Why we love figures
You don't need many animals to have a collection rich in story-telling possibilities - a handful of 'goodies' and a 'baddie' is enough. To maximise play value, choose animals with distinct characters such as foxes, mice and goats. Think of the adventures you could have with a wolf, a lamb, a donkey, an owl and an ox. When combined with regular reading, especially traditional tales, the creative possibilities are endless.
Peg people occupy a special place in young children's play. With a stability that comes from a wide base and a supremely grippable head, they're perfect for the baby who is learning to grasp and place. Their simple design also makes them a blank canvas on which to paint any personality, great for small world play.
Rehearse real life
Play people are an especially important part of any pre-school toy box. In these characters children recognise themselves and their families and friends. Their play is usually about enacting real-life or imagined scenes - simple scenarios such as being at home in the kitchen or driving along in the car - compounding their understanding of the world and how everyone in it plays a part.