The Toyologist: The great outdoors

Just when I thought I?d managed to slow the passage of time (well at least it felt like I was cramming more into a working week than last year) the Easter holidays have crept up on me, totally by surprise.
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Is it really almost 40 days since I vowed to lay off the family-sized Dairy Milk bars for lent? 

With the inaugural Toyology Outdoor Toy Awards just weeks away there’s little scope to ease up on the work front – but now I have a nine year-old to entertain.

Despite having nothing planned to keep her amused, this week has turned into an unmitigated success thanks to a head-slappingly simple real reason – the reason I set out on the Toyology adventure half a decade ago: to have a right good play.

As a bit of a hoarder, day one of the daughter’s holiday started with us rummaging about in the garage, digging out all of our outdoor playthings from previous years. 

We were inflating paddling pools, dusting off scooters, trying to locate the left rollerblade, spraying WD40 on slightly rusty trampoline springs and wondering what we could use as substitutes for missing giant Jenga pieces.

After we had filled the front garden with our eclectic mix of outdoor items the word was out, a handful of kids we’re sheepishly hanging around awaiting their invite to join in. In under an hour the energy (read noise) created had me feeling all Pied Piper-like as we had nearly twenty kids all playing at full pelt.

Parents came out, neighbours I’d not spoken to before, conversations gravitated to the inevitable subjects of there being too much internet/console gaming and not enough of this pure play. Kids were interacting with each other and expending energy, it was a sea of smiles from parents and siblings alike. 

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The grown-ups were all agreed that this little extra effort was definitely worthwhile. It's too easy to flick a switch to receive on-demand entertainment, but with a modicum of collaboration between the big and smaller people we had created an event that suited everyone, turns were taken and no tantrums occurred. 

I read that the outdoor category was up 10 per cent last year, and that was just thanks to the Queen giving us an extra holiday and mild weather.

This year we have another Royal celebration, the excitement of the Olympics, European football and even the Hunger Games film, which gave the toy bow and arrow sector a boost in the ‘States.

It appears that if the weather is right any excuse will do, so I predict this year outdoor is set for an absolute scorcher – parents are coming out to play.

Peter Jenkinson is the CEO and founder of toyology.co.uk

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