Ah, Christmas. 'Tis the season for charity, peaceful reflection...and losing all your money to toy retailers.
Famous London toy department store Hamleys has opened its doors, giving a glimpse at the toys it predicts will fill stockings this December. Before beginning, we should mention that while we know all these toys will be on sale in the UK, we can't confirm US or Australian releases. We have given rough currency conversions for the UK price of each toy however, should any readers from the US or Australia want to track down a particular plaything.
Meet i-Que Intelligent Robot, a faceless but endearingly colourful 'bot that will play games with you, make jokes and spout 'cheeky' sound effects. He can pair with an iOS or Android device, and will understand your questions thanks to a bit of speech-to-text tech. Fingers crossed he doesn't turn evil and take control of the playroom. He costs £65 (roughly $100 or AU$130).
At first glance a rather plain teddy bear (albeit one with an intimidating mohawk), this is actually another smart toy. Dubbed My Friend Freddy, this bear pairs with iOS or Android devices to delight and amaze youngsters.
Clever Keet is a plastic pet who mimics some of the tricks of a real parakeet. He responds to your voice and can swing on his perch, sing, dance and learn to speak. Keet will cost £60 (about $90 or AU$125).
In case you were in any doubt as to how much better than you at technology today's generation will eventually be, there's the LeapPad Platinum tablet for kids. This touchscreen gadget has a 7-inch display, as well as front and rear-facing cameras. There are parental controls on board and the whole lot will cost you £120 (roughly $185, or AU$115).
The Teksta Scorpion (which costs £40, a sum that equates to roughly $60 or AU$85) may look intimidating, but can be put under your control thanks to a sensor that attaches to the back of your hand. It'll also battle in multiplayer fights with up to eight other scorpions. Honestly, whatever happened to the old ball and cup, eh?
This is the Ugglys Pet Shop Dirty Dog Wash Van. Hamleys asserts that kids are big fans of swapping and playing with these unpleasant-looking animals, and will presumably shriek with delight when they discover that pushing this plastic van produces over 30 gross sounds. It costs £20 (roughly $30 or AU$40).
British kids will likely be familiar with Thomas the Tank Engine, the plucky train whose televised misadventures make for gentle animated viewing. Today's Thomas seems a little more extreme than we remember however, as this Thomas' Shipwreck Rails Set sees the really useful engine spinning along a spiral track. The set costs £55 (roughly $85 or AU$115).
Crazy Legs Scooby-Doo delivers on the name -- tap the cowardly dog's head and his paws start spinning independently, for chaotic, unpredictable movement. Expect sound effects, and to pay £30 (roughly $45 or AU$60).
Barbie's Saddle 'N Ride Horse is no ordinary mare. Press a button on the side of the horse and Barbie will swing up into the saddle in a manner that struck us as a little ungainly. This set will cost you £50 (roughly $75 or AU$105).
Here's an odd concept -- Disney's Descendants. These dolls represent the offspring of four well-known Disney villains that feature in a new Disney TV movie. A doll will cost you £20 (roughly $30 or AU$40).
This is the Yummy Nummies (try saying that five times fast) Soda Shop Mini Kitchen, a playset in which you can concoct your own bubbly drinks and serve them in tiny cups with curly straws. It costs £20 (roughly $30 or AU$40).
Aspiring superheroes will be entertained by this battery-powered batmobile. With forward and reverse gears, flashing lights, music and sound, this is easily the toy that most makes us resent our cumbersome, grown-up bodies that don't fit in tiny driveable Batmobiles.
It's hard not to love Lego, and there's something pleasing about finding a set that's not tied to a lurid comic-book or movie franchise. The Lego City Deep Sea Exploration Vessel set features a shark cage, submarine and ship, and costs £80 (roughly $125 or AU$165).
Inside, here's a glimpse at where Thunderbird 1 is launched from. This set costs £80 (roughly $123 or AU$165) but doesn't feature the Thunderbird vehicles -- these are sold separately from £15 (roughly $25 or AU$30).
Another treat for our UK readers -- Peppa Pig gets a cyborg-esque tech makeover, with plates in her hands that, when held, cause her to sing Ring a Ring 'o Roses. Peppa costs £20 (roughly $30 or AU$40).