Kristin Baybars

On the 28th November 2021 I heard the very sad news that Kristin had passed away aged 85.

Kristin has been buying my dolls and toys to sell in her shop in London ever since I started making miniatures in the mid 1980's. She gave me a lot of encouragement in the early days and did not mind when I started making replicas of the Playschool Humpty - in fact, once she considered I had got the design right, she purchased some to sell in her shop. Shortly afterwards I discovered she had designed the original Humpty featured in the Playschool BBC programme.

I am honoured to have known Kristin for so many years. Here are some articles and tributes to Kristin:-

Kristin Baybars

'I have the very sad task of letting you all know that our dear friend Kristin Baybars has passed away. She was a true one-off and I’m sure many of you will have great memories of her and the magical world she created in her unique toy shop. She supported many toy makers and dolls house miniaturists and her passion for creativity was inspirational. She encouraged many of us at the start of our careers and she had a rare eye for detail. She touched millions of people’s lives as it was Kristin who designed and made Humpty who appeared on the BBC’s Play School programme. She was a person who lived her life the way she wanted to and was also very accepting of “difference”. What a joy it is to have called her a friend!' - David Ward 28th Nov 2021

KRISTIN BAYBARS (written by Charlotte Stokoe of Kensington Dollshouse Festival)

'It is with great sadness I found out the news that Kristin Baybars died last weekend. Anyone who has been involved in dolls houses & miniatures over the last 40 years will be aware of Kristin & her magical shop in North London. Kristin was one of the forerunners in the new wave of dolls house collecting in the 1970’s-80’s, opening her traditional toy shop that specialised in hand made miniatures.

She was a great supporter of all the incredible craftsmen, whose work we still admire today. She bought the 1st dolls houses made by Mulvany & Rogers for example & would buy work from Stokesay Ware & Country Treasures when they were first starting out. All the money she made in her shop went straight back into buying new incredible things for her Aladin’s Cave. She would encourage new makers (like David Ward) by buying their work & championing them.

Her shop, located in Gospel Oak, North London, looked like a traditional toy shop when you enter in through the portal, but if you were lucky enough to be invited through to the back of the shop by Kristin (only true miniatures lovers were allowed!) you discovered an incredible tiny world of beautiful dolls houses, & scenes by some of the best makers around.

Kristin never missed our shows until recently when her health prevented her from attending. She would arrive first thing in the morning & be there all day chatting with our exhibitors and buying their work for the shop. She always had a sparkle in her eyes as she looked around at the stands & wandered around the show.

I was lucky enough to spend time with Kristin about 5 years ago when I made a documentary about her life & work with my friend Fred Burns. We learnt all about her incredible life & spent time with her in the shop & her home. I will put the documentary film called “A Pathway of Crumbs” on our website in the next few days. It is an intriguing look into her world & shows how much she loved her collection & her shop.

Kristin Baybars Shop is currently not open, but we will keep you up to date with any news we have.'

The shop today...
As it used to be.

Camden Newjournal
Tributes to Kristin Baybars, the toymaker with a shop of dreams
‘Humpty’ creator has died aged 85
Thursday, 2nd December — By Dan Carrier
The Unique Toy Shop in Gospel Oak
SHE was a creative genius who brought joy to thousands of people with her unique toys and miniature models.
And Kristin Baybars, who has died aged 85, will forever be remembered for the enchanting workshop and toy shop she ran in Gospel Oak – a make-believe world which passers-by could not help but stop to peek into.
It was her artistic flare that made it a landmark for both serious collectors and children alike.
“She enchanted everybody,”said her friend Janet Richardson, who knew Kristin for more than 50 years.
“She was wonderful with young people. She was amused by them, as they were amused by her.”
Kristin’s idiosyncrasies were famous – she would wear a pair of trousers she made that had 25 pockets, so she could carry tools, toys and spare parts.
David Ward, who worked with Kristin since walking into her shop as a teenager and being captivated, said: “I’m sure many will have great memories of her and the magical world she created in her unique toyshop.
“She supported many toy makers and dolls house miniaturists and her passion for creativity was inspirational. She encouraged many of us at the start of our careers and she had a rare eye for detail.”
Mr Ward added: “She was a person who lived her life the way she wanted to and was also very accepting of ‘difference’.”
Kristin’s mother was the poet Ida Graves, her father the artist Blair Hughes Stanton. The couple were key figures in Bloomsbury Group of the 1920s and 1930s, and she spent her childhood surrounded by renowned artists and writers; Henry Moore among others would visit.
Kristin – so named because she was born on Christmas Day – had shown a creative streak from an early age.
She made her own toys as a child, building a huge doll’s house and the furniture to put inside.
After completing school, she trained as an occupational therapist while continuing to put her woodworking and needle craft skills to a range of uses.
In the 1960s, she invented the Ostrobogulous toys – which included a Humpty Dumpty-like creation who would earn fame in the children’s programme Play School as the character Humpty.
One day, she took the Ostrobogulous toys to Heal’s department store in Tottenham Court Road to see if they would like to stock it – and was offered a job in their toy department.
The success of the Ostrobogulous range created an unforeseeable problem. An American toy firm took the idea to the US – but when they ceased trading, Kristin discovered due to a legal tussle she could not make the toy she had invented.
It took many years for her to win the right to produce them again.
In 1969, Kristin’s daughter Susila was born.
While living with her husband, Taner Baybars, a poet, in Muswell Hill, Kristin set a stall in Camden Lock in the early 1970s. Its popularity saw her reputation spread.
She took on a shop in Inverness Street and encouraged others to make miniatures, employing out of work actors and art students, and anyone who showed enthusiasm.
In the early 1980s, she bought at an auction a semi-derelict building in Gospel Oak and filled it with thousands of toys.
Full of delicate models that were enticing to small children, Kristin organised displays with less breakable items at the front, and collectors pieces at the back.
Customers knew she could have a fierce side with parents if they let their children explore too close to the more fragile items.
Saudi Arabia’s royal family and the comic actor Peter Sellers were among were among an eclectic group of admirers, while miniatures enthusiasts from around the world would make a point of visiting whenever they were in London.
Mr Ward added: “What a joy it is to have called her a friend.”


The Early Days...
With Minnie King and the Ostrobogulous Range.
The Playschool Characters
Inside the shop...

Obituary: Tributes to Gospel Oak toy 'legend' Kristin Baybars
Nathalie Raffray
Published: 11:04 AM December 5, 2021
Hampstead Highgate Express
Tributes have poured in for a much loved toy shop owner in Gospel Oak who has died aged 85.
Kristin Baybars, a toy maker for more than fifty years, ran her "magical" shop in Mansfield Road for the last 35.
Her most famous creation was Humpty from Play School which aired on BBC from 1964 to 1988.
Her shop specialised in dolls' houses and miniatures – board games were stacked to the ceiling.
Her daughter Susila Baybars said her mother had been suffering from Alzheimer's for the last few years but her death was still a "shock" she is "trying to come to terms with".
She said: "My mother was a unique and original free spirit. She shunned convention and loved to break the rules.
"She had a big heart and was incredibly generous, always there to help friends, family, and even strangers in need."
Susila said her mother became withdrawn during the lockdowns with "none of her usual lively conversation".
"When the diagnosis came, everything made sense. She had lost her appetite and become very frail, but her death at only 85 years old was still a shock, which I am still coming to terms with.
"Fortunately I have seen her a lot these past few months, as has her only grand-daughter Daisy, nine, so that is something to hold on to.
"My mother was always known to Daisy as Granny Christmas, because she was born on Christmas Day."
Born in Chalk Farm in 1935, Kristin was the daughter of the writer Ida Graves and the artist Blair Hughes-Stanton
Long time friend David Ward, who started volunteering at the shop 37 years ago, aged 14, said she was a "true one off".
David said: "Many people never realised that she was the person who created the Humpty toy who was a firm favourite of the BBC programme Play School."
Humpty was released as part of the Ostrobogulous toy range.
Kristin approached Heal's to see whether it would stock the toys and not only did the company say yes, it offered her a job and she went on to become main toy buyer.
In the1970s Kristin had a toy shop in Inverness Street then headed north to Gospel Oak. In 1986, 7 Mansfield road came up for sale at auction.
"Kristin scraped together the money to buy the property back and got it," said David
"She then began creating the most magical, secretly famous, toy shop which she always refused to call a 'toyshop' as it was so much more. She liked to call it 'a collection of beautiful things'.
Despite her modesty, she knew what she had created in her shop was very special, and it deserved respect.
"She appreciated talented work and protected it 'as a mother cat protects her kittens'," said David.
"She welcomed everyone on equal terms and was never star struck by the numerous celebrities who visited as she had no idea who most of them were.
"She lived a life with little regard for convention and embraced people into her world if she liked them regardless of their backgrounds.
"She was the hardest working person I have ever met."
Highgate councillor Anna Wright, a frequent visitor, said the shop was "an extraordinary place and Kristin an extraordinary person".
She added: "The infamous sign on the door, 'This in NOT a toyshop', signalled you were stepping over the threshold into an experience that would challenge your senses, tantalise and amuse.
"Appearing like a Genie from the back of Aladdin's cave, on a good day Kristin would beckon you in and make you feel you never wanted to leave. On a bad day she clearly couldn't wait to get rid of you – all part of the lucky dip experience.
"I hope we can honour her memory by always finding time to flick a jumping bean or watch a spinning top."
Gospel Oak councillor Jenny Mulholland said: "She was a local legend and there was no other place like her toy shop.
"No such thing as browsing in there – if you went inside, you’d better already know what you were looking for, and expect to be questioned. An amazing place."
Cllr Marcus Boyland added: "She was a source of magic and wonder for generations of children in Gospel Oak.
"She leaves a massive gap in the fabric of childhood delight, not just Gospel Oak but all of Camden.
"They say when a bell rings a fairy gets its wings.
"Well lots of people will be going by her shop this Christmas and ringing bells in her memory."


Clown, Peter Hoot and Sipigoose
Kristin's dollshouse...
My miniature Humpty and Jemima.
The Humpties and Jemimas which were discovered partly completed in the attic...
and some Peter Hoot Owls...
Kristin delighted with the discovery.