The toys that make me really sit up and look tend to be the ones I know I would have adored as a kid. And often, that means tiny landscapes you can make your toys walk through - or walk through yourself, in your imagination.
These playmats from Deuz would, I think, have achieved legendary status in my own childhood. And that kind of makes me want to buy one for my kid.
Deuz's posters have the same graphic asuredness about them - they don't tug my heartstrings quite as firmly, but they do appeal to the design-lover in me.
Available from outlets across Europe, the mats come to approx GB £42.00 and the prints £26.00.
Just loved this wooden bird-shaped swing: the contours look so comfortable for little legs to press against. Made from birch plywood, with rot-free rope, and apparently very easy to install, it's a desirable toy for the summer ahead.
Soar is made in Australia (er - where in fact, it's winter that's just ahead) by the designer Left Hand Make: we seem to have stumbled across a rich seam of stuff from down under, lately.
If you're elsewhere and this is a must-have for you, check out Aussie online store Urban Baby - they ship internationally, but at a price.
Kapla are the building blocks that have spawned books, how-to videos, and a global cohort of fans all trying to outdo one another with incredibly intricate constructions. And yet, they are nothing but a set of regular-sized wooden rectangular blocks, coming plain, or in a variety of co-ordinating colours.
Hey, rocking horses are so... old school. Now that all the boys in my area are sporting mod-style swept-over haircuts (is that just a UK thing?), maybe this rocking moped is the way forward.
Comes in blue or pink, so you can also split your mods and modettes along traditional lines, if you feel so inclined. Or load both onto a single rocker - the nice thing is, that seat looks big enough for two. All that aside, though, I just can't believe they missed the obvious mods and rockers pun.
I'm a vegetarian, and of course I want my kid's toy food to reflect the kind of thing we eat in the house - all the same, I had to laugh a little bit when I saw these very worthy-looking and rather realistic toy veggie burgers.
It got me wondering about what other stuff there might be out there for the ethical-eating family. Well, it turns out the burgers also come as part of this organic crate - not ideal for us, since it has the meat, but it's good to see our old friend tofu in there.
Of course, you can buy many different types of toy fruit and vegetable, some which you can 'chop' in half, and all fitting in well with a rounded, healthy ethos of eating. But I do have to say I rather liked this knitted broccoli as a potential part of the parents' armoury against junk food.
It's from Maple Grace, where you can also find toy bananas, mushrooms, watermelon and beans, some with happy faces. I suppose you might need to do some explaining there, especially if you're one of those vegetarians who explains their diet as 'anything that hasn't got a face'.
Not precisely the usual Babygadget style, but I thought these HBC rattles were interesting.
Made of 'German silver', and hand-tuned to 16 tones, I guess they are worth every cent of the $70.00 - $110.00 price tag. That's not only because they will hold their value, but because they'll sound so much nicer than any rattle you pick up at your local high street store. Call it an investment in your own sanity.
You know the design's good when you're on a foreign site but you don't even have to use Google Translate to understand what the products are. Italian Studio Boca have some ace ideas for kids' products, all playful but practical - and you can grasp them in a flash.
My daughter's well into her paper boat folding these days. In fact, I can die happy knowing that, if nothing else, I've passed this one skill on to her. I bet she'd love this giant felt version, with the lines printed on, just in case you forget how it goes. And little passengers, too!
A plate face isn't a new idea: we featured something similar back in 2009. This one's a little bit different, with its separate compartments for each foodstuff. Very cute.
Bigger, and more serious, is the Trickettrack, an aluminium suitcase that can be pulled in three ways, depending on your size. It's like a natural evolution from the Trunki. Is this in production? We'd love one.
Thanks to KidsRoomZoom for the tip.
Rijada are a Latvian design studio who spend some of their time developing stuff for kids. When designers turn their minds from adult concepts to more playful ones, the results are often both strange and wonderful, and such is the case with their Progressive Family.
Are they skittles, building blocks, or indeed a family of dolls? The answer is left open, so they can be whichever is more desirable to the child at any time.
More usual, but just as appealing, are these Barn Bricks. Although the shape of each is the same, the weights differ, meaning that they're great for tower building. Put the heavy ones at the base; the light ones at the top. Is that cheating?
Looking for a great afternoon project with the pre-schooler in your life? Or an inexpensive party favor? Or are you just obsessed with toy animals? (I am!) Then you might want to check out these charmingly original designs by Madeleine Rogers of Mibo Studio. For under $10 this UK-based company will email you the pdf for multiple animals, which you and your little one can cut and fold into these lovable critters. Choose from safari, woodland, farm, chicks, owls or bunnies sets. Or better yet, don't choose. Order them all for a complete menagerie!
What you see above are Fruitcases - and seriously, with a pun like that, how could I not post about them?
There is the small fact that they are pretty gorgeous too. As usual with these cardboard cases, it warns that they're not to be used for anything actually, you know, practical, like going on holiday - and I can testify to the wisdom of that, having dropped what seemed like several hundred pencil crayons from a similar case in the underpass of Mansfield station. But still, for the little people who really like putting stuff in things and taking them out again (and that does cover a large proportion of little people everywhere), I can see these being a hit.