Our Favorite Toy Store is EBay

Here's Marco with one of his latest Lincoln Logs creations, made of parts from the 60s, 90s, and 00s.

[Note: I first published this story almost two years ago. Since then, I can add Pokemon cards to the long list of pre-owned items we buy on EBay.]

When I take my oldest two boys (5-1/2 and 2-1/2) to a toy store, most items there don’t attract them the way they do other kids. That’s because my boys have yet to consume any electronic media – television, movies, or video games. So, they are totally unfamiliar with all characters of toys that are derived from these media (e.g. Lion King and Sponge Bob), and they’ve never seen an advertisement for a toy.

Of course, this means that my wife and I have much more influence on what toys my kids become aware of, and what they ultimately get. But that power is not absolute. My boys definitely have wills of their own, and my oldest, Marco, has exhibited a strong tendency to get very deep into certain building toys and ask for particular components.

In essence, Marco is demanding something that eBay delivers much better than conventional retail toy stores: a very deep selection of components of certain kinds of toys. When Marco gets interested in a toy, he goes deep. Over the past two years, it’s been Hot Wheels and Lego and Lincoln Logs. All this brings us to eBay time and again. He wants to be able to get the components he wants, in the quantities he wants. He could care less about the cutesy “kits” that toy companies offer to build one particular canned configuration.

Furthermore, he doesn’t have any particular preference for the components in this year’s kits. He may well prefer some components from ten or twenty or thirty years ago. For example, for Lincoln Logs, he wants to get more: 1) long pieces (4-notch), 2) plastic windows and doors, and 3) roofs. 1) is from old “legacy” sets from decades ago, while 2) and 3) are from more current sets. He puts all these together into eclectic designs that are not possible with a set from today or a set from decades ago.

I’m quite pleased about Marco’s preference for deep immersion in certain toy categories from eBay. He’s thinking for himself about what he wants to build, rather than being influenced by slick marketing to buy some canned kit that takes no creativity to build.

Meanwhile, we’re recycling other people’s old toys rather than buying new ones, which will end up saving some space in landfills. So, we’re being more environmentally friendly without even trying. I like that…

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