September 2, 2012
Wee find: Make me Iconic’s Melbourne tram and Sydney ferry toys
Do you like shopping at the airport? I’ve always enjoyed that sense of freedom after I’ve checked in my luggage and found myself with a spare hour or two to fill. I’ve never been a big spender at airports, apart from the requisite survival items (water, sweets, magazines) for the flight. But at Sydney Airport recently I couldn’t help noticing the dismal offerings of Australian-themed toys for children.
So I thought a round-up of the best Aussie toys would be a great blog post for Kidspot, but what I didn’t count on was finding it so hard to scrape together a top 10 line-up. Apart from the usual mass-produced plush koala and kangaroo suspects, it seems that very few local designers are keen to fly the Aussie flag when it comes to making quality toys for kids. And I’m not quite sure how this has happened, apart from the cultural cringe that continues to pervade our culture on so many levels.
However I’ve noticed some renewed interest in Australiana, especially in homewares, textiles and design, with a nostalgic trend for retro Australiana alongside new interpretations. Hopefully the trend continues and sparks some fresh and fun ideas for children’s toys. I’d love to see some creative Aussie-themed toy designed and made in Australia. Surely this isn’t too much to ask. Australian up-and-coming designers, are you listening?
Leading the way in innovative and clever Australian-themed toys is Melbourne design studio Make me Iconic. Their beautiful wooden Sydney ferry and Melbourne trams sets are the Australian answer to London’s red double decker bus, and the superb attention to detail and potential for hours of imaginative play make them the kind of keepsake toy you imagine your kids handing down to their children. And it doesn’t hurt that they’re particularly easy on the eye, providing a splendid antidote to all the plastic crap that children seem to naturally attract.
Make me Iconic‘s wooden toy sets are designed in Melbourne by a proper old-school toy maker and are ethically made in China using non-toxic materials. The Sydney ferry is painted with authentic colours based on the First Fleet Sydney Ferry, and comes with eight wooden passengers and two sailors. There are wheels on the bottom for ease of play and the lid comes of the top and second deck, with access to all the passengers and the sailors’ cabins. The tram, meanwhile, is based on the iconic W-class Melbourne tram, and comes with 12 wooden passengers and two conductors. Like the ferry, there are wheels on the bottom and the lid can be removed so children can play with the people in their cabins. The ferry is AU$95 and the tram is AU$90 and both are toys are available from Lark.
They have also produced a ‘munchies’ wooden puzzle, featuring all the great and “unsung” icons of Australian food. From vegemite on toast to fairy bread and pavlova, the puzzle is a playful way to teach your kids about Aussie food. It’s $30 from Lark.
Have you seen any other cool Aussie-themed toys?