playmobil sets, it comes with loads of pieces, people and accessories that make the miniature play really realistic. 


Galt Toys, Nail Designer Kit 

Age range: 6-12 years | Batteries required: No | RRP: £13.96

If you wear nail varnish there's a high chance your child will have asked if they can wear polish too by now. Nail play sets are some of the best toys for 10 year olds and tend to include specially formulated polishes that are safe and suitable for children. They also include fun stickers and stamps that they can play with to get creative with nail art.

'You can’t go wrong with a toy like this for an 8 year old,' says our parenting and shopping expert Heidi Scrimgeour says. 'My daughter’s favourite thing to do is paint her nails with me, and anything that keeps my expensive nail polish safe is a hit with me!'

This set includes 7 different nail colours, 1 glitter varnish, 2 nail pens and a host of stickers and gems so your 8 year old will enjoy customising their nails over and over again, with or without friends.  


Marvin's Magic Ultimate 365 Magic Tricks & Illusions

Age range: 8+ | Batteries required: No | RRP: £27.45 / $47.99

If your child is a budding magician, let their imagination run wild with this epic magic set from Marvin’s Magic, which is one of our picks of the best toys for 8 year olds. The mega set includes 365 tricks, one for each day of the year, with child-friendly props designed specifically for kids even if they have no prior magic experience and an informative booklet to help them get started. Some of the best tricks include the Amazing Magician’s Magic Cards, Magic Cups and Balls, Astounding Mind Reading Canisters, Houdini Chains and more.

“This is a really special magic set for any budding Harry Potter or Hermione Granger,” said Katherine, mum to Teddy. “There is so much to do (how can there be 365 tricks in just one box!) that we found it was best just to dive in and try something. There are some fun tricks to learn and Ted quickly mastered the Magic Cups and Balls trick and a few of the sleight of hand tricks. 

"There’s a clever Marvin’s Magic app which offers detailed video instructions which is really helpful and a booklet with lots of details. We’ll certainly be learning more magic over the summer holidays, ready to impress the grandparents when they are over visiting.”


Super Mario Hover Shell Strike Air Hockey

Age suitability: 4+ | Batteries required: Yes | RRP: £15 / $19.84

Bring the fun of an arcade to your home with this Super Mario Air Hockey game. Suitable for up to four players, the tabletop game is addictive, fun and challenging, with the puck gliding on a cushion of air. 

"My son really loves this air hockey game – it was much bigger than he expected and has already provided several hours of entertainment,” said Kate, mum to Peter, who reviewed a slightly different version of this game for us, which is currently out of stock. “The game is quite straightforward to play, and it’s fast, furious, and lots of fun! We particularly like that there are a few different game options. 

"As well as being suitable for two players there is also a one-player game if you’re on your own – where you can knock over Mario character tokens, which my son really enjoys. The pieces are all brightly coloured, and we like that there are several different shaped pucks which fly around the table in different ways, which make it more challenging to defend your goal from.”

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Ellie Hutchings
Features Editor

Ellie is Goodto’s Feature Editor, having joined the team as a Junior Features Writer in 2022, and covers everything from wellbeing for parents to the latest TV and entertainment. Ellie has covered all the latest trends in the parenting world, including baby names, parenting hacks, and foodie tips for busy families. She has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University, and previously Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies.