We live in a multi-purpose society where every place and thing ideally serves several functions. People watch TV in their bathrooms and smart phones are also remote controls, GPS’s, calendars, flashlights and pets (I made the last one up but I am sure there’s an app out there). In the same way we expect toys for our children to not only entertain but to teach valuable skills. If the toy is also safe to put in their mouths all the better. And environmentally friendly, hip hurray! As a Vancouver mom I did not have to look far to find a toy that meets all these qualifications. I was thrilled to discover the Tobo Track, and to review it for VancouverMom.ca.
Tobo Track Review
Vancouver based Tomas Nielsen is the creator of the Tobo Track, a multi-vehicle (Hot Wheels, Thomas the Train and other brands can ride on the Tobo Track) track that was created through the up-cycling of Arboform which is an injection mouldable wood material with no plastics, glues or resins. Nielsen describes Arbofoam as, “An up-cycling of a material, meaning that the end product is more useful than the material it was made from. This is as opposed to most recycling, in which the material loses properties and is used for lower grade purposes.”
Unlike the wooden train tracks that can only be put end to end, Tobo Track gives children the opportunity to decide where the next piece goes and what orientation it should be in. This design helps children build creativity while having fun. It also promotes spatial awareness, problem solving, numeracy and decision making and as Nielsen points out, “It’s actually safe for babies to suck on.”
A History of Inspiration
So what qualifies a person to create such an ingenious, multi-purpose toy? Nielsen’s CV begins as a teenager when he started a bike repair service in his parent’s basement. He has a combined honours geophysics and geology degree from UBC and did three years of an industrial design program at Emily Carr. He then went back to his place of birth, the Netherlands, and completed a master’s degree in integrated product design at Delft Technical University.
Somewhere in between all that schooling Nielsen and his parents cultivated a plan to buy 2600 acres (with the help of investors) of land that had been clearcut on Denman Island. The idea was to protect the sensitive areas, such as a lake, several marshes/wetlands, steep areas and the few remaining big trees by giving it over to community ownership. This did not go exactly as planned, but eventually, in 2010, through working with the Provincial Parks board, their efforts resulted in the creation of the largest provincial park in all of the Gulf Islands (both north and south). Currently Nielsen works in Vancouver at the industrial design consultancy agency, Form3. His projects range from commercial lighting to consumer electronics, food packaging, and a children’s hockey bag.
Environmentally-Friendly, Safe, Multi-Purpose
The Tobo Track is built on a mountain of knowledge and passion with the values of healthy play, sustainable production and educational value. Like most green toys Tobo Tracks is in the higher price range at $49.95 for 12 track pieces and a wooden car. My family and I have one set of tracks. After my review I would say buying enough to cover the whole floor would be ideal. When you consider that the tracks have an educational purpose and can be used with multiple brands of vehicles it might be well worth the investment!