What have been 10 favourites at Norfolk toy shop set to close?
- Credit: Simon Parkin
Norfolk toy shop owner Roy Minshull has seen fashions change and crazes come and go but as he prepares to call it a day he can shed light on what have been our childhood favourites.
After 22 years running Toy Box Toys in Diss he will close its doors for the final time on September 1 becoming the latest casualty on the high street.
The small shop on Mere Street has seen generations spend their pocket money. Some are now parents bringing their own children to wonder at its packed shelves.
As he gave us his rundown of 10 memorable toys from his years trading, Mr Minshull said some had stood the test of time while the magic of others had proved to be short lived.
He said: 'Children these days seem to grow up very quickly. When I was 14 or 15 I was still playing with Action Man and making model kits. I'm not sure teenagers these days do that, it is more about iPads and computer games. Kids should be allowed to be kids.'
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They are a personal passion of mine. I have probably got one of the biggest collections in the country. My loft at home has been converted into a man cave to accommodate all of them. Action Man is the reason I started the shop in the first place really. It was going to be a collectables shop but eventually became toys. Sadly you can't buy Action Man now; they have ceased production. The brand doesn't exist, just spin-off figures with different names.
I have seen my fair share of crazes over the years but the Ty Beanie Babies were really the first. There was demand from all over the world. There was a particular rare one called Britannia the Bear that everyone wanted. One guy was paying hundreds of pounds for every one I could get hold of, even though they were costing me about £2.50. It paid for the deposit on my mortgage.
We have seen numerous other crazes over the years. We have had Furbys becoming hugely popular not once but twice, Tamagotchi, yo-yos have been popular more than once, fidget spinners more recently and loom bands which were also huge. At the height of the loom band craze people would queue up outside the shop before we opened on a Monday because they knew I'd have been to the suppliers over the weekend.
Britains tractors have always been hugely popular for us right from the start. Children see tractors out in the fields in this part of the world so we are always doing well with them. There are also people who collect them. Five or six years ago a new rep for the company told us that we were selling more Britains tractors and implements than Hamleys. That was a bit of a badge of honour for a little shop like us.
There have always been Star Wars toys and we have had a demand for them even when there was a lull in the movies between the old ones and the new films. It's an iconic thing. There can't be anyone hasn't seen a Star Wars film surely? There a lot of keen collectors too of all ages. They are still as popular even though they face more competition now.
They have had their ups and downs over the years but Airfix kits have always been a steady seller for us even though they are perhaps not seen as fashionable these days. Similarly the little pots of Humbrol model paints always sell. There probably isn't a day goes by that we don't sell one. They are so useful not just for model kits but if you get a chip on your bike.
We have always sold Pokemon cards and they have always been big sellers. I get people who are parents now bringing their kids in who say they used to collect them and telling me which ones they used to have. Top Trumps cards are similar though we can go years without selling any then we will suddenly see another big craze for them. Sometimes it only takes one popular child to take them to school and it catches on.
One of those toys that have always been popular. Lego is probably the number one I would say and never goes out of fashion. They are not the easiest company to deal with though. The Lego range is so huge now and as they have gone into all these different sets you just can't get hold of the stock. Playmobil has also been very popular for all the time we have had the shop.
Dolls are of course still popular and Barbie is a classic and probably one of our big sellers over the years even though she is probably not as popular as she once was and you can't get hold of a Ken doll. He is really rare if I ever spot one I snap him up. Like Action Man, Cindy no longer exists. They have tried bringing Cindy dolls back but it never catches on and there is so much competition from different dolls these days.
I suppose at one time every little boy would have had a model railway set. These days we still sell them but the cost of Hornby means it is more of a collector's hobby. You are looking at £150 to £200 for an engine and even the cheapest set is £80, going up into the hundreds. It means it's not in the reach of children, which is a shame.