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31 Jan – 4 Feb 2018
Along with marble runs, building blocks or bricks are among the simplest and most educational toys that babies and toddlers can have. They seem to be experiencing a small revival in 2018, even though the range of wooden toys is again characterised by a wide variety of assortments. Companies in the wooden toy segment that are placing their best on building blocks in particular include firms such as Beleduc, Detoa, Gollnest & Kiesel, Petit Collage and Global Affairs – to name only a few. Sometimes the building blocks seem deliberately simple, sometimes glazed – but still displaying their typical wood grain – and, then again, highly aesthetically pleasing.
With Mimido, Beleduc Lernspielwaren GmbH (Hall 3A / E 16) is launching an innovative modular system that consists of 12 different wood shapes and fosters mathematical and logical thinking. The proportions of the wooden shapes let children form an almost infinite number of buildings, environments, structures and figures.
Europe's innovative wooden toy manufacturer, Gollnest & Kiesel GmbH & Co. KG (Hall 3 / A-12), also relies on the power of the pieces. The high-quality box of building blocks which can be used to make different structures is, at the same time, a tricky tile-based game, which satisfies the player's aesthetic requirements to a very special degree.
The Plentimals building blocks of Global Affairs BV (Hall 2 / B-09) probably also aim at developing children's aesthetic tastes in the nursery. The 40-piece set may well have been inspired by the abstract painting of Dutchman Piet Mondrian, because the building blocks from Amsterdam are mainly printed with geometric objects – and are beautiful to look at. The highlight, however, is that the 40 blocks can be set down on a flat surface to form a total of 120 different animals.
The Flexistix range from Hape International Ltd. (3A, E-17 / G-26) mainly appeals to young architects. The system consists of bamboo poles and silicone connectors that can be used to build a wide variety of creations – from pure fantasy figures to the replica of an architectural icon such as the Eiffel Tower.
Brio GmbH (Hall 4 / C-55, D-50) is aiming high this year. The cargo warehouse with a lift should make this possible – and should give the wooden railcar, the classic from Sweden, additional play value. The set offers lots of different routes.
The idea of building or rather the methodical and sustainable way of thinking and playing still applies in particular to one "veteran" of the toy industry: the expandable ball track. One example is provided by Haba (Hall 3 / A-13, C-12), which, since 2016, has combined its Kullerbü ball track with a small fairway. The company is now expanding its range of products with the theme sets Car Park, Police Chase and Ball Track Dragonland, which promise even more action in the nursery.
There are two main reasons why the ball track has also been an option for small children of 18 months and older for a few years now: 1. The balls and tracks are now larger, thus making them less dangerous. 2. From a construction point of view, the tracks for toddlers have become more stable, thanks to "connectors".
Varis Toys SIA (Hall 3 / B-31) is now embarking on this journey, too, with its Twister Edition and the "Fix & Lock technology". High-quality birch wood parts are combined with innovative plastic connectors to form downhill racetracks.
"Toys to go or travel" has been a trend for many years. Plan Creations Co., Ltd. (Hall 3 / D-30) are now launching a "rocking horse to go". Inspired by the traditional banana rib Thai hobby horse, the designers have transferred the principles to the "Foldable Rocking Horse" - formally reduced to a minimum, but perfect for stowing away in a city runabout.
The Tetherball Mini by the Naseweiss Samariterstiftung Ostalb-Werkstätten (Hall 3 / D-15) is a fun toy with huge entertainment value. For many years now, the workshops have caused a sensation with their clever and professional product ideas that are far away from the mainstream. The game is based on outdoor models – only the prototype has now been shrunk. The way it works is instantly obvious – and not just to children.
It goes without saying that no matter how educational the wooden toys are meant to be, they still offer children a whole load of fun.