Custom Made Toys: A Guide for Grown-Ups
What’s yellow and goes Slam, Slam, Slam, Slam?
A four-door banana.
If you’re considering custom made toys or custom games for children, you could find yourself facing some reservations you might not have when choosing, say, custom furniture for your home or gifts for adults.
You know about the quality and value of pieces by CustomMade artisans and appreciate their craftsmanship and eco-friendly practices. You understand the significance of supporting local artisanal businesses. You’re an adult.
How do you get kids to appreciate these things when it seems all they want are the latest video games, the coolest new movie-tie-in toys, and apparently whatever every other kid wants? And they want it right now, too.
They might not appreciate all the benefits of custom work right now, but they could with time. Here are three things to keep in mind if you’re in the market for custom children’s toys but are still apprehensive about your investment.
Kids are Sharper Than You Might Think
Children get jokes you don’t. (I can assure you that the four-door banana joke gets big laughs at kid’s parties). They can imagine ways to play you may never have or have long forgotten, and their capacity to learn is incredible. Kids also know when you’ve made an investment of time and interest in their lives (and that doesn’t always need to equal an investment in a high-dollar item). If you demonstrate your appreciation of craftsmanship by applying it to even the tiniest detail of their play world, they will also appreciate it, even if they can’t articulate it just yet.
This large doll wardrobe cabinet by Mike Willis Woodworking doesn’t just look like the real thing; it is the real thing. The only difference between this piece and a full size wardrobe is precisely the scale of the project. It features an ample and thoughtful variety of storage options, functioning drawers, dragonfly pulls, and a mahogany pullout bed. Caring for a well-built toy in an imaginary world can translate one day into respect for well-built furniture in the real world.
Handcrafted toys are not competing with the latest electronic gizmos and must-have wonders sold through commercials. Like it or not, these items have their place in the social world of kids (and lots of adults, too). Though they might take up a lot of space in a child’s mind, even the most popular mass-produced toys cannot fit into one important place in a youngster’s psyche: the core of his or her individuality. Yes, children want to fit in with their peers, but they also need to feel valued for just being uniquely themselves. Custom made toys that reflect their special interests are tangible expressions that they and their interests are meaningful to their parents and other adults in their lives.
Do you know what’s your child’s favorite prehistoric monster? How about commissioning a custom 3-D sculpture puzzle in its likeness, like this Velociraptor? (No, it’s not your dad’s Tyrannosaurus Rex. Ask your kids. They know the difference). The artisans of Arborden offer a variety of animals and other objects in this form of toy but can also create a custom beastie in a fearsome pose made from your choice of wood or plastic.
The Long Haul
The day may come when your grown-up child comes back home seeking the whereabouts of his or her favorite childhood toys. (This tends to happen when they have children of their own). Most mass-produced retail toys are just not made to last that long. A custom made game or toy, on the other hand, can accompany multiple generations through their childhood.
Riding these heirloom quality rolling wooden horses by Horses of Wood sure looks like fun. It will be fun today and it will be fun in 30 years. Made from kiln-dried yellow pine, your unique custom toy horse can be painted to copy a real (or imagined) horse of your choice.
A custom toy can even preserve something that may be out of reach or not exist in the future. Wild Cat Hollow Creations can hand craft wooden toy barns from recycled pine and oak based on your photos of real barns. These barns can be built to scale to accommodate toy animals and equipment. Made to withstand years of tough play, these barns are also left unfinished to prevent exposure to toxic stains and finishes. Imagine being able to have your grandchildren play and interact safely with a replica of a structure, significant to your family, lost to time.
Getting back to the world of adults, you can’t always know how and where commercially available toys are made or what they contain. When you speak with a local CustomMade artisan about custom made toys for your children, you’ll have your say about what goes into the project. You’ll know everything about it.
That is, up to the moment it reaches your child’s hands. There’s no telling then where that young mind and toy will go. But you can feel good about how that journey started.