Durban - What a delight it is to see my son play with some of my old toys that my mom stored away. They might not look or feel brand new, but most of the sturdy old treasures still offer hours of pleasure.
While toys have certainly evolved since my childhood with technology making giant leaps, traditional toys are still staking their claim in the hearts and minds of little children.
Candice Potgieter, chief executive at the KwaZulu-Natal Science Centre at Gateway says good old building blocks are still a hot favourite and offer great educational value. Children never seem to tire of them.
“The best gift that parents can give their children is education, so why not a toy that encourages learning. There are many that contribute to developing technical, problem-solving and creative skills.”
The Toy-R-Us hot list, which contains their top fifteen toys has among them dolls and cars.
On the list is the Elizabeth Doll House (R999, 90), Barbie Doll and Boat (R549, 90) and Baby Annabell (R299,90).
Mark Wood, general manager in the Merchandise Division at Pick n Pay, says that although the proliferation of tech products such as tablets has muted the growth of sales from traditional toys over the past few years, the category still remains important.
Wood says there are very few new toys coming on to the market.
“Instead, we have seen a revival of established products such as Furby (R999, 90), Techno Robot Dog (R2844) and superheroes – including Superman and Spider-Man with vast ranges at varying prices.
“There is also a growing trend towards creating traditional toys from online applications, such as Angry Birds and Fruit Ninjas toys, to name a few.
“In terms of what’s new this Christmas for children from the ages of three to seven years, we expect to see most retailers stocking Disney Planes toys. This is largely as a result of the recent launch of the Disney Planes DVD.
“Meanwhile, children’s educational ranges are still growing in this age group, with particular focus on children’s laptops and electronic learning boards.”
Wood says the Leapfrog Brand is also gaining momentum in this age group.
“Interestingly, this is not strictly limited to the educational LeapFrog products and this age group is being introduced to gaming with the Leap Pad and the Leapfrog Explorer hand-held products which cost around R2000.
He says a good example of a toy with longevity is Barbie. She remains popular with the eight- to 12-year-old girls, along with the Monster High 13 Wishes Feature Doll (ranging from about R395).
“Bratz have refreshed the look of their doll and are focusing on reclaiming market share in the 11.5-inch doll category. Furby Interactive Plush is back on shelves, sporting fun, bright colours in comparison to the original version,” he said.
“Following global trends, gaming products seem to be dominating with the eight- to 12-year-old boys.
“Superheroes like Iron Man, Spider-Man and Superman re-emerged this year with the launch of the movies, and will still be popular for Christmas. Ninja Turtles (Starting from about R149) is particularly strong this year – not only figurines, but also role-play sets and games,” said Wood. - The Mercury