The best thing about events like ToyFair is finding the unexpected little gems. Last year, it was Iamelemental. This year’s find of the fair was Once Kids. This Texas-based toy company has ditched the typical plastic of most toys to bring us wood-based superheroes and cityscapes.
The cityscapes have the delightful name of Wander Lust and come in many varieties. The size of the sets makes them perfect for many action figure sets and make great backgrounds. This isn’t the only building line that Once Kids offers (I could swoon over their Brooklyn Brownstone sets). At $30 a pop, these aren’t exactly impulse buys, but they’re also not insanely over-priced.
Once Kids was nice enough to send me not one, but three Playhard Hero figures. The first two, Birch and Spruce, were grabbed by my five-year-old and absolutely torn into. I’ve mentioned before our issue with our dogs and plastic toys–these were totally ignored by them. But not by my son. In fact, Birch is now regularly part of adventures with the Ninja Turtles. The second set was the DIY kit. For $45 ($40 on Amazon), Once Kids will send you two figures (at a savings of $5, as figures are $25 each), with the storage box plus 12 markers. The goal here is to let kids design their own action figures. As someone who used to do that via clay, the idea is very appealing. However, the DIYs have not grabbed my son’s interest as much and remain boxed.
One other thing from Once Kids that I simply cannot leave out is their Eco Bricks. These are 100% LEGO-compatible bricks, made of natural wood. As the Eco implies, these are much better for the environment than your typical LEGO. They come in assorted drums of plain wood, and you can color as desired. Starting at $30 for a 90-piece set, the 145 set for $50 is the best value, to me. There are other companies that make wooden LEGO substitutes, but quick searching shows these to be the one of the better deals.