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  • Wicken Toys for the imagination: climbing frames and playhouses


    Children have very active imaginations throughout their childhood. You will often hear them playing role-play games and escape to exciting worlds with the help of just one simple toy.

    Imaginary play is a brilliant tool for brain development as well as social skills and creativity. Moreover, this type of very creative play is favourably very physical as they can spend hours running around the garden; however, with the continuous introduction of exciting, smart, new technologies, imaginary play is becoming a decreasing occurrence among westernised households where we are lucky to have televisions, laptops, game consoles, mobiles, and iPods. These mostly demand all of our attention for their screens which makes them a lazy, passive learning process, and a form of entertainment that lacks in physical movement.

    Here at Wicken Toys, all of our products showcase the vast possibilities for imaginative play, especially for the outdoors. We believe that it is very important to stimulate young imaginations and get them into the fresh air outside more often.

    In this blog post we’re going to take a look at some of our most imaginative and exciting toys that will help to draw your children away from the television screen and into the garden.

    Our All Out Play climbing frames and playhouses (in some cases, these combine to create one magnificent piece of outdoor play equipment) have some very interesting designs. Pictured below are the All Out Play Fort and All Out Play Climbing Den and Playhouse. The fort (below) is a smaller playhouse compared to its much larger relative, but it is still an excellent fort all the same. It has arched doorways, flagpole, arrow slit windows, and even crenellations to hide behind.

    All Out Play Fort playhouse

    It won’t be long before you have dragons flying around your home and medieval armies marching straight for your house, so hide behind the battlements and get your arrows ready!

    All Out Play climbing den and gatehouse set

    The All Out Play Climbing Den and Playhouse Set could turn into anything; a jungle hut, swamp hut, castle fort, or a tree house. Playhouses like these allow children to do many fun, physical activities like crawling, climbing, sliding, swinging, and hiding. As you can see there are three main components: connecting bridge, gatehouse, and den. There is a place for everyone: the knights, the guards, and even the damsels in distress.

    Another one of our favourite themed pieces of outdoor play equipment is the TP Forest Pirate Galleon.

    All Out Play Pirate Galleon

    It has all of the important features that you would expect from a Disney pirate ship: pirate sails, deck seating area, ladder, captain’s cabin, ships wheel, and gang plank. Many fantastic characteristics to keep even a large group of birthday party guests entertained whilst they journey around the oceans of the world.

    Click one of the following links to browse through the rest of our outdoor play equipment ranges.

    Climbing frames, playhouses, swings, slides, trampolines, wheeled toys.

  • Playing house - opening the doors to playhouses this spring


    As the weather improves and we see more sunny days ahead (the recent snowfall notwithstanding!) it’s a good opportunity to start thinking playhouses for the kids. At Wicken Toys we have some ideas about the best playhouses currently available and what we think will give your children the most fun during spring time.


    Playing at home for kids can be turned into a much more exciting experience. Playhouses are a greta way to encourage imaginative play for pre-schoolers. They can cater to children playing by themselves and with their siblings or friends.


    The key attraction for children is that they can role play and the educational merits of playhouses are that children (knowingly or unknowingly) can practice social skills while enjoying their playtime. Think about it – playhouses are basically platforms for children to pretend to be their parents by “owning” and “living” in their own house. They adopt etiquette very quickly.


    With a playhouse kids can play inside or outside in them. They are designed as outdoor toys but work just as well inside the house on those cold or rainy days. With spring weather and signs of summer spreading across the UK there has never been a better time to encourage children to play outdoors!


    Playhouses come in different shapes and sizes that can suit individual gardens and homes respectively according to their specifications.


    The Forest Wooden Cabin Playhouse is a compact lodge with window frames and fabric door perfect for children aged between 1-10 years.



    Go from small cabin house to fortress castle and tower set (which boys tend to go crazier for!) Children will instinctively recognise that the Castle can be a fairy palace, a Wild West fort, or a stage for medieval chivalry and pageantry.   Then they can run accross the bridge into the tower and act out some other imaginary tale.



    Or for something a little more scaled back and not quite so epic, you can find the All Out Play Jungle Hut more appealing. It has a wooden floor as its base and looks great in gardens.



    Choose from a standard playhouse or a hybrid playhouse / Climbing frame by All Out Play. All Out Play playhouses look great in any garden, solidly built and strikingly unusual.


    Playhouses blend well into any environment. Each design includes an enclosed space that is great in all sorts of weather, but also allows your children to play securely in their own private fantasy world.

  • Playhouses - stage sets for your children's fantasy worlds

    Now that Christmas is over, you may find that some of magic of presents given to them over the festive period is beginning to wear off. It is not unusual to find that by the middle of January, children who thought that the latest must-have action figure or doll would bring then endless satisfaction and happiness are starting to lose interest in favour of more versatile, interactive and substantial sources of entertainment. When it comes to toys, children will always come back to those tried and tested outdoor classics such as, swings, climbing frames, trampolines, sand pits and dare we say, paddling pools, for when the weather gets that little bit warmer.

    In one of our previous blogs we talked about the wonders of swings and how they encourage children to spend more time in the garden surrounded by the natural world. We have also described the sheer joy of watching your little ones pushing out unaided on a bike for the first time. In fact there are so many outdoor toys to choose from, all of which will have a unique impact on your child's experience and development.



    Here at Wicken Toys we are fanatical about outdoor play. Indeed, this passion is drawn from our personal memories of playing outdoors. All of us have special memories of outdoor play; imagining we were cowboys, Indians, pirates or wizards. In fact, a particular kind of memory that we all share here at Toy Towers is that of making a tee-pee or den by throwing a rug or sheet over a climbing frame or swing. So for this blog we thought we'd focus on some very exciting garden play houses and how they can be used in multiple ways to help expand your child's imagination.

    We have an exceptional range of playhouses to assist your little ones in their games of make believe, so as to make imaginative play, just that bit more realistic. Our wooden playhouses are by All Out Play and not only look great in garden, blending in perfectly with the natural environment, but are also exceptionally well built and robust. Not only this but also a good playhouse will provide a stage set for your kids' most exciting adventures. Be it a castle for friends to 'try' to invade, a pirate ship sailing the seven seas for plunder or a hybrid playhouse / climbing frame that can double as a tree-top village, these playhouses will ensure that your little ones get the most excitement from their outdoor play. These designs also include enclosed spaces, which means they are great in all weather and enable your children to feel secure in the perfect surroundings for their imaginative fantasies.

  • A castle to call my own - Children's playhouses for Christmas


    A castle to call my own – Christmas playhouses for children


    It’s hard to believe that Christmas 2011 is two months away. From September or October time, children start to get the red and green mist of Christmas; they begin to see the new toys and games filtering through on the TV and their little minds work overtime with lists for Father Christmas.

    Christmas is such a special time for little ones. The magic is an almost tangible thing and they get so excited about Christmas Day that they can’t sleep. Christmas gifts are difficult things to get right, but Wicken Toys can guide you on buying your children a perfect Christmas gift.


    My home is my castle

    Playhouses can give children endless fun and games as they tumble through childhood. It’s a private little kingdom for them to call their own, where their minds can conjure up all sorts of weird and wonderful adventures.

    As proud owners of the UK’s largest outdoor toy display, Wicken Toys in Milton Keynes gives you the unique opportunity to come down and see the toys in real life before you decide on your purchase.


    All Out Play Tower

    Does your son or daughter fancy themselves an elven warrior fighting on the plains of Middle Earth? Does your daughter imagine herself as a shield maiden fighting legions of gruesome warriors? The All Out Play Tower playhouse gives your children a refuge away from the house and their own little castle tower to play in.

    Shaped like a turret and made from strong, sturdy wood, the All Out Play Tower would make a perfect Christmas gift for children looking for real adventures at playtime. They can imagine themselves holding the fort of a castle, preparing to do battle against an army or they can make a comfortable den in there.

    It’s the adventurer’s choice.


    The All Out Play Castle playhouse

    Their home will be their castle this Christmas if you choose the All Out Play Castle from Wicken Toys. This wooden castle can become a fairy palace, the castle of valiant princes or princesses, a fort for cowboys from the wild west or the fort of a brave warrior.

    The All Out Play Castle is decked out with arched doorways like a real castle; it has arrow slit windows for an authentic castle feel and internal hanging bars for children to play on inside the castle.

    Castle playhouse for children This playhouse even comes with a flagpole, so you and your children can sit and create a flag for the play castle together for some quality family bonding time together. This is the ultimate Christmas gift for brave and adventurous children.

    Wicken Toys is like a dreamland for children, where they can shop with their families and see an amazingly rich world of outdoor toys and games. Children deserve as many magical Christmases as possible and these playhouses are a fun little piece of adventure in a world of pure imagination.

    If you have any questions about any of our toys or you’d like to see them in the real world, come down and visit us. Our address details are here.

  • All aboard the All out Play Galleon from Wicken Toys

    The All Out Play Galleon is the kind of play house we dreamt of as children and, if we’re honest, we’d still like to give it a go now!  Who wouldn't?

    This incredible 4 ½m (length) outdoor toy is designed to let any imagination run wild, providing a safe and extremely fun experience for children of all ages.

    It includes four arch doorways, nautical pot hole windows and two internal wall mounted steps which lead onto the upper platforms.  So whether the Captain wants a lookout or wants to admire his or her ship from deck they can get there with ease.

    For added fun, the galleoon has three hanging bars inside and if that's not quite enough, there's an option to add a 3 metre slide PLUS fireman's pole, making this galleon double up as a super fun adventure playground.

    Now while we're entering the winter months, there are days when the air is fresh but the sun's still shining and it's good to get outside once in while. So if you're looking for something that really will pull the children away from the television this is most definitely it!

    The galleon is also designed and constructed for longevity as all fixings are made form stainless steel and galvanised to prevent rust and corrosion.  It's why galleon also comes with a five year warranty against any wood rotting or dreaded insect damage.

    So the only choice is who gets to be captain and who gets to crew this rather beautiful little ship!

    This is by far one of the best outdoor play toys for active kids and as always it comes flat packed and ready for easy transportation and assembly. The instructions included with the galleon include pictorial descriptions to make putting it together much easier so the pirates can sail the world as soon as possible.  However, if the thought of assembly makes you a little sea sick we are always happy to arrange assembly for you at your home at an additional cost.

    If you feel your kids would rather be Kings or Queens then there's always the All Out Play Castle - offering exactly the same amount of inspirational play but for a whole different imagination!

  • Rain delay Part 2 – more indoor toys and game ideas

    If you read our last blog you may have seen a few of our suggestions of what to do with the kids when rain puts a big “X” on your plans to go out for the day. Playing outdoors is something we are very passionate about here at Wicken Toys, but we also understand that the weather isn’t always suitable for it. Therefore, here are some more ideas on how to keep the kids occupied and active while the rain falls this wetter-than-expected summer.


    Plan a treasure hunt!

    This can be as epic and as imaginative as you want to make it for the kids. All you need to do is grab some goodies from the shop, toys, chocolates, films, whatever seems most appropriate and hide them in a clever place at home. Then construct a set of clues on how the children can find them.

    Treasure hunts are a great way to keep the kids active, on their feet and get their brains working, plus children tend to love treasure hunts. You can even get them to dress up as pirates to add to the make-believe experience.


    Arts and crafts

    This is something that requires lots and lots of random crafting materials from ribbons , plastic, paints, cello-tape, paper, you name it. Inspire the children to get in touch with their creative sides and join in with them to help make the most out of a rainy afternoon indoors.


    Build a fort

    As we mentioned briefly in the previous blog, a great indoor game, especially for boys, is building a fort and playing cops & robbers or cowboys & Indians. It’s an oldie but a goodie! It may require some furniture rearrangement though.


    Hide & Seek

    Another oldie also happens to be one of the oldest kids games there is. There’s a reason why it has been played for so many years. It’s efficient and economical fun for parents to provide their children, and if you turn Dad into a bit of a scary monster it will add to the thrill! This game depends on the hiding capacity of your home of course. It’s harder to play in a flat!


    Board games

    While some board games may be too advanced for some children there are plenty others that provide stimulation and are directly aimed at children. This is always a reliable one when it’s wet and windy outside.


    Bring outdoor toys inside

    Some outdoor toys are only meant for the outdoors, but others can be re-appropriated for indoor usage. Playhouses and table tennis games are examples we provided in the previous blogs. Use your discretion.


    These are just a few of the indoor games you can play to keep the kids occupied this summer while the rain delay continues. Don’t worry, things are bound to clear up sooner or later!

  • Rain delay – indoor toys and game ideas


    For all our talk of summer we really haven’t seen that much of it this year, which is a real shame. Wicken Toys loves the sun. We’re really big kids ourselves and enjoy summer as much as any child! So all this rain has caused us to reassess what children can get up to over the summer holidays if the outside is too wet to play.


    Any parent knows that keeping kids busy at home on rainy days can be a challenge. Kids want to play outside, rain or shine. It’s in their nature and their energy levels cannot be debated or reasoned with!


    So here’s the Wicken Toys guide to indoor toys and games for children to play on those rainy days.



    What better way to deal with a rain delay than some indoor Table Tennis?


    We have a range of four tables to suit different ages and room sizes.


    The Kettler Stockholm Indoor table is one of the best selling Kettler indoor tables. It’s actually great for everyone in the family – not just kids. You can play one-on-one or double up on two-versus-two matches. Kids versus parents? You could play some odds – if you win they have to clean their rooms. If they win you have to let them stay up an extra hour before bed! Increase the stakes accordingly.


    All Kettler indoor tennis tables are great value for money and of an exceptional quality. In fact, the Stockholm is used often in school playrooms. Due to its foldaway and rollaway functions it’s an economic space-saving option for the home.



    Playhouses that are suitable for indoor use as well as outdoors is a good place to go to. They can provide a home within a home for children looking to make-believe. If you have some space in the lounge or a play room, you can move the playhouse in there for the duration of the rain delay.


    We’re specifically thinking of the Forest Cabin Wooden Playhouse. Hopefully, you will bring it inside anyway, out of the rain, so why not put it to use?


    The forest cabin wooden playhouse is a compact lodge with window frames and fabric door, ideal for indoor playtime.



    There are other, more simple options for parents looking to save money of course!


    Chairs and pillows already in the home can be made up to become indoor forts or there’s always the classic game of hide and seek too!


    Don’t let a little rain keep your kids parked on the sofa all day. There’s always games that can be played and activities to participate in that don’t require going outside in the wet and windy outdoors.

    We'll be writing up a list of more ideas for you and the kids to do when the rain comes falling down.

  • Rediscovering the magic of toys for children


    Rediscover the magic of childhood with Wicken Toys. This blog is for any of you who remember a simpler time where imagination and creativity played a major part in growing up. There was no such thing as Nintendo or iPhones, no concept of the Internet or satellite/cable in excess of 200+ channels, and no time to waste as childhood was a precious but fleeting period that would be over before we even knew it had truly begun.


    There is something inherently good and pure about those times as a child that we take for granted as adults with our own children. Kids today are missing that important sense of wonder and discovery in their playtimes. Rather than communicating with each other verbally and interacting direct, they are separated by mirco-chips, wires, text messages, digital barriers and addictive distractions that pop-up on screens and gadgets that vie for their attentions instead.


    What has happened to outdoor fun and outdoor toys? They have been sidelined by advanced technologies seemingly intent on making children lazier and more insular than ever before. More and more children aged between 7-12 are content to stay in playing computer games rather than playing in parks or with their friends in the outdoors.


    Even popular culture is reflecting this change in children’s attitudes and influences like the movies directed at them. Remember when you could have an adventure in your own back garden in films like the Explorers, The Goonies, E.T. and Flight of the Navigator? Nothing was more powerful nor more exciting than your imagination back then. These days contemporary films reflect today’s youth in less innocent terms with a sense of imagination squandered and the discovery of adventure stolen.



    So what can we do to rectify that?


    Wicken Toys is determined to bring back that lost childhood that most parents hopefully can still remember and look back on with fond memories. It is the responsibility of parents to instil this sense of fun, discovery, adventure and imagination in their own children. Only you can guide them to it.


    Think about the garden swings in the back garden in summer time with your children reaching to the skies.


    Make their world a fortress, a castle, a pirate ship, a cabin, a tower with outdoor playhouses tailored for adventure and playing pretend.


    Find a way to give them an active lifestyle by encouraging their fitness and health with wheeled toys from trikes to bikes and beyond!


    Get them to climb, to race their friends, to work out how to make their way to the top of the climbing frames.


    Give them the opportunity to jump higher than any other in an effort to take flight with trampolines.


    There are so many different ways of bringing joy and adventure into the lives of children whilst bringing back your own memories and sense of nostalgia. Outdoor toys are designed to keep the spirit of the past alive and to make sure that modern technology doesn’t destroy what made being a child so much fun in the first place.

  • Playtime at school with outdoor toys


    Schools are now free to decide the length and structure of their school day including lunchtimes and breaks plus activities available during those breaks. The worry is that some schools might reduce unstructured playtime in exchange for promoting further academic study and curriculum time. There is a danger that schools are losing the sense of importance involved in providing their students with adequate playtime activity which is vital for children’s development and learning. Not only does playtime do this but it also helps encourage better classroom behaviour, improved motivation and boosts academic performance overall.


    Studies have highlighted that the more children play outside the more they are likely to do better in the classroom. With an epidemic of “indoor children” becoming more and more prevalent in the UK more and more pupils are aggressive, easily distracted and harder to manage in the classroom. A lack of outdoor play is affecting classroom readiness.



    Playtime at school should provide a range of activities and outdoor play equipment that helps to encourage the children to play freely without the constraints of routine and structure being imposed upon them. P.E. lessons on their own are not enough to do this. It has to be everyday at intermittent times throughout the day.


    School administrations have a critical role to play in reversing the negative impacts of the indoor mentality. Helping children to experience and appreciate the nature of the outdoors and outdoor toys has never been more important than it is today in 21st Century Britain.


    Children tend to be more physically active with open-ended play where the emphasis is on the non-competitive. This is where we at Wicken Toys come in.



    Supplying outdoor toys is our specialty and our years of doing so has helped us to draw the conclusion that nothing quite beats toys like climbing frames, swings and slides as tools for helping to keep children healthy and active. They help to foster an environment of freedom and energy that cannot really be matched in any other way.


    Pre-schools and primary schools should be able to provide these tools for their students to be able to use at their leisure when break times and lunch times come to pass. They can reinvigorate children within the space of minutes and get them interacting with each other on a different level to their interactions in the classroom.



    There is no structure necessary when it comes to outdoor toys beyond the structure the children create for themselves. Help to give your students a helping hand towards their development outside of the classroom by investing in outdoor toys.


    Contact us at Wicken Toys for more information on our product ranges available.

  • Why are outdoor toys important for children?


    Everybody tries to impose their view on what young children should be doing at school, at home and at playtime – politicians, teachers, the media, public opinion etc. But the simple fact is that the ultimate responsibility lies with the parents to create a healthy, productive and fun environment for their kids. If you are one of the parents that is concerned about your child’s lack of active playtime and their over-reliance on computers, mobiles and television, then it’s time to invest in outdoor toys such as climbing frames and garden swings.


    Outdoor toys afford children the interest in playing outside in a safe environment which they otherwise would not get. Playing outside enables them to get fresh air and exercise on a regular basis whilst keeping it fun for them. We have discussed this idea many times in our blog before – the importance of outdoor play and bringing children back to using their imaginations and keeping them active rather than sofa-bound and zombiefied.



    Children want to do things that make them happy and it can be hard these days to pry them away from a monitor or screen. But it needs to be fostered more aggressively by parents. Children do enjoy running around and jumping, climbing and exploring. It’s part of their curious, energised nature. You can tap into that by turning your back garden into a place where they have a variety of outdoor toys at their fingertips.


    Motivate them to get off that sofa and play outside for at least an hour a day, especially during summer time when the weather is warm and the outdoors are inviting. Children will get the workout they need without even realising it and at the same time they will be stimulated mentally and physically.



    Some parents find it hard not to pander to the demands of their children. They will always ask for the latest this or that, or demand to get the same thing that their friends have, and you may have the kind of children that can be very persistent about these things! But as parents you can present them with outdoor toys and introduce them to the climbing frames, garden swings, trampolines, playhouses etc. by actually playing with them the first few times. Play a game, get them interested, and before you know it they will be into it.


    Children need encouragement in activities that they might not be interested in or that seem daunting to them. It’s the same concept of getting your child to go into the water to learn how to swim the first time – they might not want to, but once they do – they love it!


    There really is no alternative to outdoor toys and active playtime for children. The modern gadgets of today promise children more excitement but ultimately they cannot fully deliver on helping in a child’s growth. And nothing can beat the imagination of a child. Give them some toy figures and a few hours and they will create epic stories and battles under their bedcovers. They just need the tools and encouragement in which to do it.


    Help to maintain your child’s health and give them a more positive playing experience through outdoor toys.

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