Remember those days when having the latest action figure or owning the most beautiful doll was the biggest thing in the universe? Of course you do. You were a child, like every other human being. And children, unlike many things in the world, haven’t change that much. They still want the same thing – toys.
Of course, back in my day, I was happy that my plastic He-Man had a metal spring in its arm so it would push it forward once pressed. Today, modern figures talk, walk and occasionally fly to the ceiling. As time goes on, some of them will probably start to think, and maybe even seek careers in politics. But until then, we should treat them as toys. That’s what this article is about.
We know that your inner child is anxious for us to get to the point. So here we go. In the following lines, we will introduce you to Croatian toys – their brands, history and why your kids will love them (or you personally, for that matter).
Kukutre is a Croatian store specialized in baby necessities. This includes milk bottles, potties and, last but not least – designer toys! Yep, you read that right. Croatian designers actually make toys. For example, studio REC from Split created their own line of stuffed toys called Zubeki (small teeth). These cute little monsters are made from 100% recycled material and come in a variety of sizes.
Somewhere City is a series of 6 animal dolls, as imagined by designer Goran Lelas. Parts of these toys can be removed and mixed with other dolls, so children can make their own combinations of animal life. Imagine little por Oink Le Rouge having the tail of cat Lua Una Oy and the trunk of elephant Memo Wee! Now, that’s playing with genes! At the time of writing this, Kukutre is offering a 40% discount on Somewhere City’s special bundle (all 6 dolls can be bought for 248.40 HRK / 32.74 €).
Little Horse and Baby Beuys is a designer studio run by Maja and Mejra Mujicic. Kukutre offers their line of toys called Zecevi (Rabbits). These stuffed forest dwellers have ears, arms and legs of considerable size. The children can tie them up together, and wear rabbits as a fashion detail on their clothes. Every rabbit is unique, made from Japanese cotton and features antique buttons.
For puzzle lovers out there, Marko Pavlovic’s Oblo won several designer awards, including gold at International Design Excellence Awards and the one given by the Croatian Designers Association. In essence it’s a three-dimensional puzzle in the shape of a sphere. Children playing with Oblo develop motor skills and hand-eye coordination. It’s produced by Canadian company Great Circle Works.
Professor Balthazar and Lapitch, the Little Shoemaker
These are well-known characters from Croatian animated movies, and each of them has their own toy-line of various products.
Professor Balthazar cartoons were made in the seventies, but the character is still a recognizable face even to newer generations. As the story goes, Balthazar is a good-hearted professor who uses the marvels of science to help his fellow citizens in various sorts of (usually uncommon) trouble. You can see what science looks like in Balthazar town on DVD, and also buy numerous other Balthazar products at this site.
Shoemaker Lapitch is another animated character from Croatia. It all began in 1913 when author Ivana Brlic-Mazuranic wrote a novel “The Brave Adventures Of Hlapic,” telling the story of a young shoemaker apprentice and his good deeds. Almost a century later, director Milan Blazekovic made a full-length animated film based on the book. He added some slight changes (for example, Lapitch became a mouse) but the message remained the same.
In terms of viewership, it is country’s most successful production up to date, partly thanks due to the Disney Channel premiering the movie to US children in the year 2000. Hlapic, or Croatia’s Mickey Mouse, if you will, has a broad range of toys and things kiddies love. They can all be ordered at Hlapic.net
Lovers of dungeons and dragons, rejoice. We are over with polite scientists and mouse shoemakers. Let’s talk about something for slightly bigger children.
Readers of our site are probably quite familiar with the legend of the dreaded Black Queen and her dark reign at Medvedgrad. This ancient tale served as an inspiration to Vladimir Sterle, a graphic designer from Zagreb. He constructed a boardgame called “Maldoria.” In it, players take the roles of fearless explorers who sought the treasures of the Black Queen, only to be lost in the mysterious underworld of Medvedgrad. Soon, these people learn they are not alone, as evil beings guard the treasure, and try to stop the explorers from escaping.
Toys of Croatian Zagorje
The region of Zagorje is known for many loveable things, including a number of large castles on its territory. But few know that the county’s traditional toys made it to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The custom of toy manufacture dates back to the 19th century. Maple, willow, beech or linden wood is usually processed by male, but colored by female hands. There are over 50 distinguishable designs, including animals, vehicles, dolls and musical instruments.
These toys can be bought in Zagorje (naturally) but also on the marketplaces of Zagreb (such as Dolac).
So, have we awoken the inner child in you? If yes, wait no more. Book your trip for Croatia, and let the games begin!