42 MYSTERY SHOPPER Nottingham Mystery Shopper is buying a creative toy for a boy aged ten...
MY FIRST stop in Nottingham is Modelzone. The front end of the store seems devoted to crowd pulling non-model items: there are action figures and display units for both AppToyz and My Keepon. I notice the range is extensive and as far as I can tell, most bases are covered for models, R/C, die- cast, train sets and the like. I approach the counter to explain that I am searching for a gift for a ten year-old for around £30. Noticing the store’s extensive R/C collection, I indicate that he may be interested in one of those, as well as some model building. The first suggestion is a Tamiya kit – R/C kit cars which require building. It seems like the perfect suggestion, however it is way out of budget at £180. Still, I’m
impressed by the spirited, albeit brief, demonstration. “How about a model?” I suggest. “What is he into? Cars? Motorbikes? Trains…?” I indicate a preference for cars and am taken to the section which is home to a more modest selection of kits, which look like they would be appropriate for a beginner. My guide recommends me some smaller models from Revell and Airfix, and explains that the recipient of my gift would need some glue to get started, and is keen to show me the more intermediate models in a nifty upsell attempt. Verdict: A neat shop with good, considered customer service.
FORBIDDEN PLANET is one of the only chains in the UK dedicated to the geekier side of licensed merchandise. The walls are decked with product associated with comic book franchises, computer games and cult movie licences. The store layout is imaginative
and there are surprises in every area. This is the kind of shop where you want to look everywhere, just in case you might miss something. The floor is broadly divided into
toys and merchandise, and comic books. As far as toys go, action figures and plush are a focus, and are dotted throughout the store and licences like Doctor Who and Marvel have vast shelf space dedicated to them. As a more specialist store, Forbidden Planet holds more
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complete ranges of toys. For example, the more obscure characters in Underground Toys’ talking Star Wars plush line, like Princess Leia and Boba Fett, are available here. I approach a young lady who is busy marking up product and ask: “What’s popular with kids aged ten these days?”
She tells me that Doctor Who is always a winner and says that The Avengers could also be a good choice, as the blockbuster film is out soon. She motions to the relevant areas of the shop and asks me to yell if I need any further assistance. Verdict: Service with a smile and an eclectic offering of hard-to-find toys.