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West One Shopping Centre, 375-383 Oxford Street, W1C 2JS
Founded in 2004, The Toy Store is the largest and most successful toy retailer in its category in the Middle East. An independent, family-run company with an emphasis on children's learning and development, The Toy Store is passionate about making every visit to their stores an exciting, inspiring experience that leaves kids with lasting, happy memories.
Amidst a fanfare of Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers worthy of any intergalactic onslaught, the first UK www.thetoystore.com store was officially launched at the West One Shopping Centre (above Bond Street Tube Station) yesterday. Savvily situated on one of the busiest and most famous retail/tourist/transport thoroughfares in the world, The Toy Store Oxford Street promises to become THE toy shop destination for serious shoppers, curious children (of all ages!) and passing commuter trade. Moreover, with its bright, light and open feel very much the hallmarks of a 21st Century retail experience, it promises to give Hamley's, in nearby Regent Street, a serious run for its money and customers!
Set over two floors (with the street level one providing a modern take on a traditional sweet shop, combined with London experience toytastic souvenirs and gifts, with Paddington Bear featuring larger than life!), @TheToyStore provides a fantasy feast of fun and frivolity for even the most discerning of juniors, from those who love time-honoured (and proven) traditional toys, to the on-trend thrill seekers, the gizmo gadgeteers, the ‘too cool for school' brigade and with even a passing nod to gaming geeks (Minecraft anyone?). Brands range from Hot Wheels to WWF, Barbie, LEGO, Micro Scooters, Marvel Comic Characters, My Little Pony and a myriad of other makes (some better known to the UK market than others besides to excite and delight even the most indulged of infants from international and home markets.
The launch event was like a children's circus, with all manner of entertainers putting on a spectacular show covering magic tricks, doll-care (the British Bonnie and Pearl range with their own uniform clad nanny-cum-nurse giving them round-the-clock care and attention!), glitter tattoos, nail art, demos, providing a festival of fun, fun, fun for everyone. This ‘show' presumably demonstrating ‘the shape of things to come' given that one of The Toy Stores core concepts is a ‘play before you pay' policy (meaning that kids can fully interact with the toys before they decide to buy). The staff were all cheerful and chatty, but perhaps most importantly, young enough to click with the kids but old enough to communicate with the parents too!
A standout feature for Thoroughly Merton Milly, usually our own hard-to-please tween (but not on this occasion – she was truly in her element), were the Barbie touch-screen dress-up mix-and-matching outfits, the Bratz Booth and the My Little Pony area. She was truly spoiled for choice, marvelling at everything from the Sylvanian Families, to Mr Yoda Potato-Head, Micro Scooter accessories and magic tricks.
The Toy Store is very much about toys and much less about gaming which in itself is refreshing in an era in which toys often get discarded for digital play, particularly as the children grow older. For those of you with teens (particularly boys), it's not necessarily a one-stop-toy-shop (although I would challenge any teen not to love Squap and UKick), BUT for those of you with 0 -12 year olds it's a marvellously modern take on Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium. Moreover it's a very welcome addition to London's toyshops, particularly as we are now but 13 Fridays away from Christmas and toy trending is upon us!
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