The rise in collectible "surprise" toys on the Christmas must-haves list has been condemned by environment campaigners, who argue that they are "over-packaged plastic tat".
Three of the twelve must-haves on the annual DreamToys list, compiled by the Toy Retailers Association, are "surprise" toys, meaning the type of doll or plastic animal is only revealed once the child has unwrapped layers of plastic.
Number two on the list of must-haves is the Blume Doll, which is advertised as "part of the collectible unboxing craze".
They come in a plastic pot and the identity of the plastic doll is a surprise. Children are encouraged to collect them all, but there is no way of knowing which doll they are buying, so there is a high chance of collecting duplicates. Environmentalists warn that toys such as these fuel plastic waste.
Also on the list at number five is the plastic LOL Surprise Doll, which has been a coveted toy for over a year now.
We got our niece an LOL Surprise thing for Christmas and it’s literally the biggest waste of plastic I’ve ever seen ������ pic.twitter.com/as8JBjzH6o— Brian O'Conor (@Brian_OConor518) December 23, 2018
These come in layers of plastic wrapping, all of their accessories are made of plastic, and the dolls are collectible in the same way as a Blume Doll.
Another "unboxing" surprise toy is the Ryan's World Super Surprise Safe. This is a plastic box filled with plastic "surprises", and it is not known which surprises are inside until the safe is opened.
Environmental campaigners have condemned toy manufacturers for making plastic toys and called on the government to act.
In case you are wondering, LOL dolls are these giant headed dolls that come in these plastic balls full of "surprises" that are also wrapped in heaps of plastic. 5 year olds are addicted to them. Can we ban single use LOL dolls?— Kathryn Marshall (@Lawsome_) November 9, 2019
Friends of the Earth plastic campaigner Denis Fernando said: “With young people increasingly concerned about the environment it’s time for toy manufacturers to take action too. Parents shouldn’t have to decide between giving their children what they want for Christmas and gifts that can end up having a harmful impact on the planet.
“Toy firms need to stop foisting over-packaged plastic tat on our children – much of which will be thrown away to join the waves of plastic pollution that threatens our wildlife and blights our environment.
“If manufacturers refuse to take their environmental responsibilities seriously then the government must act.”
Some toy manufacturers have promised to make their products more sustainable. Isaac Larian, the CEO of MGA Entertainment, which makes LOL Surprise Dolls, has promised that in the future, all toys made by the company will be recyclable.
The manufacturers of the Ryan's World Super Safe and the Blume Doll have been contacted for comment.