Locally owned stores stock a different kind of toy

Old-fashioned items popular at independent shops

— What’s moving off the shelves of locally owned specialty toy stores probably didn’t appear in any Black Friday ads.

Most people know what’s inside a big-box toy store, but local toy stores can offer a different take on playtime. As high-tech toys become more prevalent and popular, specialty toy stores can prove nostalgic for parents and intriguing for children.

Many Capital District specialty toy stores stray from battery-operated toys. Also, toys tend to require interaction from children instead of the toy entertaining the child. From old-fashioned toys to brain-teasing games, odds are there is something unique at a local toy store.

Kevin Murphy, store manager for The Toy Maker in Stuyvesant Plaza, said there are two different branches to the toy industry — mass-market and specialty — and he said the two don’t compete with each other.

“We have a lot of old fashioned toys. … It is things you won’t see advertised on Saturday morning TV,” said Murphy. “We tend to please the parents because they see things they haven’t seen since they were little kids.”

Some of the older style toys offered at The Toy Maker include jack-in-the-boxes and wooden puzzles. One of the best selling items is the Fun Time Tractor, which is one of the few battery-operated toys. The tractor moves by pushing down on the smokestack and the various animals in the wagon make noise.

Outside of the battery-powered realm, Muprhy said a popular item is Perplexus, a three-dimensional maze game involving a small marble inside a sphere. Players select one of the tracks to take and use gravity to complete the maze through flipping, tilting and twisting.

“Kids love to play and they will realize the play value of these toys. … There is a lot of repeat play value with our toys,” Murphy said.

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