Edinburgh preparing for Paddington fever

Rachel Jones with her vintage Paddington. Picture: contributed
Rachel Jones with her vintage Paddington. Picture: contributed
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He may be the bear from “deepest darkest Peru” but Edinburgh is pulling on its Wellington boots and its duffel coat in preparation for Paddington fever.

Vintage storybooks, gift sets and miniature wellies are already flying off the shelves as the Friday release date of the star-studded film grows closer.

The movie, which boasts a host of Hollywood A-list actors including Nicole Kidman, is tipped to become a silver screen smash and its merchandise could be among the must-have Christmas presents this year.

Toy shops across the Capital are braced for a December rush on the official stuffed toys and accessories while one Edinburgh retailer has even snapped up the rights for a Paddington-inspired carrying sling.

A Paddington beer – dubbed Marmalade on Toast – is even set to make a timely return to the shelves after staff at BrewDog Edinburgh invented the tasty concoction last year.

Build-A-Bear Workshop said both its Capital stores have already sold out of Paddington teddies and outfits while retailers from Stockbridge to Fort Kinnaird have told how they are scrambling for stock.

Donald Nairn, owner of Morningside’s Toys Galore, said Paddington Bear had appeared to slip out of the nation’s “collective conscience” but was now back with a bang.

“Demand had all but gone but since the film was announced, that interest has started to return,” he said.

“We’ve got more people coming in and asking about Paddington than ever before.”

Leila Matsumoto, who works at The Edinburgh Bookshop, said it was preparing for a surge of 
business following this weekend’s national release.

“We always stock Paddington books, but we’ve had so many inquiries that we’ve also been ordering special gift editions and other books we wouldn’t normally have in store.”

Entrepreneur Rachel Jones – a lifelong fan of the marmalade-munching bear – has grabbed a slice of the lucrative franchise after winning a contract to supply Paddington-inspired products to some of Britain’s top retail giants.

Mrs Jones, who operates from a studio office on Whitehouse Loan, first developed her Totseat – a sling to hold babies – a decade ago for daughter Freya, who is now 12.

But after reading about the upcoming Paddington film, she managed to strike a deal to use the image on her product. She wrote to licensing agents at Copyrights, explaining her love for the bear, and was astonished when they granted her rights to use his image.

“My love of Paddington’s been going on for about 45 years,” she said. “I was given a Paddington when I was eight and it’s an original toy that was made by Jeremy Clarkson’s mum.”

Rachel’s original Paddington teddy now holds a place of honour in her studio window.

“He’s much more vintage Paddington than the 2014 one – one the parents will recognise from when they were growing up,” she added.

nash.riggins@edinburghnews.com