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Magic Dragon Toys






Magic Dragon Toys - Traditional Wooden Toys, Rag Dolls, Educational Toys and Wooden Toddler Toys for Children from Birth to Nine.


Magic Dragon Toys is a family run company who supply the kind of toys you had as a child. Traditional toys of good quality, which have an educational value and are well manufactured. Their toy collection contains toys which are suitable for children from birth to around 9 years old. They choose manufacturers who make toys from ethical, sustainable sources. Toys that are made to have a minimum impact, on our environment. This means their toys are not made from plastic and are recyclable. Magic Dragon Toys are especially chosen to reflect the diverse and multi-cultural world we live in.

Here Digger talks to founder Lesley about the business. 




Digger:  Hello Lesley.

Lesley: Hello David.

Digger: Hoping youíre keeping warm?

Lesley: Bristolís been a bit strange. Parts of it are frosty and others donít look like thereís been any snow at all.

Digger: Shall I dive into the questions?... Can you please tell us a little of the background to Magic Dragon Toys?

Lesley: I was a head teacher in an inner city Bristol school.

Digger: That must have been challenging.

Lesley: Very.

Digger: Was that when you had to be as much of an administrator and manager as an educator?

Lesley: Yes. I did it for seventeen years. Parents were always interested in what to get their children, mainly because thereís a large asylum seekers and multi-cultural population in Bristol.

Digger: Yes, Bristol has always been very cosmopolitan hasnít it?

Lesley: Yes, well about 68% of my children had English as an additional language. Itís a very multi-cultural population and new parents, new arrivals, often didnít know what things to get. And Iíve always been interested in toys and childrenís learning and that sort of thing.

Digger: Thatís your excuse. (Both laugh) Iíve got a couple of surrogate grandchildren via my girlfriend and we go along to the school plays and what have you. Iíve seen how the teachers get at least as much fun out of them as the pupils. (Both laugh) So how important is it to you that these toys are environmentally friendly? Very I should imagine.

Lesley:  Yes, obviously, thatís why we started the business really because we were looking for toys for our grandchildren and at the time, this was about three years ago, there wasnít very much available.

Digger: People had missed a trick there. Thatís one of your Unique Selling Points really.

Lesley: Yes, and the other thing is we want to provide personal service and a lot of these big stores are so huge that you go in there and want to buy something and you canít find anyone who knows anything. (Laughs)

Digger: No, youíre right. I was talking to a lady who does reproduction vintage design clothing and she said thereís just no choice for anyone and everybody is getting fed up with the sameness of everything.

Lesley: Thatís right.

Digger: How significant is the nostalgia factor when customers are choosing toys for their children or grandchildren?

Lesley: Well I think people think back to their childhood and the sorts of things they enjoyed playing with and thatís the sort of experience they want to give to their children or grandchildren. The more traditional type toys are the sorts we sell. We sell very little thatís TV-inspired.

Digger: Good. Good for you Lesley.

Lesley: And we avoid plastic. So tactile toys and things that are going to appeal to children really.

Digger: I can still remember the feeling I had when I played with my favourite toys Ė a farm, a fort and a fire engine. What were your favourites as a child?

Lesley: I suppose things like Ė really old-fashioned, dolls and soft toys. And to be honest with you, thatís what children today go for.

Digger: Did you have a dollís house?

Lesley: Yes I did actually.

Digger: Shop bought or home made?

Lesley: No, it was shop bought but I think Dad had done things to it.

Digger: Heíd added electrics and plumbing?!

Lesley: Yes, Heíd added a few things.

Digger: Good old Dad. So what do you enjoy most about running the business?

Lesley: Although our business is online, we do have a fair bit of customer contact really and I like looking for new and innovative toys. I suppose weíre looking a lot to Europe, and if I could possibly buy from the UK and UK-designed stuff, I do. A fabulous company just the other side of Warminster called Tyme Again and they reproduce swords and shield and the sort of stuff you see in the heritage centres and National Trust properties. They hand-make everything there.

Digger: I know the sort of stuff you mean Ė like when I come out into the gift shop at Warwick Castle -  which was conveniently built by William The Conqueror when they built the castle. They do all those do they?

Lesley: Bows and arrows and also the historical bit so that you can get a plain shield and then add a transfer with mediaeval or Norman or whatever insignia on them.

Digger: There are lots of toys that arenít acceptable these days that we used to play with, are there? For example, you donít see bows and arrows and cowboys with guns. You just wouldnít see cowboys and Indians.

Lesley: I donít think thereís anything wrong with that myself. Children these days are very aware of stereotyping.

Digger: Are they?

Lesley: Yes, itís the sort of thing you talk to them about at school but I donít think thereís anything wrong with children playing with toys like bows and arrows as long as thereís a safe element to it. Iím not mad keen on guns I must admit Ė I mean, I didnít buy my children guns and itís not something I would encourage children to pay with really. But, generally speaking, kids are a lot more sensible than people give them credit for.

Digger: And than we were probably.

Lesley: Yes. I mean, what do children play with? At Christmastime theyíll play more with the boxes than they will with whatís in it.

Digger: Yes, I have seen that.

Lesley: As a toy retailer I suppose I shouldnít say that, actually. You donít need to spend much money on toys because thereís so much stuff you can use these days and children can have just as much enjoyment from toilet rolls, yoghourt pots and all the rest of it as they do from something thatís shop bought.

Digger: People take the Mickey out of me because I have so many early memories of my childhood, but I used to make a lot of models and things out of matches and cigarette butts and cardboardĖ disgusting really I suppose but I was almost encouraging my mum to smoke.

Lesley: Children will play with whateverís available and if thereís nothing there then theyíll invent something. I quite like seeing them playing with skipping ropes and when I was at school I would let them play conkers when it was the conker season. Youíd give them a little talk about what was sensible and give them the ground rules. But I think children will play with whatever they can lay their hands on and you can buy them the most expensive toys in the world and the thing theyíll play with is some old rabbit that theyíve had since they were two. What everyone goes for these days Ė back to your old-fashioned teddy bears, rabbits and that sort of stuff. Children love those sorts of things.

Digger: Do they still do that doggy on wheels?

Lesley: Yes, Iíve got one of those on my website.

Digger: Spinning tops?

Lesley: I havenít got any spinning tops in but I have seen a supplier. And the other thing I wanted to stock next year, and which I was really keen on, was some boats. You know that you sail in the park?

Digger: Yes, they were great.

Lesley: I have stocked stuff like paper aeroplane kits too.

Digger: I used to make those out of balsa wood.

Lesley: Thatís right, and thereís another manufacturer we use who does retro games and they do stuff like the trapeze monkeys. Did you see Not On The High Street - the last episode?

Digger: Yes.

Lesley: They had the toy shop and some of the toys they had in there were from a Somerset company and they also do things like Beetle Bingo and all that sort of thing. So Iím always looking for something thatís just a bit different.

Digger: Thereís a guy whoís doing Pelham Puppets.

Lesley: Yes, Pelham Puppets are still going. They were bought out Ė Iím not sure who by.

Digger: What are your best sellers?

Lesley: Well, anything to do with firemen, fire stations and that sort of thing. Fire engines Ė the wooden ones and weíve got a nice old London bus which is very popular. 




Digger: The Routemaster bus.

Lesley: Yes, and the other most popular item is our rag doll range. Weíve got the whole range and they all look like the little Raggedy Annie. In fact, we have quite a lot of adults buying them because they remember them from when they were little Ė you know, ďItís like the one I had.Ē

Digger: I was almost tempted to buy an old die cast truck the other day which reminded me of one I had when I was a kid. I remember my parents buying it for me on the motorway in the sixties and I loved that truck!

Lesley: The other thing thatís been really popular this year is a game called Amazing Magician. Itís a sort of magnetic game where you have this little figure and you ask it a question and it shoots round to the right answer.

Digger: I think I remember that from the old days as well.

Lesley: Yes, from the 1950s and I think it was called Confucius Says but I found a company that does a version of this retro game. I got ten in thinking I wasnít sure they would sell and they all went out the door before I could got them in. I think it was people buying them because they remembered them from when they were young and thinking ďOh yeah, I remember playing that.Ē  So I think there is a big nostalgia factor in toys.

Digger: And why not?

Lesley: Yes, absolutely.

Digger: What does The Internet mean to your business?

Lesley: We wouldnít have a business if it wasnít for The Internet. We are purely an online business.

Digger: A lot of overseas customers as well?

Lesley: Yes, all around the world. Russia, Latvia, Estonia. I think Russiaís the furthest place. Quite a bit from the States and increasingly weíre getting a bit of trade from Australia.

Digger: Very good.

Lesley: And The Internetís the only way you could reach a worldwide audience, couldnít you?

Digger: You come in and you have a few orders and a few enquiries in the morning?

Lesley: Iím running the business from home at the moment. Most people seem to shop at about 3:00 in the morning, Iíve noticed.

Digger: You donít want the machine beeping at you when an email comes in at that time of the day.

Lesley: Youíre right. I switch it on in the morning and the orders are waiting to get packing and wrapping.

Digger: Thatís great. Where do you see the future for Magic Dragon Toys?

Lesley: I want to extend the range, really. Weíve just revamped our website and are spinning that forward in January. Itís got some more swanky features like a proper search facility on it so people can find toys a lot easier and itís got a pre-checkout. The front of it stays the same but the way it all works is better. Youíve got to take into account things like safety with data protection. Weíre also going to have a Paypal facility on there because a lot of people want to pay that way.

Digger: It seems to be the way forward.

Lesley: Then we have links to a Magic Dragon Facebook page and we Twitter too.

Digger: Have you got a lot of followers?

Lesley: (Laughs) Yes, weíve got a few followers.

Digger: It makes sense to be on those if youíre selling something.

Lesley: Itís just a question of remembering to Twitter and knowing what to say. Actually we get quite a lot of customers driven through the Facebook page, and we sell on Amazon as well so we get a lot of feedback that way.

Digger: Excellent. Thanks Lesley. Itís funny how things have developed. When I was in IT up until the nineties, people used to accuse us of using jargon and using machines that they didnít understand. And now everyone uses the same sorts of technology and the sort of jargon we were using. Nobody had heard of eBay when I was first using it in the nineties.

Lesley: Funny isnít it?

Digger: And now we all totally rely on The Internet and computers.

Lesley: I have an eBay shop for Magic Dragon but Iíve also got one called Spice Cook which is for curry kits.

Digger: Great, I'm all for diversity.

Lesley: Yes, well the Spice Cook Ė that just popped into my head one day because I thought people are always cooking curries. My parents came from Burma in the early fifties but I was born in this country and so we were always eating food that was totally different from everybody else. I didnít realise when I was at school that everybody didnít eat what I ate. So since then thereís a whole curry culture and I thought Iíd stock ready-done curry kits Ė a number of varieties of them. And then we just branched out selling kitchen bits and pieces really. But Magic Dragon is our main businesses.

Digger: Magic Dragon could be the name of a company that does curries as well.

Lesley: Yes, it could be.

Digger: Maybe you should become the Pataks of the west country?

Lesley: (Laughs) I think I missed the boat on that one.

Digger: Well, if you could get some kind of USP?... Think of Reggae Reggae Sauce. We love our comfort foods.

Lesley: Do you know, itís so interesting because I found a supplier that does chicken curry and that sort of thing and I stuck them on the site and theyíve been flying out the door interestingly which I didnít think they would do. And also lots of people abroad are buying curry kits Ė all around the world really. Because theyíre small and theyíll fit in an envelope and they donít cost a lot to postÖ

Digger: That sounds promising for the future. Iím very impressed. You are literally an entrepreneur.

Lesley: (Laughs) After seventeen years of running a school I just came out with ideas from my head and I thought ďI canít do anything to do with education.Ē But itís in my veins.

Digger: I think sometimes all the stuff youíve done before is in preparation for what youíre doing now. And also, as you said, you couldnít have done this until The Internet came along. The other skills youíve developed have helped and now is the right time. Good for you.

Lesley: Take care David.

Digger: Keep warm!

Lesley: And you. Bye.†



Magic Dragon Toys sell a wide range of high quality toys that focus on educational value, traditional values and fair trade

Magic Dragon Toys is a family run company. We supply the kind of toys you had as a child. Traditional toys of good quality, which have an educational value and are well manufactured. Our toy collection contains toys which are suitable for children from birth to around 9 years old.

We choose manufacturers who make toys from ethical, sustainable sources. Toys that are made to have a minimum impact, on our environment. This means our toys are not made from plastic and are recyclable. Magic Dragon Toys are especially chosen to reflect the diverse and multi-cultural world we live in.

Every toy is considered individually by Magic Dragon Toys, before we stock them. All our toys are hand picked for their quality, affordability and durability. As you would expect, all our toys are CE marked for safety. Every toy has a special magic of its own and are the toys we buy for our grandchildren.

Telephone Number Sales: 0117 9763 557


5 The Wicketts,






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