Let the games begin
SALES are under way at major retailers but when it comes to browsing toy aisles, many parents find themselves in foreign territory.
What is the latest craze? What is the best value? What toys are most appealing to kids? They are just some of the questions mums and dads struggle with.
To help parents navigate, popular toy retailer Kmart turned to its "official toy testers" - a panel of 20 children - for help.
The expert panel were given a host of toys, available from Kmart, and asked to play together to develop lists of the top 10 favourites.
Kmart Toys divisional merchandise manager Nicole Szujda said the top 10 chosen by the kids included a mix of traditional and toys new to the market.
"Parents will recognise classics like Twister, Barbie and Lego, but also see strong influence from remote control and toys that encourage role play," Ms Szujda said.
"One of the biggest findings was that many toys were popular with both boys and girls, with the value of the toy being judged by how much fun it was to play with as a group."
Psychologist and mother, Sandy Rea said parents often struggled to select the right toys.
"There is a vast array to choose from, but understanding the basics of child development can go a long way in assisting toy selection and recognising that it really does not have to cost a lot of money," Ms Rea said.
"When looking at toys it might be easier to consider four key areas of child development. These include fine motor skills, gross motor skills, creativity and psycho-social development."
Whether parents were looking for toys to keep the kids entertained during the school holidays, stock up on birthday presents or prepare for Christmas, department stores Kmart, Big W and Target each revealed lists of the best buys for preschoolers, boys and girls.
Best toy buys of 2012
Kmart: On sale in-store from June 28-July 15
- Preschool - A-Z plush costumes $15
- Boys - Twin pack 1:24 radio control drifting cars $25
- Girls - Remote control three-channel gyroscope helicopter $20
Target: On sale until July 11
- Preschool - Leap Frog leap pad $159
- Boys - Lego R2d2 Star Wars $199
- Girls - La La Loopsy Little Sister $39
Big W: On sale in-store from June 28-July 11
- Preschool - Pillow pets, $8.48
- Boys - Mambo Retro Skateboard, $15
- Girls - Furrreal Newborns, $13.72