Toy story

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The toy business is a difficult one to second-guess. Even toymakers themselves seem taken by surprise every year when one of their back-of-catalogue products suddenly becomes the must-have that parents will climb over each other to acquire. The problem is that they have to start guessing now, at this week's toy fair in London, what unnecessary plastic objects will light up the little ones' faces next Christmas morning.

The toy business is a difficult one to second-guess. Even toymakers themselves seem taken by surprise every year when one of their back-of-catalogue products suddenly becomes the must-have that parents will climb over each other to acquire. The problem is that they have to start guessing now, at this week's toy fair in London, what unnecessary plastic objects will light up the little ones' faces next Christmas morning.

We think we may have detected a magic combination, however, and it is the right blend of old and new. Gothic boarding school in Lego; retro television puppets in plastic mystery island with electronic sounds...

What toy manufacturers need is more ideas for old classics updated. A Postman Pat that doesn't do second deliveries; a doctors and nurses set which comes with its own trolley called an A&E monitoring unit; model railways with decades of underfunding and realistic striker figures; and a new property game called British Embassy Sell-Off. Hasbro and Mattel: you know where to come.

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