It was a special weekend as kids constructed a six-foot Lego policeman at a newly launched toy store in Coimbatore
Six year old Kavin T. Shah and his friend Vijaykumar K were in the basement of Brookefields from Saturday noon. They were there to help build a six-foot policeman using 50,000 Lego bricks. Joining them that hot but happy afternoon were about 20 other children, each of whom referred to a code sheet and chose bricks in grey, white, black and yellow. They worked in teams, and in an hour’s time, the black platform and a part of the cops legs were ready.
The event was organised was part of the launch of Funskool India’s first standalone toy store in the country, at Brookefields. The kids took an hour-long break, timed with the launch of the store, before they headed right back to the half-done policeman. “Dei, pass me that brick, no?” shouted one boy to another. Next to him were some girls beaming at the tub of colourful bricks in front of them. The parents of some kids, who had been there for a long time, came to take them home, and the kids reluctantly left, hoping to return the next day. But, not before they got a certificate and a free Lego pack.
Ola Tykesson, LEGO’s country manager, Indian sub-continent, and his colleague walked around to see the kids at work. “Uncle, Uncle, do you work with LEGO?” is something they get asked very often. “We’re the object of their envy, yes. We are looked upon as heroes,” laughed Ola. And to those kids who walked up to them with admiration, Ola had great news. “Keep your creativity intact, and, someday, you might get to work at LEGO.”
Why did Funskool decide to open its first store in Coimbatore? K. John Baby, CEO of the company said a great deal of thought had gone into the decision. “We got a lot of calls from people asking for specific toys that were not available in stores here. We also realised that the city does not have a standalone toy store.”
As of now, the company, promoted by the MRF group, does not have plans to hit the metros. “They have a lot of options. Our target is Tier II cities where there is demand, but limited supply,” says John.
The store will feature the entire range of toys manufactured and distributed by Funskool. This includes Giggles, the infants and pre-school range, Handy Crafts, the art and crafts range, Play & Learn range of puzzles, as well as products from its international partners such as LEGO, Hasbro, Tomy Takara, Hornby, Siku and Rubik’s.
The toy market in the country is huge, says John, because toys are no longer seen as mere recreation. They also teach. “Toys aid children with colour recognition, build motor skills, increase concentration, and inculcate the spirit of sportsmanship. “It is very vital these days; it helps build emotional maturity,” he says. He votes for board games, as they bring families together.
R. Jeswant, vice-president, sales and marketing, Funskool says that television has seen the popularity of games surge. Every time a game-based show is telecast on TV, sales shoot up. “Earlier, demand would dip after a show concluded. Now, it tapers off, but does not dip drastically,” he says. Examples include Beyblade and LEGO. The latter is on an all-time high following the recent movie, a smash hit worldwide.
He says the Brookefields store (run by a local franchisee), is special in that it has areas where children can try out the games before buying them. That way, chips in John, there are no rude surprises when they go home and open their packs.
There’s a counter for Connect 4, a delightful game with red and yellow chips; another for Jenga, which tests your dexterity and knowledge of how stable a structure is; and one for LEGO, where children sit around a bright board, building with the bricks.
As we leave the store, Kavin, who was gifted his first LEGO at the age of six, eyes a Ravensburger puzzle, while Vijaykumar is hoping he can get his folks to buy him a LEGO Chima set. So that he can recreate the battle ground where animal tribes fight over their energy source.
Match them right!
There are exquisite puzzles by Ravensburger, a German company founded by Otto Robert Maier in 1883. Famous for its board games, pictures books and children’s activity books, it began producing jigsaw puzzles in 1964. It is said to be the world leader in puzzles that provide both children and adults hours of fun as they assemble renowned monuments, beautiful landscapes and dinosaurs.