Where are all the British made toys???

michinatoysWith Christmas around the corner the continued struggle to find toys for Lucan has reached a frenzied crescendo. The amount of time and research we have put into finding anything he would like to play with must extend over weeks, with very little return. I am not sure that we have, even now, resolved what to get Lucan for Christmas.

There was a time when Hornby, Kiddicraft and Meccano all manufactured in the UK but sadly these, and many others, have relocated their manufacturing and/or been consumed by bigger foreign companies. Of course 80% of all toys are now made in China but not all European countries have suffered the same fate as the UK; Germany, Denmark and parts of Eastern Europe all still have a thriving manufacturing sectors.

So what happened here?

The Americans first succumbed to the lure of cheaper manufacturing costs in the 1960. Mostly importing from Japan and then by the end of the 80’s their imports were dominated by China. The UK followed this trend and the mid 90’s we had caught up with the Americans in closing our factories and importing the vast majority of our toys from the Chinese.

However, it is not all bad news. Orchard Toys have been flying the flag for British games for a long time now and, what is best is that there products are readily available. Alongside these are Dice Maestro, Zombie and others also producing card-based games. Merrythought is also a famous name making high quality, highly collectable, teddy bears for over 80 years.

trunki-tipu-tiger-front_1But what is more exciting still is that there are signs of ‘green shoots’ growing in the wasteland of British toy making. In 2012/13 Airfix bought some of their production back from China in the form of their junior Quick Build Kits. So, indeed, have Trunki, the makers of the ride-on luggage of Dragons Den fame. This may be jumping the gun slightly but could this be the start of a once great British toy industry’s resurrection? Maybe/maybe not, but it does go to prove that we have capacity to make mass-market plastic toys. We only wish there was more.

As for this year, it is looking like Lucan’s stocking is not going to be bulging with British made toys as we would have hoped. This is obviously a real shame and perhaps one of the biggest tragedies of our project to buy British.

–    Emily


  1. I love what you guys are doing …
    check out http://www.robroy-woodentoys.co.uk/index_files/Page6249.htm….they state that they manufacture many of their wooden toys but you would need to check with them which ones are manufactured entirely by them….lovely people to deal with….a real person rings you up with any queries and actually reads your special instructions!! Great prices and free delivery too….hope this is of use to you…Rule Brittania!

  2. Rosa Garrett says

    Being 53 years of age I remember when all toys and books were British. I lived in Australia as well and all the toys were imported from the UK. What a shame. I was trying to get British things as well – no joy… There are (or were?) some wooden toys but alas I can not find them now…

  3. Congratulations on your project! Living in Luxembourg, we look for goods manufactured in Europe as nothing is made here locally… It is hard to find toys made in Europe, it is even hard to find books printed in Europe!!! Our son will receive a pair of pajamas made in UK among other things. But it is not a toy… Wishing you a Merry Xmas.

  4. I have spent a lifetime buying British, and for anyone in despair please be assured that we are now on the up again.

  5. I know its not quite the same but could you not buy secondhand when they were made in Britain this will get you out of your problem till next year. Great evening cheers @pemburyrecycle

  6. Audrey says

    and just been trying to get crackers not made in China… can’t see anyone? Are there British made crackers?

  7. Alllly says

    House of Puzzles make beautiful jigsaws in Scotland. I regularly see them for sale in independent toyshops.

  8. rom016 says

    I searched up the current UK manufacturers in the article, but could not find Zombie.
    Orchard Toys – http://www.orchardtoys.com/
    Dice Maestro – http://www.dicemaestro.com/
    Zombie – ???
    Merrythought – http://www.merrythought.co.uk/

    In particular I am trying to find dice manufactured in the UK. I am not only looking for the ordinary D6 (six sided) but D4 D8 D10 D% D12 D20 and custom faced dice.

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