Early Earners: ToyNews’ guide to the latest products in the pre-school sector

Housing some of the industry’s most established brands and toy manufacturers, as well as some of its biggest and most successful licenses, the pre-school sector sits at the very heart of the toy space. As such, it has been at the front line of this year’s evolving consumer trends, that has witnessed parents and families place more value and consideration on the toys they buy for a population of pre-schoolers in the midst of a pandemic.

Here, ToyNews rounds up some of the biggest names and leading products on the pre-school scene as the sector prepares for 2021 and beyond

Schleich – Farm World
01279 870000 | www.schleich-s.com | schleich@schleich-s.co.uk

This season sees Schleich sow the seeds of play as its Farm World range remains a firm favourite among parents and pre-schoolers. Determined to bring nature to life for its youngest audiences, the Farm World collection is all about fun on the farm.

This year’s veterinarian sets focus on looking after animals. The Veterinarian Practice with Pets Set comes with everything the vet needs to care for the animals. Or, if a patient is unable to make it into the practice, the Veterinarian Visit at the Farm set allows the vet to come to you. 

Meanwhile, there will be plenty of additions to the Farm World franchise next spring, as Schleich prepares to introduce several new play-sets. Not to be missed is the Sunny Day Mobile Farm Stand, complete with farm workers and Poppy the horse. 

2021 will also see the arrival of some new figurines in the Farm World collection, with cute domestic pets joining the range, as well as some bigger farm animals. 

The Schleich portfolio is supported with extensive retailer support and PR and marketing campaigns.

Basic Fun – Tonka
0118 925 3270 | www.basicfun.com | Tim.Ives@basicfun.com

Still rolling into kids’ imaginations more than 70 years since the brand was founded, Tonka inspires little ones to dream up their own story lines for some Tonka tough construction play. 

With an already extensive range under its belt, Basic Fun will continue to grow the Tonka collection in spring 2021, with the promise of  plenty more immersive fun for little ones aged three years old and upwards. 

Not to be missed is an all-new lineup of Tonka Mini Movers, with the launch of Wave 2 Metal Movers Single Packs and Wave 3 Metal Movers Combo Pack. Built Tonka tough, each Metal Movers Single Pack includes one diecast vehicle and Tonka Tough Dirt, a no-mess sand compound that mimics real construction site conditions.

Meanwhile, for a mini construction adventure, Tonka Metal Movers combo pack is all about mighty construction vehicles. Each set includes two diecast vehicles and Tonka Tough Dirt. 

Flair – Doc McStuffins
0208 643 0320 | www.flairgp.co.uk | sales@flairplc.co.uk

Disney’s Doc McStuffins remains a popular viewing choice for little ones, and with four seasons’ worth of content now available on Disney+, 2021 is the perfect time to be selecting new product lines from Flair.

Not to be missed is the Doc McStuffins Wash Your Hands Doll. Dressed for the part, with a cute face mask included, the 11-inch Doc doll talks and sings a song about washing your hands. It’s an old episode, but it’s time-appropriate song has come into its own since the outbreak this year. 

Also available for SS21 is a Light Up Microphone which comes supplied in a CDU to support retail sales. Plus, be sure to look out for the five-piece Doc McStuffins Doctor’s Dress Up Set, complete with Doc’s white coat and other props that little ones will recognise from the show. Helping to inspire a new generation of girls to become doctors, this set will have kids practising their bedside manner, re-enacting scenes from the show, and dreaming up medical scenarios of their own. 

The Doc McStuffins and Minnie Mouse collections are supported with substantial PR and marketing campaigns.

Casdon – Little Helper
(0)7951 033234 | www.casdon.com | roger@casdon.com

Casdon combines pre-school play with household names to bring role-play toys and accessories to youngsters under its Little Helper and Little Cook collections. 

The Little Helper collection is home of the Dyson replica vacuums. The Dyson Cord-free Vac is a direct replica of the life size Dyson and has been specifically designed to be true to life, down to the last detail. The model features working suction, spinning beads, realistic sounds and twist and turn action. Designed with the same colours as the real-life vacuum, kids will be able to feel grown up by pretending to clean the house. 

Elsewhere, the Hetty and Henry Household Cleaning Sets arrive in striking red and pale pink and feature a dustpan and brush, mop, sweeping brush and more to help with those heavy cleaning tasks at home.

The Little Cooks, meanwhile, features the Mr Kipling Cake Stand and Tea Set, as well as various Morphy Richards sets, while kids can help in the garden with the Flymo Lawn Mower, featuring foldable handles for easy storage and a mechanical click when the mower is on the move.

Casdon will also be increasing its marketing support for retailers with a strategic year-round online campaign to further consumer awareness.

Simba Smoby Toys UK – Smoby
01620 674 778 | www.smoby.com | sales@sisotoysuk.com

Simba Smoby Toys UK’s trusted Smoby brand is a one-stop shop for tots, with its large collection of playhouse real estate, including a terrific new teepee, and lots more.

Kids are promised endless hours of fun in 2021, with the introduction of the first plastic Teepee on the market. With its simple design and a neutral colour palette, the Teepee has a minimalist, modern, Scandinavian appeal. What’s more, this new launch from Smoby evolves as children grow, transforming in height from 159cm to 183cm, so this play destination is suitable for kids aged two- to 10-years-old – and possibly a few parents too.

Thanks to its UV resistance and sturdy foundations, little ones remain protected from the elements as they enjoy their outdoor adventures. The Teepee can also be pitched indoors, meaning the fun can continue when the great British weather takes a turn for the worse.

For more information on the range, contact the team via sales@sisotoysuk.com or call 01620 674 778 today.

Funrise – Cat Junior
salesuk@funrise.com | https://funrise.com

Funrise has steered its collection of Cat construction vehicles onto the pre-school scene with its new range of Cat Junior Crew vehicles. 

The Cat Junior Crew vehicles are the fun, characterised vehicles that offer younger children an immersive play experience with the iconic construction brand. The range places tots in the middle of the action, with cool features that let them take control of the vehicle’s every move. 

Not to be missed in the range is the Junior Crew Power Tracks Friends Train Set. This interactive, motorised character train set is sure to captivate a child’s curiosity for hours, teaching them a thing or two along the way. Kids can press down the engine’s helmet to bring the train to life, and from there, take control of the train’s actions using the large brightly coloured buttons and toggle switch on the train station command hub. 

Character Options – Peppa Pig
0161 633 9800 | www.character-online.com | sales@charactergroup.plc.uk

Character Options is shaking up the pre-school category for 2020 with its range of Peppa Pig plush, made from 100 per cent recycled materials and designed using plant-based printing inks. 

Available from SS21, Character will initially launch two lines in this range: the eight-inch Red Dress Peppa and the six-inch collectable plush, which is available in a CDU assortment of Peppa and George. 

Fashioned for young Peppa fans, these plush characters feature a green leaf emblem to indicate that they’re an eco-friendly option. Meanwhile the packaging of this range is designed to further highlight that these toys are manufactured from 100 per cent recycled materials. 

For more information about this collection, or any of the other brands in the Character Options portfolio, please call 0161 633 9800 or email sales@charactergroup.plc.uk

TOMY – Lamaze
0238 066 6901 | https://uk.tomy.com

The latest launch to the Lamaze portfolio – The 3-in-1 Airtivity Center – is a fun and interactive toy that develops alongside little ones, suitable from six months right up to three years old.

With more than eight different ways to play, the Lamaze 3-in-1 Airtivity Center has been designed to encourage different areas of a child’s growth including visual development, tactile processing, fine and gross motor skills as well as problem solving. 

Little ones will become transfixed with the centre’s magical sea creatures as they “swim” around the ocean-themed table, all powered by air. Children will also enjoy hitting the table’s bubbles at the right time to be rewarded with fun lights, music and surprise ocean sounds.

For babies experimenting with standing or walking, parents can insert legs to turn the Airtivity Center into the perfect height activity table. Little ones will be able to move around the table for 360 degrees of air-powered play as they explore the different activities on offer while helping them reach key developmental milestones. 

Wow! Stuff – The Peppa Pig Clever Car
0870 054 6000 | www.wowstuff.com

Wow! Stuff is pushing the envelope of innovation in the licensed toy space with the self-driving Peppa Pig car for pre-schoolers. Developed in partnership with Hasbro, the Peppa Pig car features obstacle avoidance technology, meaning it can navigate itself around any room.

The latest offering hit shelves across Europe this October, and will roll out to the US in spring 2021. The Peppa Pig Clever Car is able to detect anything in front of it, and then drives itself around the obstacles, all while beeping its horn and avoiding a crash.

Before setting off the child is challenged with matching the colour of the characters to the colour of the car seats and ensuring Mummy or Daddy pig is in the driving seat. Successfully matching the colours is met with the narrator congratulating the child’s skill before the Clever Car sets off.

Spin Master – PAW Patrol
01628 535 000 | www.spinmaster.com

Spin Master has a great range of toys that are perfect for babies and preschoolers. From sing-a-long Clappy the Monkey to an assortment of PAW pups, there’s plenty of plush pets perfect for babies and preschoolers. 

If pup’s are what you’re after, PAW Patrol has the six furry friends perfect for cuddling. Each pup sports its signature PAW Patrol uniform, complete with their hat and PAW Patrol badge. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, the PAW Patrol Dino Patroller is perfect for preschoolers as it is the first-ever motorised PAW Patrol team vehicle with space for all six pups. 

With the Patrol Pup Pal Assortment, Little PAW Patrol fans can curl up and dream of adventure with their favourite pup. These eight-inch tall plush pups stand upright all by themselves. Each pup sports the signature PAW Patrol uniform, complete with a hat and PAW Patrol badge. They even have paw prints on all fours. The soft fur and expressive face bring these beloved characters to life.

Sambro – Baby Shark
0845 873 9380 | www.sambro.co.uk | Adrian.vickers@sambro.com

Sambro International Ltd has landed a partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products and Pinkfong to produce a range of children’s arts and craft, novelty and outdoor products for the Baby Shark brand. The range, which will include painting sets, doughs and inflatable play products, will hit the shelves in the Spring of 2021. 

Tony Hicks, Sambro CEO, commented: “We are delighted to be continuing our long running partnership with ViacomCBS Consumer Products and are excited to be diving into the exciting world of Baby Shark.”

“In 2021 Baby Shark dives from YouTube onto Nick Jr. with, Baby Shark’s Big Show; a new animated series featuring an array of new characters, a humorous script and songs that are just as catchy as the original,” added Venetia Davie, vice president of consumer products UK.

“We are thrilled to be working with Sambro and Pinkfong to expand the world of Baby Shark and create innovative new products that will be hitting homes, gardens, swimming pools and the great outdoors early next year.”


About Robert Hutchins

Robert Hutchins is the editor of Licensing.biz and ToyNews. Hutchins has worked his way up from Staff Writer to the position of Editor across the two titles, having spent almost eight years with both ToyNews and Licensing.biz, and what now seems like a lifetime surrounded by toys. You can contact him by emailing robert.hutchins@biz-media.co.uk or calling him on 0203 143 8780 You can even follow him on Twitter @RobGHutchins if ranting is your thing...

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