Let me start at the beginning. As part of the Old Schooolhouse Review Crew, we are allowed to request reviews on products we are interested in. That does not mean that we will get every one we want, or that we will not get ones we don't necessarily feel we need at the time, but we do get to say if we'd really, really LOVE to do a particular review. Well, can you imagine any of the many reviewers NOT wanting to review a product as cool as giant Tinkertoys (because that is essentially what a Toydle fort is...though, much sturdier, and life-sized!)?? I never expected for our family to be chosen, but we were. You can check out my original post Santa is REAL...Here's How I Know where I introduced the Toydle fort we were chosen to recieve in December.
This proved to be an absolutely precious gift to my kids since this year we had a family meeting and all decided that since Boo (who is two) is always getting into things and running off when we are in the yard, that for his safety's sake we'd cut down drastically on Christmas spending (both gifts and entertainment) and use the saved money to get started building a fence around the garden and play areas of our yard.
You might think that the kids would have been dejected over the idea of only getting one small gift each, but actually, it turned out they were very excited to be a part of this special project. Not only were they fine with the lack of gifts under the tree, but they even went through the couches and chairs and corners of the house and added every coin they could to the "fence fund" jar. Awww. Kids are so sweet.
Well, even though we were only getting one gift per child, I wanted them to be special. I carefully shopped thrifty locations for gifts I hoped would foster something special in each of the children. For the girls, I found old-fashioned woven sewing baskets at the antique store, fixed them up, and filled them with small scissors, thread, buttons, etc. All this for under $25 each, which was our limit per child. For Tex, Hubby bought bowling shoes, since he likes to go bowling with his Poppy. Cowboy got a pair of cowboy boots (for obvious reasons!), and Boo got one of those Little Tykes kid-sized basketball hoops (from the thrift store, in excellent condition) and a blue basketball (from Bubba). We did wind up "splurging" and spending an extra three bucks or so on each kid getting nice "new" PJs from the consignment store to give them on Christmas Eve (a family tradition).
You might think they'd have been bummed that gift opening took under a half hour on Christmas morning, but actually, it was a relief! They had more time to dig into their special gifts, and all four of the Amigos thought playing basketball in the house with Boo's gift was fun. I think we could have stopped there and they'd have been supremely happy and perfectly content. So we did...stop, that is.
We had originally planned on giving them the Toydle fort on Christmas, letting them know that God sometimes chooses to bless people who sacrifice for others in tangible ways (like the fort), and then voila! we'd get out the fort as a kind of reward. But they were having such a sweet time enjoying what they already had that we decided to just let the "gift" of sacrificing MORE for the safety of their brother settle in and be appreciated by all, and then give them the gift in a few days. It turned out to be a very special Christmas.
And I am ever so glad we did wait. This way, the fort was completely unexpected. They had no inkling it was coming other than I told them that I was proud of how good they'd been and that if they could be good at church, there would be an exciting surprise for them at home afterwards. Well, you can bet that they were on their best behavior all morning...even while they waited in the car with Tex while Hubby and I ran into the store to get a few needed groceries.
Once we got home, I could not wait any longer. We set the groceries on the counter without putting them away, and we hustled the kids into the parlor. We lined them up to talk to them briefly about how God was pleased by their selfless willingness to "do less" for Christmas to protect their little brother, and that we were very proud of them, too.
Then, we told them that TOS had chosen them to receive a very special gift to review and showed them the red bag the Toydle fort came in.
They held hands and jiggled and jumped up and down and started guessing what it might be.
"A Wii?" Nope. Not going to happen.
"A bunch of bats and balls?" Nope.
"More Legos?" NO WAY.
"A Unicorn?" Right. Maybe it is time to show them what it really is.
So we opened up the bag and pulled out some of the extra thick pvc pipes that make up the main structure of the Toydle fort. They stared at them sort of blankly. Then Ladybug brightened up and said, "Is that part of the fence and gate we are going to build?" Awww. That's a nice idea, but no.
To alleviate their confusion, we then showed them one of the solid wooden blocks with holes drilled on each side that make up the connecting joints for the Toydle forts. Then I mentioned that this is kind of like people-sized Tinkertoys and that they can put the parts together to make a fort to play in...Ahhh...understanding dawned on their faces. Bing!!! They got it!
No instructions are included, on purpose, so that you will exercise your imagination and develop your creativity.
The Lifetime Warranty sheet does give a few guidelines, which we read out loud, such as "No climbing, no hanging, no making swords..." Believe me, those words were necessary because the first thing Tex thought to do was to make a sword out of the pieces, but we made sure he (and everyone else) understood that that was a definite no-no.
BIG Toydle fort...talk about a sweet and unexpected surprise!! I almost cried, it was so awesome to receive so generous a gift. Thank you, Toydle!
As you can see, the kids (and adults) had a blast building their first fort. It didn't take long...just a bit of teamwork. With so many pieces to put together, the resulting structure we constructed is absolutley gigantic...ginormous...gigantuan!
Eventually, all that was left to do was cover it up to enclose it. We found three twin-sized white flat sheets to use for a covering (I knew they would come in handy eventually..Toydle recommends a King-sized sheet, but I did not have one). We used the clips that Toydle included in the package to fasten it to the pvc pipes (I would like to get a few more of them...they are very strong and helpful), and then the kids ran upstairs to get their blankets, pillows, and favorite animals.
At last, they all settled in on the floor with Tex and his computer, and ate a DiGiorno pizza for lunch while they watched "Tangled" on Netflix. Fun! Pizza, a fort, and a movie!! Hubby and I got some quiet time to enjoy a peaceful lunch at the table, and for the rest of the day the Amigos played various games and acted out different scenarios in and around the fort.
This toy is definitely a big hit for our family. It has become a staple of play time. I can't imagine why anyone would NOT love it. Really. I truly mean that.
Here is why I think it is an ideal toy:
- It is small-house friendly. We have barely 1600 square feet (including the enclosed porch which is not heated), yet this fort works in our parlor. It works because it gives the kids something fun to do when it is cold or rainy, it can be taken down and stored easily and quickly when not in use (the bag is the size of a large sports duffle bag), and we are hoping that in warmer weather we will be able to set it up on that front porch and leave it up for days of creative playtime.
- It is sturdy. Boo (Torndao-boy, Mini-mayhem, Octopus-arms) "helped" a lot and none of the parts ever seemed in danger of breaking. Even if they had broken, there is a LIFETIME parts warranty on both the pvc pipes and the wood block joints for ANY reason. You can't beat that.
- It is simple, yet holds the promise of a multitude of creative uses and potential ideas. It can be a house, a castle, a train, a plane, a car, a room, a cave, a store, a tunnel, a gateway to a fairyland, a church, a spaceship, a movie theater, a zoo, a puppet show theater, and much, much more.
- It is good for a variety of ages. While Tex (age 14) might not use it as much as the little kids will, he still thought it was fun to lie in the fort while they all watched a movie together. He was imagining how easy babysitting will be now that we have this fort...set up the fort and they can play all day in an easily monitored space!
- It is a quality gift that will last a long, long time. Wouldn't you rather give your kids a high-quality toy that they can all use together, that builds family relationships and creativity, and that is a perennial favorite the kids never get tired of instead of a plastic electronic toy that gets played with once and stuck on a shelf, or one that encourages your child to sit alone with his eyes glued to a tiny, flashing, mind-numbing screen? Well, I would.
- The Toydle fort is Made in the USA. I like that. By purchasing a Toydle fort, you are supporting a small, entrepeneurial American-based company which uses parts that were made in the USA. I try to frequent the local businesses more than the big chain stores whenever I can, so why not do the same when I am purchasing toys for my kids?
- Who didn't dream of having giant Tinkertoys when they were a kid? I know I did! Why not live the dream now, as a parent? It's a blast!
Here is a picture of Hubby "living" (or sleeping) the dreamYou can check out the Toydle website for yourself. Toydle forts come in two sizes: regular and BIG. The smaller one makes a fort with a maximum size of 45 sqare feet and the larger one makes a fort double that.
We are positively awe-struck and overwhelmed with gratitude at receiving this wonderful product. Ladybug, Cowboy, and Firefly wanted me to make sure that I said "Thank You!!!!" to all the folks at Toydle for their AWESOME gift (this was the word we heard over and over again..."Mom, this is awesome!!") and for making such a cool product. We hope lots of folks will want to buy a Toydle fort and I can definitely say that I cannot imagine how anyone could possibly be disappointed if you decide to buy one, though, I'd definitely vote for spending a bit more and buying the BIG Toydle fort to allow for more creativity of design. Why not go for the bigger set and give Dad some extra head room...you know he is going to want to play in it, too...and so are you!!
Whatever you buy, I know you will love it...though you may decide that you want to buy more than one if you have an extra large rec room or basement...you could built a city...Wow, now that would be gigantic!
- Visit the Toydle blog for a tour of their factory.
- Learn more about the Toydle story.
- Buy a Toydle fort HERE. Do it. You know you want to.
- Check out what other Crew members had to say about their Toydle forts.
Blessings to you all,
Disclaimer: Our family recieved a Toydle fort in order to provide an honest review of it here on our blog. We did not give this product an excellent review because anyone paid us to do it....we are saying it is an AWESOME product because it is! This fort is definitely our favorite review item EVER...and that is our honest opinion!!