Towards the end of this week we should be welcoming our SIXTH brand – Vilac – to Tilda and Tom’s collection of high quality toys.
Vilac was one of the brands I remember seeing in all the beautiful toy boutiques of France, as well as in their finest department stores. Here is a photo of a Vilac display in the Galleries Lafayette department store in Amiens, which I visited in May. You can tell that Vilac products are instantly recognisable by their use of bright, primary colours in both their toys and packaging.
Always on our list of brands to introduce to our mostly British customers, we decided to bump Vilac up the list because our wooden toys are selling so well and proving very popular. As you know, we have stocked the equally high quality Janod brand of wooden toys since our launch in February, having to re-stock a subsequent 5 times and introducing over 70 lines of beautiful toys. Janod’s toys are clean, polished and modern, but they have that underlying history of expert craftsmanship. We have found that Vilac adds a little something different to our existing wooden toy supplier and we particularly like the classic, vintage “look” of their products.
Vilac have been creating beautiful toys in the Jura mountains of France since 1911 and are by far the oldest brand in our collection. What we love about Vilac’s toys is they exude quality and collectability, which can be seen primarily in their range of beautifully painted and polished sports cars, bi-planes and boats. We are stocking the British Sports Car seen here:
What I am most excited about are Vilac’s retro collection of character toys. Aside from our line of Sophie la Giraffe toys, this is our first venture into stocking characters and Vilac have some lovely ones to choose from. First of all there’s a personal favourite of mine: Babar the Elephant! For those not familiar with Babar, he is the character from a series of French storybooks by Jean de Brunhoff which were first published in the 1930s. I love the Babar story about an orphaned little elephant who runs away to Paris and befriends a kind old lady who teaches him how to be a proper gentleman. Babar buys a smart green suit, learns to drive a car and lives a happy life, but decides to return to his home in the jungle. He later becomes the king of the elephants, marries his cousin Celeste and has three little baby elephants. I bought all the Babar books for my children and my younger son’s nursery has two lovely Babar painting which I’m currently STRONGLY resisting replacing for Captain America and Batman!
Vilac also manufacture lovely ranges of toys (puzzles, games, toddler toys) in Elmer the Patchwork Elephant, Hello Kitty, Noddy (Oui-Oui in France) and Barbapapa. We particularly love all of the Barbapapa toys which was a 1970s cartoon for those of us who are old enough to remember! Barbapapa is the French term for “candy-floss” and it’s literal meaning is old man’s beard. Think of that next time you are at the funfair!
Finally, we’ve bought in quite a substantial collection of Vilac’s lovely, traditional wooden boxed games such as dominoes, memory games, threading beads, stitching cards and lots of fun educational games to assist learning numbers, alphabet and even languages.