CHILDREN were given a Willy Wonka moment and allowed to run riot in a toy factory – before being asked to invent a dream gadget they would like to see on shop shelves.

The youngsters were treated to a mass 'unboxing' and testing session of more than 400 unreleased products including the latest Discovery Channel Virtual Reality Glasses, at Paladone in Shoreham.

They were then asked to come up with ideas and presented them to a panel of industry experts.

They were accompanied by their dads – all bloggers who took advantage of the chance to try out some of Paladone’s boy's toys.

Paladone is Europe’s leading designer, creator and distributor of wholesale gifts.

The day came about after Worthing blogger Dan Flanagan told his friends at Paladone how as a dad he sometimes felt left out by mothers at playdates.

The idea was hatched to create a dad’s playdate – with the aim to make it "the best playdate ever".

The surprise challenge saw kids asked to invent ‘the next big thing’ using simple craft materials before presenting them to Paladone business partners from The Discovery Channel and

Awards for the best inventions included an ‘Incredible Hulk’ fist shaped egg cup, a new concept for a board game that combined virtual reality glasses and traditional top trump cards, and for the dad's a Star Wars men's grooming range with the slogan ‘The Face Awakens!’

Earlier in the day they also enjoyed a trip to the Connaught Cinema in Worthing, for a specially created version of 'Saturday morning pictures’.

The group got treated to a behind the scenes look inside the projection room and clips from Star Wars, Batman, Discovery Channel, Roald Dahl and an upcoming Harry Potter range.

Dan, who writes and attended with four-year-old son Natty, said: “I’m used to spending the weekend finding new things to keep an inquisitive boy occupied, but this was something else.

“His face as he experienced Virtual Reality for the first time, was completely unforgettable. Then seeing him stand up and help pitch his ‘BlastBaddies’ game to the experts, made for a very proud dad moment.

“It obviously made quite an impression on him as he keeps asking when he can have another go.”

Alex Ryan, marketing manager of Paladone Products, said: “This has certainly been one of the craziest things we’ve ever worked on, but let’s face it, Paladone are pretty used to crazy ideas!

“Watching two of our core target demographics, Dads, and Kids, really tuck into our products and our business was so satisfying. It adds real purpose to our day-to-day activities and reinforces the knowledge that we’re making the right products for the wholesale gifts industry.”