Life with 2 boys, well, let’s be honest, make that 3 boys including hubby dearest, means a life filled with cars! Especially as said hubby is a mechanical engineer so we tend to live and breathe cars in this household… whether it is wooden cars, Hot Wheels cars, Siku, Scaletrix, Automoblox, Kukkia + and not to mention ride on cars and bikes, my boys love ALL of them.
As such I don’t get too excited when the boys receive new toy cars as birthday presents as normally they are all rather the same. That was until I set my eyes on Candylab Toys, these cars seriously rocked my world! Not only did they have some of the coolest car designs I had seen, but, they were wooden! I had to review these cars, pronto.
Vlad Dragusin, the founder, is an architect based in Brooklyn with two daughters and he shares an equal love of cars and “mid century modern” design.
Growing up in his native Romania in the 80’s with “crappy tv choices” he learned to sketch and draw, create and build cars that he saw and loved from the tiny glimpse of Hollywood he saw on TV.
Cut to today and the story goes that one day, one of his daughters asked Vlad to put wheels on an empty noodle box she had just retrieved from the recycling. Together they then painted and drew on the box to create an awesome car to play with. This cardboard design made Vlad imagine a world of the coolest of cool cars, the cars he remembered drawing from his childhood. He decided not to design something throwaway but cars that would become heirloom pieces and passed down through the generations, cars that were both modern and retro at the same time. Together with his business partner and neighbour, Florin who knew all the technical aspects of car design, they started Candylab Toys.
Candylab Toys was established in 2013 through a Kickstarter campaign, where 1,129 people raised 4 x times the amount of funds required to get the designs and manufacturing started. Having expected it would take a year to place their first factory order with the Kickstarter campaign they got there in 35 days! A phenomenal effort and amazingly quick result which allowed Candylab Toys to start life. I love Kickstarter campaigns, it is one of the best ways I know to raise money for “Start ups” and breath life into awesome ideas.
Although wishing to produce their gorgeous wooden cars in the USA, they struggled to find any US manufacturers interested in mass wood production of small items back in 2012. After 97 failed attempts to find a US manufacturer keen to take on the job, and 1 keen to produce the cars at USD$100.00 a car, they decided to look abroad. They went to the 2013 International Toy fair and found a Chinese wood supplier keen to work with them on their drawings. It has been a match made in heaven so far with a proven partnership and successful production of 8 cars thus far with more coming very soon!
Each car takes from 15 to 18 cuts in a solid beech wood profile, plus painting, priming, applying the stripes and decals and wheels. It is a manual process all the way. Paints are all water based with each car taking hours to produce.
This gorgeous wooden car arrives in a fab matching box and is much larger than any other wooden car around that we have tested ( even larger than Automoblox). What strikes you first is the stylishly simple design, it is super elegant and you would be happy to display it in your kids bedroom. However, there is little chance of that once your kids see it!
As you can see from the photos here, my eldest son had an absolute ball racing the GT-10 around the washi tape track I made for him on my pinboard. My youngest adores the car so much he has scratched it up a little with his endless hours of play. They both love this car and the “oohs and ahhs” that came out of both their mouths when we opened up the box was priceless.
It is quite large in size and is recommended for ages 3+. I therefore thought it might be too large for Hudson who is 3 in May, but he races it around and it fits his hand well. I would say that it is probably better for ages 3+ as my youngest has scratched it up a little with his play whereas Jasper is much more careful with it but equally loves playing with it and building garages for it and roads.
They come in 8 designs, although 1 is no longer available as it was the first Kickstarter car and thus was handed out to all those who pledged money. The police and fire car look fantastic and next month, they have added a tow truck to the collection! With bright yellows and purples for the Stinger and Plum 50, there is a car to suit all ages and sexes.
If your children, boys and girls alike, are car obsessed this makes a brilliant birthday present with the promised “ohhs and ahhs” coming from your child as they open the box. The cars look as good in the flesh as they do in the photos. They are true design led heirloom pieces that you would happily display in your children’s room.
The cars are fairly large in size in comparison to most cars that kids play with and they are great for racing, drifting and generally having a lot fun! My boys have added Sonny Angels as passengers and come up with some awesome imaginative play with the car. We will definitely be adding to our collection of Candylab Toys for their birthday, the only question is, which one!
Size: 18.3cm L x 7.3cm W x 5cm H
Designed in Brooklyn, made in China.
Safety tested according to US CPSIA and European, Australian and New Zealand regulations.
RRP: US $30.00 +
Disclosure: in order to review the Candylab GT-10 we were sent one to test drive.