Toys are the unsung heroes of the souvenir search. After all, souvenirs are just glorified travel-themed toys. So whether you're looking to snag a unique plaything for the kids back home, or just want some fun finds for yourself, we've rounded up the most entertaining toys to keep an eye out for on your travels.
Pick Up Playmobil For The Insatiable Storyteller In Berlin
Playmobil is Germany's answer to Denmark's Lego and you can score a fantastic range at Berlin's dedicated Playmobil store, located in the Berlin Mall. You’ll find all manner of large and small kits, from plastic reproductions of Ancient Egyptian pyramids to individual figurines to build out your set.
While the toys are geared to kids, adults will get a kick out of their historical figures. You might even score a plastic model of Martin Luther, which is the best selling Playmobil ever produced.
Inspire A Budding Designer With A Bruno Munari Picture Book From Città Del Sole In Rome
Teach your kids or yourself Italian with Bruno Munari’s delightfully designed game-in-a-book Più e meno. It's made up of over 72 images printed on transparencies, which you can transpose over each other to design different scenes.
Pick up your copy at Città del sole, a toy store chain in Italy that stocks thoughtful gifts that encourage your child’s creativity.
Purchase Puppets For Your Budding Thespian in Paris
Spend the afternoon putting on a puppet show with these delightful and approachable cloth puppets from French company Bass et Bass. Whether you want to act out animal stories or fairy tales, there’s a puppet to suit your production.
Pick up a puppet (or two) at the jam-packed store Jouets Bass, just off the Rue Monge in the fifth arrondissement. You’ll find every puppet imaginable, along with their other high-quality toys.
Sate A Young Gastronome With Stuffed Sushi From New York City
Budding gastronomes are sure to get a kick out of this plush sushi set, complete with chopsticks and felt wasabi. Haba produces a variety of stuffed food play sets, so you’re sure to find one that matches you or your child’s personal tastes.
Look for your own at NYC’s Dinosaur Hill. This East Village institutions is a seeming wunderkammer of a toy store, packed with every type of plaything imaginable. Come well prepared with parental resolve if the little ones are in tow.
Take A Break From Barbie In Tokyo
If Barbie has had a hard go of it in Japan, blame Licca-chan, the more approachable Japanese-designed fashion doll that lines pink-hued aisles at Japan’s toy stores. According to Takara, the company that produces Licca, the doll is half-Japanese, half-French and is a doe-eyed fifth grader (as opposed the Barbie’s almond-eyed buxom teenagerhood).
Pick up your very own Licca-chan at Hakuhinkan in Ginza. The massive multi-floor emporium is one of Tokyo’s largest toy stores. The entire basement is devoted to Licca-chan dolls, but save some time to browse the other floors which stock plenty of super kawaii toys you’ll want to stuff in your suitcase.
Help A Young Travel To Piece Together Foreign Cultures With A Puzzle From Amsterdam
Get the whole family in on the fun with this Dutch designed monster of a puzzle. Clocking in at 3000 pieces, this jigsaw is not for the faint of heart or light of suitcase. But the image by Dutch illustrator Jan van Haasteren is the kind of unique Dutch piece you won’t find back home.
Head to Intertoys in Amsterdam to score your puzzle. The Dutch version of Toys R US beckons kids from the street with its electric yellow sign, and once inside you’ll struggle to extract them. Most of the toys you’ll recognize from back home (think Lego, Playmobil and Barbie), but there are still a couple of local finds to be had.
Appreciate The Details With Modern Trains From London
From Thomas the Tank Engine toys to models of vintage trains, both tots and teens will find something to appreciate from Hornby’s extensive collection of railway toys. The company’s launched their first 0 gauge model train in 1920, and released electric models as early as 1925. Collectors go crazy for pre-1960’s trains, but their intricate current products are sure to delight most consumers.
While you could visit London’s raucous Hamley’s toy store on Regent street, you’ll have a much calmer experience shopping for trains at art supply store Cowling and Wilcox. With locations in Shoreditch, Highgate and Camberwell, you’ll be able to build your train village far away from hoards of tired trilling tykes (though Hamley’s is your best option for toys for the younger ones)