Wednesday, October 4th, 2006
Quick Look: ZipBin Play Mat and Storage Bin
Update: This article is a quick overview. Also read the field-tested product review.
Here’s an interesting idea. ZipBin by Neat-Oh! International is a toy storage bin that unfolds into a play mat.
Most play mats roll up like a carpet to conserve space. ZipBin is a rigid mat that literally forms box walls when folded. Zippers at the corners and a standalone lid secure the walls. The exterior box walls have artwork which coincides with the play mat artwork. For example, a house play mat folds into a box which looks like a house.
The neat idea behind ZipBin is that after your toddler is finished playing with his toys, you fold the mat, with the toys, instantly into the box. So, in theory, your home can stay pretty tidy.
The product is rated for 3-years and up. I don’t know how a mat could be dangerous for a 2-year-old. Maybe zippers and straps are fraught with peril.
Most bins measure 14″ x 11″ by 9″ while the mat unfolds to 32″ by 29″. Some bin-mat combinations are larger by a few inches.
A second storage option is possible by folding the mat completely flat in a compact rectangular shape, then nesting the mat inside the box lid.
Of course, the limiting factor of any play mat is the artwork on the mat. A landscape of roads and houses is fine for toy cars, but not so good for toy trains, farm animals or dinosaurs.
Soâ€¦ ZipBin is offered in many designs for many different types of pretend playâ€”dinosaur landscape, pink mansion, fairy castle, roads and train track, unicorn fantasyland, farm, pink cottage, small town and medieval castle.
An “Action Encounter” mat featuring a desert and cave landscape has a product description that references “evil-doers.” One must assume your wee one can pretend to be in Afghanistan.
Note that the above mats do not include toys; they are just play mats.
Additionally, there are also three arts and crafts theme mats for drawing, painting and clay work that feature traceable designs and ideas. Like all of the ZipBin mats, they sport wipe-clean surfaces.
ZipBins strike me as useful in small homes and for families who travel often.