The Christmas toys that stand the test of time

PUBLISHED: 08:50 07 December 2012


Hi-tech toys are pitched for success this Christmas, but among the computer games, dance mats and child-friendly tablet computers, there is also an increasing demand for traditional toys.

Richard Ray from Nuxley ToysRichard Ray from Nuxley Toys

Nuxley Toys in Gravesend has seen a steady rise in parents looking for toys that have been around for decades longer than the trendy must-have toys that survive just one Christmas season.

“These toys are about imagination and also interaction with the whole family. If a child sits with their dad on a computer game they don’t speak much, but with traditional games they’re discussing how much they will buy the hotel for, or how they don’t want to land on that snake,” says Richard Ray, whose family have run the business for 40 years.

With monopoly, dolls houses and snakes and ladders on his list of best-sellers, Richard thinks the secret to these games’ longevity is their simplicity, and increasingly he is witnessing parents wanting a change from the world of mobile phones and computers. Price is also a major factor – one of these year’s top hi-tech toys is the LeapPad 2 which is a tablet computer costing around £90.

“Some games cost upwards of £50 and that is a big ask on parents, especially those with several children, whereas these traditional games like snakes and ladders won’t break the bank and you get more enjoyment from them.”

The rush for traditional toys extends into the New Year, Richard says, after a holiday spent playing games with the family.

“At Christmas a family will sit together and play a game of monopoly and really enjoy it. For two or three months after we get an influx of kids wanting to do some art with their mum, or build a model plane with their dad, but slowly they get enticed back to their computers.”

So among the “on trend” Furbies and Monster High barbies, here’s Nuxley Toys’ alternative children’s dream Christmas list.

Snakes and Ladders

Originally an ancient Indian board game where progression up the board represented a life journey complicated by virtues (ladders) and vices (snakes), today Snakes and Ladders is a simple race lacking need for skill but nonetheless remaining a huge hit with the kids.

Sylvanian Families

The flock of woodland creatures hit the toy scene in the late-80s and have now become collector’s items with new animals and furniture being added to the scene continually.

Duck and Duckling

Games don’t come much more simple than pulling a wooden duck around. Aimed for the tiniest of tots, Richard says wooden games have never lost popularity.

The Night before Christmas

Puzzles are a brain workout for the whole family, and with a Christmas theme what’s not to like?

Streets ahead Dollhouse

Nuxley Toys sells dolls houses on a daily basis, Richard says. Miniature homes date back more thousands of years while the earliest European dollhouses were from the 16th century.


The Transformers franchise began in the 80s as a variety of figurines, but later spread into TV and film. The brand has a loyal fan base that has held official conventions every year since 1994.

RMS Titanic model kit

Requiring a great deal of patience, model boat and model ship kits are a traditional hobby taken on by children and carried on into adulthood.


Every family’s favourite board game began as a way to explain single tax theory in America in 1903. No longer so serious (although some players may contest this), it is a staple on Christmas Day.

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