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Norfolk Orchard Toys toy maker celebrates 50th anniversary

9:30 am 22 December 2021

Multi-award-winning Wymondham toy company Orchard Toys is celebrating its 50th anniversary – but how did the Norfolk-based company become the UK games market leader?

Christmas is approaching and for the 50th year Orchard Toys will be offered and received in homes across the UK.

Since 1971, Orchard Toys has been creating fun educational games, puzzles and coloring books for children ranging from toddlers to preschoolers and elementary school children.

In five decades, the company has grown from creating blocks and tracing sets around the kitchen table for a local nursery to one of Britain’s leading manufacturers of preschool games.

They now manufacture over 3 million products each year and sell a copy of their best-selling shopping list every two and a half minutes!

Orchard Toys CEO Simon Newbery with Founder Keith Harvey
– Credit: Submitted

“Learning while having fun” is at the heart of everything Orchard Toys does, ensuring that their games, puzzles and activity books strike the perfect balance between education and fun.

When parents look for games to help teach essential early learning skills such as colors and shapes, literacy or counting, they are reassured that their children will be having so much fun they won’t even realize that ‘they learn. It’s a winning formula with parents, and that’s why so many of them have developed a love for the brand.

Local mom and newspaper columnist Ruth Davies, who blogs at RocknRollerBaby, says, “He [her four-year old son] loves them and it’s like a hidden vegetable dinner because he’s having so much fun playing that he doesn’t realize the good they are doing in his upbringing. Winner in my book.

Christmas Eve Box by Orchard Toys

Christmas Eve Box by Orchard Toys
– Credit: Submitted

When designing their games and puzzles, the company works closely with educational advisors, teachers and the children themselves to ensure that each is age-appropriate, educational and, most importantly, fun!

Simon Newbery, Managing Director of Orchard Toys, says: “In a world full of electronics, parents and children still appreciate ‘traditional’ products that are simple and fun.

“A good idea will always be a good idea! The hardest part is not so much coming up with the idea, but getting it to the point that we are totally happy that it is as close to perfect as possible.

It is only when the game meets these criteria that it is deemed worthy of the Orchard Toys “Teacher Tested” seal of approval. No wonder they are loved by teachers, parents and children!

How much have things changed over the past 50 years? Newbery says, “Everything is happening so much faster now, from the sending and receiving of orders, to the way we communicate and the instant feedback we receive through social media. Consumers are really smart, they know what they like and what they don’t like and they can get that message out very far and very quickly ”.

Orchard Toys processing department staff

Orchard Toys processing department staff
– Credit: Archant

For parents frustrated with losing a piece of their child’s favorite game, Orchard Toys is now reintroducing their free moved parts service so that a replacement character holder, card or dice can be ordered – and normal play enjoyed!

During the lockdown, Orchard Toys has been a huge support for parents, and the demand for its literacy and math games has exploded as parents have become mom and dad’s school overnight and have assumed teaching duties to support home learning. The company also offered daily downloadable worksheets which were a huge hit with parents during the school closings.

Keith Harvey, Founder of Orchard Toys, said: “I am very proud of the way the company has developed and continued to grow while maintaining its core values. It’s great to be recognized as a market leader in educational games and puzzles, and I’m so proud that we were able to support families during the pandemic, not only with our products, but also with activity sheets. free to download. “

Orchard Toys Shopping List

Orchard Toys Shopping List
– Credit: Submitted

For its 50th anniversary, Orchard Toys is celebrating with a number of initiatives, for their customers they recently held a weeklong scavenger hunt on their website offering 500 Orchard Toys games and puzzles.

For schools, Orchard Toys celebrated with a Learning Made Fun initiative, where preschool teachers could request free educational resource kits. Teachers overwhelmingly agreed that the kits really helped them follow the basic early years phase goals in the classroom and that the take home items were a real hit with parents.

And for the staff, celebrations are planned towards the end of the year to mark their 50th anniversary.

Childish fun with Orchard Toys' Match and Spell

Childish fun with Orchard Toys’ Match and Spell
– Credit: Submitted

All year round, Orchard Toys sets are great for birthday gifts, but there’s no doubt that Christmas is a key time of year for toy companies.

This Christmas Orchard Toys is hoping its fun games and puzzles, such as Rainbow Unicorns, Farmyard Heads & Tails, and Big Dinosaur, and its new seasonal merchandise – a Christmas Eve box and pigs in blankets – make it to the list of the Santa Claus !

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