Ever Wonder Where Those Effortlessly Cool Hipster Parents Shop? Not Only Can I Tell You, But I've a 15% Off Code For You To Use: Little Citizens Boutique.

There's very little I don't like amongst the inventory on the  Little Citizens Boutique website, so choosing images to share with you was tricky to narrow down. The Holywood based retailer knows good design, and have just won a silver award for best toy & gift retailer in design. They also stock children's clothing and home wares, so here are some of my favourite items from their site.

Should you love what you see too, you can use the code KITSCH15 to get 15% off orders until midnight 30th September.  (The quick buy links aren't active- sorry! It's just how I saved the photos of the products!)

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I Found the Kitschest, Most Magical Toy Shop Today.

Little Citizens in Holywood, Northern Ireland is a treasure trove of European design and classic toys. I could easily spend hundreds of pounds in it. I really badly want the Scandinavian doll house.

Also available on the Little Citizens webstore

Also available on the Little Citizens webstore

Alicia helped Michael pick a little toy from the retro collection

Alicia helped Michael pick a little toy from the retro collection

Don't despair if you don't like in Northern Ireland, everything is online too.

Hand Drawn Creative Etsy Hits the Big 500- Will You Get the Surprise Gift?

Hand Drawn Creative is Neal McCullough, another Bangor Northern Ireland resident who's illustrations I absolutely love. He is a few sales off reaching 500 sales on his Etsy Store and promises the 500th customer a surprise along with their crisp, handsome print. Check out the store here http://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/handdrawncreative.
Neal also has t-shirts available this week of the Hand Drawn Logo via http://www.misterdressup.com/

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Matchbox 60th Anniversary Collection- As Much For the Dads as the Kids

Kids love car racing video games, but put down a mat with pretend roads on it, give them two or three little Matchbox vehicles and they'll invent a whole world on your living room floor. It's a game I remember playing, and Matchbox is the classic toy car brand that has stood the test of time and toy fads and is this year releasing their 60th Anniversary Collection.

We were sent two from the collection to play with, and I called upon my toy testers, husband and son. They had great fun, the scale is similar to Hot Wheels so they were able to use them in my son's existing garage play set.

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There are 24 vehicles in the collection, my son loved the vintage tractor, and they retail at £3.49 each. Great price for pocket money or indeed for a son to buy his dad on Fathers Day this year. Available through Amazon and Tesco.

Best yet, I get to keep the beautiful reproduction, classic boxes for my vintage cabinets.

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Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?

Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Let me introduce you to the world of vintage Playmobil sets, enjoyed by ironic artists and sincere enthusiasts alike.    


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Playmobil sets from the '70s and '80s especially - the childhood plastic toys once enjoyed by those of us now in our 20s, 30s and early 40s. With simple plastic people swashbuckling on the decks of plastic pirate ships, flying tubular planes, boarding buses, leading school trips, crossing jungles, or living in igloos (among thousands of other scenes from life, both real and imagined), they have found an eager market of collectors and documentarians. Sharing their enthusiasm for vintage Playmobil on Flickr pages dedicated to the toys, they also populate collectors' and auction sites which trade and sell what could only be described as a mixture of kitsch and nostalgia.


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Google 'Playmobil + vintage' and see what's out there. Some of what you'll find is hilarious, and occasionally even poignant; the thought-provoking images some artists and fans have recorded with their cameras - one of two Playmobil figures together in some sort of romantic photo, with the image then torn and replaced by a new photo of one of the figures with a new plastic partner. One isn't sure if it's funny or moving. Probably funny. Recreating classic album covers with Playmobil is another Internet phenomenon I highly approve of.


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?



What's appealing about the Playmobil sets of years past is the sense of nostalgia they offer to those of us who played with the toys throughout our childhoods. But buying the latest Playmobil on offer doesn't quite do it, for the toys Playmobil made decades ago differ from current models. Often the changes are minor. If you compare the school bus Playmobil makes today with one they made twenty-plus years ago, you’ll notice that the colours are slightly different between the two, with one or two other small features altered.


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


 Of course, some sets from years past are no longer sold, while others that are will reveal much bigger differences and changes. For instance, the vintage ambulance from decades ago hardly resembles the sleek, almost aerodynamic modern one. The equipment has also become more modern: some police have speed guns and the dentist's office now looks fit for the 21st Century.


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?


Playmobil also played part of this brilliant April Fool's joke, an Apple Store set.


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?

 


Which sets did you have as a child? 


Vintage Playmobil Sets- Which Did You Have?

Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?

Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?


The recent UK Toy Fair at London's Olympia was a sight to behold, as the gathering chronicled the best and worst devices ever created for British children. Meanwhile, their transatlantic cousins would later be treated to the International Toy Fair in New York during February, highlighting the past greats of the toy world as well as future expectations for new gizmos and gadgets. 



In light of this succession of high-profile events, Vertbaudet - the popular mother and child brand - took a look at the toys that have endured over the decades, going all the way back to the 50s.

 

In its quest, the company tried to separate the one-hit wonders from those that have retained their popularity in the long-term, ultimately trying to discover what the common denominator was that got kids excited about toys regardless of the era they grow up in.


 

Professor Jeffrey Goldstein, a psychology expert with the National Toy Council, is one man with countless experience in the industry. Speaking to Vertbaudet, he identified how the common trend among the new toys and dolls was hardly ground-breaking - in the best possible way. "A lot of retro toys are back," he said, "including the re-furbished Furby and Power Rangers."

 

Indeed, it was identified by the specialist that retro toys are a popular purchase because parents feel a connection with the toys too, whether or not they actually owned them themselves. Professor Goldstein suggested that parents and grandparents may feel that such toys represent a link to a "simpler time".


 

Of course, there are a lot of popular retro toys to choose from; Vertbaudet's list of nostalgia-prompting playthings selected the top picks over the decades, with most either still in production or being rereleased to a positive market many years after their initial creation.

 

Starting in the 1950s, Verbaudet's first choice was Barbie. Introduced by Mattel back in 1959, over 350,000 dolls were sold in the first year of production. Joined by Ken two years later, the 1/6th scale doll still sells three units every second.


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?

 

In the 1960s, it was the turn of Etch-a-Sketch. This double-knobbed box is capable of moving a stylus that leaves a trail of aluminium powder on the screen; if things go awry, all you need to do is shake it and start again. Even 50 years later, it still has the same design.


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?

 

The space hopper bounces into Vertbaudet's list in the 70s, becoming the primary mode of transport for children (and some adults). 


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?


However, as the 1980s caught everybody up, it was Hungary's turn to rock the market. Erno Rubik created the world-famous Rubik's Cube, a puzzle made up of smaller cubes with coloured faces in a 3x3x3 design. If you're bored, why not try the real challenge: getting every one of the 43 quintillion different permutations of coloured squares on a Rubik's cube; either that, or attempt to break the world-record solving of 5.66 seconds.

 

Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?


In the 1990s, handheld computer games came into fashion with the Game Boy. This landmark toy made interactivity (as we know it today) truly portable, creating the classic puzzlegame Tetris alongside established characters such as Mario and Link.


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?

 

Going back to more traditional toy roots in the late 1990s and early 2000s - and bringing us back to the present day - was the Furby. Hated and loved in equal measure, the gurgle-voiced wiggly-eared hairy friend of millions was not off the shelves for long, when an upgraded model went on sale in December 2012 - selling out almost instantly.


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?

 

Concluding his brief analysis of the popularity of toys, Professor Goldstein said that in most cases, innovation is important if a toy is to find a place in a child's heart. "I think the Game Boy was one of the first hand-held game-devices and made playing games a mobile and personal thing," he said, earmarking his primary example of this trait. "It was a real shift."


Retro Toys: Which Do You Remember Most Fondly?