From rocking horses covered in over 82,000 Swarovski crystals to £25,000 doll’s houses, a new documentary meets the craftsmen and inventors creating toys for the children of Britain’s super-rich.
I thought my boys were going to do all right for presents this Christmas. Not from me, obviously, but from their mum, and their grandparents. Older one is getting a bike (it’s OK, he won’t see, he’s not a Guardian reader). We’ve decided that one day he’s going to win the Tour de France, though at the moment it looks as if he’s going to need a lot of very good drugs. The younger one is getting an electronic keyboard; he’s going to be a very successful popstar. Plus, there are a couple of small things – toy bus, whoopie cushion, etc. Less than the national average, which, says the programme, is £500 per child, the second highest in the world. But not too bad, no?
But after watching The World’s Most Expensive Toys (Channel 4) I’m suddenly feeling inadequate. Should I not be getting them a beautiful rocking horse, hand-carved and hand-dappled by Mark in Kent? He’s had actual current pop stars buying them, and royalty, and Alan Shearer. Yes, I can see Shearer on a rocking horse, hand up like his goal celebration: yee-haw. One of Mark’s rocking horses costs £12,000. Should we get a family car, or a rocking horse for the kids?
Unless you go for the one that has been encrusted with Swarovski crystals, which will set you back £80,000. Real Ferrari for Daddy, or a rocking horse for the kids? Latin dancers Nuno and Rebecca bought one of Mark’s horses and spent a lot of time and money sticking 82,000 crystals on it. Now they are trying to sell it, not very successfully. Maybe people think eighty grand is a bit steep for a toy.
Nuno and Rebecca drive their sparkle horse – plus a crystallised zebra – to a mall in Monaco, hoping a passing oligarch will snap them up for the yacht. Would you want a rocking horse on a yacht, though? Would that not be too much rocking? Perhaps they would cancel each other out and you would end up staying still.
Alternatively, how about a doll’s house? Like this one called Walton Park, with a posh doll’s house lady called Lucinda to show us round. There’s a parquet floor, real marble, miniature artworks. And a miniature posh family: Daddy, who’s probably in finance, and a glamorous mummy with a Prada handbag. “Who knows, she might have a job as well,” says Lucinda, modernly, before adding: “Traditionally, our mothers don’t work.” Lucinda wanted them to look like their clients, “who are invariably very beautiful”.
Oh, and there’s even a darling little below-stairs area, with a housekeeper doing the ironing in the laundry room. She’s not very beautiful. “I didn’t want a pretty house keeper – Mummy might get jealous,” explains Lucinda. No, quite. She – the housemaid – is still singing, though. La la la, I’m an ugly servant, working underground, la la la. Ahhh, isn’t it adorable?
It’s not just fun, but also reassuring, and familiar to the lucky little girl who will get Walton Park for Christmas, plus it will help prepare her for living in her own full-size version, with a real housekeeper, one day. Or the little boy, of course. But if I am going to get this for mine, I would have to have some alterations to make it recognisable to them as a house. Fewer rooms, less marble, more mess, Mummy with a Lidl bag, Daddy slouched on the sofa watching football, probably weeping. As it is, Walton Park costs £22,500. A doll’s house for the kids, or a real house in County Durham, perhaps for the ugly housekeeper to retire to when she’s too old to go on ironing and singing? With change for a stairlift perhaps.
To be honest, my boys are quite old-fashioned boys (probably because of gender stereotypes imposed on them by their old-fashioned parents). I think they would prefer a car to a doll’s house. And here’s one they can actually drive: hand-built, battery operated, with a top speed of 20mph. Price: £30,000, but imagine how pleased they would be, and how jealous it would make their friends. But then I also do like this $75,000 (£61,000) bespoke, landscaped, model car track that Jim in Detroit has had built for his games room. Are you sure that’s for the kids, Jim, or is it really for you?
You know what, I think I’m going to get it all, just to be on the safe side, and because I love my children and I want them to love me back. You, on the other hand, may feel that all the above is disgusting, vulgar and immoral. And that it would be better to give even a tiny percentage of that money to child refugees. Happy Christmas.
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