Friday, October 28th, 2005
Review: Old fashioned farm play set
We scoured our community for a farm play set and settled on an old fashioned painted wooden set from SRI Toys, sold at an independent toy store. When I say "old fashioned," I mean the farm doesn’t use batteries.
The farm came with 20 animals, 4 family members and a farmer on a tractor (your mileage may vary, see disclaimer at the end of this article). We scored 2 pigs, 2 dogs, 1 donkey, 1 blue bird, 2 lambs, 1 cat, 1 rabbit, 1 chicken, 1 rooster, 1 horse, 1 cow, 1 goose, 1 duck, 1 goat, 1 lamb, and 1 mystery animal, possibly a baby cow. None of the animals make noise, except that which is supplied by the person playing with the animals.
The barn is composed of 4 walls, 1 second floor piece and two ceiling pieces that fit loosely together like a puzzle. At 16 months, Miss is a little young for in depth creative play. She removes the farm roof and shouts "kitty!" when she sees the wooden cat.
One drawback for some parents may be the 3-D perspective of the wooden pieces. The two sides of a figurine are painted with appropriate features, but the other two sides have a warped or elongated appearance. The close-up photo of the family figurines shows the effect.
Another oddity is the farm’s packaging: a plain brown cardboard box. At the toy store we saw a display model, but had to inquire about the farm because purchasable versions were kept under the counter.
Later, I looked up SRI Toys online and discovered it is based in Sri Lanka. According to the company’s web site, wood for the toys is environmentally friendly. Rubber trees are grown to be tapped for their sap which is later made into latex rubber. The trees are cut down at the end of their useful life when more trees are slated to be planted.
Update: By 22 months, I learned one drawback. A toddler leaning on the barn roof will quickly crack said roof. Oh well. Our barn has better air flow now.
Caution #1: The wheels on our tractor are attached with pegs which quickly came out while I used the toy, a potential choking hazard. [This concern may be moot. See below.] The wheels were also oval instead of round, which I suppose simulates a bumpy tractor ride.
Caution #2: Barbera Aimes of Imagiplay.com, a U.S. distributor for SRI Toys, tells me that SRI manufactures its toys to each wholesaler’s specifications. So it’s unlikely that you’ll find a farm set with the same number and variety of pieces, or even the same color farm, that I have. Barbera wanted a configuration of 15 animals so that her specific farm set could retail for about $30. Hers includes a peacock which I don’t have. Way cool.
[I paid $30 for my farm, but that was after a $10 discount because, I infer, the store had its farms for a long time and wanted to move them out the door. No wonder. Their floor model was poorly presented and not even properly assembled and when we wanted to purchase one, the clerk had to make a phone call to find out where the farm boxes were located.]
A Day on the Farm set [imagiplay.com] for sale in the U.S.
SRI Toys Nederland [Netherlands, Belgium and Germany]
SRI Toys Europe [United Kingdom & Scandinavia]
If you can’t find a distributor in your country, tell your local independent toy store to contact SRI Toys in Sri Lanka.
Addendum: This farm set was actually our second farm. Our first purchase (and return) was the plastic Fisher-Price Little People Animal Sounds Farm bought at a chain store. Aside from the musical tune on the
merry-go-round (why is that on a farm?) making Little Miss cry, I was repulsed that such a simple toy was engineered to use batteries. But hey, that’s just me.