Sunday, 3 January 2021 - 01:26
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Santa Claus and the Three Wise Men meet every year in Alicante.
There, in the Hoya de Castalla, they stock up on the toys they are responsible for distributing at Christmas.
Stop and inn 43 kilometers from the capital, where the
, as this Valencian region is known, where
more than 40% of the toy factories in Spain are concentrated.
Well-known firms such as
(sold in 2010 to an American venture capital fund),
Injusa, Moltó or Miniland remain in Castalla, Onil or Ibi,
making dreams, as they like to highlight.
we receive lots of letters
, many children send them to us with their wish list. We send them to the Three Wise Men", says
(44) who, together with his brother José (46), pilots a of the most famous doll companies in Spain.
It was his parents,
José Antonio and María Luisa,
40 years ago in Onil, a town of just over 7,400 inhabitants, where the whole family continues to live.
27 people work in his factory and another 60 are employed indirectly.
more than 200 types of dolls come out that are also exported to Europe and America
"The doll, in all its versions, continues to be the
star of toys
because it is not only liked by girls, but also by mothers and grandmothers," says Francisco.
, babies so realistic that they even have slobber, are the most successful.
"Many adult women buy them from us."
But long before the crying dolls, babies, and cribs made by the artisans of the Arias factory, there were
military dolls, stuffed animals, and children's lamps
that his father sold at fairs and markets.
"It all started with the flag swearing,"
"My father worked in a toy factory and bought a taxi. It was the 70s and he was taking many families to the soldiers' flag swearing in the barracks in the Alicante area. He thought of buying dolls and
dressing them in uniforms to sell them to the soldiers
, who gave them to their girlfriends, mothers and grandmothers. "He set up a
at the door of the barracks.
My mother made the uniforms, she sewed them at home
with the discarded fabrics that my father brought from the factory.
They were very successful, they
were sold for 150 pesetas
and those with a
trumpet and a military hymn
After the legionaries and sailors came the stuffed animals, which were sold at tombolas and street markets, and
table lamps with a doll
, which became very popular.
In the 80's José Antonio and María Luisa founded the company, Muñecas Arias.
Her five children are still linked to her, although only Francisco and José lead her.
"We are the second generation.
We learned to work while playing
, and we are delighted. When my brother and I entered, my father gave us free rein, although he continues to advise us."
The military dolls with which they started the family business.
Although they have also suffered the pandemic crisis,
they managed to save the year in December,
where 50% of the year's toy sales are concentrated.
"We lost the season of communions and summer, but we are happy, because in the end
the sales have been similar to last year
, we have sold around a million units."
The president of the
Association of Toymakers of Spain
José Antonio Pastor
(51), is also optimistic.
He knows the sector very well because he himself is part of a family that makes dolls in Onil.
"Between April, May and June, sales fell 40% but in the last three months they have recovered. I think we
will close the year with figures similar to those of 2019.
That year, the 245 Spanish toy companies had a turnover of 1,600 million euros.
One of the 'reborn' dolls.
With the Covid, Pastor believes that
the toy has been revalued
, although he assures that
children were the great forgotten of the pandemic in Spain
That is why the association has promoted an action so that
the toy is declared an essential good.
"When they locked us up,
the children couldn't go outside but the dogs could
. In the supermarkets the areas for pets were open but those for toys were not. Playing is necessary because it is the way to develop physically, mentally and emotionally.
No there is a healthy childhood without toys
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