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Kids can roleplay climate change action in their own sustainable House of Commons thanks to Playpress Toys

Wed 05 Jan 2022 | 10:39 am GMT
Rob Hutchins | Products of Change Writer

Playpress has partnered with the Houses of Parliament to launch its new sustainable House of Commons play-set

Children can now debate climate change action within the walls of their very own House of Commons, thanks to a new partnership between the Houses of Parliament and the independent sustainable toy business, Playpress Toys. As a means of bringing awareness of and exposure to the UK’s parliamentary system to children from a younger age, the new House of Commons play set will enable children to role play the kind of debates that play out within the institution on an almost daily basis. With likely far less squabbling. The play-set is the latest launch from the award-winning independent and family run toy business, Playpress Toys, a team that has made a name for itself within the UK toy industry for delivering sustainably made, press out construction kits based on some of the most interesting brands and organisations to land in the children’s sector.
The House of Commons play-set comes with its own press out Chancellor of the Exchequer and Speaker of the House of Commons, as well as the Mace carried by the Serjeant at Arms
It was last year that Playpress Toys took home a Play Innovators Award for its RNLI licensed lifeboat construction kit, while the firm had previously found success in a partnership with French Ocean Rescue, Greenwich, and now most recently, the House of Commons. The company has launched some rather more traditionally themed play-sets such as its Farmyard Eco Friendly Playset or its Savannah Animals Eco Friendly Playset, and is no stranger to mainstream licensing thanks to its partnership with Magic Light Pictures for its Gruffalo Eco Friendly Playset, but says there tends to be ‘a mutual attraction’ between the business and some of the more leftfield projects. “We are bringing our own slant to it,” Playpress Toys’ Melvin Wright tells Products of Change. “Kids learn through all sorts of play, so it is fun making things that perhaps would not normally be seen as toys. Plus, we are small enough to be ultra-nimble and make things quickly, and make them fun, interesting and challenging.” Working ‘hand in glove’ with its partners when developing these licensed lines, Playpress Toys takes pride in the relationships it fosters with brand owners, especially when the pair share a mutual respect for the environment and a desire to do right by it in the products that are developed. It's why the House of Commons play-set incorporates details intrinsic to the UK's parliamentary system, including a Chancellor of the Exchequer, a Speaker of the House of Commons, and the Mace as carried by the Serjeant at Arms. “Our very detailed approach is intended to absolutely respect the brand and provide as much detail as possible,” says Wright. “Every quality brand wants to protect and enhance it, and we hope we do that. We regard working with the brands as essential – not just contractually, but because we end up with a much better product. Sitting down and going through every detail adds greatly to the end result.” Having been tapped by the Houses of Parliament to develop the play-set to join its growing portfolio of branded toys and games, Playpress Toys set about drawing up the plans of a press out kit that adhered to the toy firm’s rule of thumb – to be as sustainable as possible. “Sustainability and our own eco credentials are at the heart of what we want to be and have been the guiding principles from day one,” says Wright. “Our aim is to get better and better. We even pack everything to reduce space and materials. We have sacrificed the marketing advantage of the ‘big box on the shelf’ to uphold this. “In fact, where possible, the packaging has to be an integral part of the product, so many of our sets have 3d scenes that are fully integrated, or the pack turns into a neat box to store it.”
Like its RNLI and Gruffalo play-sets, the House of Commons kit is made from materials sourced from sustainably managed forests in Finland.
And that’s not all the company does to ensure its sustainability. This is a firm that sources its materials from sustainable wood in Finland, manufactures in the UK to reduce air miles, and even uses vegetable-based inks across its printing. However, the independent team remain humble and aware that to continue to push the message of sustainability within the toy space, Playpress Toys will need to remain at the forefront of innovation and design to continue to incorporate environmental awareness into the DNA of its products. “We want to keep being innovative,” says Wright. “We want people to buy from us for both our sustainable stance as well as simply because our toys are just great fun. We are always asking, what part of our product can be more sustainable and just as good, if not better, quality? “I remember our first stickers looked great but had a plastic coating, so we switched to 100 per cent paper and they look just as good but the sets are easier to open and it is less likely to rip the packaging – so that was a positive for change on all counts. “We have also taken the view that if and when something is finished with, it can be composted and recycled. Of course, we want our toys to be enjoyed and played with, and then leave as little trace as possible when they come to the end of their use. “If people do want to keep or collect them, they will, of course, last like any other wood fibre-based product. However, we understand that the majority of toys have a natural life cycle, and while our sets are durable, we don’t want them to be around in 10,000 years’ time sitting in an ocean or landfill.” Playpress Toys’ new House of Commons play-set will launch exclusively with the Houses of Parliament’s online shop later this year, positioned not only as a toy for children but “as an alternative to a post card, a greeting card, or even a Christmas card.” Meanwhile, the toy firm is beginning to pick up traction outside of the UK in a development that Wright bills simply as “interesting.” “We think there are potentially some 500 or more House of Common-heritage-type products out there ready for us to make, and we hope to work with some great places, establishments, and national institutions across the EU,” he says. “We are already in discussion with a few of them. We won’t be standing still on this.”
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