Fun Ho! National Toy Museum, Inglewood
Slightly off the beaten tourist track is the small New Zealand town of Inglewood, in the province of Taranaki. It’s a popular destination for youngsters of all ages who appreciate toys with oodles of character, because this is the home of the quaintly-named Fun Ho! National Toy Museum. The building in the centre of town is easy to spot – it’s the one with a fire engine parked on the roof. The vehicle’s complement of firefighters sit bolt upright, immobile but alert, ready for the call of duty.
The museum presents the complete history of the locally-produced Fun Ho! brand of hand-made aluminium sand-cast toys, plus other New Zealand made toys, with about 3000 items on display. A car racetrack and a model railway have child-level push-buttons to get things moving.
For over 40 years untold numbers of New Zealand children grew up with Fun Ho!’s rugged little models which come up smiling even after lengthy spells of being lost in the back garden. Tractors, trucks, cars, planes, trains and many other miscellaneous toys are fondly remembered. This is dairy farming country, and the budding young cow cockie (translation: dairy farmer) could find everything he or she needed in the way of equipment.
The foundry adjacent to the museum is still in working order, and visiting groups can watch the curator/toymaker demonstrate his craft (bookings required). With sand being an essential part of the process, what better place to install a sandpit where, at non-working times, the little ones can play while older members of the family inspect the machinery.