From an eco-toy play centre to the Toys R Us Superstore, Time Out check out the city's finest toy stockists
Hape’s showroom looks more like an immaculate playgroup than a toy shop. Wooden toys and puzzles are scattered around the purpose-built high-ceilinged space with a beach mural on one wall and a sand pit in the corner. There are two dollhouses on tree stumps and a play kitchen. Parents can even order a coffee to drink while their kids play.
The toys are mostly Hape’s own products – they are a German toy company who specialise in ‘eco’ toys, such as a wooden stacking ring for babies (108RMB), baby rattle (48RMB) and a colourful menagerie of animal puppets, including a peacock (68RMB/each).Best toy
Pallina (298RMB), a game where players take turns pulling sticks out of a basket, trying to prevent the coloured balls from dropping.Hape Concept Store Jumen Lu, near Quxi Lu.
See Hape Concept Store
for address details.
The toy shop on the top (seventh) floor of the Isetan department store on Nanjing Xi Lu offers great choice, from Barbies to board games, and has a central playing area with a wooden train set as well as low tables surrounded by kids absorbed in craft projects. Shop assistants happily play board games with the children.
They stock Plan Toys’ wooden play sets such as a fire engine (899RMB), Sylvanian Families (adapted for Chinese children with one-child families, 129RMB), toy cars (99RMB/each), Lego (129RMB/box) and Barbies (fashionista Barbie 199RMB, pizza chef Barbie 219RMB, and computer engineer Barbie 129RMB). There’s even a kids’ hairdresser right next door if you want to get your child a quick trim while you’re there.Best toy
Retro 1963 Barbie with three ‘60s wigs (499RMB).Isetan Nanjing Xi Lu, near Nanhui Lu.
for address deatils.
Among a variety of shops selling children’s items on the third floor of Grand Gateway Mall, Kids Land offers the best choice and opportunity to play with the toys. They have a Duplo playing area, with the building blocks also on sale along with perennial favourite Lego for 399RMB/big box.
Plus, there are toy cars (35RMB/each), cuddly WWF endangered animals (polar bear, 119RMB), Transformers (49-99RMB/small figure), Play Doh and Play Doh machines (pizza shop, 189RMB), Ravensburger puzzles (200-1,000 pieces, 129-179RMB) and a well-formed board games section with Monopoly (394RMB), Boggle (139RMB) and The Game of Life (249RMB).
Another draw is the play area outside the shop, with a free ball pool and Wendy houses for kids to play in – if you distract them with that you might not even have to fork out for a toy to take home.Best toy
Harry Potter Lego set (149RMB).Kids Land Hongqiao Lu, near Huashan Lu.
See Kids Land
for address details.
Jollily, opened by passionate children’s educator Maggie Lai earlier this year, sells a range of educational toys – mostly for pre-schoolers - in a small shop just off Jiangsu Lu. There’s a wide range of affordable puzzles for children under three: insect puzzles (66RMB) and learn to match colours, shapes, and weather puzzles (30RMB/each). There are also wooden mini cars (88RMB/each), a pull-along train (135RMB) and Spot the Dog books (28RMB).
The kids can play with the toys on a low table at the front of the shop. Older children get a few games too, like Chinese checkers (123RMB) and a paper-making pack (88RMB), plus a make-your-own remote control car set (396RMB) that we haven’t seen anywhere else.
Lai also runs music enrichment and crafts classes from a playgroup room at the back of the shop on Wednesday and Friday afternoons (4.30-5.30pm) and on Saturdays and Sundays (10-11am and 4-5pm).Best toy
Doh-Dough Dim Sum Set, which allows you to make dim sum with play dough (75RMB).Jollily Xuanhua Lu, near Anxi Lu.
See Jollily Educational Toys
for address details.
The first Toys R Us in China, and the biggest toy shop on this list, is a heavily branded zone. At the entrance, Transformers and Disney Princesses fight it out for dominance but it’s the princesses who win in terms of reach, with everything from water bottles (20RMB), pencil cases (20RMB) and roller skates (299RMB) to fancy dress costumes (202RMB) and masks (34RMB).
There aren’t many opportunities to play, with only a few kids’ computer game consoles and a Lego table for kids to try. But what they lack in interactivity they make up for in variety, with a large Barbie section (Sydney Opera House Barbie, 349RMB), Polly Pocket (79RMB), the Babies R Us range of baby toys, Pleasant Goat toys (nurse set, 44.90RMB), basic board games (draughts, 79RMB), Crayola crayons (39RMB/16 crayons), Play Doh (pizza factory on sale, 169RMB), Fast Lane toy cars (14.90/each), skipping ropes (29RMB), kids’ tennis rackets (19.20RMB), and much more for a broad range of age groups.Best toy
Cuddly Winnie the Pooh (99RMB).Toys R Us Lujiazui Xi Lu, near Lujiazui Ring Road
. See Toys R Us
for address details. This article first appeared in the October 2011 issue of Time Out Shanghai