Mama Mayhem

Time to talk toys

By Ivy Jensen

IT’S that time of the year when – if you’re organised and budget savvy enough – you’ll start buying Christmas presents for the kids.

Last week, Big W launched its famed Toy Mania sale where hundreds of toys are slashed in price so the average buyer can actually afford it.

And according to the Toy Mania Report, more than half of parents are spending more time playing with their children since isolation.

That’s a tick for me.

A whopping 83 per cent of Aussie parents also said they are using toys for learning and development purposes to enhance the increased playtime during unprecedented times spent at home together.

Another tick for me.

I’ve always been one to buy educational toys, games and apps. You may as well learn something while having fun, right?

As babies, toddlers and young children, my girls were oblivious to that fact. But Ayla clued on pretty quickly.

“This is an educational game,” she would remark with an exaggerated eye-roll.

“Why can’t you just buy normal games?”

“Well, I’m not a normal person”, is my usual reply, which never really goes down well.

Anyhoo, the report also revealed the top five toy trends for the year which seemed directly linked to the unprecedented times we’re in.

Budget-friendly toys and outdoor play top the list as families tighten their belts and spend more time at home.

This is something I have yet to master. Less is best is not only good for the pocket but it teaches your children it’s not how much something costs but the thought behind it that’s important.

How many times have you bought that flashy and expensive toy and your child is more interested in the bubble wrap or the $5 skipping rope?

After so much time spent indoors over the past few months, outdoor activities are experiencing a mass revival.

With more than half of parents saying they prefer outdoor play to indoor, bikes and scooters are the most popular outdoor toy (78 per cent), followed by trampolines (57 per cent).

Thanks to my recent bicycle purchases, I am happy to say we have become ‘bikers’ and try to ride as often as we can.

In my day, I rode my bike to school every day. Even if I was tired or cold. The only time Mum would give me a lift is if it was pouring rain, which was rare in Mount Isa.

Mum said I should consider myself lucky. Because in her day, she had to walk 10km in the snow to school (which would always get an exaggerated eye-roll from me).

When it comes to trampolines, they have come a long way since I was a kid.

They are padded and come with a safety net around it, so there is no way you can fall off or injure yourself in the springs.

I don’t know how many times that happened to me while attempting a double back flip with three twists.

Ah the good ol’ days when kids were tough and trampolines were dangerous and used to play dodgeball and no-one left without a bruised or scratched leg.

Which brings me to the third trend - retro resurgence.

Standing the test of time, toys of the 80s have enjoyed a renaissance of late.

The Rubik’s Cube is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year and has achieved ‘geek chic’ status with the new Rubik’s Revolution, while the Nintendo continues to entertain big and little kids alike with the Nintendo Switch. I think the girls’ dad plays this more than his actual daughters.

I remember being addicted to Mario Kart thanks to my neighbour’s Nintendo (as my parents refused to buy me one). When I finally grew out of it, my parents decided to buy one – for my sister.

However, when it comes to the most nostalgic toy, it’s the Cabbage Patch Doll that topped the list (25 per cent). I was more into the miniaturised Polly Pockets which have recently relaunched.

The fourth trend reveals 60 per cent of kids prefer tech toys over others, with interactivity with others online believed to be driving the higher engagement.

Finally, families are embracing Australiana themed toys and brands, so Aussie-born innovations such as Bluey and The Wiggles are seeing huge sales in their merchandise and ranges.

All I can say about that is I am glad my children are not little anymore. Because if I hear Hot Potato or Dorothy the Dinosaur one more time I will snap.

Speaking of snapping (into place), LEGO continues to dominate the annual toy celebration and topped the best sellers list in every state for the past 12 months.

And it’s easy to see why. There is no toy in the world that comes close to the Danish construction blocks.

It’s like a little black dress. Classic and timeless.

And they’re impossible to break and require no batteries.

LEGO was one of my favorite toys growing up and more than 30 years later, it’s still as popular as ever.

My sister and I would spend hours building weird and wonderful creations, which included an entire town in our greenhouse.

My love of LEGO has now passed down to my children and I love watching them play together like my sister and I did all those years ago.

Until, of course, they forget to clean up and I end up with a mini-brick sized hole in my foot after stepping on them in an oblivious stupor.

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