“One of the things mum’s most love doing is finishing off their children’s jigsaw puzzles at night,” laughs the woman with one of the coolest job titles in the world, ‘Toyologist’ Teresa Rendo from Big W.
Teresa, who has daughters, confessed that she has done the same – hence the laughter – but she’s certainly not alone.
More than two-thirds of Australian parents secretly play with their children’s toys and games after the kids have gone to bed.
For mums, the favourites are board games and a doll’s house; while for dads it’s gaming consoles. If parents want a bit of ‘together’ time with the children’s toys, they opt for Lego.
“Lego transcends gender but it also transcends ages. I’ve seen grandparents sit down and happily play long after a child has given up.”
Lego today is much more advanced than when most parents were playing with it, as are many of the old favourites.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, for example, are now on their third reincarnation. They’ve stood the test of time,” Teresa says.
Other old favourites include Cabbage Patch Dolls, Mr Potato Head, train and car sets, Pogo sticks and the evergreen Barbie. More than one in five mums like buying toys that resonates from their childhood.
“It makes play time far more enjoyable,” says Lucy Clucas, mother to 3 and 5 year old daughters. “It’s a lovely feeling to be able to share one of your childhood passions with your family and pass on a bit of childhood history.”
Teresa Rendo says the hot items in 2013 include anything to do with science – surely music to the ears of Australia’s Chief Scientist, Professor Ian Chubb and other educators.
“Skeletons, telescopes, microscopes, anything where children are learning about the world is really big this year.
“Parents really like to buy toys that have an educational element and where kids can role-play,” says Teresa.
“Mums are looking for toys that have the best prices and a learning element.” For this reason, another popular toy is LeapPad 2 which she says is not only fun but facilitates the development of important cognitive, social and emotional skills.
The research coincides with Big W’s annual July sale.
“Unlike almost anywhere else in the world, Australia tends to sell almost as many toys in July as we do in December,” explains Teresa. “86% of mums start toy-buying in July because it gives them six months to pay it off and to plan their Christmas budget.
“We also hold any big items, so if it’s a big item – like a trampoline - it doesn’t have to be collected until parents are ready.”
The Big W Giant Toy Spectacular starts in store next Thursday and is already happening online.
The evolving Lego and the evergreen Barbie