I recently made the pilgrimage to Roundabout to see what I might find for our place. Our twins finally learned how to open the doors in our apartment, so security gates were high on my wish list. But there is always a slew of toys I like to pick up second hand. Toys cars, My Little Pony, Lincoln Logs – the list goes on and on.
Basically, toys are like new cars, once you buy them, they drop in value right away. So why not pick up some gently used ones for less? On this trip, I struck toy gold: Duplo and Tinker Toys.
Now I will be the first to admit that I have a bias toward Duplo and Lego brands. They are made so well. I don’t think I’ve ever encountered two pieces that didn’t fit snuggly together. I have friends – grown men – who still spend small fortunes on Lego projects and will proudly show them to whoever visits. They can spout off specs like “the manufacturing tolerance for Lego is three microns” and anyone who calls them "Legos" will get an unwanted lesson on proper toy nouns.
These people sneer at the notion of allowing Tinker Toys in their home. But I grew up in a more tolerant household.
Just as one could safely mention PC or Mac without risk of raising nerd ire, my progressive parents proudly laid out Duplo and Tinker Toys for their children to play with. It wasn’t until I was an adolescent that I learned of the deep-seated prejudices that many people held for one over the other. So when I saw both items at Roundabout, especially that giant box of Tinker Toys, I didn’t hesitate to buy them.
Here’s the thing about Tinker Toys: there are always pieces that don’t fit. Always. I suspect the main culprit is changes in humidity and temperature, as the pieces are largely made of wood. Still, even the plastic components do not always seat properly. This was true in my childhood, and I can attest that it is still true today.
It seems Hasbro, the manufacturer of Tinker Toys, quit trying to fix the problem. Or maybe it is by design. The very nature of Tinker Toys requires kids to search out alternative solutions to their engineering ideas. If you cannot make two pieces fit, search out another; and often another and another. With Duplo, you don’t experience that kind of challenge.
Where as the boys will gladly play with Duplo pieces for a bit and tear apart anything I build, I noticed the other night that Bryson entertained himself for 15 minutes with two Tinker Toy parts; a wheel and a blue stick. He continued to place the wheel on the stick and let the stick or wheel fall to the ground. Ever the little scientist, he repeated his test over and over until he felt satisfied with the results. Or became distracted like a puppy, I’m not sure which.
Like my parents before me, I find there is plenty of room in the toy box for both Duplo and Tinker Toys in our household. Just don’t try and sneak any Mega Blocks in there. Those things are rubbish.
Photo courtesy of Haas Kabal (flickr)