Wooden toys have been a staple of childhoods for hundreds of years. From jigsaws to dolls houses, building blocks to teething rings, the variety of toys made from wood is astounding. eBay offers a fantastic selection and great shopping experience to help find the right wooden toy for any child or collector. This guide will help buyers get started by outlining some key considerations to make when buying wooden toys.
Back to the Future
Despite now living in an age of technical complexity, where many toys perform functions that would amaze even the previous generation, wooden toys have retained their popularity. They're never far from the top of any child or parent's shopping list, and for good reason; there are a number of advantages to buying toys made of wood.
The Power of Imagination
Just as bigger isn't always better, being more complex is not always an advantage over simplicity.
With wooden toys this is especially true. Despite a huge range of attractive qualities, one disadvantage of highly complex modern toys can be their decreased versatility when it comes to imaginative play.
- Active toys are those which encourage interaction and encourage play to take place in a number of different contexts.
- Passive toys are those whose entertainment factor comes from simply being observed. Wooden toys often fall into the first category due to their simplicity compared with their plastic counterparts.
Wooden toys like building blocks or wooden cars can encourage such open ended play, as they're able to be played with in different scenarios, encouraging the development of imagination. Other skills wooden toys can help develop include problem solving, lateral thinking and motor skills.
Different Types of Wood
Wood is typically split into two main categories when describing its properties.
- The first classification of wood is softwood which comes from evergreen trees that don't drop their leaves. Softwood grows quickly and is easily farmed. Consequently it is commonly used and reasonably priced. Most affordable wooden toys will be made from a softwood of some sort.
- The second is hardwood. Hardwood comes from deciduous trees which commonly mature over a long period of time. Trees such as oak are hardwoods, and can grow to be hundreds of years old. Due to the long growth period, hardwood is very compact, making for a very resilient material. The length of time it takes to grow means there is less of it around than softwood, and due to this, it is often more expensive.
Within both the softwood and hardwood families are inexhaustible variations of species. Each different wood has varying qualities.
- Some woods such as Hickory have a natural elasticity, suited to toys like toy hammers.
- Woods like Balsa are very light.
- Others like Black Cherry are used for their inherent colour qualities.
Toy manufacturers will often use a mixture of different wood types for a toy in order to create the optimum blend of price and purpose. Being aware of the types of wood the toy is made from can help buyers ensure the toy they’re buying is right for their purposes. For instance, if looking for a toy that will last long enough to hand it onto children within the family for generations to come; the best bet is looking for a toy made from a hardwood.
A key advantage of wooden toys can be their environmental credentials.
- As there is no plastic, production of wooden toys commonly uses less fossil fuel.
- Wood will also biodegrade, meaning wooden toys pose less of a landfill risk than plastic
- Wooden toys are often much easier to repair than brittle plastic toys, making them more affordable in the long term and helping the environment by producing less waste.
- Wood can also be recycled.
For these reasons, environmentally-conscious shoppers are often keen on wooden toys.
If shopping for wooden toys with the environment in mind, make sure that the wood comes from responsibly managed forests and is not a by-product of illegal logging. Wood from sustainable sources is marked out by a variety of eco standards such as Rainforest Alliance certification.
It's not only in the interests of child safety, but also the environment that a wooden toy is produced free from toxic materials. If buyers have any questions about an item, it's easy to contact the seller and ask them for more information. Simply go to the seller's eBay profile and click on the "Ask seller a question" button.
Wood does not always need to be:
However, sealing wood protects it from absorbing moisture which may, depending on the type of wood, cause it to swell and warp - hardly ideal for wooden toys made from multiple parts with tight joins.
Sealing the wood covers up the beautiful natural grain but can also help protect it from picking up stains. If buying toys for children who will no doubt play with the toys in all kinds of messy scenarios, the advantages are clear.
Wood stains, varnishes and paints come in every variety of colours and can enhance the look of any toy. It's useful to consider that if the toy isn't painted it's very easy to paint wooden toys yourself for a customised touch. It's also usually possible to sand down already painted wooden toys to apply your own colours if the original look of the toy is not to your liking.
You can even turn this into a fun activity to share with your child, painting toys together may also help give them a sense of ownership or responsibility for the toy.
It's critical to check that any toy you're intending to pass to a child to play with is completely safe. With varnishes, stains and paints it's important to not only ensure that they're non toxic, but that they won't conflict with any allergies a child may have. Almond and walnut oils are sometimes used to seal wooden toys, and though they look and smell wonderful, might not be suitable for all children.
Safety is always the most important consideration when purchasing any kind of toy for children or infants. As already discussed, it's important to ensure none of the chemicals used to treat the wood are toxic, but there are also a couple of other things to take into account when deciding if a toy is suitable to be played with by a child.
Small parts are a big risk to young infants with a predilection for putting anything within reach straight into their mouths. Any toy you're to give a young child should be thoroughly checked for detachable small parts. Look at details attached to the toy: axels, wheels and anything else you suspect could be worked loose by small and insistent fingers. Give anything you think might be susceptible to coming loose a bit of a tug to see that it's attached firmly to the toy before deciding you're happy enough the toy is safe for an infant to play with.
A useful indicator to look out for is the 'CE' mark. Any toy imported into, or manufactured within the EU should carry the mark. It does not function as a guarantee of safety but declares that the manufacturer or importer has judged the toy to adhere to the EU's safety standards for toys.
How to Buy Wooden Toys on eBay
Categories: The Categories list on the left side of each page will help you narrow down your listings by item type. You'll find links to shop for Kids or Collectors & Hobbyists, and the ability to refine your search by Brands including Brio, Early Learning Centre ,Chad Valley, Fisher Price, Mothercare and Marks & Spencer. As you refine your search you'll be able to narrow down your choice by subcategory.
Product Finder: Use the Wooden Toys Finder to quickly narrow down item listings by type of Sub-Type, Brand, Character Family, Age Level, Gender, Condition, Price and Item Location.
If you can't find exactly what you want, try browsing eBay Stores or tell the eBay Community what you’re looking for by creating a post on Want It Now, or save a search on My eBay and eBay will email you when a matching item becomes available.
Buy Wooden Toys with Confidence
Make sure that you know exactly what you’re buying and understand how eBay and PayPal protect you.
Know Your Item
Read the details in the item listing carefully.
Remember to add delivery costs to your final price. If you’re buying a high value item, check that the seller will insure it until it is delivered to you.
If you want more information, click the “Ask seller a question” button on the seller’s profile or the “Ask a question” link at the bottom of the item listing page.
Always complete your transaction on eBay (with a bid, Buy it Now or Best Offer) otherwise you will not be covered by eBay Buyer Protection.
Never pay for your eBay item using an instant cash wire transfer service like Western Union or MoneyGram. These are not safe ways of paying someone you do not know.
Know Your Seller
Research your seller so that you feel safe and positive about every transaction.
- What is the seller’s Feedback rating?
- How many transactions have they completed?
- How many positive responses do they have?
- What do buyers say in their Feedback?
- Are they positive about the seller?
Most top eBay sellers operate like retail shops and have a returns policy.
- Do they offer a money-back guarantee?
- What are their terms and conditions?
In the very unlikely event that you do not receive your item or it is not as described, eBay Buyer Protection covers your purchase price plus original delivery cost.