When it comes to great-value toys, the proof is in the playing. Lots of fad toys are begged for endlessly, played with momentarily, and then forgotten. So what are the best toy investments you can make for long-term fun?
We asked our fantastic community of mums on Facebook what was that ONE toy that has gone the distance? That toy that has been played with for hours, months … even years? Well, the results are in: here are the top 20 toys that are worth every cent. Drumroll please …
LEGO was your number one toy to last the distance, by a long stretch. Durable, minimalist, timeless and waiting for little imaginations to create, how could it not be? You told us that many of you have kept your LEGO sets from when you were small, for your children to play with. Hurrah for LEGO, the time travelling toy that spans generations!
2. Tupperware Shape Sorter
Iconic, durable and the apex of problem-solving for toddlers. We swear when we were tiny this was harder to crack than a Rubik’s Cube. We suspect they are secretly made out of titanium: this is a toy so hardy it seems that every home has a Tupperware Shape Sorter from days-gone-by.
3. Kenner Tree Tots Family Tree House
The Tree Tots family Treehouse gives so many mums a HUGE nostaliga trip and it’s still going strong in many households. If you were lucky enough to own this as a child, you were probably the envy of all your friends. And if you’d like to pass that same feeling on to your own kids, you’re in luck: renamed the Klorofil Magic Tree, this cute green hideaway is still on shelves, now being manufactured by Vulli.
4. Thomas the Tank Engine
Thomas is the really useful engine that children simply love to keep around. Many of you swear by the Thomas and Friends Wooden Railway range, but Take Along Thomas is also really popular, and the Thomas Train Table has been a winner in loads of households. Whether it be vain James, sensible Emily or perky Percy, Thomas and his mates are simply too much fun to pack away.
Despite Duplo being created for tiny tots who aren’t quite ready for LEGO, it seems many big kids don’t want to pack away the big blocks. Lots of you told us that your kids still play with Duplo (some even into their teens!) and who can blame them? Duplo brings out the architects, industrial designers and city planners in all of us.
6. Matchbox cars
We’re a little convinced Matchbox cars are like coat hangers: you put a couple away in a cupboard and they breed in the darkness. Not a bad thing, as Matchbox cars are the kind of toy that grow with children. At first they help little ones understand the fun of rolling and moving around, but later on it’s all about high volocity car chases and authentic automotive detailing!
7. Fisher Price Little People
Fisher Price Little People are a wonderful way to learn about storytelling and make believe for toddlers. But just because they’re Little People doesn’t mean they’re only for little people. One mum told us she kept her Fisher Price Little People tree house from when she was young, and her sons play with it now!
A trampoline isn’t just a springboard to touching the clouds, it’s a chance to perfect those never-quite-perfected summersaults or pretend to be a superhero flying through the air. Trampolines make us all Olympic-level gymnasts.
9. Little Tikes Cozy Coupe Car
What is it about the Cozy Coupe that children simply adore? Is it cruising around the back garden as mummy pushes you? The thrill of steering and beep beep beeping? Or the friendly little face that simply says, “get in and let’s go!” One mum told us that one Cozy Coupe was used and loved by all four of her children. Another mum told us her child’s Cozy Coupe is still going strong after 11 years!
Career-driven, fashion-forward Barbie continues to move with the times and stay popular, even when she’s getting on a bit. Many of you told us your children love playing with your Barbies and accessories – thankfully the 80s revival is still in full swing! It’s nice to know a whole new generation are learning about the awesomeness that is Barbie and the Rockers.
11. Wooden blocks
Wooden blocks are just waiting for a child’s imagination to transform them into a teetering tower, a grand castle or dollhouse furniture. Blocks with letters and numbers also mean that they become a fun and important tool in learning.
12. Teddies & stuffed animals
What would going to bed be like without a Teddy to cuddle? Heaps of you said that you held on to your teddies so you could pass them onto your child, some of your teddies are in their thirties!
13. Tonka Trucks
Tonka Trucks were made to last and just as well. Many of you have told us your kids have continued to play with their Tonka Trucks for years and years. One mum said her son was given a Tonka Truck for his first birthday and he still plays with it seven years later.
Classics are so often the simple and obvious things. Is it any surprise the humble ball is the one toy your child continues to play with from birth right through to adulthood? There’s a reason the ball was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 2009.
15. Buzz and Woody
Much like Andy, mums simply can’t pack Woody and Buzz into a box to hide away in the attic. There are too many adventures yet to be had! Just don’t ask us us watch the end of Toy Story 3 though, we can only shed so many tears…
16. Play Doh
The squashy, mysterious substance that is Play Doh is super-squishy indoor fun. Whether creating modern art, or watching it squeeze out of the palm of your hand, the real challenge is keeping the colours separate so you don’t end up with one big ball of poo brown Play Doh.
17. Toy Kitchen
Play kitchens offer mini masterchefs the chance to learn about the fine art of cooking. From toddlers banging pots and pans, to big kids creating fancy feasts, a toy kitchen is a great investment (and when they get bored of it, just turn it into something else!)
The ultimate make-believe toy, nearly every child has a dollhouse. It might not be the fancy three-story Victorian townhouse variety, sometimes it’s simply a set of bookshelves or a converted cardboard box. But a home’s a home and Barbie, Dora, Papa Smurf and Buzz Lightyear wouldn’t want to live anywhere else! The dollhouse was inducted in to the National Toy Hall of Fame in 2011.
Sometimes the best toy is a blank slate. Crayons, pens, paper, sticky tape and scissors provide colourful and creative expression for budding artists. What’s your colouring in technique? We use gentle back-and-forth strokes starting from the centre, strictly no swirls!
20. Empty boxes
And of course, one of the most popular toys is the cardboard box that the expensive stuff came in. As one mum says on our Facebook page, “they make great dolls beds, you can paint them, draw on them, keep things in them. Stick holes in them to make helmets, create scenes in them … The list is endless!”