Jaques of London Wooden Toy Review: from toddlers to adults

(AD) One windy day in the summer we stopped by the beach for a few hours. The frisbee I had brought for my children was flying a little too well in the breeze making it difficult to play with. I looked at the family next to us with a little jealousy, they were playing with a beautiful wooden Kubb set. I didn’t understand the rules at all, but I was impressed with their whole family was playing without worrying about it blowing away in the wind and I noticed the Jaques of London logo on it. I went straight on the website to check it out.

Jaques of London was established in 1795 making them the oldest games and sports manufacturer in the world. They sell a great range of indoor and outdoor toys. They have been around so long they are responsible for popularising many of the games we think of as classics like Croquet, Snakes and Ladders and Snap. I received a selection of games to review.

A toddler smiling over the top of a pile of 3 cardboard boxes he is holding. The boxes are wrapped in black ribbon with Jaques branding on
We received a great selection of toys and games to review

Classic Wooden Toys

Review: 15 inch Folding Chess Set by Jaques of London 

Item No. 51155

Both my partner and I enjoyed playing chess when we were younger, but despite all the games we have in the house neither of us owned a chess board so I knew straight away that it would be one of my top picks from Jaques. We received a beautiful folding chess set made from walnut and sycamore with the pieces in the natural colour of the wood rather than painted. It is described as a travel set, and although smaller than a tournament size chessboard, at around 38cm it definitely isn’t travel size, rather it’s a description of how it can be handily folded in half and all the pieces stored inside.

The Staunton chess pieces are hand carved wood with a baize base which prevents slipping. The King as tallest of the chess pieces is nearly 8cm tall and the pawns are 3.5cm. Each square on the board is around 4cm squared. The board is smooth and hinged down the middle so that, when opened, the board looks almost seamless. The folding design makes the chess set much more practical to store. 

When folded in half the board forms a box to store the pieces. On the back of each half of the board there are 16 spaces to store the chess pieces.  The pieces are secured in place by elastic thread woven in and out of the fabric lining.

The board is delivered inside a cardboard box and wrapped in old newsprint style paper, like all Jaques items there is a notecard inside to say who it has been packaged by. There is also a brief rule book to get beginners started or to remind players of the starting positions, how the pieces can be moved and the aim of the game.

Chess is a great game for teaching strategy, problem solving and logic.  I am looking forward to teaching my children how to play with this beautiful chess set that is bound to be passed down through generations.

Opening a Jaques chess set wrapped up in paper and with a packaged by note from Daisy
Each item is packaged in a brown cardboard box tied up with ribbon

The chess pieces held in place by elastic in side the chess board
The folding chess board opens up to reveal all the pieces securely tidied away

a 10 year old girl in black top about to start playing chess
I'm looking forward to playing chess with my daughter with the hand carved wooden pieces

Close up of the Jaques of London folding chess board
The chess set from Jaques is a great space saving wooden design

Toddler and Preschooler Wooden Toy Gift Ideas

Review: Magnetic Crane Truck by Jaques of London

Item number: 89823

The Jaques Magnetic Crane Truck is a great size for little hands. Made from 100% FSC approved wood and part painted in bright and durable water based paint this is a toy that looks great and provides hours of fun.

The toy is made up of a lorry with a crane on it and a trailer which holds four coloured blocks. Both the front of the lorry and the trailer have four wooden wheels so they balance and can be pushed along independently or hooked together. This toy has been carefully thought out to maximise the learning potential and play ability. Each block is a different colour and has a different fruit on it. The hinged crane has a magnet which can lift the blocks on and off the trailer introducing the concept of magnets and forces. The four rectangular blocks fit in the trailer multiple ways making it really easy for toddlers to load. 

My son loves this toy. The magnetic crane and blocks add a dimension to the toy that is unlike any of the other vehicles he owns. He loves to deliver the blocks to different play houses and drive off. The cab of the lorry itself is open and has a steering wheel in a fixed position. It is a good size for being able to put play characters in there so they can drive the truck.

A close up of the Jaques Magnetic Crane Truck with blocks
The truck is made from FSC approved wood and painted with water based paint

A toddler reaching for a coloured block which he is about to put on a wooden toy lorry
My toddler loves delivering the parcels and taking them on and off the trailer

Review: Wooden Car Park by Jaques of London

Item number 96101

The Wooden Car Park from Jaques is made up of four plastic ramps, a detachable plastic car park at the top and six cars. I have seen similar toys before described as car ramps or click clack tracks. The Jaques version is bright and colourful with the attention to detail I have come to expect from the company. 

Each ramp is a different colour and the sides of the toy are painted with a bright and visually stimulating race track. The small cars have four wheels each and can move either way up. Each one is painted a different colour and has a number on as well as saying “Jaques”. The cars and frame of the garage are made from FSC approved wood and painted with durable water based paint. It all feels very solid and able to survive the standard rough toddler level of play.

This is such a simple toy. In essence you just push a car off the platform at the top and watch as it goes down the ramps, but the appeal to toddlers is huge. My son has started to show an interest in marble runs, but he can’t build them properly yet and he tends to knock them over regularly. This toy has the same appeal to him, but without me having to do the constant rebuilding which is a definite win for me.

We have been playing with the toy and practicing colour recognition with the cars. When he is a bit older we will also be able to work on number recognition. So far he has only used it as a standalone toy, but it can easily fit in as part of a town set up. While playing together we have practiced turn taking and positioning the cars helps with fine motor skill development. 

This is a great toy for toddlers although the individual cars are small (about an inch long) so if they still put a lot of toys in their mouths keep a close watch while they are playing. It works well on carpet, but as the cars are so mobile and flat they might disappear under furniture on smoother surfaces.

a toddler about to put a blue car on the wooden car park toy from Jaques
The car park toy consists of 6 cars which roll down 4 ramps

Bright car park ramp toy being played with
The bright and colourful toy is surprisingly engaging for toddlers

Review: Kid’s Toolkit and Bench Wooden Construction Toy by Jaques of London

Item number: 90253

This construction toy is recommended for children three years and upwards so it’s aimed at a slightly older age group than the other wooden toys we received. My son is just turning three and he enjoys playing with the tools and taking the bench apart, but he doesn’t yet have the planning ability or coordination to rebuild it.

The Let’s Play Kid's Construction Bench comes as an assembled work bench under 30 cm wide and about 15cm tall. There is also the back of the workbench to be screwed on which has four slots on it for the wooden tools: a hammer, spanner, screwdriver and 15cm ruler.

Other than the back of the workbench and the tray at the bottom the whole thing can be taken to pieces by taking out the chunky wooden screws. Younger children will love to do this by hand, older children will be able to use the tools. 

The screws can be hammered through the holes (although they are a fairly lose fit anyway). They stay in place by being screwed into a square or cube shaped bolt. Fingers, the screwdriver or the spanner can be used for this.

This is a toy that really grows with your child. As they develop better motor control, planning and understanding of mechanics they will be more able to rebuild the tool bench and also able to put it together in other ways. This would be a good present for a three year old and they may enjoy playing with it for several years.

A toddler looking over the top of the wooden construction toy workbench
The construction bench toy is recommended for children 3 years and up

toddler tightening a wooden screw with a wooden screwdriver
The set comes with tools to take the bench apart and reassemble it

a toddler taking the Jaques of london wooden construction bench to pieces
The workbench can be taken totally to pieces

toddler looking at the instructions for the construction bench
Keep the construction bench instructions handy incase you forget how it all goes back together

Why Buy From Jaques of London?

This is a company with a long history that cares about it’s reputation. Where possible wood is sustainably sourced and minimal plastic is used in the toys that are built to last. Of the items I received only the car park had a significant level of plastic in it.

Each toys comes packaged in a brown cardboard box and hand tied with a black ribbon making them a joy to open and handy for storage too.

There is an absolutely huge range of toys and games available on the Jaques of London website and you can get 15% off with their latest discount code available here.

A toddler playing with wooden toy gifts from Jaques of London
My toddler loved the bright, solid and well made toys from Jaques of London

***Disclosure this post is part of a paid collaboration with Jaques, but all thoughts are my own***

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