It’s so hard to find really interesting kids’ toys and room furnishings these days, at least in my experience. I love the classic toys, and there’s nothing wrong with putting up the occasional poster from a zoo or a museum or such. But when I was a kid, there used to be a lot of small toy stores, each of which had a selection of things none of the others carried. Nowadays, most of the small stores are gone, and those that are left are so expensive (by necessity) compared to the giant chain stores that it’s hard to convince yourself to buy anything there unless it’s really extraordinary.
Those of you who’ve been to an IKEA have probably noticed that the children’s section has a lot of toys that, at least in the U.S., you just can’t find anywhere else. My wife and I have found quite a few interesting items there for our kids—I think my favorite was my son’s monster umbrella, which had pointy ears that sprung up when you opened it. Still, there are so many IKEA stores in the U.S. now that it’s arguable that much of their merchandise, toys included, is becoming ubiquitous.
So I was thrilled to happen upon a company called Our Children’s Gorilla, whose merchandise lives up to their name’s weirdness. The company is based in Sweden, and there are some definite similarities in design between their stuff and IKEA’s. But I’ve never seen a portable play hut that looks like a giant skull at IKEA, nor hangers that look like monkeys, nor a piggy bank that looks like a surprised alien (and that was reportedly modeled after a character in the movie "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly"). There’s so much more weirdness to see on the company’s website (which is all-Flash and thus unlinkable).
Our Children’s Gorilla’s merchandise is, according to the website, available at retailers in the U.S. (as well as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and most of Europe). Unfortunately, to find one near you they require you to e-mail them, which I haven’t yet done. You can also, of course, order from their website (or several other online retailers that carry some of their stuff), but you may find shipping charges a bit expensive.
Know of any other really neat, weird, funky, geeky, etc., toy and/or furnishing companies? Please leave a comment.