The sun is out, summer blockbusters are on the way and there's an abundance of popular licensed characters for children to play as. ToyNews looks at the newest dress-up and role-play toys available.

SECTOR GUIDE: Dress Up and Role Play

Flair – 020 8643 0320

Role-play goes hand in hand with favourite licences at Flair, as children emulate their heroes and follow the adventures of Tree Fu Tom, Doc McStuffins and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Tots love playing at doctors and nurses, but now they can combine the popular play pattern with their favourite Disney characters, too – it’s time for a visit to Doc McStuffins.

Kids can act just like Doc with the Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Bag Set; it includes everything needed for a busy day in the clinic, such as a pretend otoscope, blood pressure cuff and thermometer. All of the accessories can be stored neatly inside to carry around.

Later in autumn, a Doc McStuffins Dress-up set will add to the fun, as girls dress up in the Doc’s white coat ready to do their rounds.

Kids are already experiencing the Tree Fu magic with the Magic Sapstone Belt and Holopax Set that has a glowing motion activated buckle on the belt, whilst the Tree Fu Tom Magic Moves Rap Mat is also a firm favourite.

For a little more action,the Teenage Mutant NinjaTurtles Ninja Combat Gear will turn boys – or girls – into shell-raising heroes ready for battle.

Each set comes with the signature weapons of each Turtle character, as well as an iconic bandana mask.

Spin Master – 01628 535 000

Now kids can scare just like their favourite ‘scarer’ with the new Monsters University Sulley Monster Mask. No batteries are required as it is truly child powered – the child controls Sulley’s facial movements.

As their jaw opens, closes or moves side to side, Sulley’s eyebrows and mouth move too, creating fun, scaryand memorable faces. Be normal, be silly or be scary.

The Sulley Monster Mask is soft and furry with adjustable straps that make it easy to fit.

The Sulley Monster Mask will be one of a number of TV-advertised products this summer from Spin Master’s Monsters University master toy range.

Later in the year, an entry price point plastic Monsters Mask will also be introduced, available in both Sulley and Mike varieties.

Marbel – 0845 6000 286

Marbel has a wide range of fun role-play products on offer from both Brio and Hape, giving kids a chance to get creative and have fun.

The Brio Stove (£39.99) is a traditional oven design with an opening door, a moving regulator and four sturdy dials to turn, giving the child a real feeling that they’re in the kitchen.

The Brio Baking Set (£17.99) comes with a rolling pin and baking tray and is a fun yet realistic way for children to put themselves in the role of a cook.

The Hape Gourmet Grill/BBQ (£99.99) is an excellent choice for summer role-play – with double sided grates, a collapsible side table, moveable wheels and an open-and-close hood, this barbecue is a gourmet’s dream.

Hape’s Hamburgers & Hot-Dogs (£14.99) are also available, allowing children to prepare, cook and serve these up for a quick backyard BBQ.

On the dress-up side, Pink Poppy offers a vibrant range of Australian-designed girls collectables for ages three to nine.

Along with its range of jewellery, hair accessories, dress ups and bags, Pink Poppy creates themed fashion ranges and seasonal gifts that are bound to be popular with little princesses.

There’s a wide selection of bags to choose from, including the pretty-in-pink Sweetness & Charms Handbag (£12.99), the bejewelled Hard Handbag (£14.99), the attractive clasped Shoulder Bag (£11.99), the spacious Overnight Bag (£39.99) and the Fairytale Backpack (£29.99).

They come in a range of appealing colours and designs such as Hot Pink, with a flower and crown pattern, finished off with a pink bow and a silver crown bangle, and are sure to appeal to little girls everywhere.

Trends UK – 01295 768 078

Taking design cues from cutting edge technology and real field equipment, Spyz is the next generation of cool, rougher and tougher looking spy toys for today’s boys.

Compared to similar toys and features, Spyz provides superior value, says Trends UK. The company says it is taking the familiar and making it work better, while keeping the durability that should be standard in this category.

Spyz toys allow boys to engage in spy play with real working technology-based gadgets and equipment.

“We believe the Spyz brand appeal comes from our ability to incorporate advanced, real-world technology into proven, classic play,” says Lee Clowes, MD and founder of Trends UK.

“Pretending to be a spy is not a new idea, but having real-working Infra Red Goggles that let you see up to 50 feet in the dark – that’s a new way to play spy.”

The Infa Red Vision is one of the new Spyz products scheduled for an autumn 2013 launch.

The goggles utilise military styling and technology and deliver the ability to ‘see without being seen’ – even in the darkest of environments.

The Spyz line-up also includes a collection of surveillance, communication, security and defence tools.

The Spy Watch is a working watch that comes loaded with eight different spy features and gadgets. The Night Stealth Goggles are designed for both daytime and nighttime spying. Twin beam LED lights let the child see in the dark.

Night Nocs are day and night binoculars for keeping track of the enemy in all lighting conditions, while the Spy Mission Kit contains everything needed to complete a spy assignment.

There is a secret listener, flashlight, magnifier and scope, compass and a Micro SD card storage area. The unique casing also acts as an arm protector.

Rubie’s – 01491 826 500

Rubie’s, the home of the superhero and the world’s leading distributor and manufacturer of costumes and accessories, has unveiled a comprehensive new boys’ and men’s Marvel costume range for Iron Man 3 this spring/summer.

This continues the epic big screen adventures started in Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and Marvel’s The Avengers, and sees Iron Man showcasing his amazing abilities and fantastic fight and flight suits.

The Rubie’s costume is a replica of the signature Mark 42 costume and will make every boy and man look like the real deal.

Costumes come at different price points and all include a very cool and authentic-looking mask, as well as a printed jumpsuit.

The deluxe costume comes in two versions. The first comes with a padded chest, while the second comes with the patented Rubie’s EVA chest which makes the costume have the true effect of a suit, giving every boy an impressive and realistic Iron Man 3 look.

Kids sizes range from small, medium and large, and adult costumes come in standard and extra-large sizes.

The new Iron Man 3 costumes sit perfectly alongside Rubie’s already powerful Marvel super hero boys’ portfolio
which includes child Spider-Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor costumes.

These are all continuing to ride high in the Rubie’s dress-up bestseller lists.

It is certainly another action-packed year following the movie release of Iron Man 3 back in April, while Thor: The Dark World is due this autumn.

Rubie’s Iron Man 3 children’s costumes are available now.

Character Options – 0161 633 9800

Character Options is the number one supplier of licensed pre-school toys and provides a unique take on role-play products, letting children identify with and transform themselves into their favourite characters.

Pre-schoolers can ‘Be a Knight – Do it Right’ with the Mike the Knight Mike’s Mission Set. This consists of a sturdy foam helmet and sword that allows instant transformation into a knight of the realm, while the interactive Electronic Sword, with a variety of sounds and the theme tune, is perfect for truly daring deeds.

Combining a classic fantasy play pattern with a popular TV show character, the role-play products will stand out from others on the market and are set for true sales success.

Meanwhile, it’s pre-schoolers to the rescue with the Fireman Sam range of role-play items.

The TV favourite, with products guaranteed to sell, puts a new spin on a traditional dress-up play pattern. The Fireman Sam Helmet with Sound and Utility Belt with Jacket & Accessories are perfect to instantly transform little ones into a truly heroic fire fighter.

DKL – 01604 678 786

The Wonderworld Kitchen role-play collection includes the Neo Cooking range featuring a cooker, washing machine, sink and refrigerator – each item is sold separately.

The Cooking Centre comes with all cooking facilities and life-like design features such as a metal sink, dials which click when turned, and opening doors.

The new Bakery set comes with nine pieces; everything needed for a child to be the perfect baker. The Fruit and Veggie baskets has six food items which can be cut and stuck back together. The Wonder Cash Register features a real calculator and toy money along with a roll of paper.

Finished to perfection, the Eco House educates children on household recycling with figurative characters and realistic models.

The Mon Premier Corolle collection for 18 months onwards features the best selling Calin dolls and bath babies. DKL says their bean bag bodies, blinking eyes and adorable outfits make them lifelike, and with so many accessories to choose from, role-play can turn into hours of fun.

BigJigs Toys – 01303 250 400

For 2013 Bigjigs has introduced 20 new toys to its Cooking and Role-play range. Designed to stimulate and encourage creative play, they are aimed at little ones who love cooking up a storm.

The redesigned Village Shop was unveiled at the major toy fairs. Full of bold and eye-catching colours, the Bigjigs favourite has shelving, a counter, stall for fruit and vegetables, and comes complete with an opening times and special offer chalk board, movable clock and a fixed basket for all those shop keeper necessities.

The firm says that children adore the item and it’s great for promoting and encouraging creative play.

New additions include the Candy Floss range featuring a Patisserie Stand, Food Mixer Set, Smoothie Maker Set and much more.

All designed with soft pastel colours, the role-play items complement each other well and would sit perfectly with any cooking and role-play collection.

Another treat added to the Bigjigs Toys portfolio is the Birthday Cake.

Deliciously yellow with brightly coloured decorations and candles, the cake features six separate pieces that can be velcroed to form one whole cake.

Suitable for children aged three years plus, Bigjigs says the cake would be a showstopper at any party.

Haba – 0161 304 9555

For a swashbuckling adventure, look no further than Haba’s new Captain Charlie Jacket and Belt, featuring a gold buckle and detailing on the coat.

To complete the look, there’s a skull and crossbones hat that has a detachable beard, plus no pirate would be without his trusted Captain Charlie Parrot and Captain Charlie Sword accessories.

Dungeons and dragons fans can head into battle with the Henry Haba Strong Armour, and with a Henry Haba Strong Helmet also available, boys can flip the visor down and charge onward. Enhancing the collection is a range of accessories; the Henry Haba Strong Sword and Lance, plus the Strong Shield will provide extra protection from the fierce Spiked Mace.

Boys can also rescue and whisk the princess away on the Henry Haba Strong Hobby Horse.

Asobi – 01628 200 077

Seedling is one of Asobi’s most significant brands and took the UK by storm last year when the craft kits launched.

Born in New Zealand, the Seedlings brand says it is on a mission to inspire the minds and ignite the imagination of little ones everywhere.

There are two kits that are perfect for little ones who like to create, dress up and pretend – one for boys and one for girls.

The Design Your Own Superhero Cape lets little ones make a character and their signature cape.

The kit includes a plain superhero cape, craft glue and brush, Eva sheets and stars, felt sheets and shapes, coloured pencils, design page, glitter glue and tips for your design.

There’s also a Design Your Own Tutu kit for girls. This can be worn with gumboots or glass slippers. It contains an English tulle, organza ribbon, mini pom poms, striped ribbon, glitter glue, rhinestones, tape measure, elastic and instructions.

Retailers can also now download Asobi’s catalogue app for free from iTunes or Google Play.

Maps Toys – 01483 776 006

Maps Toys continues its alliance with leading US brand Aeromax.

The range of deluxe ‘Get Real Gear’ children’s costumes features two key lines aimed at children aged two to eight years.

The NASA-endorsed Astronaut costume comes in both orange and white, and the Firefighter costume features an authentic jacket, helmet and trousers with real firefighter’s braces.

Maps Toys recognised a gap in the dress-up market for high quality children’s dress-up that is actually made like the real thing. The outfits are all made of hardwearing materials and all buckles, zips and accessories are of the highest quality.

Children can use the assorted Aeromax accessories to extend the role-playing possibilities. Create the ultimate Astronaut combo by using the Astronaut costume with the Talking Space Helmet and the Astronaut Space Backpack Water Blaster. Kids can also don the Firefighter costume and put out imaginary fires with the Fire Power Super Soaking Fire Hose.

Adults costumes are also available.

Also Available

HTI offers a range of Hello Kitty, Peppa Pig, Zanussi and JCB role-play toys; new for 2013 are the latest in Casdon replica cash registers, as well as a large self-service supermarket toy; Worlds Apart has Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Monsters University Play Tents ideal for individual and group role-play; The Puppet Company’s Large Animal Heads puppets have full mouth movement for role-play fun; The Blender Set ‘Fruit and Smooth’ is a new addition for 2013 to the range of Honeybake culinary role-play toys from Le Toy Van; The Hobbit Deluxe Sword from Vivid Imaginations looks like Bilbo’s sword in The Hobbit films and comes with motion-activated battle sounds, an eerie blue light and scabbard; Smiffy’s animal-inspired fun and furry Plush Eye Masks feature eight different designs, ranging from Dalmatian to Rabbit.

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