Toys R Us could return to UK high streets as soon as next week - evoking memories of Basildon's much-loved toy shop.

After the famous toy shop revealed in October it would be returning to high streets as part of a deal with WH Smith, it has been announced today that nine new stores are set to open across the UK.

These outlets will be operated as franchises inside branches of the stationary store, with shoppers being able to try out the toys before ordering them digitally, Time Out says.

Each concession will feature a life-sized Geoffrey the Giraffe sculpture with toy brands including Barbie, Fisher Price, Lego, Marvel and Peppa Pig.

Toys R Us is currently selling thousands of toys from more than 100 different suppliers online.

The first of the new Toys R Us branches to open will be in York, which is set to welcome customers from June 10. 

However, south Essex shoppers won't have to trek that far to visit their favourite toy shop again, as a branch will also be opening in Chelmsford High Street.

This marks the first time the retailer will come back as a store since 2018, when its popular Basildon shop closed its doors.

The town centre building remained empty for four years until Away Cheltenham had proposals approved in May last year to use the shop as an ‘urban’ storage facility, called Storeaway.

Memories of Basildon's Toys R Us

As the iconic toy shop returns, we've decided to take a trip down memory lane.

The Toys R Us outlet in Basildon was one of the first five superstores opened in Britain, along with branches in Cardiff, Bristol, London and Woking.

In 2010, as the store celebrated its 25th anniversary, Malcolm Buckley - then Basildon councillor responsible for environment - remembered the launch of the much-loved toy shop well. 

He told the Echo at the time: “Toys R Us was a big thing for the town when it opened.

“Before that you would have to get your toys from the Co-op, which is now Primark.

“I remember taking my children there just after it opened and being amazed they had every toy you could possibly think of.

“I think the fact the company chose to come here first and has stayed here all this time speaks a lot about Basildon and how we embrace new business.”

On the day of the anniversary, then Basildon Toys R Us manager Wendy Grosvenor, who started off just working Saturdays on the customer service till in 1996, recalled parents fighting over the latest toys.

She said: “One thing which has remained consistent over the years is the influence of TV and movies over what toys are ‘in’.

“For example, we are expecting Toy Story 3 to have a big impact on sales in the run-up to Christmas.

“I’ve been here a few times when parents have literally been fighting to get their hands on the latest toy.

“Teletubbies, Tracy Island and Star Wars figures, especially, caused a frenzy.”