Are consumers getting short changed when it comes to choices at the market?
by Annette M. Hall
The poor economy has hurt more than just our wallets. Manufacturers and toy storeowners must make decisions each and every day about the products they will produce and those, which will be available in retail markets.
This Christmas retailers overall have chosen to carry items with lower overhead and higher profit margins. Despite the durability and educational benefits, you won't find Rokenbok lining the shelves at Toys R Us or K-mart. Why should consumers be at a disadvantage when purchasing toys for Christmas this year?
My husband often describes our Rokenbok as RC trucks meet Legos to our friends.
As the mother of three children, the youngest nearing thirty, we've seen a great deal of toys come and go through the house at one point or another. If memory serves, we started out with Wood blocks, Lincoln Logs, Duplo building blocks, Erector Sets, Construx, and others.
When the youngest was around three, we visited our local toy store, which was well stocked and supported by the local community. It was the very first time I had ever heard of Rokenbok. They had a neat floor display that we spent about an hour playing with. Rokenbok was not only fun to build, and exciting to play with, it had endless educational possibilties. We spent the next few weeks discussing the merits of this fascinating new toy.
In the end, we decided that instead of being one of those parents who bought a little of this and a little of that — but never enough of any one thing to matter — that we would stick with one logical choice that we could expand upon. Rokenbok fit the bill perfectly. The vehicles were well made, the functions were awesome; the RC Power Sweeper will actually suck up balls from Astroturf.
Rokenbok makes it's so easy. Though I must admit we have three command centers because we bought several "starter kits" in the beginning — they were such terrific deals. I've noticed the price has really dropped from those we purchased back in the beginning. We are only missing a couple of the newest items — oh and the table.
Shawn and I had discussed purchasing the table, but to tell you the truth, we had bought so much Rokenbok, (it took up a ¼ of our large living room) that it would never fit on that table — even if we used all four floors of the elevator and built up. Speaking of the elevator, one of my favorite pieces... With the elevator we were able to use our coffee table as part of the set-up. The Down-A-Vator ended up being too short and taking a little more creativity to use because of height constraints. After all, it only went down one-floor, while the elevator could come down four floors.
At one point my son's hamster was mayor of his own town, it had many roads and vehicles were parked every where.
We purchased one-set that was made for sale in the UK; I believe it was — now that set was very cool, the Roads and Bridges set would allow you to use Legos along with the road platforms. We thought we'd struck gold, our son loves Legos, and finding Rokenbok that will work with them was a dream come true. I've never seen them available since that time. I wonder if Lego has some kind of licensing restriction in the U.S. I find it a little strange that they can purchase products outside the country that we aren't able to purchase here in the U.S.
But that's only speculation on my part.
Getting back to my point, because of the overhead costs of stocking quality items such as Rokenbok and I'm certain there are plenty of quality items to be had that you aren't finding for sale this Christmas at Wal-mart. They prefer to carry cheap Chinese made, disposible products, so that they have to be replaced as often as possible. Do check your favorite toy manufacturers website, and retailers like Amazon have a huge selection of toys available. Many of them produce good quality items that are made for children to play with — safely.
Cheaper isn't always better — and rarely ever lasts as long. We began buying Rokenbok building sets when our son was three, of course we realized after picking up our second set that it would be awhile before he would be able to actually build with them. He was able to connect the pieces at around 6 or 7. I wouldn't recommend buying them for a child as young as three, unless you are real fans, like we are.
He normally played with the blocks while we built, Rokenbok really provides very good instructions, and if you lose your book, the Building Plans are also available as a free download from the Rokenbok website, as well as custom building blueprints.
We purchased the Lego NXT and plan to integrate it in with the Rokenbok building system to create more Robotic functions to work with the NXT. I'm excited about the possibilities.
Our son still ended up having a small wooden train set, an Erector set, more Legos than any child should ever have and a huge bin of Transformers that I'm always threatening to give away.
So, I'm not certain our decision was really followed up on but I think it's helped us to stay focused on having one of the most versatile building sets anyone can have. We've been faithful about removing the batteries whenever the remote control vehicles weren't in use and every vehicle is in mint condition, even though some of them we've had over ten years now.
I think our Rokenbok set is one of the best investments we've ever made. I would much rather buy my son gifts that will stand up over time — so few gifts do these days. Let me tell you some of that junk from China will be lucky to last until New Year's Day. It ought to be a crime to sell some of those toys — or maybe it is?
This is an unpaid Rokenbok testimonial from actual parents, written due to our love for Rokenbok and as testimony to the hours of fun and entertainment our family and friends have enjoyed because of the Rokenbok Toy Company.