Classic toys, Educational toys, Wooden toys, Made in USA toys

‘Made in the USA’ Still Matters according to Businessweek

Roy Toy Log Cabin Toy Set

Following on from yesterday’s blog,  Made in America Toys – At What Price?, about the pro’s and con’s of spending more on made in USA toys vs. spending less on made in China toys, here’s a recent post by Harold L. Sirken at Businessweek’s The Management Blog: Made in the USA’ Still Matters.

In it, he relays research that shows that:

80 percent of Americans………will pay more for products labeled Made in the USA.

He goes on to say:

60 percent of Chinese consumers also are willing to pay more for products labeled Made in the USA—as much as 80 percent more, in some cases….

To most of the world, “Made in the USA” still means something special: quality, dependability, safety, reliability—products that feature the most advanced technologies and the hippest styles. Buy these products, and you too can share in the American dream.

So, that doesn’t answer my question about buying American made toys, but it’s an interesting twist to learn that the Chinese and others value the made in America label.

What premium would you pay for made in America toys?

Made in America Toys – At What Price?

As some of you may know, Turner Toys exhibited at the Vermont Rails Model Railroad Show yesterday.  While we had a great response for our classic toys and educational toys, we were not as successful with our wooden trains and wooden track for children.

Wooden Train Set

If you can’t sell wooden trains at a train show, you know something is wrong.

What we found out from some folks is that they can buy inexpensive wooden track that works with Brio and Thomas the Tank Engine from outlet stores and toy companies on the internet. Where are those wooden trains & tracks made?  Not surprisingly, they are made in China. Our wooden trains and track are made by Maple Landmark in Middlebury, Vermont.

Turns out that you can buy kids’ trains and track from these stores for less than we purchase them from Maple Landmark.

Not all made in China toys are bad.  We carry the award-winning toy, Woodkins Dressup Doll, that is made in China.  We know that there is strict oversight and product safety testing.

In a positive light, cheaper products are an economic benefit to consumers.  On the other hand, we know the value of buying made in USA toys.  Several sites such as Made in USA Challenge highlight the economic, environmental and cultural value of buying local.

What do you think?  Spend more money for high quality, American-made toys that support your neighbors or save money by spending less on products that may or may not be high quality and benefit other economic markets?

What matters most to you?

Flying Toys for Kids – Paper Airplanes & Electric-Powered Paper Airplanes

As promised in our earlier post,  Aeronautics and Flying Toys for Kids – here’s another installment of flying toys for kids!

Paper Airplanes and an Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit – Double the Fun!

OK – who doesn’t have fond memories of flying paper airplanes?   I was old school – just fold up a piece of paper, no tweaking, and launch.   I first learned about paper airplane template books when our son was really young – before there was a Turner Toys in our life!  At first, I thought – why should I spend money on a paper airplane book?  Aren’t all paper airplanes the same?   I quickly found out how wrong I was!

Power Up Airplane conversion kit

Power Up Electric Paper Airplane Conversion Kit

The really cool thing about the paper airplane book that I bought then – and the one we carry now – Whitewings Hotshots Paper Planes – is that the airplanes you make have a super sophisticated aeronautic design with great graphics.  These planes fly far and straight and can be tweaked for maximum performance.  Plus, after you’ve used up the sheets in the book, you can still use the templates with any good quality copy paper (20 lb 8.5″x11″ sheets).  Add your own colorful graphics.  This is a great activity for families and children 4+.

Whitewings Hotshot Paper Airplanes

Whitewings Hotshot Paper Airplanes

When Peter was at Toy Fair 2013, the best product he found was the Power Up Power Kit for Paper Airplanes.  It’s the world’s first electric-powered paper airplane!  You make a paper airplane that flies well, clip on the power module and your creation can fly for 30 seconds or more.  Unlike most other items from Turner Toys it does require batteries but we think it’s well worth it in this case!  Here’s a link to a video showing how to assemble it to your plane and another video showing how it flies.

Insider tip: Make sure your airplane flies straight with the power module attached before charging the motor. If it doesn’t glide well without power, it won’t fly well when power is added. Use outdoors only when wind is 5 mph or lower. Ages 8 + up.

So, how about putting the 2 products together to double the fun?

What was your favorite paper airplane experience?

Vermont Flower Show – Could Spring Really Be Around the Corner?

I took a break from Turner Toys to visit the Vermont Flower Show which is down the street from us at the Champlain Valley Expo in Essex Junction.

Vermont Flower Show

Nice Pants!! The Vermont Flower Show

At this time of year, Vermonters are always itching for some signs of spring.  Luckily, the show did not disappoint.  This year’s theme is “The Road Not Taken,” inspired by Robert Frost’s poem.  Robert Frost has a special place in Vermonters’ hearts so it wasn’t a surprise to find his poem as inspiration for this year’s show.  According to the organizers, Green Works, the theme lies in the:

“discovery of less-travelled places, exploration of the natural world and reconnection with forgotten wonders of enchanting green space.  The poetry of Robert Frost often draws upon the landscape of New England and his home here in Vermont.”

The central display ranges from “literal interpretations of the theme to the more abstract: paths to choose from; asphalt jungles with glimpses of green; backyard urban micro-homesteads; bees; chickens, there are many opportunities for wonder and discovery.”

There was a re-creation of Robert Frost’s writing cabin and, as a part of the urban display, a narrow alley with graffiti-adorned walls, strewn garbage and some pretty tough plants.

It was also great to see some local Essex folks.  Special shout out to Sarah Salatino from Full Circle Gardens and our local booksellers,  Phoenix Books.

Forecast for tomorrow calls for snow…….

What are your favorite signs of spring? And, are you seeing any yet where you live?

Ready-to-Fly Toy Sale

To coincide with today’s blog on Image Aeronautics & Flying Toys for Younger Children

Turner Toys is offering 15% off all Ready-to-Fly Toys.

Just use the code FLYING at checkout on our website  Sale runs through Sunday, March 3rd.

Happy Flying!

Aeronautics & Flying Toys for Younger Kids

Flying Toys for Beginners from Turner Toys

In an earlier blog, we talked about Great Science Toys for Children.  Right now, we’ll showcase flying toys for children as young as age 7 (or younger, depending on how hands on you want to be with your child.)  In upcoming blogs, we’ll highlight intermediate and advanced level flying toys and kits, as well as other science toys.

Playing with science toys is a great way for both boys and girls to explore the world around them and develop a love of science.  Turner Toys is proud to carry science toys that are classic and appeal to both genders. For thoughts on gender-neutral toys, see our earlier blog “Gender-Neutral Toys.”

Flying toys are a great way for children to learn about aeronautics, engineering and science – plus, they’re fun!   We have great memories of launching balsa gliders in our backyard and, to our moms’ dismay, in the house!

Basic Flying Toys

Wright Bat        The Wright brothers for children come alive with the Wright Bat Helicopter Toy.   Wilbur and Orville Wright played with a wooden version of this toy in 1878. Wind the 9 1/2″ rotor and let go – it flies straight up 20 or more feet!
Flying Stick Toy
Our Flying Stick (the manufacturer calls it the “Easy Spin”) is an aerodynamically sophisticated version of the old folk-toy stick helicopter. The pitch of the rotor can be be changed by wetting and bending. It takes a little practice to get a good flight.  Great for group activities. For kids 7+

Guillows Design Studio 


Design your own balsa model airplanes, biplanes, gliders. Contains all the components needed to build 4 motorplanes and 4 gliders.  For kids 7+

Ready-to-Fly Planes (Balsa & Plastic)

Even if your child isn’t ready for a science competition, here are two recent press mentions of regional Science Olympiad competitions.  They give you a sense of what students do in these competitions and how valuable they are for budding scientists.

Academics in PE class?

Not sure how I feel about this, but the New York Times ran an article today:  Gym Class isn’t Just Fun and Games Anymore.   In some school districts, PE teachers are incorporating academic concepts and lessons into their PE classes.  For example,

” while in push-up position, they balanced on one arm and used the other (“Alternate!” Ms. Patelsky urged. “That’s one of your vocabulary words”) to stack oversize Lego blocks in columns labeled “ones,” “tens” and “hundreds.”


credit: Angel Valentin for The New York Times

I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing to combine physical activity or entertainment with education.  Isn’t that what parents are looking for in educational toys?

As a seller of classic and educational toys, Turner Toys, is proud to offer many toys that provide fun and learning opportunities.   For example, our Butterfly Alphabet Wooden Puzzle uses puzzle play to teach capital letters, colors, problem solving and improve your child’s fine motor skills.   Plus it’s fun.  Wooden Butterfly Alphabet PuzzleIs it any different than what these schools are doing?

As a music educator, I know that teachers are being required to incorporate literacy and math concepts into all subjects.  I do want my students to know that when they study violin, they are learning science (acoustics), language (music notation & foreign musical terms), math (rhythm reading and performing), etc.  That’s on top of the art, beauty and emotion that they express through their music.

There is the argument that kids need to run around and move.  Some say that’s what recess is for.  I know that my children only have recess through the 5th grade.  More and more schools have cut recess and PE (and music and art) for budgetary reasons but also to devote more time on “academics” because of the pressures of test scores.

Tell me what you think about integrating academics (even superficially) into physical education (or art or music)?


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