Packaged in a cheerfully colored but unassuming cardboard cylinder, the “starter” and “standard” sized toyi sets (32, or 64 pieces respectively) contain pairs of feet, hands, wheels, eyes, joints, sticks, and flexible connectors. There are no instructions, only questions: What kind of toy do you want to make? What kinds of materials can you use to make it?
The creators describe the toyi elements as tools for creating toys from everyday items – discarded or found.
Our evaluation period was during the height of the COVID-19 quarantine, and our testers embraced the recycling bin like a long-lost friend. They took out cardboard toilet paper rolls (preciously gathered during quarantine), plastic water bottles, an egg carton, a few raisin boxes, a spice tin, a milk jug, and a pair of discarded flip flops – and put all the components in the middle of the playroom floor. There were even a few dog biscuits in the pile.
The creatures and vehicles and contraptions that emerged were filled with whimsy and imagined purpose. Children introduced their inventions to Grandparents via the Facetime, and yes, a few showpieces made cameo appearances on Zoom work calls.
The manufacturers may describe the toyi elements as tools, but to us, they’re more like magic wands.
Claire Green ©2020 Parents’ Choice
Claire is president of Parents’ Choice Foundation and serves as a judge on several national toy and music award committees. She champions toys, books, and media that offer children new perspectives and playful adventures in learning.