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Posted by on Jan 23, 2014 in Travel | 0 comments

Toy Fair 2014 – what will capture our hearts this year?

Toy Fair 2014 at Kensington Olympia

On Tuesday I was lucky enough to spend a child-free day at the London Toy Fair 2014 at Kensington Olympia as the guest of Galt Toys. It’s been six years since I took the train into London but despite my fears that everything would have changed beyond all recognition on the morning commute it was actually just as I remembered it. Oh well.

But you’re not here to read about the trials and tribulations of travelling into London from deepest Essex so let’s get down to brass tacks. Toys. Our kids adore them. I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with certain Lego bricks that lay wait for me at the bottom of the stairs and throw themselves under my bare feet before I’ve so much as sipped my morning coffee, but mostly I love them too. They entertain, educate, placate and in our house they’re also teaching Curly Girl the value of money as she has to save up her pocket money (50p a week if she completes her reward chart – thoroughly recommend this one from The Great Little Trading Company by the way) to buy anything she wants outside of Christmas and her birthday.

Apart from the ever present Doggy Woof (a IKEA Shanghai purchase that hasn’t left her side since) her favourites at the moment are characters from the television programmes she watches – Octonauts, Sophia The First, Mike the Knight – and her old favourites Lego and her Galt games and puzzles. She is quick to judge toys though and tires of anything that doesn’t capture her imagination or pose her a puzzle to crack. Even at four and a half success is a powerful motivator!

So what toys will be capturing the hearts and minds of my kids this year?

Curly Girl really wants a pet at the moment, ideally a dog, but with a Daddy that’s allergic to pet hair and a Mummy that’s allergic to cleaning up after them (you KNOW it will become MY job after about 30 seconds, right?) there’s not much chance of that happening. So it was fortuitous that HexBugs tweeted me and invited me to their stand for a peek at their range of micro robotic creatures – the Nanos. They run on a watch battery, scuttle convincingly around build-your-own tracks, don’t need feeding and don’t poo. I’m sold. You can watch them in action on my Instagram page here (sorry you’ll have to tilt your head a bit!).

Of course all the big players were at the Toy Fair; Lego, Mattel, Hasbro… but I was delighted to come across Oops, a relatively new brand with the cutest range of toys, eating utensils and toddler bags that I’ve seen in ages. With characters from the forest and the city in vivid colours and lovely designs just perfect for little ones I see big things happening for Oops.

The Oops range of toys were a great new find and just gorgeous

I was attracted to the Bkids stand by a water tank filled with bath toys. We are big bath-time fans at Bod Towers with Curly Girl and Little Man spending at least 20 minutes in the bath together every night. Little Man doesn’t have his own set of toys yet but I the splash and ride waterproof wonder and the cute bath toy organiser really caught my eye. They also have a range of traditional wooden toys with rubberised cushioned corners that make them tactile but also uber safe for very little ones just learning to walk… and fall.

Bkids bath range is bright and colourful and uber cute into the bargain

Galt Toys and Tim Wonnacott, star of BBC’s Bargain Hunt, unveiled an amazing 5ft x 5ft mosaic painting, a recreation of Andy Warhol’s iconic portait of Marilyn Monroe created entirely from Galt’s Art and Craft range. Very cool.

I grew up with Galt toys and still love them. From books that support phonics learning at school to baby bath toys, traditional wooden toys and arts and crafts there’s something for all ages. They’ve also launched a rage of toddler toys designed with Mirian Stoppard that include a play book to help parents think about how they can maximise playtime with their little ones. Sounds a little strange but when I read through some of them I was impressed with the common sense approach and let’s face it, how easy is it to just let the little ones play on their own? Watch this space for more Galt toy fun in the coming months.

Tim Wonnacott unveils the Marilyn Monroe mosaic to the media

All in all it was a really fun day at the Toy Fair and lots of interesting toys that I’m sure will be hitting toy store shelves soon. It was interesting to speak to the brands directly and understand a bit more about their ranges. Over the coming months I’ll be continuing to review toys and accessories for under 5s so watch this space!