As promised in my last post I’ll be concentrating on a particular toy today: Melissa and Doug’s fold and go castle. Logan got this as a present from Santa when he was two (Christmas of 2010) and as soon as it was opened every other present lost its appeal. This was particularly unusual because up till that point Logan had rarely fixated on a particular toy, he had been more of a hoverer when it came to playing (jigsaws and Manny and Diego excepted). We generally open presents in the morning, have some lunch with my parents and then go visit his other Granny and Grampa for Christmas dinner and this particular year the castle came too.
We had to open his other presents for him, he was so engrossed, and to be honest is was the better part of a week before he played with anything else. Even then the other toys were incorporated into his castle so that we had T-Rex attacks, a visit from a mammoth, a sabre toothed tiger (and their friend the sloth), the inhabitants of the castle even got to know their neighbours (some anthropomorphic animals that lived in a pink doll house we got in a charity shop). Sometimes there would be an attack from a giant Winnie-the-pooh teddy bear and the king and queen were kidnapped at regular intervals by whole array of different baddies.
Logan isn’t particularly soft on his toys (but he can be careful if he knows something is fragile) and that much play can’t go on forever without some wear and tear, but then this is where the really important quality of wooden toys comes into play: they can be fixed. After well over a year of play some of the furniture started to break, a bit of wood glue, a night to dry and we were back in business (a plastic alternative would have had to go in the bin). The castle itself got a crack, again wood glue and everything sorted. We’ve never had to replace any parts, we’ve only had to stick things back together, the castle has even gone flying down the stairs a couple of times and still it comes up fighting.
The characters inside have never needed repaired (though they have occasionally gone awol for a few weeks) and they still feature in games that Logan (and his wee brother Alexander) play now. Last week the castle broke again (a crack along the hinge), I’m out of wood glue but as soon as I have some more it’ll be back in play.
People point out that wooden toys are more robust but that’s not the whole story: unlike their plastic counterparts wooden toys can be fixed time and time again, even if a piece is damaged beyond repair replacing it is as simple as getting a piece of wood the right size and shape and sticking it on (maybe with a bit of paint if needed). The plastic toys which we encounter every day are great at what they do and some really are near-on indestructible (e.g. Lego, Wow toys, Playmobil) but wooden toys give you extra piece of mind. If something becomes a favourite and is played with to destruction it can be as simple as administering some glue and the ‘destruction’ is counteracted. Wooden toys aren’t just more robust they’re practically immortal.