Trucks of The Toy Variety, or The Love & The Hunt for It
Our Saturday featured a shopping trip. Not just window-shopping or any general sweep to find bits of goodness that have a price tag on them, but for very specific things.
This post is about toys. Developmental toys, as in those that are supposed to encourage further growth. The experts tell us that the best stuff for the 9-12 month kids are push/pull things and things that stack well. Last week, in evaluating our stock, we found that we had five small Fraggle Rock, Donald of Mac wheeled things and some tiny-parts racecars with wheels of a certain burning temperature. Both highly unsuitable for mouths that must feel everything and hands with very little fine-motor skillz.
The only wheeled thing that was fit for tiny hands is a green, plastic alligator. Its tail turns around, its mouth moves open and shut, it has colored wheels with rubber treads, and to top it off, it has two bluebirds on its back.
Given to Toby by aunts and uncles several months before he would be interested. Now that he should be interested, he’s terrified. Why? It’s cute and bright and developmental– and it makes a loud screeching, squeaking noise whenever the wheels move–the axels have been met by drool and don’t like it at all. And WD-40 isn’t meant to be ingested.
So we went out on a mission. To local toy stores. To find a toy that we all love.
We tried all the thrift stores last week. We found a standard, plastic, yellow, dump truck, but none of us really loved it. So this week, we plotted out a trip to two local toy stores: The Elephant’s Trunk Toy Company and The Learning Palace.
We were also looking for other stuff that day, too. Our first stop that morning was at the Saturday Market downtown. I found the produce we needed (a beautiful head of red lettuce and a pound of tiny Yukon golds), and we had quite a bit of cash leftover, so we started moseying around for things we might want. After all, we’d never been to the Saturday Market before, and we loved the variety we found. Crafts and jewelry, yes, but also lots of different kinds of food.
Among lots of other things, we found a tent with boxes overflowing with wooden toys. All made by a trucker while he’s on the road and when he’s not. I picked up a red dump truck and he excitedly explained how sturdily it’s made; we got excited about it, too. I picked up another thing-with-wheels and he explained that it was only for display because it wasn’t sturdy enough to be played with. Some other parents bought one, and half an hour later, came back to his tent with a broken product because it had been dropped once.
This is one reason why I love buying directly from the artist: they’re passionate about their product and they strive for the utmost quality. But alas–we didn’t bring enough cash. And he wasn’t sure if he’d be back the next week.
So we went on. Our next stop was the mall, and compared to the farmer’s market, it was downright depressing. Filled with advertising gimmicks and artificial light, retail, retail, and more retail. Versus honest sun and shade, honest products and enthusiastic artists, plus dogs and all sorts of people doing all sorts of things? Just guess which one we preferred.
We were over the stark contrast when we finally found the store we wanted; farmer’s markets don’t need a map, either. We found lots of cool toys, but having just seen and felt wooden products, we didn’t like the wood selection there. And with further investigation, we found lots of cool toys for later years, but nothing pushable for little hands.
At this point, we reached an impasse: get cash at a known bank location (thanks to the instructions from the cashier) and go back to the known location of an awesome toy, or continue to explore the unknown for something unknown. Funny enough, we chose to find and see all our options and leave the known alone.
After getting baby shoes and baby socks and seeing a mass of used plastic toys obviously within kid reach, we went to our last stop. And after a term of compare and contrast of more shrink-wrapped wooden products with price tags, Just’In found it. And he knew Kate would love it.
And I do. Click on the image to see the details. Minimal packaging–a simple cardboard box, with no twist ties and no sound effects. No metal axles. Just plain rolling that turns into sorting and dumping later. And it’s green, green, green.
Wait For It— I’ve wanted a set of wooden blocks of my own. We didn’t like what retail offered, so we’ll turn to Etsy. I’m sure to post about what we end up with, right?