Wooden toys

Toy of the month – September 2017

Wow honestly I don’t know how we only have a few more months left of 2017, how we are almost in Term 4 and that I am already looking at Christmas gift guides! But let’s not get ahead of myself as this month, I am super pumped and oh so excited to be reviewing the incredible open ended toy, the Wobbel Board.  Yes it has finally arrived in Australia via my brand rep fave The Creative Toy Shop!

This fabulous open ended toy brings hours of fun to not only kids but the whole family. It isn’t cheap and certainly set us back this coming Christmas but the versatility and flexibility of this toy is beyond most toys you have come across. You will be surprised at all the different ways this toy can be used, played with, balanced on and slide down.

I do admit the Wobbel board isn’t new, my eldest son used to play with them in Germany at Kindergarten and now in Australia, they also have a similar version at my youngest son’s preschool albeit their model has a padded cushion attached on the bottom rather than what is available on the Wobbel.

The Dutch company, Wobbel have reinvented a classic Waldorf design of the balance board ( also known as Steiner in Australia and the US) and modernised it with the special wool felt and cork underlays as well as various colour ways to customise the Wobbel for your own home and lifestyle.

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Toy of the month – August 2017

A little story to tell you my lovely readers about this month’s Build Me wooden toys; my youngest was so enamored with these incredible wooden cars that he sneakily took one to preschool to show his mates! There was only one slight issue in that we hadn’t finished testing them out at home. Eep! Suffice to say it did arrive back in one piece ( phew!) with a few minor scratches.

I would say that actually he did me a favour as they survived a bit of rough and tumble at preschool and still came back  in 100% working order and looking fab. That has to be the best way to test out a toy in my mind!

Darryl Thompson is the creator and maker behind Build Me wooden toys which are designed and made in Melbourne, Australia. We first reviewed his brilliant “BuildMe” wooden toy kits back in September 2015 for our Toy of the Month. The boys and their Dad built a “Monster” truck and the “Short” dump truck and they seriously make THE best Father’s day presents!  They had a brilliant time together building their car kits  and it was such a great bonding experience for them all.

It was with great excitement that I recently heard from Darryl about his new toy collection,   ‘PlayMe‘. These cars are already built for you in brilliant colours, gorgeous woods and ready to go straight out of the box. Let me tell you, they are stunning!!

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Kickstarter – Bokah Blocks for next level construction

We were super excited to feature the incredible Bokah Blocks as our February ‘Toy of the Month‘ last year. These blocks are sheer genius as the makers at Bokah Blocks have reworked a timeless classic, the wooden block and given it a joint! When you connect 2 Bokah blocks with a bendy ( a neat little unit that can stretch, twist, bend and pull), a joint is constructed and this allows not only movement between the blocks but also flexibility in the design.

We created some pretty amazing designs that I honestly never thought was possible from a wooden block. Bokah Blocks are a young US toy start up and you know how much I love supporting small!  It was with excitement that I heard from Bokah Blocks this month as they wanted to let me know about the awesome Kickstarter campaign they have just launched for their Explorer set of blocks. A new set of blocks that are affordable and with 55 pieces still allows for a huge selection of construction designs to be enjoyed by your kids.

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Toy of the month – May 2017

We have been testing out the most beautiful toy storage trolley from Lulo Kids this month and I am secretly wishing that we had little ones again to push it around and look oh so adorable!

We used to own a little wooden trolley when our boys were toddlers that they used for toy storage and to push around but I can honestly tell you it was not as exquisite as this one (think red and white and yellow – eek!)

Lulo Kids is a Melbourne based small business designing and hand making beautiful wooden kids products.  Known for their teepees, they have recently added these wooden trolleys to go with their gorgeous bespoke wooden blocks.

Again, I am over the moon that such Australian based toy companies now exist and thrive when a few years ago all you could find were overseas based companies whose production was based in fast paced China.

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Why Kids Gifts and Toys?

I first started my blog over 3 years ago when my eldest was 5 years of age and my youngest just 2. Why did I start? Mainly because I wasn’t what kind of gifts were age suitable for my kids and I wanted to research and find out the best ones.

Not just the best ones though, because what is the”Best”? Best means different things to different people. For me “Best” was all about the longevity of the toy, how long a child would play with it and how long it would last with it being played with constantly? Could the toy stand up to the test of being treated sometimes rough and tumble by a toddler or a child?

Also toys are not cheap, or rather you can buy cheap plastic toys but we all know that they don’t last, they break, or need batteries.  I was finding these toys were not cutting it with my boys. Yes we had plastic toys, we had musical bongo drums, we had musical electric guitars, we had Hot Wheels track( we still do!), we had a few plastic ride on cars and bikes. But personally I found anything with batteries, highly annoying, like highly annoying! LOL. I know the kids enjoyed them, however I noticed it was never for long periods, it never engaged them longer than 5 mins and so this is why I started investigating ethical and eco friendly toys.

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Toy of the month – April 2017

This month it is all about trains!! I have found over the years as a mother that wooden trains are one of the best open ended toys and not just for boys either. They are a great gender neutral toy that can be played with from 1 year right up to adults 😉

My eldest received his first very small train set for his 1st birthday and we have grown the set each year with family and friends adding trains, tunnels, stations and more to make it into a little city. What I have found though is that wooden trains and track are not cheap, not at all which is why my boys have received most of their train track and accessories as birthday presents over the years ( with a few flea market purchases in Germany!)

My boys play with their train set on a weekly basis building, creating and exploring new track set ups and cities. They can honestly play for hours on end, just by using their imagination to create wonderful worlds of train exploration, such is the joy of this open ended toy.

As a brand representative for The Creative Toy shop, this year we were gifted a number of Hape wooden train toys and I wanted to share one of them with you, the Xylophone Melody Track, for this month’s review.

Brianna, the brains behind The Creative Toy Shop has created an wonderful selection of toys for her shop and uses her daily job as a special needs home educator and teacher to help her test out and decide on what toys she will offer. Originally a blogger, she has taken her blog to the next level and established one of the most gorgeous online toy shops in Australia. I am honestly in love with her toy shop and so excited and honoured to be working with her this year.

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Toy of the month – March 2017

This month is an exciting one my friends. This month is a celebration of how far toy making has come in Australia.

When I started Kids Gifts and Toys over 3 years ago and started researching toy brands worldwide, there was very little coming out of Australia that was designed and made in Australia.  In just a short space of time I have watched an incredible transformation and now I can happily say there is actually a handmade toy industry in Australia! I am super excited to be featuring “Monday the Plane” from Have a Nice Day toys for March’s “Toy of the month”; this is one Australian toy company that is making waves for all the right reasons.

Monday the Plane” is just one of 7 wooden toys created by former industrial designer Jake Diaz alongside his wife Dom Diaz who fronts up all the business and social media side of things. This husband and wife team based on the Gold Coast, are reinventing wooden toys and bringing back the simplicity and purity for a new generation of children.

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Toy of the month – January 2017

I hope you have started your 2017 with joy, love and happiness and that this year you have set many mindful intentions to perhaps be less busy, be more present and to enjoy each and every day.

I have had the boys the past 6 weeks over the summer school holidays and normally I am a little apprehensive as to how I will keep them entertained but this holidays seemed, well a little easier. As they get older there is more interaction, sustained play and for a longer period of time. There have been tantrums don’t get me wrong, they have been loud and long but perhaps parenting is getting that teeny tiny bit easier…well until next week when things will no doubt change again.

This month sees us review the brilliant French Marbotics range. This is a range that I took notice of last year as I was intrigued by the idea of mixing wooden toys and technology. The Smart numbers and Smart letters range are distributed exclusively in Australia by Keld Industries who kindly sent me the range to test out and review.

After realising this review will become much too long for you my lovely readers, I have decided to split out the review and for January review Smart Numbers and for February, Smart Letters. Each product deserves its own review as there are 18 different applications across the 3 free apps provided. This product is one where you definitely get your money’s worth!

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Candylab Toys Town

The boys were extremely lucky at Christmas to be gifted some incredible Candylab toy cars from Keld Industries, the Australian distributor of these awesome US designed cars.

We are long time fans of Candylab Toys having helped to crowd fund their second campaign by buying up the second edition of cars that they designed in 2015. We have added to our collection over their 3 Kickstarter campaigns and we are hoping for a 4th campaign this year, c’mon Vlad and team!

As it is summer school holidays the boys and I thought we should give our cars a new home, so we started to create a garage town out of cardboard boxes and paint. And yes, they may have racing stripes on the garages as well as the car numbers on the side of the garages, just so we know which garage they live in!

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Toy of the month – October 2016

Ohh you know how much I adore wooden toys and this month I have such a fabulous product to show you from the amazing Tinkertime which combines another love of mine, singing!

I will admit,  I am not good at singing, in fact I think I am probably tone deaf but I love to sing to the tunes on the radio and I may have had a karaoke session at my hen’s night…

So naturally the kids also like to sing with me when we are at home or even in the car! And what do you need when you sing but… a microphone!

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Meet the Maker – Decor Me

Hello lovely peeps, HUGE apologies as I have been a bit slack in my beloved “Meet the Maker” series of late with all my Bazaar preparations, but I am super excited for this month’s gorgeous maker Angela from Decor Me.

Decor Me is a divine handmade brand created by Angela from Sydney who has become known for her beautiful wooden doll stackers which are made of Tasmanian oak and using non toxic paint and natural sealants. They make the perfect toy for small hands!

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Toy of the month – August 2016

August in Sydney can be quite a dreary month, it can be wet, super cold with windy days and only sometimes a glimpse of Spring in the air! But what I like about the last winter month is that you can still hibernate and enjoy all those indoor activities.

We go through our board games, we set up our wooden train set, do painting and I even taught the kids how to play marbles this month. We had the added joy of reviewing a beautiful wooden play theatre from the brilliant new toy store Happy Go Ducky. Such a perfect toy for those cold, rainy days indoors or just days when you want to stay inside and chill.

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Uncle Goose – classic wooden blocks

I was first introduced to Uncle Goose wooden blocks, all designed AND made in the USA, by the lovely Faye from Abacus Kids a few years back. As an American brand of blocks it wasn’t one I was familiar with nor grew up with unlike I am sure many American readers. But this brand of block is a powerhouse and one you need to know about.

Producing blocks for more than 30 years, this family run business has kept their design and manufacturer of wooden toys in the USA since they began in Grand Rapids, Michigan in 1983.

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Midcentury Americana – Candylab Toys are back with a bang!

Oh yes Candylab Toys are back with another ahhmazing Kickstarter campaign this year! These guys seriously blow me away! Their company has been completely crowd funded through Kickstarter over the last 3 years and the wooden cars that they have produced are pretty darn phenomenal. Yep that is a big word, but it is rightly deserved, because these guys are kicking it and their wooden toys rock!

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Best new board book

I am super excited to let you know about the newest Goose Grease product which they recently launched, the (Not so) Blank Henry! board book and DIY family kit.

Not happy to settle with just producing their gorgeous handcrafted wooden peg dolls which are produced under fair trade conditions in  Bogotá, Colombia, Anna and Juan Donado, the amazing couple behind the brand, have now turned their passion and energy to a new element of their company, book publishing!

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Toy of the month – May 2016

This month, the boys and I have been super excited to review and test out a fab new block on the street, SumBlox! These blocks are seriously clever, beautifully made of heirloom beechwood and are not only fun but they help teach numbers and mathematical concepts too. Winning for the parents!

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Reaching the highest of heights in wooden toys!

As a toy blogger I see a lot of kids toys as you can imagine, but the ones I am always drawn to are ones that will last generations, ones that our children can enjoy, but also their children. In this very consumerist society, it can be easy to give your children toys upon toys upon plastic toys. But the ones that they will remember won’t be the plastic ones that break or run out of battery, but those that provide them with hours of imagination and wonder. The ones that are sturdy, robust and built to last, which is why I tend towards wooden toys. Aesthetically from a parent’s perspective they are beautiful to look at which is important as you will be seeing it daily,  but from a consumerist perspective, they are also ones that you know will survive the rough and tumble of children. They won’t be thrown in the bin because they no longer work!

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Wooden Toys – made in the USA

I wrote a blog feature last month all about Australian Wooden toys and I am very exciting to start looking around the world at what other countries makers and creators are designing and producing for our children in terms of sustainable heirloom wooden toys.

This month, we travel to the grand ol USA! And gosh there is so much going on here, it was really hard to make a decision on the curated goodness coming out of the US. I think I will need to do another one very soon.

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Australian Wooden Toys

I have to say in looking for handmade and wooden toys over the past 2 years for my blog, it has honestly been quite a struggle. There are a lot of wooden toys but all made by the big companies; Plan Toys, Hape, Melissa and Doug, Janod and Kidkraft to name a few.  We love our Hape & Plan Toys but not all the companies produce solid wood toys, many are made of MDF, which isn’t sturdy and if it is painted, then it chips easily.

However, just in the past year, there has been an absolute resurgence in handmade and wooden toys.  And I can proudly say there are so many handmade and heirloom made toys being made right here in Australia, many in lovely mamas and papas homes! Woohoo!

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Toy of the month – February 2016

This month’s toy review is about a reinvented and remastered take on an old classic, the block. Yes the wooden block has been given a completely new, updated and very much needed revamp. It has moved the block beyond just stacking and building and into a whole new world of engineered construction.

This “Toy of the month” is the utterly brilliant Bokah Blocks and these wooden blocks are so ingenious that we were blown away by them in our Kids Gifts and Toys household.

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Toy of the Month – November 2015

Our little household is so very excited about this month’s toy review as it has meant a whole refurb of our Rock and Pebble Apple House –  yes our Mini Furniture has arrived! We even got out the confetti to celebrate!

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Christmas 2015 – Wooden toys under $100

Halloween is over and let’s roll on the festive season!

With it comes all the flurry of thinking about what presents aka kids toys to buy your children, nieces, nephews, cousins, friends and grandchildren. So I thought I would help out over the next few weeks and give you some ideas  with my gift guides, as we build up to Christmas 2015 ( 7 weeks + and counting, just thought I would add that in for some shock value!).

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Toy of the month – September 2015

September is always a wonderfully special month here in Australia, as we celebrate Father’s Day. This Father’s Day, we gave our Papa ( a throw back still from Germany)  a lie in, breakfast in bed and cooked him a yummy late brunch. Plus he was spoilt with lots of tools, handmade cards and chocolates!

We also presented him with 2 awesome toys that he could share with the boys, “Buildme wooden toys“. He was blown away by the “Build Me” boxes he received and a week or two later we had a chance on a rainy Spring afternoon, to construct them.

Buildme Wooden toys toys are an awesome brand established in Melbourne and started by a dad, Darryl Thompson, whose past experience as a shipwright in the Royal Australian Navy and later as a graphic designer, has enabled him to develop the wooden toys from concept and design through to production. I adore that he is trying to bring back some time honoured traditions and to teach children life long skills especially in this techy age.

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Candylab Toys – new launch!

Ooh I am very excited to do a little follow up to last month’s “Toy of the month” post about Candylab Toys. Today they have launched a new Kickstarter campaign for 5 new utterly brilliant designs!

As you know from my posts last year about Snappets,  I am a HUGE fan of Kickstarter and the power of crowd funding. It is the perfect way in this techy age to get funding to make your dream idea, concept or creation a reality.

Candylab Toys was born out of a Kickstarter campaign last year and with the draw and pull of the masses, they designed and manufactured 7 different designs.  This year, this awesome design led wooden toy company have created 5 more fantastic prototypes to add to the garage.

In just under 3 hours they already have 29 backers who have pledged $3,453 of the $30,000 they require for their next campaign.

Here is a little look at the cars they have designed. By pledging to buy one, when the Kickstarter campaign is successful, you will have your very own Candylab Toy, come September.

This project will only be funded if at least $30,000 is pledged by

You won’t regret it, they are ace! 

Click here to pledge.

new candlylab taxi

blue racer 2

the woodie

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towie and Blu74

The Towie

The Organic Family

This week, we have been very lucky to have some visitors come and stay with us. They are rather unique, a lot of fun, and they like to go on adventures! They go by the name “The Organic Family” and I have to say it has been a pleasure getting to know this sweet little family of 4, yes you may have guessed it by now, wooden dolls, by Goose Grease toys! 

This little family consists of a mama, papa, brother and sister who have been lovingly hand crafted using wood that is sustainably sourced under fair trade practices in Bogotá, Colombia.

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Goose Grease is owned and run by a wife and husband team, Anna and Juan Donado out of Brooklyn, New York. Juan is Colombian and he chose his home country to produce these sweetest of toys and Anna trains the skilled artisans to hand paint each doll, using non toxic water based paints. 

I adore wooden toys as you would no doubt realise in reading my blog. Why? Well there are many reasons for my love of all things wood!  One is the aesthetics and texture, they just look stunning and the natural softness of wood is a nice change from all the plastic in this world.  Another reason is the heirloom quality of wood and the fact the toys can be passed down through the generations and not be broken or have pieces missing like plastic toys. Finally, that due to the quality and design, wooden toys generally don’t date, which means you won’t thrown them away when your child has had enough of that latest trend.

It was with much pleasure therefore that this little organic family came on a big adventure to our house via the fantastic new Australian based shop Noc Noc; who source and stock only handcrafted wooden toys from around the world. Heather’s passion for wooden toys is similar to mine, in that she chooses wooden toys for their environmental and sustainability factor. As a mother of 2 gorgeous kids, she wanted to consciously source toys that were handcrafted and of artisan quality.  However, as I too have found, Heather struggled to find handmade wooden toys made in Australia, in particular, on a wholesale level. We just don’t seem to have the demand for it here, well not yet…

Goose Grease toys were one of her first purchases for the store and Heather tells me a little more as to why she choose these toys in particular:

As soon as I saw these dolls I had quite a physical reaction. I really felt like a small child again and I  just wanted to hold and play with them (and I do). They are so beautifully made and feel so gorgeous to hold. Knowing that they are each lovingly hand lathed and then hand painted makes them so very special. I also just love how different each set is. The organic family just melt me. The Monochrome are the trendy family of the bunch. The ninjas make me giggle. So I can imagine that they also bring out these different emotional reactions in children too! I was over the moon when I found out that I could sell them in Australia and in fact we are now their Australian distributors. 

I also asked Heather about the importance of wooden toys and what future they have:

I actually see us moving in a full circle. Back to natural, ecologically friendly toys. Whilst the tech age is undoubtably here to stay, I also see parents making choices to limit these techy items and give their children toys that will allow their imaginations to grow. I also most definitely am seeing parents who wish to limit the plastic and waste that occurs in their children’s worlds. I think different parents have different reasons for doing this whether it be environmental, health (the toxic chemicals in plastic), for aesthetic reasons or even for the nostalgia of our children having the wooden toys like we did. However I am definitely seeing a resurgence in wooden toy enquiries and an understanding of the higher price tag that come with these toys.

I am looking forward to seeing more from Noc Noc in the future and the new discoveries and treasures that Heather is no doubt going to find as she pursues her dream of creating a creative hub, made of only handcrafted wooden toys.

Now let us go and see what adventures the Organic family got up to on their stay with us!

 

 The adventures of the Organic Family.

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   Families that camp together….

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Football fun with the siblings!

Organic shop GG

Can we have an icecream, puhleeease Mum! 

Organic fun

Finishing off a fun day with a play on the swings and tasting the delicious organic ice cream and juices! 

 

Ages: 3+

Size: 6.5 – 9 cm tall

Non toxic paint, fair trade conditions, sustainably sourced wood.

****DISCOUNT CODE ****

Heather has very kindly offered free shipping on all Noc Noc toys using code “KGT15”. 

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Disclosure: in order to review Goose Grease, we were given an Organic family to test out.

Toy of the month – February 2015

Life with 2 boys, well, let’s be honest, make that 3 boys including hubby dearest, means a life filled with cars! Especially as said hubby is a mechanical engineer so we tend to live and breathe cars in this household… whether it is wooden cars, Hot Wheels cars, Siku, Scaletrix, Automoblox, Kukkia + and not to mention ride on cars and bikes, my boys love ALL of them.

As such I don’t get too excited when the boys receive new toy cars as birthday presents as normally they are all rather the same. That was until I set my eyes on Candylab Toys, these cars seriously rocked my world! Not only did they have some of the coolest car designs I had seen, but, they were wooden! I had to review these cars, pronto.

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Vlad Dragusin, the founder, is an architect based in Brooklyn with two daughters and he shares an equal love of cars and “mid century modern” design.

Growing up in his native Romania in the 80’s with “crappy tv choices” he learned to sketch and draw, create and build cars that he saw and loved from the tiny glimpse of Hollywood he saw on TV.

Cut to today and the story goes that one day, one of his daughters asked Vlad to put wheels on an empty noodle box she had just retrieved from the recycling. Together they then painted and drew on the box to create an awesome car to play with. This cardboard design made Vlad imagine a world of the coolest of cool cars, the cars he remembered drawing from his childhood. He decided not to design something throwaway but cars that would become heirloom pieces and passed down through the generations, cars that were both modern and retro at the same time. Together with his business partner and neighbour, Florin who knew all the technical aspects of car design, they started Candylab Toys.

close up car

Candylab Toys was established in 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign, where 1,129 people raised 4 x times the amount of funds required to get the designs and manufacturing started. Having expected it would take a year to place their first factory order with the Kickstarter campaign they got there in 35 days! A phenomenal effort and amazingly quick result which allowed Candylab Toys to start life. I love Kickstarter campaigns, it is one of the best ways I know to raise money for “Start ups” and breath life into awesome ideas.

Drifting car - Candylab

skids

Although wishing to produce their gorgeous wooden cars in the USA, they struggled to find any US manufacturers interested in mass wood production of small items back in 2012.  After 97 failed attempts to find a US manufacturer keen to take on the job, and 1 keen to produce the cars at USD$100.00 a car, they decided to look abroad.  They went to the 2013 International Toy fair and found a Chinese wood supplier keen to work with them on their drawings. It has been a match made in heaven so far with a proven partnership and successful production of 8 cars thus far with more coming very soon!

Each car takes from 15 to 18 cuts in a solid beech wood profile, plus painting, priming, applying the stripes and decals and wheels.  It is a manual process all the way.  Paints are all water based with each car taking hours to produce.

Start your engines - Candylab

This gorgeous wooden car arrives in a fab matching box and is much larger than any other wooden car around that we have tested ( even larger than Automoblox). What strikes you first is the stylishly simple design, it is super elegant and you would be happy to display it in your kids bedroom. However, there is little chance of that once your kids see it!

As you can see from the photos here, my eldest son had an absolute ball racing the GT-10 around the washi tape track I made for him on my pinboard. My youngest adores the car so much he has scratched it up a little with his endless hours of play. They both love this car and the “oohs and ahhs” that came out of both their mouths when we opened up the box was priceless.

It is quite large in size and is recommended for ages 3+. I therefore thought it might be too large for Hudson who is 3 in May, but he races it around and it fits his hand well. I would say that it is probably better for ages 3+ as my youngest has scratched it up a little with his play whereas Jasper is much more careful with it but equally loves playing with it and building garages for it and roads.

They come in 8 designs, although 1 is no longer available as it was the first Kickstarter car and thus was handed out to all those who pledged money. The police and fire car look fantastic and next month, they have added a tow truck to the collection! With bright yellows and purples for the Stinger and Plum 50, there is a car to suit all ages and sexes.

If your children, boys and girls alike, are car obsessed this makes a brilliant birthday present with the promised “ohhs and ahhs” coming from your child as they open the box. The cars look as good in the flesh as they do in the photos. They are true design led heirloom pieces that you would happily display in your children’s room.

The cars are fairly large in size in comparison to most cars that kids play with and they are great for racing, drifting and generally having a lot fun! My boys have added Sonny Angels as passengers and come up with some awesome imaginative play with the car. We will definitely be adding to our collection of Candylab Toys for their birthday, the only question is, which one!

Ages 3+

Size: 18.3cm L x 7.3cm W x 5cm H

Designed in Brooklyn, made in China.

Safety tested according to US CPSIA and European, Australian and New Zealand regulations.

RRP: US $30.00 +

Disclosure: in order to review the Candylab GT-10 we were sent one to test drive. 

Candylab GT10

Toy of the month – June 2014

GG* Oekaki House by Kukkia

I always loved  playing with an “Etch a Sketch” as a child, creating drawing after drawing and happily or unhappily erasing them when I was finished.  I had been on the lookout for one for the boys after they were playing with one on a ski holiday earlier in the year. However,  once I started researching those available they didn’t get great reviews, with many saying they broke within a few months. I thought I would prefer to spend a little more money and find one that was well made, sturdy and not prone to breaking and it would not doubt save me money in the long run!

I then saw an IG post from Abacus Kids regarding a wooden magnetic drawing board and I knew this was what I had been searching for! Plus Faye was having a little sale on at that time, so I couldn’t resist buying this toy for my son’s birthday!

The gg* Oekaki Drawing board house comes in a cute little carry bag for travel on road trips, to the grandparents or even out to restaurants. It also helps for easy storage AND the drawing board is as cute as it looks in the photos!

My son adored playing with this present on his 2nd birthday. The first thing on the toy he was drawn to was the abacus on top of the house. He played with that for a few minutes before he then moved on to playing with the actual drawing board.

When he first started to play with the drawing board,  he loved playing with the stamps and stamping them on the board. 6 months down the track he can now use the pen more and make swirls and scribbles which is great for his fine motor skill development. His eldest brother J, loves drawing with it as well and creating little masterpieces. I adore that the drawing board is in colour too! I always remembered mine as a child was black and white.

This toy is not cheap in comparison with the plastic variety, but it is well made, seriously cute and a lot of fun for your kids! This is definitely a case of quality over quantity and I am glad I chose this wooden drawing board over the plastic variety.

One point to note, is that the little running dog that erases each creation was a little stiff to start but it has loosened up with use.  The only other thing I would mention is the screen sometimes cuts out with the drawing but if you shake it or pull the dog across, it fixes that problem.

We have other toys from Kukkia like their little wooden car and I have to say they are great quality, gorgeously designed and beautifully presented.

Designed in Japan and made in Vietnam by Kukkia.

Ages 2+

RRP: £50.00

Great for: fine motor skills, creative play, hand and eye coordination, shape and colour recognition and learning to draw/write. 

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Toy of the month – May 2014

 Apple House by Rock and Pebble

If you follow me on Instagram you will know how much I love and adore Rock and Pebble! They are a truly unique, inspiring and wonderfully creative label brought to you by the awesome Mr Printables  (check out this site for AMAZING free yep you guessed it,  printables).

It was love at first sight when I saw their Apple and Pear houses in February this year via Abacus Kids‘ IG account and I knew that they would make the perfect 2nd Birthday present for my youngest H.

As he loves apples, it was the Apple House for us. I adored playing with my dolls house as a child. It was one that my father had made for me and it had the coolest silver roof!! I felt that just because I had 2 boys and not girls, that didn’t mean I should deprive them of the same joy, imaginative play and fun that a doll’s house provides.

The Apple house is a perfect unisex doll’s house that has been so brilliantly designed that it comes all flat packed in a cute grey bag.  It allows you  then to pack it up when it is not in use. I have to warn you though, it will be in constant use!

As we bought our Apple House as part of their original launch, we received 4 cute pebbles (wooden peg people) included. You can now buy these separately as Modern, Color and Alphabet and they come with reusable clothing! So adorable and yes we had to buy these too as our Apple House likes having guests come to visit.

Doll’s houses by their nature are generally big and bulky and require a lot of room in a child’s bedroom or playroom.  I wanted something we could travel with and easily assemble and dissemble when required.

Rock and Pebble are a US based company that manufactures the houses in the UK using European Birch wood. They felt it was more environmentally sustainable to have the houses made close to where the wood is cut rather than shipping it all the way to the US to manufacture.  I love their catchphrase, “Natural, non toxic, sustainable is our goal.”

Their inspirations for both their doll houses and pebbles have come from their parent company, Mr Printables. Both of the designs were amazing printables that were so hugely popular they decided to create something more permanent using sustainably sourced wood.

If you want to inspire your child with wooden toys that are brilliantly designed and manufactured and that provoke your child’s imagination and sense of  wonder and help to contribute to a greener world, then look no further than Rock and Pebble. Plus these doll houses look  seriously stunning in your children’s room!

Ages: 3+ ( although with parental supervision due to the little pebbles, it is fine from 2+) 

RRP £80.00

Great for: fine motor skills, imaginative/creative play and role play.

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Toy of the month – January 2014

Grimm’s Rainbow Stacker:

Oh how I have admired and adored this little rainbow stacker from Grimm’s Spiel  & Holz Design. I love colour and I love rainbows and this is the perfect match in my eyes!

If you have ever had the pleasure to touch a Grimm’s product you will know that they use matte paints to ensure that the child still feels the organic nature of the wood/grain. They want to ensure that the child understands the connection between nature and environment, unlike plastic where it is hard for a child to visualise where the product originates.

The Rainbow stacker is iconic, so much so that it has become the symbol or logo behind the Grimm’s company. It has been copied more than I can think of but it can never be truly replicated, as their manufacturing and painting process is unique and means that no one stacker is exactly the same.

Both my son’s absolutely adore this toy. Although it was brought for my youngest son’s 2nd Birthday, my eldest son has had a lot of fun with it as well. He loves making it into tunnels and race tracks for his cars. My youngest son likes to stack them up or make little houses for his pebble people or Sonny Angel’s.

It comes in 3 different sizes with minimal packaging and  small instruction sheet. We have the medium size. I wish we also had the large as there are so many possibilities of play with the larger model but it came down to cost. The larger one was about €50.00 and this one was about €24.00. Unfortunately my husband was with us at the toy store when we bought it and he freaked out at the cost of the large rainbow stacker! Such a shame as it would have been a fab addition to our playtime. I can tell you as a result, I now do a lot more online shopping!

Grimm’s is a family owned business based in the Swabian hills of southern Germany.  The company has been producing toys since 1978 and they are made from sustainably sourced FSE wood from various European mills. All their products are designed at their factory in Hochdorf, and they manufacture their toys in Germany and Bosnia. However, all products go through the German factory for final quality control to ensure the highest specification for each product is adhered to.

I have had the absolute pleasure to meet some of the Grimm’s family at the Spielwarenmesse (world’s biggest toy trade fair) in January this year and the love and passion they have for their work is clear.  Each toy that you are buying from Grimm’s is one made with love, passion and dedication. This is how all toys should be created, not for profit but for the love of the design and the happiness it brings every child.

Ages: 12 months + 

RRP €24.95 

Great for: construction skills, gross motor skills, imaginary play, and hand and eye co-ordination.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post.

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