The story, though, was simple enough for toddlers to understand. Clown and his fellow toys were dumped in the bin, “discarded like a mouldy apple core”, when they were outgrown. Clown made it to the ground and set off to seek help for his friends, mustering his bravery and having a series of adventures along the way.
The outside world was portrayed from a toy’s – or child’s – eye view, a scary and smog-bound place where adults paid him no attention. My children’s favourite scene was a Christmas assembly in which Clown lined up with children in costumes: a crocodile, a princess, Santa and his reindeer among them. And the watercolour backdrops were gorgeous.
Compared to that other wordless Christmas favourite, The Snowman, it felt very slight. It isn’t going to ascend to classic status. And I have no idea why it wasn’t on earlier, when younger children could have seen it. But it had the timeless message that toys come to life when children love them, and a happy ending with a sprinkling of Christmas magic.