Pigments of the imagination | ToyNews’ guide to the Arts & Crafts sector

Yet another product sector that can truly be heralded as a ‘saviour of sanity’ throughout the pandemic, the Arts & Crafts space is one that has witnessed considerable growth and demand this past year. It stands to reason, of course, as homeschooling parents have been turning to the medium of ‘creativity’ to ease kids away from the laptop and phone screens and into the imaginatively creative world of ‘making stuff and doing things.’

A sector brimming with innovation, from spray-paintable Unicorn cuddly toys, to sustainable arts and crafts kits that encourage kids to look at the world around them from a new perspective, Arts and Crafts in 2021 remains as vivid and vibrant as it has ever been. Here, ToyNews rounds up just a handful of the latest products to hit the scene.

Goliath Vivid – Crayola

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Kids can both colour and style with Crayola Colour n Style Friends, combining the strength of a growing super-category, with an evergreen colouring activity and customisation, to allow kids hours of creative fun colouring and restyling. Each doll comes with its own clothing accessory to clip on and style up.

Using dry erase markers, kids can colour in fun patterns and designs to the hair and clothes, and give their doll a new look. Once finished they can just wipe off the designs and style again. Meanwhile, the Colour ‘n’ Style catwalk wardrobe play-set transforms into a boutique catwalk, while the Colour ‘n’ Style Colour Coupe has a real working car to colour in and personalise.

2021 sees Crayola Washimals introduce a new set of characterful pets all under the Ocean theme. The Washimals Ocean Lagoon Play-set features pets such as Sydney the Dolphin and Toby the Turtle. (RRP £22.99)

Elsewhere, this year sees the Colour Wonder range expand with new additions from themes including Love Diana, Cocomelon and PAW Patrol the Movie.

Finally, based on the evergreen play pattern of mechanical drawing, which has seen much success over the years, Crayola launches the brand new ‘Spin ‘N’ Swirl Oscar’. Oscar the Octopus loves drawing and creating cool spiral patterns with his twirling tentacles. Place your pens in Oscar’s arms, just press the button and get Oscar drawing all by himself, creating magical colourful spirographs. Use the stencils and stampers to add more colourful designs to your drawings.

Build Your Own

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Build Your Own’s new Mini Builds are an exciting set of four eco-friendly, STEM-inspired kits that children will have great fun building with their grownups. Designed in the UK by award-winning Build Your Own, the Mini Builds are made from 100 per cent sustainable cardboard and paper.

Easy to assemble using slot-together techniques – there’s no glue, no mess, no fuss. Everything you need is provided in the kit; simply follow the instructions: press out the pre-cut parts, build and play.

Each of the four Mini Builds – Dragonfly, Honey Bee, Ladybird and Stag Beetle – has a fun pull-tab action that brings the mini beast to life, and comes complete with its own press-out fact stand to encourage children to discover and learn more.

Promoting less tech and more family time, the Mini Builds are designed for children aged eight years old and upwards but are ideal as a family activities, where quality time can be fun and educational. With an estimated build time of 20 minutes, these innovative kits are set at a skill level of two stars out of five.

The new Mini Builds join Build Your Own’s existing range of eco-friendly kits: Telescope, Paper Plane Launcher, Microscope and Marble Run; the launch will be supported with marketing campaigns including digital, PR and social media activity.

Canal Toys – AirBrush Plush Unicorn / So Sand DIY Rainbow Cake


AirBrush Plush Unicorn is a new soft toy brand that combines design flair with art skills to let kids create a bespoke magical unicorn, perfect for cuddles. Style your own super cute plushie and bring this magical creature to life. Stick one of the stencils to your white unicorn plushie and then choose from the coloured markers. You can either spray directly onto the plushie fur or through a stencil using the airbrush tool to create patterns and designs across the body, legs, and head.

Meanwhile, the So Sand DIY Rainbow Cake kit is the latest innovation within the So Sand DIY range. An ASMR treat that lets you create a rainbow cake in sand, kids just mix the coloured sand and choose the mould they want. Layer up the sand to create the rainbow cake effect, use the tools to compress the sand into the moulds and watch the creation take shape. Once the rainbow sand cake is complete, the finishing touches can be added using the decorations included. For the total ASMR experience use the tools to cut the cake and enjoy the satisfying sound sensations.

Both launches will be supported with marketing campaigns including digital, PR, Television and social media activity.

Simba Smoby Toys UK – Smoby School

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With almost 100 years’ experience in helping children learn through play, Simba Smoby Toys UK’s trusted Smoby brand continues to deliver fun across multiple categories, including arts and crafts.

For creative fun on a bumper scale, there’s the Smoby School, play-set is designed with preschoolers in mind, combining arts and crafts fun with educational play. With the Smoby School, children can recreate the classroom setting and play-out a typical day in a preschool.

This compact, fold-out set comes with numerous accessories and activities. Artistic kids will love the reversible slate. One side is an erasable white board, which is also magnetic, so kids can doodle and then practice their writing and numerical skills with the magnetic letters and numbers included. The other side is a blackboard for use with chalks, so children can learn to create lots of different effects. 

Of course, there’s plenty of lesson inspiration, too. There’s a number-learning wheel; a clock to help kids learn how to tell the time; a weather tree to study the seasons; cards to learn body parts; and more. 

Kids can get creative with Smoby’s comprehensive range of boards, easels and children’s desks, which offer a multitude of surfaces for kids to unleash their imagination. 

Two in 1 Direct – Kangaru Toys


There’s a new brand in town that’s looking to shake up the arts and crafts category. Exclusively available from Two in 1 Direct, Kangaru Toys has now launched in the UK, following success and fast growth in the US and international markets. 

Kangaru’s range will include an all-new segment that combines food licensing with arts, crafts and stationery products. With a host of iconic food and confectionery brands already on-board in the US, including Chupa Chupas, Mentos and Kellogg’s cereals, UK-based retailers can expect a “fun, licensed line-up that is instantly recognisable and packs a huge amount of sensory appeal.” 

Available from AW21, with even more brands added for 2022, the range will tap into the popular food licensing trend, by drawing on key characteristics of each brand, including scents, shapes and colours. Designed for creative kids (and big kids too!), this “sweet treat of a collection” promises to bring the arts, crafts and stationery aisle to life with a colourful selection of scented gel pens, colouring pencils, activity sets and more to pick from.


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July will see an exciting arrival in Flair’s creative play portfolio – IDO3D Ultra. Using the IDO3D Ultra pens, kids can create amazing 3D art! First, kids can hone their 3D drawing by using the theme-based moulds, before using the pends to draw and set their designs, so that finally, once children have become well-versed in the art of 3D design, they can take up their IDO3D pens to create freestyle drawings in the air.

From animals to mythical creatures, impressive buildings and structures, IDO3D offers children the tools to create their very own world in a fun and inventive way. Longevity for this collection is guaranteed, with plenty of newness planned for the second half and beyond.

Another gem in Flair’s portfolio comes in the form of Jewel Secrets, which launches for AW21, combining the thrill of secret reveals with a magical transformation and jewellery making. With each set, children receive a chamber containing stones and jewellery accessories to turn the gems into wearable accessories. Kids simply add water to dissolve each stone to reveal which gem they have unearthed.

Each gem has a different meaning that can be discovered via the included Collectors Chart. The range launches with three Jewel Secrets lines: the Royal Jewellery Set that includes a tiara and wand, the Ring Set that comes in a CDU, and the Princess Glam Set, which features a locket. 

Next, Flair steps into an exciting new world where collectables meet craft with the Sneak’Artz. Letting kids create their own miniature designs, the range launches with 24 mini shoe styles to collect and customise.

Each Sneak’Artz Shoe Box pack contains one shoe, washable pens, charms, stickers, and an attachable key chain. Plus, keep an eye out for the Sneak’Artz Bumper Set, with its two-shoe format, exclusive spray can, and the glitter and four-dots pens, accessories, and stencils that come included.

Big news for AW is the introduction of the next generation of Sneak’Artz. This new wave will come with hydrographic papers – an all-new processing technique that allows kids to transfer graphics to their Sneak’Artz shoes.

This series will launch with a special edition Galaxy theme, which will see kids cover their mini sneaker styles with cool cosmic graphics.

Toyi – Sustainable arts and crafts kits


Fresh from a recent iF Design Award, the Istanbul-based creative art kits specialist, Toyi, has been picking up momentum on the arts and crafts scene, thanks to its take on bringing sustainable, creative play to children across some of the most disadvantaged areas.

Each Toyi kit consists of wheels, feet, eyes, joints, sticks, flexible connectors and junction parts. Kids aged six and upwards can then transform any object around them into a toy of their own creation. The small Toyi box is a gate to a vast array of potential toys of different materials, textures, colours, shapes, and sizes, not limited by the size and the content of the box.

“Caring for our children means more than making them happy with toys – it includes sharing the responsibility for the future of our planet. Sustainability is becoming indispensable in the toy industry as awareness grows about the global climate crisis and about what companies and individuals can do about it with their choices,” said the Toyi team.

“Unlike many other toy companies that only adopt sustainability in the materials they use, Toyi incorporates it as a mindset. Toyi is sustainable in every sense.”

Not only does Toyi 100 per cent recycled plastic and paper, but it actively encourages children to upcycle disposable objects as key parts of their toys, while the creativity it inspires, suggest the Toyi team, means that its play value can “last a lifetime.”