Sunday, 14 December 2014

Celebrating five years of being your local toy store

It's hard to believe that it's five years since Cuthberts first opened their doors to the toy buying public of St Albans. Since then we've gone from one store in Hertfordshire to three and launched a successful online store - and we've had great fun whilst doing so.

We've sold thousands of toys in five years and judging by our "trophy cabinet" it seems we're quite good at it.  Starting local, we were delighted to be successful in the Specialist Shops category of St Albans Retailer of the Year in 2012 and we're very proud that this reflects the excellent customer service that we give our customers in the city. In the same year, Vogue magazine named us the ninth best shop outside London and hot off the back of that we also won Specialist Multiple Toy Retailer of the Year in 2013.  The end of the year also saw us named as the Good Toy Guide's retailer of the month for December. And keeping up the good work we were nominated for both the Progressive Preschool awards and the Let Toys be Toys Good Practice Award in 2014.

There's even been a celebrity or two spotted toy shopping with us.

We don't just do this for the awards though as we feed incredibly proud of the local reputation that we've built up over our five years in business. We couldn't have done this up alone though and there's no doubt that some of our success is due to the excellent local partnerships that we've built up over that time.

When we opened our third store in the Hatfield Galleria in 2012 we blogged here about how keeping it local worked for us and it's still the way we do business. Our fifth birthday feels like the appropriate time to give a big Cuthberts thank you to some of our local partners.

The collective in St Albans are still our go to people for everything and anything design related.

Another St Albans firm, RippleGen, are behind our new website and our relaunched online toy store.

Speaking of our online business, Mail Boxes etc on Holywell Hill are the ones who help us get toys to our customers on time.

In store Custom Made Carpentry & Joinery are responsible for helping us to display all the toys we sell so nicely, and Beelex Electrical the lighting to ensure you can actually see what you're looking for.

Around the corner from the St Albans store, and just a few doors away from Beelex are Printed Clothing who supply the distinctive tops and hoodies that our award winning staff wear.

And last, but by no means least, are Barrisimo the local award winning family coffee shop who help to keep us in coffee throughout the working day!

It was great to be able to celebrate our fifth birthday in store with some of our local customers and suppliers and it just leaves us to say thank you for all our support and customer over the last five years, and here's to the next five years!

Cuthberts have three award winning toy shops in St Albans, Letchworth and the Hatfield Galleria as well as their online toy store.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank

Since introducing you to Goldie Blox we've been busy here at Cuthberts playing around with the sets and getting budding little engineers to do so too. Each set not only contains a construction set but also a story which children are invited to build along with.

What's inside the box

In Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank Goldie is desperate to wash her dog Nacho who has managed to get covered in mud. Nacho is not so keen though. He wants less water and more playtime. Goldie soon realises that she's going to have to trick him into getting clean so she come up with the idea of creating a dunk tank which she lures him to with the help of squirrel-scented Chomper Chips.

Once Nacho is up on the platform all Goldie has to do is aim a ball at the target (in true fairground style) and then Nacho will get his long-awaited bath.

Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank aims to introduce the engineering concept of hinges and how they work to children. They are given step by step instructions to build their own dunk tank using their Goldie Blox kit. Here's how it works.

The beauty of Goldie Blox is that not only can you follow Goldie's instructions to build along with the story, but there are also a few suggestions included of other things than can be made with the kit.

Nacho takes to the sky in his own aeroplane.

A slightly modified version of the helicopter design - mainly as we couldn't get some of the blocks to work as they suggested in the instructions!

Then it's up to children's imaginations as to what they want to build next. All the parts in the Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank set are fully compatible with the other two sets that are available (Goldie Blox and the Parade Float and Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine) meaning that together they really can be used to build some huge creations. 

So why not see what your children build with Goldie Blox and share it with us on our Facebook page here.

Goldie Blox and the Dunk Tank is available in store at Cuthberts' shops in St Albans, Hatfield Galleria and Letchwork - along with the rest of the Goldie Blox range. Goldie Blox is also available online here.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Introducing GoldieBlox

Here at Cuthberts we try to keep our ear to the ground when it comes to new toys, especially when everyone is talking about them on social media. About a year ago this fantastic video popped into our Facebook timeline and there's no wonder it went viral.

GoldieBlox was invented by American engineer Debbie Sterling with the simple aim to inspire the next generation of female engineers. By introducing engineering concepts to girls at an early age GoldieBlox hopes to present them with more career options in the future, and help them see that gender really doesn't limit your future in any way.

Each GoldieBlox set contains a book and a construction set. Children are encouraged to build along with Goldie, the girl inventor in the series who solves problems by building machines. Research has shown that boys and girls learn differently and girls respond far better to the idea of building along with a story - hence the concept behind GoldieBlox.
As well as being a huge viral internet hit GoldieBlox has also been incredibly successful in the US, selling over $1M of sets in less than a year. And now Goldie is coming to the UK!

We're delighted that Cuthberts are going to be stocking GoldieBlox from September 2014. There are three sets to watch out for: GoldieBlox and The Spinning Machine - where Goldie builds a machine to help her dog Nacho to chase his tail, GoldieBlox and The Parade Float - in which Goldie builds a parade foot to carry the winner of the town princess pageant through town, and GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank - when Goldie has to come up with a way of cleaning her dog Nacho who hates water.

Keep an eye on our Cuthberts Blog to see a review of the GoldieBlox sets very soon! If you're looking for something to inspire girls ages 4 and over then GoldieBlox really is the perfect engineering solution.

STOP PRESS. All the Goldie Blox sets are in store now (St Albans, Letchworth and Hatfield Galleria) and you can also buy Goldie Blox sets online from us here.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Micro Scooters

A Mini or a Maxi scooter?

mini or maxi scooter
There are two questions we are asked a lot. One of them, “would you like another slice of cake” is one of our favourites.  The other, “should I buy a Mini or a Maxi Micro scooter?” is not as tasty but still very simple to answer….
Deciding on which scooter is right for your child is important.  Important for you and for them so we’ve compiled a guide to help make the decision between the two scooters as easy as pie (or second slice of pie).
  • For children ages 3-5 years old
  • Lightweight frame makes it perfect for younger children to lift and carry over kerbs
  • Best for younger children or those new to scooting
  • Children find it easy to learn how to scoot on the Mini Micro because of the tilt and lean style of scooting.  A child leans their body in the direction they want to go. Great confidence boosting and co-ordination building skills.
  • Rear brake
  • Soft padded handlegrips to give a comfy grip
  • Robust and oodles of fun.
We do believe the Mini Micro scooter is the best scooter for young children in the market.  Aside from the technical superiority it is loved by children and parents because it suddenly gives freedom to the whole family.  No more  buggy tantrums, getting out of the house becomes hassle free and being out of the house becomes fun for everyone.
The Mini Micro scooter is for children
  • who need to improve their balance and co-ordination skills
  • who fight about going in the buggy – use the Mini Micro instead!
  • who are steady walkers
  • who weigh less than 3 stone 1lb or 20kgs
  • who are eager to get around and are developing a sense of independence
  • who have hyper mobility issues. The Mini Micro is a great aid to those children who struggle with movement functions.
The Mini Micro scooter is NOT for children
  • who are nearing their 6th birthday (you would be better off buying a Maxi Micro scooter)
  • who are not yet walking

Should I buy a Maxi Micro scooter?

maxi micro scooters

The answer of course is, yes!
The older sister to the Mini Micro scooter, the Maxi Micro scooter;
  • Is for children aged 6-12 years.
  • Has an adjustable handlebar – meaning you can adjust the height of the handle allowing the scooter to grow with your child.
  • Has 3 puncture free wheels to aid balance and co-ordination
  • Has a strong, tough rear brake (some scooters don’t have a brake at all).
  • Steers with the same tilt and lean style as the Mini Micro scooter.
  • Has a robust, durable frame making it a resilient and therefore a long lasting scooter.
The Maxi Micro IS for children who;
  • Have outgrown or are about to outgrow their Mini Micro scooter (around the age of 5)
  • Is recommended for children who enjoy the tilt and lean style of scooting
  • Weigh less than 7 stone 12lbs
  • Who are new to scooting and would benefit from the confidence a three wheeled scooter provides.
  • Are impatient! The Maxi Micro scooter is very simple to put together.
The Maxi Micro scooter is NOT for children who;
  • Weigh more than 7 stone 12 lbs (that includes mum/dad wanting to “give it a go”)
  • Who are younger than 3 or 4.  The Maxi Micro scooter is a heavier scooter than a Mini Micro. Younger children simply will be unable to manage its weight and size.
  • Would like a two-wheeled scooter.
Cuthberts stock a range of the Mini and Maxi Scooters in store only, our stores are listed on our website at 

We would like to thanks Micro Scooters for allowing Cuthberts to publish this article which originally featured on the Micro Scooters blog.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

VTech Toot Toot Drivers Police Station

After looking at the VTech Toot Toot Drivers Fire Station last week, we've now swapped emergency services and we're now testing out the Police Station.

The Police Station is a considerably larger set than the Fire Station, and although it doesn't need batteries in the main body of it, there is still a huge amount going on. The set comes with a Police Car  (requiring 2 AAA batteries) and the play set featured five Smart Points these activate the car to say different appropriate things when it passes over each of them.

When cars arrive at the Police Station there is a flip-up gate that they have to wait behind whilst checking in at the security booth. They then pass on to the up and down vehicle lift and once the car is at the top it can then be launched down the slope by pressing the alarm on top. Also on top of the police station is a radar or satellite dish that a child can turn around and clicks when it moves - helping them build their manual dexterity.

At the base of the slope is a spinning roundabout where a small handle can be used to move cars around it. In the main body of the Police Station is also a jail cell which the car fits neatly in to. The play set also comes with a traffic cone and road block barrier.

The Police Station is one of the larger parts of the Toot Toot Drivers range and therefore there's loads going on to keep your little ones amused. It's also physically big enough that two children can play side by side on it too. The Police Station connects up with track and other parts of the VTech Toot Toot range.

As with all Toot Toot products, the Police Station is well designed for little hands to do everything and also inspires lots of vehicle based role play. So many young children love playing with emergency service vehicles and all the different responses from the police car in this play set make it a firm favourite with our little tester.

The VTech Toot Toot Drivers Police Station is available in store (St Albans, Letchworth and Hatfield Galleria), along with the rest of the Toot Toot Drivers range.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

VTech Toot Toot Drivers Fire Station

We've blogged before here at Cuthberts about the VTech Toot Toot Drivers range which is still really popular with customers. Last year we featured the Toot Toot Drivers Airport and now we're looking at the Fire Station which was released by VTech in 2012.

The Fire Station consists of a main building unit with an entrance gate that lifts up when a vehicle approaches. There is also a slide piece which connects on the side, allowing a fire engine to make a quick getaway when there's an emergency.

The Fire Station has two different volume settings that can be found on a slider switch on the front. On top there is a light up siren which can also be twisted round. There is a music button on the front panel, and also a fire extinguisher button. One the side on a fire hose which can be turned, much as you would a real fire hose. When any of these buttons are pressed the station responds with music or one of several phrases. When playing any of these the siren light on top flashes.

The Fire Station does not come with a Toot Toot vehicle, but these are available separately. In the entrance way of the Fire Station there are special detectors so that the station recognises which Toot Toot Drivers vehicle has driven in to the Fire Station and it greets it by name.

We've even put together a video review and demonstration for you.

The Toot Toot Drivers range continues to be popular with pre-schoolers, especially as the chunky cars and track are perfect for little hands. All the buttons to press on the Fire Station and the interactive way in which it greets vehicles also mean that it's ideal to hold children's attention and keep them busy. The Fire Station connects to all other parts of the VTech Toot Toot Drivers range and any of the vehicles can be used with it.

The VTech Toot Toot Drivers Fire Station is available online here and also in store (St Albans, Letchworth and Hatfield Galleria) along with the rest of the Toot Toot Drivers range.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Kidkraft Pirate Play Set

There's no doubt that children love pirates. Give them a chance to don an eye patch and wave a sword about and both boy and girl swashbucklers will jump at the opportunity. They manage to come up with hours and hours of pirate related role play and that's exactly what they'll do with the Kidkraft Pirate Play Set.

This play set contains a large pirate ship (measuring over 60cm long and over 60cm high) which is beautifully decorated both inside and out. Inside the ship there is great attention to detail with the illustrations showing everything from the ship's parrot in its cage to the hammocks in which the pirates must sleep. The ship hinges in the middle so that it can open out, allowing children to play inside easily too.

On the outside of the ship, as well as the ship's wheel (which turns) there is also a tall mast featuring two billowing sails (complete with pirate's skull decorations) and a rope ladder leading up to the crow's nest at the top. The play set also come with two pirate figures (both positionable), a set of steps to allow the pirates to climb to the upper deck, a treasure chest full of gold and a cannon to defend from the enemy.

The pirate ship actually comes in flat pack form and requires and adult with a screw driver to put it together. The instructions enclosed are easy to follow and all the screws and other parts are very efficiently labelled to make the job as easy as possible, but it is still a bit fiddly and can take about an hour in total. If you're wanting to give one of these Pirate Play Sets as a gift then we'd definitely recommend you assemble it first to save yourself a job on Christmas morning!

Once assembled the play set is incredibly sturdy and perfect for hours of imaginative play. Our little reviewer has already staged numerous battles between the two pirate characters and sailed the ship round the world several times. It would make an ideal gift for any pirate loving child this Christmas.

The Kidkraft Pirate Play Set is available in store and also online via the Cuthberts shop and retails at £54.99.
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