After nine years at ToyTalk, I am stepping down to pursue other interests.
After launching the site at the 2006 Toy Fair at ExCeL London, it really has been an amazing journey.
ToyTalk will now be run entirely by Eleanor de Bruin, who has been with us since 2009 (and editor for the past two years), so I know the site is in good hands.
This will therefore be my last column for ToyNews as a toy industry ‘expert’ and I wanted to take the opportunity to thank everyone I have worked with over the past nine years, but I also wanted to remain focused on the real stars of this industry – the toys themselves.
Here, then, is my very personal list of the six best toys I encountered over my years at ToyTalk...
Hippychick Tiger Wheely Bug: This was a hit from the moment we received our sample. That was back in 2008 and, remarkably, it is still with us. It is also still a magnet for any children that come into our house.
Flair Evel Knievel Dare Devil Stunt Set: Nostalgia played its part in my love for this (it was a re-release of a 1970s toy) but it won its place on this list by actually being better than I remembered it. The little plastic Evel is just as fearless as the great man himself in his heyday (and far more durable).
Automoblox: I have a definite soft spot for wooden toys. Throw in elegant design and the Automoblox range was always sure to catch my eye. It was our Toy of the Year in 2007 and, like the Wheely Bug, our Automoblox sample is still going strong.
Le Toy Van Lionheart Castle: You don’t always have to come up with new ideas to create a great toy, you can simply take a classic concept and perfect it. This is the castle that every small boy should get the chance to play with.
KAPLA: Toys don’t get much simpler than these plain wooden blocks. The key to their appeal is the way they call out to adults and children alike to be built into forts, bridges, towers, animals, houses...
Tomy Battle Deck Mega Raceway: This racing game managed to bring something entirely fresh and original to the genre – the ability to customise your cars and watch them battle with other souped-up vehicles. Irresistible.