My son is in baby talk limbo – stuck somewhere between nonsensical babbling and comprehensible speech. He points and grunts at things he wants and if you play dumb long enough you will elicit the correct word for the object he wants so badly. As he navigates the intricacies of a bi-lingual household he mixes and matches these words to his liking and upon realizing that he is comprehended by anyone he giggles with delight and, with eyes twinkling, shouts the word repeatedly for the rest of the day while running up and down the hallway (granted in NYC that is not very far to run!).
Like any true New Yorker, his first word to describe a vehicle (any vehicle) was “taxi”. He sees taxis everywhere, even when they are not there (a rare occurrence in these parts). Mostly it is the color yellow that deceives him (but on occasion even the color is irrelevant: Taxi?! No, garbage truck. Taxi?! No, mail truck), but often I suspect it is his heartfelt desire to turn all “vehicles” into taxis (his tongue peaking out through his teeth to accentuate the “x” which is slightly hissed) just so he can hear himself say the word – often.
In fact, more than with anything else that he plays with on a daily basis, he is obsessed with vehicles. We have tons of them. Gifted, bought, borrowed, shared, exchanged – you name it – we have them. We try and cycle through “batches” of toy cars and trucks so that he feels he is getting an infinite “new” supply of cars and trucks every few days. Our inventory includes Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars (that these days you can buy fairly cheap by the truckload), cars you can buy at the local everything-but-aspirin-pharmacy (i.e. Duane Reade, CVS, Walgreens or regional equivalent), cars that – in NYC – you can buy from a street vendor (certified or not) and then there are a few choice cars and trucks my son plays with that are from companies that deserve a lengthier introduction than just appearing in a list. One of these companies is Automoblox.
Actually, “a few choice cars and trucks” is a gross understatement. And as my wife likes to say (often): “Are you buying that for him or for yourself?!” Is that really relevant? Isn’t a cool toy cool regardless of who buys it?! Do I sound a little immature? Maybe. Am I jealous when my son is playing with them and does not let me participate? Kinda.
Automoblox reminds me of a very similar set of toys I had when growing up. I don’t remember the name (does anyone out there know the toys I am talking about?), but the way you could pull them apart and reassemble them (even interchangeably) is similar and still fascinating.
The concept is certainly not new or unique, but the way these cars are designed and built is remarkable. The first time you pick one up the quality is apparent. Solid, smooth, sleek and cool. And yes, if they came in adult size I would love to test-drive one!
I usually hang around my son when he is playing with his Automobloxs since the wheels are great mini-teething rings for those last couple of teeth he has coming out and my wife and I really to do not relish having to inspect every subsequent diaper change waiting for him to pass one or more of them (of course, the company clearly states on the box – like all toy companies – that you should not allow anyone under the age of 75 to play with them because parts maybe a choking hazard).
What impresses me is that no matter how many times he pulls the car apart and reassembles the pieces (with a toddler’s typical grace and coordination!), they fit back together nice and snug and the car rolls just as smoothly as it did straight out of the box. I am sometimes privileged enough to fall into the good graces of my overprotective son (MINE! MINE!) and he allows me to play with his Automobloxs (under strict child supervision). These fleeting moments, though, do not fully satisfy my inner child so whatever the excuse was that I found (probably a lame one) to convince my wife (and the grown up living somewhere inside of me), I now own my very own Automoblox and it is “registered” to boot! I was actually giddy as I registered my car on their website and received my owner’s certificate via e-mail or as my big sister would say: “What a dork!”
“No, you’re a dork!”
“Oh, shut up!”
“No, YOU shut up!”
“No, YOU shut up times infinity!”