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Parent blogger are an influential part of the pre-school landscape. Each month, we ask a mummy or daddy blogger to write a special blog post for ToyNews, giving their views on the toy market.

This month: Jacqui Paterson

I’M THE proud mum of two bright, funny, feisty girls who are just about to turn four and six.

My job as a journalist, then

a professional blogger, has put us in the lucky position of being able to see, try and review many new toys as they hit the market. And I’ve noticed something that worries me.

My sister and I grew up in New Zealand in the 1970s. We climbed trees, and zoomed Matchbox cars around the brown and orange carpet (hey, I said it was the Seventies). We played with Barbie dolls too, but I don’t remember ever making my toy choice on the fact I was a girl. The toys came in regular, realistic colours and the boxes often showed boys and girls playing together. As a toddler, my eldest daughter idolised Roary the Racing Car. But after joining a playgroup I saw a change. “I don’t want to play with cars anymore,” she told me. “They’re for boys.” “There’s no such thing as

boys’ toys,” I replied. “You can play with whatever you like.” And that’s when I really

began to notice it – this dividing line being drawn between the sexes. When I walked into a toy store there was a wall of candy pink tea sets and doll strollers to one side, and a sea of blue and grey swords, cars and boats

to the other. It was one, or the other; there was literally no in between. I get that girls and boys

aren’t the same; that, very generally, they enjoy different things. What I don’t understand is why the modern toy industry seems set on driving a further wedge between the sexes. By only giving our children the ‘girl’ option or ‘boy’ option, we’re removing that element of choice and cementing these stereotypes in their minds. I asked my nearly four

year old what her favourite colour was. “Pink,” she replied. “Why?” I countered. “Because all my toys are pink,” she said (toys bought from friends and family – I avoid pink wherever possible, on principle). Which might not seem a big deal when they’re choosing a teddy bear, but what about later in life, when the ingrained idea of this impenetrable gender gap impacts on other decisions they make. Like what career they move into (because they can’t possibly try out for a boy’s job). It’s 2014 - we should be smashing down gender barriers, not making them stronger, and the first step is now, while our children’s minds are open, and impressions are being made that may last a lifetime. Let’s ensure they’re the right ones.

Check out more from Jacqui Paterson online: and on Twitter @Jax200.

Bigjigs Toys unveils new doll ranges

Traditional plush products come with accompanying accessories to extend play

By Samantha Loveday

BIGJIGS TOYS has launched a number of new cuddly dolls in a variety of different sizes, including 28cm, 35cm and 38cm. Each of the dolls comes complete with a decorative outfit which can be easily removed and swapped for another. Bigjigs Toys has introduced

six new dolls for 2014 – including Pippa and Arthur, who are dressed for bed in their stripy pyjamas. In addition, Hayley, Sarah, Ellie and Christine also join the range, each sporting a carefully stitched outfit made from texture-rich material.

Prices for the dolls start at £9.99. To complement the plush range, the company has also introduce its own range of furniture, allowing little ones to take role-play with their dolls to the next level. The Daisy Doll High Chair, Daisy Doll Cradle and Daisy Doll Pram are all made from high quality wood, and each is finished with child friendly paints and lacquers. Bigjigs Toys: 01303 250400

Utterly Horses gallops in with pre-school offering

My Stable giftset comes with a range of different horses, riders, tack, feed and straw bales

By Samantha Loveday

UTTERLY HORSES has rolled out a new My Stable giftset aimed at the pre- school market.

Priced at £56.95, the giftset is targeted at ages three and up and includes three horses, rider, stablehand and groom, plus a wheelbarrow and three feedsacks, hay and two straw bales. The stable itself is pink and decorated with roses and requires no batteries – this is imaginative play at its best, says the firm.

In addition, the firm also

has the My Travel

Stable giftset (£49.95), aimed at

28 August

children aged five and above. It includes five horses, riders and groom, plus a halter and rug set, a wooden fence, haybales and ladder. The wooden set has

robust handles to ensure wherever the child goes, the stable can be easily carried along, too. Simply pack the horses back into

the stable and it’s good to go.

Utterly Horses is known as the ‘Home of the Model Horse’. From tiny mini horses to full scale model horse replicas, the firm offers a wide collection of everything relating to model horses. Utterly Horses: 01376 329274

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