The story of our LEGO® passion

The Kiddiwinks LEGO® brand might have been solidified in 2002, but the truth is our LEGO®  passion began long before that.

During her childhood in the 1970s, founder Bryony Poulter played with her treasured LEGO® sets, a piano, a milk truck, forklift and a family of people who had round faces and little knobble hands.

“Some of my earliest memories involve creating fantasy worlds with our treasured LEGO® sets.” – Bryony Poulter, Kiddiwinks founder

When her first child was five years old he had fallen in love with trains. After trying model railway sets unsuccessfully, Bryony heard of the LEGO® System 4561 Railway Express which she set out to track down.

After trying every store in Cape Town without luck, she went straight to the suppliers, LEGO® South Africa. While they couldn’t supply direct to the public, they suggested she contact a certain shop. However, they too were unable to assist her. Unwilling to accept this as the final word, Bryony created a proposal which she presented to LEGO® South Africa – to trade as a mail order business supplying LEGO® products to the public.

At that time, Kiddiwinks was a kids’ clothing business, creating original designs sold mostly in craft markets over the weekend. But that would soon all change. After a lot of persuading, LEGO® South Africa finally gave in and it was time for Bryony to spring into action.

“Our first order was, indeed, our train with all its accessories.”

“There was a minimum order quantity at that time and we took orders from people until we had half that amount, and then agonised over how to make up the necessary figure to place the order.

“We started the business because we couldn’t purchase a LEGO® set that we wanted. But, over time, we realised that there was a gap in supply. Many people in the Southern Suburbs struggled to find the LEGO® products they wanted.

“This was the driving force for so long – to source and supply sets that people were looking for.

“As more and more businesses started stocking bigger ranges of sets, it became more important to grow a family of customers based on a mutual passion for a product.”

A few of the Kiddiwinks family’s favourite sets over the years

The launch of an online store came next in 2004 – the first time LEGO®  products were offered online in South Africa. The next year, online orders became possible to collect from the very first LEGO®-only shop, operated solely out of the Poulters’ garage, which served as storage and showroom all at once.  

The Kiddiwinks brand soon became the go-to for great LEGO® sets, offering more than just product, but experiences too. In 2006, they launched the LEGO® Education products, allowing home schools and individuals to get the products into their homes. No one else in Cape Town sold the education products then and this is still the case today.

It was around this time that Kiddiwinks got involved in the coaching and mentoring of the FIRST LEGO® League teams, opening the doors to the robotics offerings. In 2006 alone, Kiddiwinks entered four teams with three qualifying for nationals.

Kiddiwinks had expanded so well, that in 2007, they started supplying LEGO® products wholesale to small businesses.

The Kiddiwinks mail order-turned-online LEGO® supply business lasted for almost a decade before Bryony decided to take the plunge into retail in 2011 with the opening of their Palmyra Junction shop. This was in part driven by a dip in online sales that Kiddiwinks had seen – presumed to be due to the increasing competition in the online space. 

“With my mother predicting the doom and gloom of financial failure, I signed a lease for a shop in a very surreal moment.

I still sometimes feel like I am playing shop-shop.”

The passion for LEGO® products has continued through 18 years of Kiddiwinks. Not only has the entire family become involved with Kiddiwinks – from grandparents to grandchildren – but they are all as enthusiastic about this magic brick as they were on day one.

The key, says Bryony, is to never lose sight of the magic.

“LEGO® bricks hold a world of opportunity for everyone, regardless of age, gender, race, ability.

“Find the moments to create a dinosaur that looks more like a horse or build a castle for a king. Don’t be limited by the ‘I can’ts’ that the world teaches us.”

Find out more about where Kiddiwinks started at  our About Us page or simply shop for your favourite LEGO® sets over at shop.kiddiwinks.co.za.

The day The LEGO® Group turned its focus to girls

LEGO® play has always been a joyful and imaginative building experience for both girls and boys. But while many sets that boys could identify with were developed over the decades, it took The LEGO® Group several attempts to come up with a girls range that worked. 

In fact, 90% of the LEGO® customer base before 2011 was made up of boys, according to reports by the company. It’s no surprise then that The LEGO® Group chief executive officer Jørgen Vig Knudstorp announced their intention to “reach the other 50 percent of the world’s children” that year.


An animated TV series of LEGO® Friends premiered in 2014. While another series Another series titled ‘LEGO® Friends: The Power of Friendship’ aired on Netflix in 2016.

The company knew there was plenty of demand for a girls range. However, previous girls ranges weren’t successful as they focused too much on the play factor, and not enough on the LEGO® brick and its element of construction, which is what appealed as much to girls as it did to boys.

After careful market research, the toy company at last introduced a girls range that worked in 2011: LEGO® Friends. The range focused on giving girls between the ages of 5 and 8 an immersive LEGO® experience that focused on “realistic role-play, creativity, and a highly-detailed, character-based world with the core values of LEGO® building.”

“What LEGO® Friends does differently is deliver the beauty, details, accessories, real world themes and need for strong interior play that the research revealed would make all the difference for girls ages 5 and up.” – Nanna Ulrich Gudum

The range was groundbreaking in yet another sense: it introduced the curvy doll-like minifigure that LEGO® research suggested girls could identify with, focusing on five characters in particular: Andrea, Emma, Mia, Olivia and Stephanie.

These friends would adventure in their hometown of Heartlake City. Each character has her own interests and strengths such as animals, performing arts, invention and design.

LEGO Friends characters Stephanie, Mia, Andrea, Emma and Olivia
The main characters in the LEGO Friends range from top left: Emma, Stephanie, Andrea, Mia and Olivia.

LEGO® Friends came under some criticism for its seemingly limited role-play for girls to which the company responded by introducing a new range of sets for the characters offering a more diverse range of activities, including a veterinarian centre, an adventure camper and a tree house to name a few.

Even with this criticism, the overall response to LEGO® Friends exceeded the company’s expectations in its first year.

“[I]t has been amazing to experience the enthusiastic welcome, which consumers have given the new range, as well as know that we through LEGO® Friends have managed to introduce LEGO® play to millions of girls who had never received a LEGO® product before,” said LEGO® Chief Marketing Officer, Mads Nipper.

Find the amazing LEGO® Friends range at Kiddiwinks online shop or at our four stores!

What do you think about the LEGO® Friends range? Tell us in the comments below.

This is how you should be storing your LEGO® collection

Turn dreary clean-up time into a fun activity for everyone with these amazing LEGO® storage pieces from ROOM Copenhagen.

There’s no question that LEGO® sets are an absolute essential in every household. But, ask anyone who’s stepped on a stray LEGO® brick and they’ll tell you just how important it is to pick up those sneaky little pieces.

Storing LEGO® bricks and other pieces certainly isn’t as fun as building with them, or at least it wasn’t until ROOM Copenhagen introduced us to its amazing LEGO® storage units. Using the LEGO® brick blueprint, ROOM has extended the LEGO® experience to lunchboxes, drawers and large storage boxes, turning clean-up time into an awesome game of “build the oversized LEGO® bricks”.

SHOP LEGO® STORAGE

Not only are these bricks proportionate to the LEGO® two-by-two and four-by-two bricks, they are buildable just like your normal LEGO® bricks, making them that much more appealing to your average LEGO® fan. Colours that are currently in stock at Kiddiwinks include blue, red and yellow. 

As if oversized LEGO® bricks and lunchboxes weren’t enough, ROOM has also introduced the iconic LEGO® minifigure head with the trademark LEGO® smile. Open up the top and store your odds and ends, or simply use it as a cute decor  accessory.  You can even use the large version as a fruit bowl, as per a suggestion by ROOM!

The LEGO® Iconic Storage Head makes a quirky fruit bowl.

“Though made first and foremost with children in mind, our products are sure to please parents as well as any adults with a soft spot for the LEGO® brand,” explains ROOM on their website.

The storage pieces are created with a strong focus on quality and functionality, making them ideal to add to your home. The items are BPA and Phthalate free, and no PVC is used.

Take your LEGO® adventures one step further with this awesome range from ROOM and finally get the family to clean up after themselves!

SHOP LEGO® STORAGE

What to get up to in the winter school holidays

School’s out for… winter! Which means there’ll be plenty of screen-time, sleeping in and maybe just a little bit of boredom. Avoid the dreaded moans of “I’m bored” by getting your kids stuck into building that challenging LEGO® set they’ve had their eye on all term.

Get engineering

For the older kids, LEGO® Technic™ offers advanced building. Each detailed model is inspired by vehicles from the real world, with loads of cool, working features. From pneumatics to motors, LEGO® Technic™ gets kids not just building but also engineering.

For the month of June, we’re running an amazing 20% off promotion on all LEGO® Technic™ sets, so get the sets you’ve been dreaming about and share the fun with your family and friends!

Get 20% off all LEGO® Technic™ and Power Functions sets, as well as the LEGO® BOOST Creative Toolbox and LEGO® MINDSTORMS® EV3, until the end of June!

Pay a visit to our four stores to check out the amazing LEGO® Technic™ displays in each!

Turn boredom into fun these winter holidays with LEGO
Turn boredom into fun these winter holidays with LEGO® sets.

An a-MAZE-ing LEGO Idea

After the heart-stopping adventures of Maze Runner, there’s really no reason why anyone wouldn’t want a go at creating their own maze from LEGO®, right? The LEGO® Ideas Maze is great, not only because it was created by LEGO® fan designer Jason Allemann from Canada and then selected by LEGO® fans, but also because it’s customisable. Yes! You can build your own maze to challenge yourself and friends, and there’s the awesome medieval-style maze which includes assorted buildable cottages, archway and castle.

Shop for the LEGO® Ideas Maze here and watch Jason talk about his design here:

Tots’ time

kid playing with lego

When it comes to keeping the very youngest members of the family occupied, there’s nothing more lovely than an outing to Kiddiwinks to get the LEGO® set of their choice. In fact, there’s a whole choice of June releases that will see them spending hours building, imagining and playing.

Pay a visit to our Habitat Centre store in Somerset West to spend time in our amazing play area too!

The LEGO® DUPLO® Train Bridge and Tracks set is great to add to any new or existing DUPLO® train set and develop early construction skills as your toddler builds the tall bridge and arranges the toy train track pieces in any way they like.

Kiddiwinks LEGO Train Bridge
Young fans of Unikitty’s universe can spend hours reliving favourite moments from the happiest, most sparkly and colourful TV series around with the LEGO® Unikitty™ Unikingdom Creative Brick Box.

Unikingdom Creative Brick Box

 

 

What are you waiting for? Turn winter school holidays into a delight with Kiddiwinks for those exciting LEGO® sets and enjoy hours of uninterrupted fun!

Great LEGO® build ideas for the holidays

It’s the summer holidays. While the kids might be jumping for joy, parents can’t be blamed for feeling just a little overwhelmed at the idea of keeping the kids entertained and out of trouble for 7 long weeks. We have you covered, with a few fun LEGO® and LEGO DUPLO® projects that offer up plenty to keep the kids occupied for at least some of the time.

Count down to Christmas

Visit this link for the full instructions.

Build a Christmas tree…

Click here for the full infographic.

… and a reindeer

Just click here for the full infographic.

6 fun activities from LEGO®

These smart ideas are all simple tasks that invoke the Christmas spirit in us all. Get the kids making adorable Christmas cards and decorations and you’ll be ticking more than just “Keep the kids occupied” off your list.

A post shared by LEGO (@lego) on

Checkmate!

LEGO chess set

Now here’s a fun building challenge for that budding chess player in the family.

Get them to create their own chess board out of LEGO®. This will certainly help them remember better how each piece is allowed to move on the board and, well, it’s kind of cool too!

Get all the instructions at teachbesideme.com

Got some of your own ideas on how to keep the kids busy with LEGO®? Share with us in the comments section below!

Discover your LEGO® favourites the old-fashioned way

Our fast-paced technological age means that kids are spending more time in front of a screen and less time learning to solve problems with their own hands and ingenuity.

Technology certainly has its place and knowing how to use it is an essential skill for kids these days. But so too, is the ability to create, discover and learn spatially.

We’ve all heard the long list of benefits of LEGO® play. Not only does it improve fine motor skill, (an essential and often under developed skill in young children), but it also helps kids to interact well with each other, forming relationships based on sharing and teamwork.

LEGO® play is versatile

It can be about teamwork or solo problem solving. It can be totally fantasy-driven, focused on free-building to create whatever you dream up, or it can be about following instructions.

It’s about being in the moment

Playing with LEGO® blocks and sets is always interactive and demands focus right then and there. Watch any young child absorbed in their LEGO® building task and you will understand the importance of losing yourself in the creation so completely, discovering the laws of physics and geometry and the wonders of creativity along the way.

Visit our stores to discover, play and learn

That’s why we’ve taken care to set aside interactive play areas in three of our four stores. We also hold regular LEGO® builds, as all of this encourages kids (and adults!) to immerse themselves in the wonders of LEGO® play.

What you’ll find:

  • Interactive LEGO® wall with troughs of bricks for free build activity that includes mosaic building
  • LEGO® Play tables
  • LEGO® DUPLO pit
  • LEGO® Club availability to sit and build one of a selection of complete sets provided for building on-site at tables

These school holidays, stop by our stores in Habitat Centre, Somerset West, Blue Route Mall and Willowbridge Shopping Centre where you’ll find piles of LEGO® blocks to build from. It’s a good diversion for the kids, and by good, we mean genuinely constructive learning through play!

Our interactive areas are always overseen by a designated Kiddiwinks staff member, and we encourage parents to stay and even join in.

Find a store near you by visiting shop.kiddiwinks.co.za

Why LEGO® DUPLO® bricks are the bridge for better building

It’s a common question many parents have when it comes to introducing their toddler to LEGO® bricks:

Should we start with LEGO® DUPLO® sets or skip straight to LEGO® sets?

The general assumption is that kids are likely to play with LEGO® bricks from toddler to teenage-hood. We often don’t even consider that LEGO® DUPLO® bricks offer the same longevity. After all, their design is compatible with LEGO® bricks and therefore a valuable element in the building process. There are even convertors which allow for LEGO® DUPLO® bricks to be used with other older LEGO® sets.

Adults love LEGO® DUPLO® pieces too

Many adult fans of LEGO® (AFOLs) make use of LEGO® DUPLO® pieces in their MOCs usually to fill out a large structure, since LEGO® DUPLO® bricks interlock with LEGO® bricks and are also the same colours. Brick Blogger expands on how LEGO® DUPLO® sets will grow with you.

This LEGO® DUPLO® cow jumping over the moon is done by Build with me blog.
This LEGO® DUPLO® cow jumping over the moon is done by Build with me blog.

 

 

 

Build with me blog also created this clever version of the woman who lived in a shoe.
Build with me blog also created this clever version of the woman who lived in a shoe.

Kids need to play safely

While we all love LEGO® play, introducing LEGO® sets too young not only poses something of a safety risk for children under three years of age, it also hinders their ability to make developmental progress on their own.

It can be a frustrating process for parents too as the smaller, more intricate LEGO® bricks will require that parents facilitate play, which can interrupt precious moments of discovery for your child.

DUPLO Friends castle, horse and carriage


Shop LEGO® DUPLO® sets


LEGO® DUPLO® bricks helps kids learn

LEGO® DUPLO® bricks are something of a developmental bridge for your child. Here are four broad ways that LEGO® DUPLO® play is beneficial for young children:

Fine motor skills

They offer the opportunity for kids to improve their fine motor skills through repetitive motions using blocks that are designed to aid and encourage play for this very reason.

Toddler building with DUPLO

Social skills

Playing with LEGO® DUPLO® bricks helps kids to build on their social skills through role play, sharing and teamwork.

Figure out the world

Kids spend a lot of time trying to figure out the world through experiments and deductions. LEGO® DUPLO® play encourages these thought processes and gets them to match up things like shapes and colours too.

Creativity and problem-solving

Two absolutely essential aspect of human thought are developed from a young age. LEGO ®DUPLO® bricks offer endless possibilities for experimenting and creating, offering kids the means by which they might follow one train of thought to resolve a burning question about the world, only to pursue yet another thought, seamlessly.

Consider including some LEGO® DUPLO® sets in your collection for a versatile, fun way to bridge the gap for young kids to learn through play and adults looking for great LEGO® building options.


Visit the Kiddiwinks online store


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Kids get set for FIRST LEGO® League

The study of robotics is making inroads at schools – particularly through LEGO® play. One such school seeing growth in its LEGO® Robotics programme is Forres Preparatory School. So popular is it that the calss has been split into two groups, training on separate days.

One group has been aimed at teaching the ins and outs of programming and building a robot, from the very basic first steps, to more advanced situations like following a line. Excitingly, the other group is now the team that will represent Forres at the FIRST LEGO® League competition in early November.

In the 2016 FIRST LEGO® League Challenge, more than 28 000 teams from over 80 countries will look into the eyes of our Animal Allies, the theme of this year’s competition. The competition is made up of three parts: the Robot Game, the Project, and the Core Values. The teams participate in the Challenge by programming an autonomous robot to score points on a themed playing field (Robot Game), developing a solution to a problem they have identified (Project), all guided by the FIRST LEGO® League Core Values. Among other things, the Forres team has:

  • researched challenges facing today’s scientists,
  • designed, built, tested and programmed robots using LEGO MINDSTORMS® technology,
  • learned to apply real-world math and science concepts,
  • learned critical thinking, team-building, and presentation skills, and
  • learned and practiced gracious professionalism.

firstlegoleague2_600In November the team will compete at the regional competition at the Cape Town Science Centre. From there, 25 teams from around South Africa qualify for the National Competition in Gauteng. The top 2 teams at the national competition then get the opportunity to perform on the international stage.

The competition details are only announced 10 weeks before the competition to ensure that all teams are given equal time to plan. With only an hour-and-a-half training time each week, the kids are putting their all into it. Completing the work needed to compete at the regional level is an achievement in itself.

A version of this article was originally published by Forres Preparatory School.

7 benefits of LEGO® play for kids (and adults)

It turns out that LEGO® play has far-reaching developmental benefits for kids, way more impactful than just fine motor coordination. Even better: we go on benefitting from LEGO® play as adults. Here are just a few of the reasons you need to join your kids the next time they get out the LEGO® bricks:

#1 Teamwork and communication

Sharing, discussing your building strategy and assigning roles is an important part of the process of a LEGO® build. It can even help to increase language development. According to a 2007 study of children from lower and middle income families in the USA, the parents of kids who played with building blocks generally reported better verbal skills in their children.

#2 Patience and organisational skills

The ability to plan, organise and then execute are all critical skills that can be applied to any goal orientated actions in life. With LEGO® bricks and models, these skills can be tested and exercised using the construction process as a tool. Moreover, when things aren’t going as planned, it’s the positive action of going back to the drawing board and re-thinking the original plan that helps to teach kids perseverance and resilience.

#3 Constructive problem solving and lateral thinking

Which brings us to thinking creatively in order to solve a problem – such as a teetering LEGO® tower that is going to topple over at any moment. Thinking laterally to save the design is just part of the creative process of playing with LEGO® bricks and yet another essential life skill we could all do with.

#4 Adventure and experimentation

Playing with LEGO® bricks offers a secure space in which to experiment, try things you’ve never tried – and sometimes fail. From the excitement of the initial idea to the disappointment when it doesn’t work out, creating the space to play around with ideas is exactly the sort of space needed for creative thinking and problem solving.

LEGO, 1960s
An LEGO advert dating back to the 1960s.

#5 Fine motor skills development

Perhaps it goes without saying, but we’ll say it anyway: the small, precise movements that need to be coordinated together when building with LEGO® bricks is what will help strengthen a child’s fine motor skills.

#6 Increases spatial awareness

When you’re given a blueprint of a construction you have to build, it’s your ability to think in 3D that is most tested. Why is this so important? Well, it is believed that spatial intelligence is a critical factor in your ability to think as an engineer, artist or architect. It’s the essential skill required to think in physical shapes.

#7 Better focus and concentration

It takes time to learn to settle and concentrate – for kids, learning to do this without feeling frustrated or pressured helps to create good associations with focus time. For adults, playing with LEGO® bricks can help you to put all the other life worries out of your mind in almost meditative fashion. In fact, immersion in LEGO® play helps with relaxation, and stress management, so make sure you get a regular fix!