Frequently asked questions

Toy Brands

Kellner Steckfiguren

What are these resources designed for?

These are character based construction resources, which beautifully incorporate the STEM disciplines of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

The simplicity of this resource enables your children to develop their ideas and creativity alongside their fine motor skills. Your pre-schoolchildren will discover many ways to connect the various shapes and create amazing, novel creations. This is one resource you don't need a manual for as it encourages open-ended play. It appeals equally to boys and girls, and adults will find they have as much fun using the resource as their children. These sensory resources cater for all abilities. Some of the sets have collaborative play elements, for example the Cable Car, which is also included in the Standard Bucket, Large Bucket and Wooden Cube. All the resources encourage parallel and independent play. 

With these resources children will develop confidence through success and their ability to create.

Who uses these resources?

  • These resources have been embraced extensively by early childhood centres in Aotearoa New Zealand including kindergartens, kōhanga reo, montessori, large education groups and small independent operators.
  • All children over 3 years of age benefit from these resources, but the sweet-spot is 3 - 7 years old. 

 What are these toys constructed from?

  • These toys are made from sustainably sourced German Beech and the connectors are made from rubber.
  • They are handmade and hand painted.
  • Some of the sets include felt pieces, leather and string.
  • There are six of pieces of plastic in the Large Bucket. They are part of a garden scene which includes two pots and pot plants, a rake and a watering can. This is the only set with plastic pieces.
  • For more information and images of the toys being made see pages 76-89 of The History of Kellner Steckfiguren. 

How Durable / Safe are the resources?

  • These resources carry the European CE mark for child safety.
  • They have won numerous awards for quality (see next question.)
  • They have been extensively used by early childhood services throughout Aotearoa New Zealand (kindergartens, kōhanga reo, montessori, large education groups and small independent operators) over the last three years, with very favourable feedback.
  • These toys will last generations, becoming family treasures.

Have they won any awards?

  • These toys have won numerous awards in Germany and beyond including
    • spiel gut
    • thüringerdesignpreis 2001
    • deutscher designpreis holyspielseug 2001
    • reddot award 2002
    • nominierung designpreis brd
    • good design award tokio 2004
    • spielzeug für linkshändige kinder 2010

How do they work?

  • Children connect coloured blocks of wood, including interesting human character and animal heads, with blue manipulative rubber connectors. This creates an open-ended loose part play environment where imagination is the only limit. 
  • Because the connectors are flexible children can create all kinds of constructions that would not be possible with rigid connectors.  

Can you get replacement parts?

  • The blue rubber connectors are readily available on their own, but it is more cost-effective to purchase replacement sets if you start losing the wooden pieces.

 Where are the toys made?

  • The toys are handmade at the Kellner family business which is located in Tabarz, Germany; two hours drive from Frankfurt and about 45 minutes from the picturesque town of Weimar.  If you are ever in Tabarz you should visit their store. If you can't visit Tarbarz please visit their Kellner Steckfiguren website.

What is the history of the toys?

  • Mr Kellner first made replica airplanes, then model boats in 1914. Georg Kellner then began making the Steckfigur toys in 1930. The toys have developed over time through the generations, but are still handmade and true to the original family business values. We are very fortunate to be able to access these beautiful resources in Aotearoa New Zealand.
  • For more information see The History of Kellner Steckfiguren.

 I am an early childhood educator or a parent and I am unsure what to purchase - what would you recommend?

There is no right or wrong selection as your children will love thee toys regardless, but there are items and configurations that may be more suitable for your specific purpose. The main consideration with "loose part" play is that the more pieces you have, the more you can do.

  • I am an early childhood educator or kaiako and I want to add to my existing Inspiration Toys resources
  • Early childhood educators or kaiako wanting small group play for up to 4 children
    • A Standard Bucket with a Wheels Set would be an excellent starting point for small groups. Great add-ons are a Sticks set, or another Cable Car, which will increase the numbers of children that can play with the resource.
  • Early childhood educators or kaiako wanting larger group sizes up to 8 children
  • I want a great gift for an over three year old
    • Any of the resources, except for the Sticks, are a great stand-alone choice. Think about what your child enjoys: is it character based play, cars/wheels, transport via cable car, animals or human families or just connecting shapes? Do you want to encourage cooperative play with the pulleys and cable car, or is parallel and independent play your aim? Please see the descriptions of the products in the store, for more information.

What ages are these designed for?

  • There are two sections of the Shop; "Over Threes" and "Under Threes". The majority of the products are designed to inspire open ended construction and learning among the Over Threes, and hit a sweet-spot for ages 3 - 7 Years. The items are very satisfying to use and are inter-generational. It is great fun getting on the floor or around a table and seeing what develops together. 

Do the parts present a choking hazard?

  • The sets are not suitable for children under three as they contain small loose parts, and string in many of them. There are some items that are for babies and these can be found in the "Under Threes" section of the website.
  • Most of the products are suitable for people over three, and are great entertainment for young and old, being fun for both boys and girls. 

Do you ship to places outside Aotearoa New Zealand?

  • Not at present, but if you are in Europe you can contact Kellner-Steckfiguren directly.

Do you offer free shipping?

  • Yes, shipping is free in Aotearoa New Zealand.

When will my order ship?

  • If you are an Aotearoa New Zealand customer your items will be sent within a few days of ordering and on receipt of payment. You should receive your items within 7 days of payment and often faster.  

How do I change my shipping address?

  • You can update your address at any time through our Account Page. Please contact us if your address changes after you order and before you receive the goods.

How do I care for my resources?

There is not much to do here, just enjoy. If there is sickness in your early childhood centre or family, clean them as you would your books. Be careful not to get water down the holes where the rubbers connect as this may cause swelling of the wood.

How do I contact you if I receive a faulty product?

We make every effort to ensure our products are of the highest quality. However, if you have any concerns please email us at sales@inspirationtoys.co.nz with a photo of the issue and we will do our best to help.