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Vibrant Childrens Gift Ideas

Traditional Wooden Toys
Traditional Toys

The UK has the world’s largest toy market in terms of spending per child – last year each youngster received on average some £216 worth of new toys. According to market research company Key Note, the overall UK toy market was worth an impressive £2.09 billion last year, after a period of consistent growth between 2004 and 2007.

Despite the problems caused by the economic downturn, Key Note reported recently that the market remains vibrant, due to an ever-increasing child population in the UK thanks to a rising birth rate. Family sizes are getting smaller and people are becoming parents later on – two factors which mean more disposable income to lavish on their children.

Against this background, traditional toy suppliers have a great opportunity to carve out a niche; offering high-quality products for parents who want to move away from the plethora of high-tech electronic gadgets and licensed tie-ins with cartoons and children’s films.

The British Retail Consortium reported last month that July 2009 saw sales of arts and crafts increase by 4 per cent across the UK toy market, in a signal that many parents are looking to more traditional pursuits during the school holidays. Of these sales, crayons, pens and paints manufacturer Crayola was the undoubted leader, taking almost £1 in every £10 spent. However, Spin Masters’ Moonsand and Flair’s Plasticine also saw healthy sales.

The BRC also said that building sets experienced a sales boost, as parents sought to stimulate their children’s creativity. Lego remained comfortably on top, owning nine of the top ten toys in this category, and only Mega Brands’ Mega Bloks Maxi prevented it from scooping all ten places, coming in at number nine.

With over 600 different companies involved in the market, however, competition remains fierce. International giants such as Bandai, Hasbro, Lego, Mattel and Tomy dominate in the stores, although the demise of Woolworths has caused a vacuum, which canny suppliers are rushing to fill.

The other fast-growing part of the toy market is, of course, online retail. Companies such as Childrens Gift Ideas and The Imagination Station are positioning themselves to take advantage of the growing trend for online shopping – as well as the backlash against electronic toys and games consoles.

For more  information on traditional childrens toys please see our Toys By Type' section.




Gift Ideas Combining Toys, Puzzles, Games & Fun Activities

Traditional Wooden Toys
Wooden Toys

Combining Fun Play with Education

Toy makers are very keen to promote the educational credentials of their products, as more parents demand that their children’s gifts should help them to develop their skills and imaginations. Sadly, despite the hype, too many toys nowadays are still sold on the basis of film and TV tie-ins, or rely on computer chips rather than a child’s own instinctive curiosity.

At Childrens Gift Ideas and The Imagination Station, we believe in encouraging this curiosity. We believe in stimulating a child’s imagination and helping to create a play environment that does more than simply distract the child with beeps and flashing lights. A genuinely educational toy allows both parent and child alike to interact and communicate in imaginative play.

Of course, a child’s educational needs undergo massive changes in the first years of their life. Taking this into account, The Imagination Station offers toys which correspond to the government’s standards on learning and development in children from birth to five years – the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).

Very young children are excited by the world around them and are constantly reaching out to it. Help a toddler’s to take its first steps and develop its powers of colour, texture and pattern recognition with the delightful Blocks Pattern Baby Walker, which combines the best features of a traditional walking toy and building blocks.

To stimulate a small child’s learning and prepare them for school, there is nothing better than the traditional alphabet set – and the ABC Board Set is a beautiful example of this, featuring high-quality wooden letters with corresponding images beneath – bringing the alphabet to life.

Many of our toys for older kids are overtly educational, such as the Children’s Science Magic Kit, which teaches them the fascinating link between magic tricks and the basic scientific principles of gravity, physics and arithmetic. Budding engineers can develop their building skills with the Build Your Own Dinosaur Robot set, while the Cosmic Rocket set uses household ingredients and a little flair to help children of five years or older to lift-off their own craft – it really is rocket science! And there are many more such kits available, ready to help

Another great way for a child to learn as they have fun is through role play. This can be through dressing-up or by creating a fantasy world – with such quality toys as the Medieval Wooden Castle, which features towers, balconies, a trap door, arched walkway and a removable turret. Children can use it with their other dolls, or a full set of figures is available, by the same manufacturer, featuring a king, queen, nobleman, knights, horses and even a court jester!

With a little imagination, good quality toys can create a near-limitless world of educational fun for children of all ages. We believe in helping parents to make this possible.

A Truly International Enterprise

Toy Manufacturing - A Truly International Enterprise

Children find toys endlessly fascinating and derive hours of fun from playing with them, and parents love giving them. Hardly any adult or child will give much thought to how the toys came to be made. Parents are happy to know that their child’s toys are made to the highest standards and leave it at that, while children’s knowledge of toy making is usually limited to the kindly toymaker Geppetto, the “father” of Pinocchio. But the real-life story of how today’s toys are manufactured is just as fascinating.

Like all other manufacturing industries, the toy sector has experienced profound changes over the past 30 years due to the massive growth of the global economy. Large-scale manufacture in the UK, and much of the rest of Europe has all but ceased. Nowadays, components for a single product can be made in several different countries – with China fast becoming a major player in the international toy trade.

The manufacture of any toy – no matter how traditional – begins at the design stage. Designers are either employed in-house, or an outside team of professionals is engaged. Computer aided and mechanical design processes are often utilised before the prototype formation goes ahead. The toy company itself then subjects this to product review, moulding, trial production, evaluation, and finally full production.

When it comes to making the components or the toys themselves, however, the process is almost always outsourced to a third party.

A very wide range of raw materials are used in the toy manufacturing process – wood, fabrics, plastics, resins, paperboard and card, metal, zinc alloy and electronic components.

The manufacturing process itself depends entirely on the sort of toys being made. Dolls and action figures are usually made from injection-moulded plastics, whereas toy cars and trains tend to be manufactured from die-cast metals, and hand or spray-painted afterwards. Components for self-assembly kits and board games will require a professional printer, while dolls and stuffed toys are almost always sewn and stuffed by hand. Many toy makers purchase components from one vendor and then assemble the finished product at another facility.

Here at Childrens Gift Ideas & The Imagination Station, the emphasis is on traditional toys made from high-quality, durable, traditional materials. the vast majority of our products are manufactured from wood, metals, fabrics and environmentally-friendly plastics, and are made to meet – and in many cases exceed – international standards on quality and safety.

In an increasingly globalised economy, we believe that it is important to combine great value with great quality.


Education and Fun Play Hand-In-Hand with Traditional Toys

Traditional Wooden Toys
Wooden Toys



Parents are increasingly aware of the great advantages to be found in traditional, learning-based toys,

This powerful intuition is backed by the findings of educational researchers and government advisors. The UK government has published its own set of standards on children’s learning and development from birth to five years, based on the most up-to-date research, creating a set of principles known as the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS). 

The guidelines stress the vital importance of play as a form of emotional and mental development – pointing out that, through play, children learn to make sense of the world, gather information, communicate with others, express themselves and form relationships with other people.

From the first year of their lives, children seek stimulation and reach out to the world as their brains and bodies develop. Even before birth, children absorb a great deal of information – and this process is accelerated when they enter the world. There are virtually no experiences for a child in its first few years of life that can not be described as “educational”, as they see, hear, smell and touch things for the very first time. Today’s parent seeks to enhance this experience by creating a positive and enjoyable play environment that encourages the growth of basic motor skills, movement and hand to eye coordination.

The best toys for children in the very early stages of development are therefore those that not only make all of this possible, but make the process as fun and exciting as possible. Toys such as rattles, building blocks, push-along vehicles, activity centres and baby walkers will have youngsters constantly striving to explore the world and find out more about it. They will also gain the confidence and satisfaction that comes from discovering that they can interact with and shape their environment. Any new parent will tell you that their child loves to grab hold of anything to hand and test all aspects of its physicality using all their senses – through touching, shaking, smelling and even tasting it.

As babies become toddlers, this desire to interact gathers pace. Toddlers love to find new ways of getting about the place and they have a fascination with building things – and of course the fun of knocking them over afterwards. Around this stage of development, children also discover the joy of dressing up and role play, and as they begin to meet and interact with other children, games of imagination become more and more common. It is a thrill for any parent to see their children acting out scenes from the world around them, taking on the roles of doctors, nurses, firemen, farmers – or even pirates, princesses and knights in shining armour – through the use of costumes, action figures and play sets.

Young children soon find themselves fascinated by problem-solving, in the form of puzzles, building toys such as Lego and arts and crafts. Youngsters love making pictures, sculptures and models – and love to proudly show their creations off as well. Homes soon become hives of activity, with children surrounded by pens, paints, beads, glue and glitter.

Once children start school, play becomes more social and physical in nature and, once again, the most educational toys take this into account. Outdoor play is more frequent, and there are few children between the ages of six and ten who do not want their own bicycle. Climbing frames and fun sporting equipment remain a firm favourite among parents and children alike, allowing youngsters to develop new physical skills, play with friends and develop sporting strategies and tactics. For mental development, science and chemistry sets can grip the imagination – and provided a firm grounding for later academic achievement.

Of course, all toy sellers want the customer to think that their products are not only fun but educational too. Powerful advertising campaigns are brought into play to repeatedly assert this as a fact. However, too many high-tech toys are merely entertainment devices, which distract a child rather than stimulating them. Humans are “wired” to pay attention to sudden noises, movements and changes in the environment. Modern toys make use of this tendency with a dizzying array of bright lights, beeps and other sounds – whilst doing little to actually develop a child’s capacity.

Traditional toys, including all of those mentioned above, avoid this pitfall by ensuring that children, far from being distracted or stupefied, are involved in the play experience at every level. The more physical forms of play give the child the sort of exercise that a games console or hand-held device simply cannot. And that is why more and more parents are rediscovering the value of the sort of toys they fondly remember from their own childhoods.



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