Categories
Shopping Toys

Tamiya Kuwait Shop Online

I’m a huge Tamiya fan even though I haven’t put together a Tamiya model in years. But, I recently found out that we have an online Tamiya store here in Kuwait which I’m tempted to impulse buy from.

They don’t have a huge collection of cars, but it’s a fairly decent one especially if you aren’t looking for anything specific. Prices are also higher than prices online but similar if you include shipping. They also have a large selection of paints and tools as well to help you with the build.

I don’t think I’m going to order anything even though I want to, this would have been perfect during the covid lockdowns but I don’t think I have the time or patience for it anymore. If you’re interested though their website is q8tamiya.com

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Toys

Eissa & Jude’s Wooden Toys Made in Kuwait

Eissa & Jude is a small local husband and wife business dedicated to creating high-quality wooden toys to inspire mindful play. Because they’re a local brand, the wooden toys are inspired by everything we grew up with in our unexplored desert. I posted about them when they first launched in early 2021, but since then, they’ve launched their online shop, added a lot more toys to their collection, and have exploded in popularity.

Recently they showcased their toys at the Nuremberg International Toy Fair, the largest international trade fair for toys and games. They were the first Kuwaiti toy company to showcase there, which is a pretty big deal since it’s a lot of international exposure.

Their toys are created, designed, and produced in Kuwait by local talent at a beautiful family farm. Check them out @eissa_jude and eissa-jude.com

Categories
Shopping Toys

New LEGO Store

The LEGO store at The Avenues moved to a new larger location closer to the food court, the same location where Tim Hortons (RIP) used to be.

Judging by the photos, it doesn’t seem to be that much larger than the older space, but the storefront is definitely bigger and since it’s on a corner, the space looks more inviting with all the glass windows. The store officially opens later tonight.

Update: Just got the press release and it seems the new store isn’t larger than the older one, just a different location with a new look. There is a replica of the Kuwait Towers made using 21,591 LEGO bricks, a LEGO magnifying glass that allows you to view a model in detail, and there are hands-on play opportunities.

Categories
50s to 90s Information Kuwait Toys

Kids’r’us, 1983 – 1993

For the past few weeks, I’ve been preoccupied researching, interviewing, and scanning photos related to Kids ‘r’ us and I think I’m finally ready to share all my findings. For those of you too young to remember, Kids ‘r’ us was a huge and very popular toy store that opened in Kuwait (Dajeej) back in the early 80s. They later opened smaller locations around Kuwait including one in the old Salmiya souq which was popular after the 1990 invasion. A few weeks ago I got a comment under one of my old posts from a person called Khaled Al-Qutub saying he was part of the original team that opened Kids ‘r’ us. So right away I got in touch with him by email and later by Whatsapp to get his story. Here is everything I’ve managed to gather over the past few weeks.

Background
Firstly let’s get some background information out of the way. Kids’r’us was not an imitation of Toys “R” Us nor was it inspired by it. Kids’r’us was Toys “R” Us. Why we have a different name, logo and mascot isn’t very clear, from what I was told they wanted to create a new more relatable brand for the Middle East, but if that was the case then why would you go with a koala bear for a mascot and not say a camel or another animal from our region? Alghanim was granted a limited right to open Toys “R” Us stores (Kids R Us) in Kuwait and 13 other countries located in and around the Middle East that included Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, United Arab Emirates and Yemen (source). From 1982 to December 1993, Alghanim opened four toy stores, all in Kuwait. Kids R Us lost over 2 million Dinars over the 11-year period from 1982 to 1993, and turned a profit only in one year of this period. (source).

The Begining
Khaled Al-Qutub was a Jordanian expat born in Kuwait back in 1964. Like many of the original Kids’r’us employees, he was young when he joined the team. According to Khaled, they were around 25 employees and 6 managers that helped launch Kids’r’us (most pictured above). When they joined and visited the store for the first time it was completely empty with just tiles and columns. Over the next months, they had to install all the gondolas (what they call the store shelves), receive the containers, and unload items into the warehouse and onto the shelves. The store was composed of three floors. The warehouse was located in the basement and was 2,500sqm, the main store was on the ground floor and was also 2,500sqm, and there was a small 500sqm mezzanine floor that originally held offices but later got turned into a buy-as-is damaged goods area. The original location is still in Dajeej, it’s now where Sears is located.

Two or three guys from Toys R Us (USA) came to Kuwait to train the Kids R Us staff. They brought floor layouts with them and showed the staff where to put everything. When the toys arrived in the containers they had Toys”r”us labels on them.

Dabdoub
One day while they were busy setting up the store Khaled got called into the office by the manager back then, Rawi Alkhatib, and his deputy Amal Haddad. They had gotten delivery of a large blue box that morning and it was now in the office and they asked Khaled to open it. That was when he saw the dabdoub costume for the very first time. It was huge! Khaled was told that he would be dabdoub and was given some basic set of rules to follow, feel free to do whatever you want to make the kids happy, but you’re not allowed to make a sound or talk. Later after Khaled left Kids’r’us other people took over the job, but he was the original mascot.

The Opening
Before the store opened the employees went around giving out bumper stickers to people on the street telling them about Kids’r’us. A while back I found some newspaper ads for the opening and you can see one of them above.

Kids ‘r’ us officially opened on November 10th, 1983 it was considered to be the largest toy store in the region at that time with over 10,000 toys. According to Khaled, the first day was crazy with thousands of people, families, and children all visiting the store. You couldn’t move inside.

The Work Environment
Khaled only stayed with Kids’r’us for 2 or 3 years and then left. After talking to him I realized I might be able to find other Kids’r’us employees who might also have information and photos to share with me. So I did the most basic thing, I searched LinkedIn. I wasn’t expecting to find anyone but somehow I did, I found another Khaled, Khaled Saqer.

Khaled Saqer joined Kids’r’us around the same time Khaled Al-Qutub left and one thing I found fascinating is how both of them talked so highly about their experience working at Kids’r’us. The Kids’r’us managers must have been really great because the work environment seemed incredibly fun. All the employees were similarly aged, and all with similar mindsets. According to Khaled Saqer they all used to play football together and they used to even come into the store on their off days just to hang out in the back.

Khaled told me he was part of a Whatsapp group with around 14 ex-employees who were still in touch with each other which I was invited to join for research. It’s a group where they shared old photos they come across of Kids’r’us, but mostly it’s just like every other Whatsapp group where they share random videos and memes. During the Gulf War everyone ended up leaving to different places and since then over the years they’ve been slowly reconnecting and finding each other. For example, I ended up connecting them to Khaled Al-Qutub who is now part of their ex-employees Whatsapp group.

Not a lot of them have any photos from back when they used to work there except for Khaled Saqer. Not only did he have photos, but he also had documents and sketches all archived in an old photo album. He even still has his uniform. Khaled was one of the lucky employees to get training in the US, Alghanim sent him to Toys”R”Us in Atlanta for three months where he learned everything and came back and applied it to the store. Most of the photos I was able to gather were from him.

The Demise of Kids’r’us
As I mentioned at the start of the post, Kids’r’us wasn’t a profitable business. During the 1990 Iraqi invasion the Dajeej store was looted and burnt down and after the war, it was never restored. Alghanim also never ended up fulfilling their end of the deal with Toys”R”Us, so in 1993 when the contract was up for renewal, Toys”R”Us handed over the franchise rights to the UAE group Al-Futtaim. But, Toys”R”Us made a mistake and handed over the franchise a bit earlier than they should have so Alghanim took them to court for breach of their agreement, and on July 11, 1996, the arbitrator awarded Alghanim $46.44 million for lost profits (source).

So that’s the story of Kids’r’us. I’ve uploaded all the photos and documents including the floor plans for the Dajeej store to my Flickr account so they’re available to download in high resolution. You can check them all out by clicking here.

Categories
50s to 90s Toys Video Games

Retro City Arcades is Back

Retro City, the arcade place that opened back in 2020 inside Boulevard Mall relocated a couple of months ago to a new location. They’re still inside Boulevard Mall but they’ve moved to a larger space on the top floor instead. They’re across from Fantasy World, on the opposite end of the mall from Sultan Center.

Retro City also carries some toys and figurines from old-school cartoons like Grendizer, Masters of the Universe and Thundercats. If you’re into retro gaming and cartoons, their Instagram is @retrocitykw

Categories
50s to 90s Toys

Kids ‘r’ us Opening Newspaper Ads

A couple of weeks ago while flipping through an old newspaper I accidently found a Kids ‘r’ us 1-year anniversary ad. So right away I thought to myself, if I go back one year then I’ll most likely find the original opening ads, and I did! I found the pre-opening ads, the grand opening ad, and a few more and uploaded them all onto Flickr to be downloaded freely in full resolution.

Kids ‘r’ us officially opened on November 10th, 1983. According to the ads it was the largest toy store in the region at that time with over 10,000 toys. The original store was located in Dajeej near where Sears is right now. That location was destroyed during the 1990 invasion but post-invasion they had a smaller store in old Salmiya where Xcite is at the moment. Kids ‘r’ us was an Alghanim Industries concept, the same Alghanim that has Xcite and Chevrolet today.

If you want to check all the ads out, click here.

Categories
Toys

Eissa & Jude – Sustainable Wooden Toys Made in Kuwait

Eissa & Jude is a small local husband and wife business dedicated to creating high-quality wooden toys to inspire mindful play. They’re representing the Gulf so the wooden toys are inspired by everything they grew up with in our unexplored desert. I like the aesthetics of wooden toys and I like how it’s made locally and related to our environment although for realism sake, I would add some wooden cutouts of garbage bags in an effort to represent Kuwait’s desert more accurately.

Eissa & Jude don’t have an online store yet but they are currently available at the children’s pop-up store Bonboni’s in Salmiya. Check out their Instagram account for more photos and details @eissa_jude

Categories
50s to 90s Toys

GTM Comics Instagram Shop

There are a lot of collectors in Kuwait but a lot fewer people willing to sell what they have. GTM Comics is the Instagram account for a local comic book and toy collector called Mishari AlReshaid who actually sells some of his stuff. He has vintage comics, action figures from the 80s, old lunch boxes from the 80s, some new release collectibles and a bunch of other things. You can check out his store on Instagram @gtmcomics_shop

Categories
50s to 90s Toys

Super Robots – A Vintage Toys Museum

I’ve been stalking the account of Super Robots, a local vintage toys collector on Instagram for about a year now, so when he decided to open a “museum”, I had to pass by and check it out. I put the word museum in quotation marks because it is and it isn’t really a museum. It’s the guy’s private toy collection displayed on shelves in a store, but none of it is for sale. So it’s a museum in the sense that there are things on display that you can’t buy, but that’s the only similarities.

I think my generation is a bit extra nostalgic compared to other generations because of the 1990 Iraqi invasion. This is just my theory but, because of the invasion, I had to leave a lot of my childhood behind when escaping Kuwait. A lot of other kids had to leave stuff behind or were maybe outside of Kuwait during the invasion and had their homes looted. Because so many of us lost the toys we had or grew up with, as we got older we started reacquiring some of our favorite ones we lost. That’s my explanation at least when friends ask me why I’m buying the most random stuff on eBay.

So I completely get toy collectors or any sort of collectors really. Super Robots is a toy collector who decided to take his toys out of storage and display them in a shop. It’s a neat idea and allows people like me interested in old toys to pass by and check them out but, the only issue is, the store is pretty tiny and STACKED. You can barely see anything because there are boxes and boxes of toys stacked up on the shelves. They’re all closed boxes as well so you’re basically checking out the packaging and not the actual toys themselves. And then you have boxes in front of boxes so you’re not even getting to see the full packaging because it’s being covered by another box. The other issue is that it’s located in the basement of Rehab Complex in one of the tight alleyways so it’s not a very inviting location. But this is a start and maybe eventually with enough interest, he could decide to move to a larger space somewhere else.

If you’re interested in passing by the store he’s open from 3PM to 9PM. Shop #183 in the basement of Rehab Complex. Also, make sure you check out his toys on his Instagram account @superrobots.

Categories
Shopping Toys

Hamleys Toy Shop Now Open

Hamleys, the UK toy store has finally opened up in Kuwait at The Gate Mall. I say finally because they were originally meant to open back in 2012 but for some reason never did. It’s also kinda odd that they opened their first store in The Gate Mall, might have to head there this weekend and see if anything else interesting is open there. Check out Hamleys on Instagram @hamleyskuwait

Categories
50s to 90s Toys

Kids ‘r’ Us Catalog

I found a seller on Instagram that had a Kids ‘r’ Us catalog for sale. Kids ‘r’ Us was the largest and most popular toy store in Kuwait back in the 80s but during the 1990 invasion the store got burned down. After the invasion, a smaller location opened up in old Salmiya and that later closed down and was turned into X-cite.

The catalog had already been sold for KD50 but the pictures were still up and they brought back a lot of memories. KD50 sounds expensive and it is, but anything Kids ‘r’ Us related is near impossible to find so you’ll always have collectors willing to pay that much.

There is actually someone on eBay selling the Centurions Walkie-talkie pictured in the catalog above for 35KD brand new in the box. Please buy it before I do! Check out the rest of the catalog pages below.

Categories
Fun Shopping Toys

Good Game Now Online!

If you’re bored during curfew here is something you can get into, board games. My favorite board games shop Good Game is now online. They have a large variety of different board games from super nerdy stuff to fun family ones as well as card games and RPG’s. It doesn’t look like they’ve finished uploading all the product photos but the board game category seems to be all there. So check it out here.

Categories
Toys

Stranger Things LEGO Available in Kuwait

I spotted the very cool Stranger Things The Upside Down LEGO set being sold at the LEGO store in Avenues last week. They’re selling it for KD80 which surprisingly is cheaper than the price on Amazon (KD100). I guess the whole selling sets for double the price of Amazon didn’t work for them.

Categories
Toys

Hamleys Opening in Gate Mall

Hamleys, the UK toy retailer is opening up their first store in Kuwait at Gate Mall. They were originally meant to open back in 2012 but for some reason that never happened. Not sure why they’d open in Gate Mall first, I always assumed it would be in Avenues.

Thanks Afrah

Categories
Interesting Toys

3D Print Yourself!

Best Electronics have a new service which uses tech by the company Doob to 3D scan your full body and then print you out as a miniature figurine. The result looks pretty realistic and they have a lot of different examples on display for you to check out. I held one figurine and it felt light and fragile, so I wouldn’t give it to a kid to play with, they’re more for displaying not for playing with.

Although it’s pretty cool, especially if you end up getting a 3D scan of you and your friends together, there are two big negatives. The first is that they print these figurines in Germany, which means you need to wait around three weeks to see the results. The second thing is the cost. They can print different sizes figurines but the smallest one which is shorter than your iPhone costs KD40, while the largest size is KD230. If you and your friends get a group shot you have to pay per individual. So if you’re four guys and you want to print out the smallest size that’s 4 x KD40 for one copy.

If you’re interested to check this out, the “Doob” booth is located in Best Electronics at Boulevard in Salmiya. [Google Maps]

Thanks Sabah