Loom bands the new must have as craze sweeps country

We've had Tamagotchis, Pogs and Pokemon.

But a new playground craze is weaving its spell among children everywhere- and is flying off the shelves faster than shops can stock it.

Forget expensive computer games and hi-tech gadgets, it seems all children of today want right now is a humble elastic band.

Loom bands are the latest craze sweeping the nation and have even been seen on the arms of the Duchess of Cambridge, Fearne Cotton, David Beckham and - perhaps the most unlikely of wrists- Camilla, The Duchess of Cornwall.

The concept is fairly simple. It involves two plastic boards like a loom, a crochet hook and coloured rubber bands woven together to make bracelets.

Toy shops and other stockists today said there has been unprecedented demand for the bands, which are proving popular among girls and boys alike.

Tutorials on how to make ever more intricate loom bands are growing on You Tube and the tiny rubber elastics come in a rainbow of colours, themes and even scents.

Youngsters and adults too are even branching out and making pen tops, necklaces, hair ties and figurines with their looms.

Scott Jarratt, assistant manager at The Works in the Mander Centre, said: "Nearly every other person who comes into the shop is buying them.

"We have also seen a lot of people wearing them themselves, and people have come in with huge lists because we seem to have the biggest stock.

"It's probably been going on for about six weeks to two months now, but the last couple of weeks it has really picked up.

"Someone who came in told us it was really big in Australia and has come over here. People have YouTube videos showing how to do them, and we have some on our website too."

Mark Schubert, manager at the store, said he has never seen a craze like it in his 13 years working at The Works.

He said: "It's good that the kids are getting into something that is a bit more creative as opposed to just sitting in front of the television.

"I've never seen anything like this craze. I think it could last all the way until Christmas. About 10 years ago we had a similar thing called Scoobies, but back then there wasn't so much media around for people to post on the internet about different ways to do it."

Hobbycraft has reported a 331 per cent increase in sales since Kate wore a pink loom band on her right wrist.

Loom bands currently occupy all 20 slots of Amazon's best-selling toy list, while Poundland, which has its headquarters in Willenhall, has reported a huge surge in sales of loom bands.

Richard Lancaster, trading director at the company, said looms were fast becoming a best seller, with sales expected to rise even further in the coming months.

"Everyone is going loopy for looms," he said.

"In fact, we're selling enough of them each week to make three million loom bond bracelets."

The boss of a toy shop in Dudley today said he had come across the loom bands last February during a visit to New York.

Alan Caswell, who runs The Arcade Toyshop, in Fountain Arcade, said for the past three months, it had been all about loom bands.

"To me, it's fantastic, not just from a sales point of view but it's great that the kids are using their hands and their brains and their imaginations- not just sitting in front of the television or playing computer games," said Mr Caswell, who has been running the shop for more than 40 years.

At schools across the West Midlands, playtimes are now taken up with learning new techniques, swapping ideas and materials.

But the loom bands have proved not quite so popular with some schools across the country, with reports some have banned them because they are not part of official uniform policies.