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Toy Stories

The Low Down On Lockdown Toys & Games


At a time when lockdown is a buzz word and “stay at home” is a hashtag it is no surprise that parents of kids in South Africa had to plan or improvise in a hurry! There wasn’t much time to shop and for those who had the time, and the means, could choose from a large variety of options. What did they buy (or scratch out of storage) you may be wondering?

Interest in our online collection carefully put together for our customers gave some clues but mostly we learned the answer to this question from parents all over the world sharing their ideas and images on social media with other desperate parents during one of the strictest lockdowns ever recorded. If one were to keep in mind that not all homes could support or even contain something as exciting as a new trampoline or jungle gym, swing-ball set or basketball hoop, what did parents out there opt for? What works for a flat or free-standing home alike and what works in warm or wet weather?
The answer is simpler than one would think…

Board games, and we’re including puzzles here, seem to come out tops this time and mostly those titles reminiscent of our own childhoods. Monopoly, Cluedo and UNO are firm favourites. Reasons for these choices may vary but we believe it has to do with the timelessness of the games but also their simplicity in nature. This allows all members of the family to play either as individuals or in teams. Add Scrabble to the mix and it could be argued that all these favourites also boast an element of learning and education. Because most kids and young-minded adults know these games, they lend themselves to creative and exciting new rules unique to each family. Add a speed element or a prize for the winner and you could have a small riot on your hands but the excitement and quality time is priceless!

Construction toys require mention here too. Lego accounts for hours of entertainment and is often used to promote “alone” play whilst parents, single or married, scramble for time and space to prepare meals or work from home. This is the one feature, and benefit, that a board or card game does not afford the “lockdown” parent. There are however many dads who find it difficult (or impossible) to pass on by the Lego mat or table. They passionately argue, and they would be correct, that playing Legos with the kids affords too many teachable moments and conversational pieces between the generations to pass up.

This piece would not be complete without at least mentioning the educational value, sense of completion, satisfaction and sheer minutes and seconds well spent with art and craft materials. Some may not concur as supervision will be key for parents of young kids. It is unlikely to free up much time for mom to tick anything off her to-do list but the likes of slime or play dough fall into this category as well. Little minds will be working overtime as will “fingers-in-training” with fine-motor skills getting a boost at a time when gross motor development is at an all time low. For older kids the options are almost endless! With Easter on our doorstep there is much indoor making, baking and crafting that could have this festive holiday a home-made affair this year!

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Take It Outside


Our kiddos should be active for at least one hour every day. Although exercise could happen indoors, and in some parts of the world this might be the only way, here in SA, sending them outside with something like a ball, bucket or jump rope is really the best way to promote healthy, active play.

Playing outdoor games can improve mental and physical health in children and even develop essential social skills. The benefits are endless! Gross motor skills, the larger movements the body makes with the arms, legs, feet or entire body, are honed during outdoor play. A jump rope is a classic example!

Jumping rope is easy to teach, inexpensive, mobile and a great way for kids to have fun. Skipping integrates many parts of the body and helps improve motor skills. Timing, coordination, balance and posture can all benefit.

There is no place like the sandpit or garden for developing social skills. Watch your kiddo practice their manners and life skills while creating mud pies for their imaginary diners or cooking up a storm in the sandpit “kitchen” with buckets, spades and cookie cutters.

Making outdoor play fun for kids can inspire the wee ones to engage in games and sports. You can send your their favourite “indoor” toys to the great outdoors when the sun shines bright and where the air is right! Dolls, racing cars, play sets and  dress up can all be played with differently by simply taking them outside and adding an outdoorsy element such as a bucket of water or a blow up pool, an storage empty box or even a tent!

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Gift-giving with flair and money to spare

You made it through the season of giving! The kids all received their gifts and they received them on time! But just when you thought you (and the bank account) were in for a slight breather, you realised it’s January… the longest 3 months of the year and the start of the school kiddies birthday party season! Suddenly you’re faced with an empty gift cupboard, empty bank account and zero imagination.

This is when parents need to keep the gift-giving and birthday party-throwing expenses to a minimum because let’s be honest, we cannot make it go away but what we can do is stock up on inexpensive and creative gifts in advance to save money and time.

Consider these few ways to fill that gift cupboard ahead of time, whilst keeping the cost per gift down and the celebratory levels up!

Take advantage of end-of-season clearance sales and discounted deals from retailers, even if the birthdays are spread throughout the year. Remember that you will need to cover both genders even though the age groups may be similar. Be smart and buy unisex gifts to keep it even simpler. Art supplies, board games, books and puzzles are great non-gender-specific gifts so look for bulk deals on these. Stationery and art supplies also go on sale towards the end of January and the start of February after the “back-to-school” campaigns have run their course.

To save even further consider shopping at factory shops for last season’s toys or discounted items due to damaged packaging in which the actual toy is still in mint condition. Online shopping and delivery to your door is another great way to stock up and save. Save time and fuel by not running to the shops for every party gift and if you buy a few items thereby increasing your basket size, you will even qualify for free delivery, a further saving! Parent tip: Most online shops even offer a gift-wrapping service!

Be “that mom” this year and ace the 2020 gift-giving with flair and money to spare…

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Imagination Will Get You Anywhere

Role play is the act of imitating the character and behaviour of someone who is different from yourself. It is also often described as fantasy play, pretend play or dramatic play.

Regardless of the term used, it means that a child can pretend to be in another country or in outer space, fight crime like a superhero, roam the Serengeti like Simba or just about anything else their rapidly expanding little minds can dream up.

Pretend play is very often physical and is a wonderful way for children to be active, exercise and develop their gross motor skills. These are put to good use as pilots run around flying their fighter jets in aerial combat, or careening down slides as Fireman Sam dousing a blaze. Whether playing cowboys and Indians from yesteryear or engaging in a full-blown Nerf war in the backyard, imagination play is good for whole body movement and exercise.

Fine motor skills and hand to eye co-ordination are developed too. Dressing dolls in little bits of clothing, rearranging tiny furniture in a dollhouse or dishing out coins in a game of “shop-shop” all require the smaller movements that occur in the wrists, hands and fingers.

The benefits don’t end there either! Social and emotional skills like taking turns, playing cooperatively and expressing appropriate emotions are being practiced, developed and fine-tuned. It builds strong oral communication skills, negotiation skills, confidence, and the ability to make friends, be persistent, and be creative.

Encouraging pretend play is easier than you think and requires remarkably little input from parents.  In fact, the less input the better! Often it’s a simple case of providing the props and standing back to watch (secretly) the scenario unfold. Here is a suggestion:

Help your child set up a pretend restaurant at home.  The type and size of the “establishment” is limited only by the size of the imagination! You can provide dress-ups, cardboard boxes, play food or play dough, real food and empty food containers, a money box and the play money.

Arrange the dining room chairs airplane-style complete with plush toys for travelers and heels for the air hostess. Don’t forget cool shades for the pilot and a cardboard box for the cockpit. The world is their oyster as they fly off to other countries or outer space!

Everyone loves the local bakery, especially the one that turns out mud pies and sand biscuits. Old pots, pans and spatulas find new life in this backyard culinary delight.

Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.”

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Friends from Frozen

With Frozen 2 due for release in November 2019, it's reason enough to refresh on our favourite frozen friends from the original movie. They are all returning for the much anticipated sequel for more magical mayhem in Arendelle.

Beautifully regal and magically powerful, Elsa is a young queen who feels the weight of her large responsibility but does not feel the self-assurance and composure that she portrays to the outside world. She is haunted by a past and spends much time trying to keep her powers “under wraps” and deny who she really is.

Anna, Elsa’s younger sister is bold and venturesome but does not always “look before she leaps”. She is quirky and full of optimism, which tends to infect all those around her. She is dead set on saving her kingdom and it’s with little else but her fearlessness and her faith in others that she sets out to do this.

Kristof can be likened to a big ‘ol bear. A grizzly mountain man but soft and gentle like a teddy! He prefers the company of his reindeer Sven to that of people, until he meets Anna who becomes “his person” in addition to his loving and endearing family of trolls. The trolls are responsible for his solid upbringing and high values. All in all, Kristof is a good guy and steadfast friend to those he chooses.

Hans is handsome and of royal stock from a nearby kingdom. He is smart, and valiant and very interested in Anna. They meet in a blundering way when he literally (but accidentally) hits her with a horse! This notwithstanding, he will do anything for Anna and brings with him a sense of adventure and spontaneity which has been missing from much of her life.

Sven is Kristof’s reindeer and loyal “wing man”. Basically, Sven is a sleigh-puller and pet, but he’s one with an understanding and dedication to his master that makes him more human than reindeer.

Olaf is a talking snowman who’s obsessed with summer. He reckons that what he doesn’t know won’t melt him! He was “born” from Elsa’s magical powers. Olaf is an extravert, outgoing and “life of the party” kind of snowman. His humour is infectious and he has the uncanny ability to disassemble himself at good and not-so-good times lead which some awkward and hilarious moments.

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Teddy Bear Day

Teddy Bear Day celebrates the time-tested appeal of a soft toy that brings comfort and cuddles to our kids... and sometimes to us too!

We still enjoy Pooh Bear and Paddington and there are few among us who don’t remember Rupert or the Care Bears with keen nostalgia!

Often our children's very first "friends" in life are soft toys such as these famous teddies who offer comfort and companionship to little ones the world over. Let us observe National Teddy Day this month by having a closer look at these little stuffed-with-fluff friends. After all, it was the good-natured honey-loving Winnie the Pooh who said, “If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever”

There is something about that favourite bear, animal or movie character as a stuffed toy that is just so comforting to our kids (and maybe to us too), especially in times of stress or change. This might explain why people of all ages have an affinity for a plush companion.

Our children learn important life skills early on through role play with their stuffed animals and teddy bears. The mere act of “caring for them” and including them in daily activities like dressing, bathing, mealtimes and so on encourages the development of this important skill set.

When our little ones have a tea party with all their favourite stuffed animals or is the teacher in a school filled with fluffy rabbit, dog and teddy bear students, there are endless opportunities to learn good behaviour, table manners and communication skills. If your child is particularly shy, a teddy bear can help them make new friends!

As our children grow, we should introduce them to the animal kingdom through their stuffed companions. Wild and exotic animal friends will create a curiosity for, and a desire to learn more about lions and limas, hyenas and hedgehogs!

"There are no limits to how you can play with a teddy bear. It is a blank canvas for a child and the special relationship that develops with that bear can endure a life time." - Sarah Holmes

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Lets Get Creative!


Many kid’s fill their creative lives with instant enjoyment such as television and video games. Seldom do they have a reason to create something from scratch. So let’s give them one!

Creative Play is what children do when they’re just being children, and there are plenty of things you can do to encourage creative play in your home. Whether it's drawing, painting, cutting, pasting, modelling, making or baking, all kids are partial to being creative if they’re given the chance… and a little encouragement.

There are so many important developmental benefits of creative play too. Painting, drawing, cutting and pasting all help to develop fine motors skills in young children, which in turn helps them to be writing-ready as they near school age. Typically, around the ages of four or five - drawings of faces and people appear. Hilariously for us as parents, pictures of people nearly always start without any body at all - so the arms and legs spring straight out of the head. Your child will love to express themselves and their ideas using crayons, paints, playdough, clay, scissors, glue and paper.

Giving your child time, materials and space to be creative is very important. They like to be spontaneous in their creative play, so it’s good to follow your child’s lead. However, there will also be times when your child wants you to be more involved in guiding the play. By being actively involved, you can develop your child’s skills and understanding even more.

It should be no surprise either that creative activities provide a positive outlet for our kids to express their emotions. Making a range of equipment and materials accessible for your child, means that creative expression becomes as normal as eating breakfast. Give your child the space and time to be creative just because they can. Keep a box full of bits and pieces on hand and try not to stress about the mess!

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Puzzle Guzzle


Wrangling the family away from screens and devices can be a nearly impossible task, but it's crucial to their mental and physical health that they do! A jigsaw puzzle requires their full attention and therein lies the clincher. Toddlers, tweens and stressed out parents alike should once again turn to the chilled out pastime of puzzling.
Starting a jigsaw puzzle and keeping it on a table in the living area or other well-inhabited room is an irresistible invitation to the whole family to join in whenever there are moments in the day to sit down and focus. It's a strategy that we as parents can use to start a conversation while working toward a common goal. The goal? To slowly and meticulously work through the puzzle in order to reach a satisfying ending.
And on that note, stew on this... puzzles promote patience too! 

The very first jigsaw puzzle was a map of the world that had been attached to a piece of wood from which each country was then cut out. The 1767 mapmaker who created this first-ever puzzle could not possibly have guessed the centuries of joy his creation would bring, nor the endless list of benefits that would come with it! Puzzling is enjoyable, educational and helpful in your child’s development. 

Puzzles are a like "brain gym" in which the left and right sides of the brain are exercised simultaneously. Memory and critical thinking skills are developed because your child uses these skills to solve a problem - either the puzzle piece fits or it does not! The best part? They can't cheat a puzzle! (And they must remember the shape of the piece that doesn't fit for when it WILL fit later)

Working with puzzles is especially beneficial when our kids are young as it helps develop hand-eye coordination and gross and fine motor skills. This leads to better handwriting and typing skills later on. Hooray to that!






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DC Super Hero Girls

August is Women’s Month in our beautiful country and it serves as a reminder to celebrate the super women in our circles. Female role models for our daughters, even the fictional character variety, should be included in “the circle” and what better place to look than Super Hero High School. Here we find Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn, Katana, and Bumblebee.

Batgirl can be described as a born leader which comes somewhat naturally to her as Commissioner Gordon’s daughter. Batgril is ridiculously clever and that is not even her superpower! In fact, she has no superpowers but relies on smarts and skills to solve crimes or get the job done. Like any young lady she has a BFF… Supergirl.

Fondly called Supes for short, Supergirl is the cousin of Superman. Being family and all, it does mean that her strengths (and weaknesses) are very similar to his. It means that the Greens, Reds, Golds, Black and Pinks glowing rocks of their home planet, Krypton weaken her. Supes also needs to watch out for magic and she cannot see through lead. What makes her endearing, and one could call it her strength, is that Supergirl is super kind and caring even though she is the most formidable teen on this here planet! (When she is not tripping over her own shadow)

Wonder Woman is from an idyllic island called Themyscira, where she is one of many female warriors. “Wondy” is basically a leader and mentor to the super group of girls that attend Super Hero High School. Wonder Woman really does want the world to be a better place. This almost child-like view of the world does however mean that she can be easily persuaded to believe in something that is not true or real.

Bumblebee is the next super hero girl in the circle of friends. Her very special and specific super power is the ability to shrink. It basically makes her a super spy who can overhear and see almost anything, anywhere! She uses this power to spy on evil villains and bad guys. The best part is that they never know! To compliment her super power and her complexion, she wears blue and orange arm bracelets, which she can use to emit a sonic blast.

Harley Quinn is a sprightly and somewhat mischievous teen, but this just makes her even more likeable and fun to be with. She is one of the few students who relies on combat items rather than superpowers and should either of these not prove enough, she relies on her clever pranks and wacky sense of humour to save the day! She is often seen as a tomboy because of her easy-going vibes, athletic abilities and super quick reflexes.

Katana is a samurai warrior who will never be seen without her sword. Growing up as an average Japanese girl, she was encouraged by her parents to pursue martial arts training and it became apparent early on that it was not so much a “skill” as it was in her blood. (No surprise really as she comes from a long line of samurais.) Katana is stylish in an unconventional yet trendy way and when she is not fighting, you’ll find her chatting with her sword…

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles


Created from a lab experiment gone wrong, teenage terrapins Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael live in the sewers beneath the city. These justice-loving, pizza-eating band of brothers cannot help but fight the evil that is Shredder and his gang that terrorize New York. 

Leonardo is the leader of the four because of his commanding personality and serious nature. He is ordered and disciplined, and also possesses a strong bond with his father-like mentor, Splinter. Leo wears the blue mask and his weapons of choice are the twin katanas.

Donatello comes across as being the smartest of the brothers especially with all things scientific and “techie. He is an accomplished inventor of the devices that the turtles use for fighting evil and restoring justice.  Donnie wears the purple bandana and wields a Bo staff. 

Raphael is the sarcastic Ninja Turtle who is also well-known for his quick temper. Raph sports the red headband and prefers two sai in combat.

Michelangelo – nicknamed Mikey by his brothers – is fun and “chilled out” and generally always happy, especially if there is pizza going around! His preferred weapon is a pair of nunchaku, and wears and Mikey will always be seen in an orange mask.

April O'Neil is the Turtle's human ally seemingly a “big sister” to them. April is confident, smart and determined who embarks on many of the Turtle’s adventures and generally helps them by doing the work in public while they fight behind the scenes. Her romantic interest is Casey Jones, also a close friend the four.

Casey Jones Jr. is a hockey-masked vigilante who is never without an array of sporting equipment that he carries in a golf bag. He too has reason to fight the evil forces that lurk in and around the city and has dedicated himself to fighting crime along side the Turtles.

Splinter is the brown rat that was mutated along with the Turtles. He is their sensei and adoptive father who rescued the four from accidentally getting dropped down a storm drain.

Shop our collection of Ninja Turtle figurines and toys here.

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