You can get disposable, plastic action figures anywhere, but you can't deny that there's something just that little bit more special about a well-made toy that will last well beyond Christmas or the little tyke's birthday. Get the gifts at these specialty toy stores, then take the kids for a spin around Melbourne's best kid-friendly cafés. Strapped for cash? Check out our guide to cheap kids' activities in Melbourne.
Cute Melbourne toy stores
This tiny store makes excellent use of space, lining the walls with collectable dolls, teddies, golliwogs, miniature cars, soft toys, dollhouses and furniture. Dafel Dolls & Bears have been in the business since 1945 so they’re acquainted with all kinds of playthings, even offering an on-site toy doctor.
Be prepared for a nostalgia hit when you arrive at Geppetto’s Workshop — this store stocks the type of toys you’re only likely to see in Disney movies. Find marionette dolls, hand puppets and finger puppets, jack-in-the-boxes, kaleidoscopes and other collectables. It’s worth visiting just to experience its old-world charm, with puppets dangling from the ceiling just like in Pinocchio.
Packed with teddy bears, dolls and other stuffed toys, The Teddy Bear Shop is home to one of Melbourne’s largest stuffed toy collection. Stocking reputable brands such as Charlie Bears, Steiff, Hermann, Nici, Russ and Gund, it’s clear these guys take the teddy quite seriously. Each bear comes with a birth certificate upon purchase.
This family-owned shop is a hub of eco-friendly sweetness. Over ten years old, Honeybee Toys specialises in non-toxic and wooden toys sourced from sustainable European forests. From baby toys to dollhouses to trucks and scooters, it seems they’ve made an effort to cater for all ages of childhood. They also host an extensive online store.
KidStuff’s policy is that if the toy, game or puzzle doesn’t encourage the development of a child's mind, creativity and physical wellbeing, they will not stock it. They offer colourful and fun toys and games, including recognisable brands like LEGO, Meccano and Sylvanian Families and characters like Toy Story, Peppa Pig and Hello Kitty.
The shop formerly known as Small Dreams has moved to a bigger space (hence the name change) to accommodate their growing range of toys, clothing and other treasures for kids. The folks at Big Dreams are against the ‘often impersonal and prescriptive plastic toy range’ found in department stores. Instead, they support the idea of interactive play that also stimulates the imagination, as it feeds the developmental learning process. They avoid manufactured plastics, opting for natural wooden materials that educate kids during playtime.
The Tree Top Toy Shop values ethical and environmentally sustainable products that excite the imagination. Stock is displayed without the packaging so you can give your toy a test-run before buying. Expect to find puzzles, baby gifts, clothing, dress-ups, games and musical instruments.