We are sorry to share that The Toymaker has passed away, and we are not currently accepting orders. We will update the website when we resume operations. We anticipate this will not be sooner than the summer of 2023. Thank you for your patronage and patience as we navigate this difficult time. - The Voake Family
|Wooden Toy Pull-Carts & Unit Block Sets||Wooden Toy Building Blocks: Kindergarten & Unit Blocks||Wooden Toy Train Sets|
|Wooden Rocking Animals: Horses, Bunnies, Dogs, Biplanes, & Trucks||Traditional & Big Size Wooden Toy Cars & Wooden Toy Trucks||Wooden Toy Airplanes, Wooden Toy Helicopters, & Wooden Toy Biplanes|
|Wooden Doll Strollers, Wooden Toy Cradles, & Beds||
Wooden Toy Riding Size Cars, Trucks, Trains, & Biplanes
|Wooden Toy Rolling Animals of Various Sizes||Wooden Toy Ferryboats & Wooden Toy Tug Boats|
|Riding Size Wooden Toy Animals & Kiddie Cars||Wooden Toy Vehicles of Various Sizes||Wooden Toy Farm Set & Nursery Room Decor|
|Ordering Info & Help||Wooden Pull-Toys: Wooden Toy Animals, Wooden Toy Carts, & Wooden Toy Circus Wagons||About Us|
Building Block Gift Sets & Classic Unit Block Combinations: Click here if you are searching for Kindergarten/Unit Block Sets
**An Important note about placing your order: For your increased online security & convenience, we now offer 4 different options for placing your order. As in the past, you may choose to place your order either by phone, mail (using our printable order form), or by clicking on "Go to Ordering Info". In these cases we will take your credit card information via telephone(or mail if you prefer) & provide you with an expected delivery date (if you submit the "Order Form" we will call you). Now, as an added convenience, you may also choose to place your order by simply adding items to your shopping cart & checking out online via our secure credit card processor, PayPal. If you choose to exercise this option, you do not need to have or open a PayPal account. **Please note: If you require delivery for a specific date or holiday, please call us before placing your order, or if you prefer, fill out our online "Order Form" & we will call you for your credit card info & delivery date details.
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Our toys have been recommended by respected books and periodicals both for their craftsmanship & originality, and for their design & durability within the playspace. All of our wooden toys are constructed of the finest select quality hardwoods: Vermont hard maple, Pennsylvania cherry, red oak, and birch. Many of our toys are designed to be ridden and all of our toys are created to endure the rugged play of several generations of children to come . Our toys are sanded extra smooth with all edges eased. To further highlight the natural beauty of the woodgrains, beginning this year all of our creations will be offered entirely natural, bereft of any exterior sealers or stains which may sometimes detract from the natural appearance of the hardwoods we use.
As we celebrate our 45th year of toymaking, we are thankful for all of our past endorsements from returning customers as well as from teaching and childraising professionals such as the noted child psychologist and author, Dr. Fitzhugh Dodson. Please browse through our website to view our offerings... We are proud to carry forth the Vermont folk art tradition.
~Vermont Wooden Toys
New York Times:
By KATIE ZEZIMA
Published: December 23, 2007 (excerpt)
NORWICH, Vt. Ron Voake has spent the last few months in a blur of wood, wagons and widgets, trying to keep up with demand for the toys he makes...
Ron Voake, 61, a toy maker who works alone in his shop in Norwich, Vt., said he had been deluged this holiday season with orders from customers leery of buying toys from China. This year stacks up as preposterous, Mr. Voake said.
Mr. Voake, the owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, has been deluged with orders from customers leery of buying toys made in China after millions of toys manufactured there were recalled this year because they have lead paint.
Every time there was a story about a toy recall, I got flooded with orders, Mr. Voake said. This year stacks up as preposterous. Ive never had a year like this, and I hope I dont have another one.
Mr. Voake said he had made more toys this season than at any other time in his 34 years in the industry. Some holiday orders will not be ready until March.
Theres so much too much business, he said. I can only make so many things.
Mr. Voake, 61, who works in his shop with a springer spaniel named Snifflefarg, never thought there would be such a clamor for his products, which include arks, doll carriages, blocks, trains and other toys made from hard maple.
All his wood is bought from dealers in Massachusetts and Maine, and he finishes his products with a hardening oil and nontoxic stain.
Mr. Voake started woodworking in the early 1970s. He started making toys for his wifes classroom. When the couple moved east in 1973, Mr. Voakes wife took a teaching job, and he decided to make toys full time.
I wanted to see if I could get away with doing it because I liked doing it, Mr. Voake said. Vermont was the right place. He first sold his wares at the Vermont State Craft Center, and branched out to phone and Internet orders. He taught himself how to make more complicated pieces by experimenting and adding details. He also had three sounding boards his daughters, who are now in their 20s, and were never shy about telling Mr. Voake which toys worked and which did not.
Business has not always been great, and there have been a few bumps like when Mr. Voake sliced off the top part of his right middle finger with a saw.
Mr. Voake said he thought the reasons he had been able to make toys for so long were that he truly enjoyed it and that not many products looked like his. I dont make anything that can be manufactured, he said. It has a different look that you cant get by slapping things together.
Standing in his workshop, which is decorated with decades-old pictures of toys and princesses drawn by his daughters, and filled with saws and sanders and littered with sawdust, Mr. Voake wiped a nontoxic finish off a doll carriage as Snifflefarg vied for his attention.
Apart from the few orders that will not be shipped until March, nearly all the Christmas orders have shipped, and Mr. Voake is putting the finishing touches on toys for some local residents. He has absolutely no inventory this year, because things are bought as soon as they are made.
Press / MSNBC Story: "Recalls Spur Demand for American Playthings"
Published: October 12, 2007 (excerpt)
Small local companies swamped as many grow wary of toys made in China
Ron Voake, 62, owner of Vermont Wooden Toys, says his orders have nearly doubled from a year ago and he can't make his wooden playthings fast enough to keep up.
As consumers look for alternatives to Chinese-made toys following a series of recalls this year, dozens of small toy companies are struggling to meet surging demand. Some owners report online sales up as much as fivefold from last year. They're hiring extra workers, expanding warehouses and adding extra assembly shifts.
Experts say the boutique American toy boom won't last beyond the recalls, which started this summer. So far, more than 21 million toys made in China from Baby Einstein Discover & Play Color Blocks from Kids II Inc., to Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway by RC2 Corp. have been found to contain excessive levels of lead paint, tiny magnets that could be swallowed or other potentially serious problems.
Retailers such as FAO Schwartz Inc. and Toys "R" Us Inc. downplay the recalls, saying they aren't likely to dent holiday sales or significantly change their orders. About 80 percent of toys sold in the United States are made in China.
Executives at Mattel Inc. which has had 20 million toys recalled are touting improved manufacturing standards. Safety experts say American toys aren't necessarily safer than those made in China; Europe has the highest standards, but even there quality varies from factory to factory.
Experts say even if Americans produce several hundred thousand more U.S.-made Little Tykes, K'Nex or Rainbow Creatures, China will retain manufacturing dominance in the $22.3 billion toy industry.
"It's a blip," said New York-based toy consultant Chris Byrne. "In the fourth quarter, a lot of purchases are made based on supplications to the North Pole and the phrase 'country of origin' isn't in the vocabulary of children writing to Santa."
But boutique toy makers are thankful for any advantage, however ephemeral. They've been unable to compete against low-cost manufacturers on mass-produced items, often settling for niche markets with limited potential organic-fabric dolls, wooden animals, special-educational toys. Now they're enlarging their "made in USA" labels, bringing photos of their manufacturing facilities to toy fairs, and placing ads in industry publications.
"I get calls from people who are absolutely panic driven," said Ron Voake, 62, owner and sole employee of Vermont Wooden Toys. Voake hand-makes wooden trains, arks, animals, ferry boats and other toys. Prices can exceed $175 for large models, which he builds by hand in the basement workshop of his Norwich, Vt., home. Orders are nearly double what they were a year ago, and Voake who cranks out less than 200 toys a year can't keep up.
"Usually I have the summer to stock up for Christmas, but I'm already behind," said Voake, a former middle school teacher who began making toys 30 years ago. "This is actually an aggravation we are so busy here, and it's just me and the dogs. I don't have any help."
Abby Reyes, a 34-year-old San Francisco resident, appreciates their labors. While attending a country fair last weekend in Waterford, Va., the environmental and social justice lawyer purchased a $20 rattle and a $12 wooden acrobat toy for her 5-month-old son, Kiran.
Plastic, Chinese-made equivalents would have been a fraction of the price, but Reyes was happy to pay in part because she met the makers, Don and Dawn Shurlow, owners of Rhodes, Mich.-based Toys From Times Past. She hopes the recalls get other parents thinking about the potential consequences of their purchases.
"The question isn't whether I'd shell out a bit more for these well crafted toys rather than going the cheap and easy way," Reyes said. "The question is whether I'd feel queasy about going the cheap route, and the answer is unequivocally yes."
A Yankee Way with Wood, "From Philosophy to Toy Wagons" (Chapter 13), by Phylis Meras, c. 1975
The New England Handcraft Catalog, page 262, by Kenneth A. Simon, c. 1983
Kids: day in and day out, A parents' manual, pages 452-453, by Elisabeth A. Scharlatt, c. 1979
How to Grandparent, Listings for recommended toys, by Fitzhugh Dodson, c. 1982
Vermont Life Magazine, A Trio of Toymakers"; Winter, 1997, pages 12-17
Valley News, assorted articles: 1975-2007
If you wish to place an order with us, order online or click here for other ordering options, shipping charges, & other information. We accept your personal check, money order, or credit card (Mastercard, Visa, or Discover). We ship UPS & USPS. Satisfaction is always guaranteed.
|Need Help ?||About Us|
|Pull-Carts & Unit Block Sets||Kindergarten Blocks||Traditional & Big Size Wooden Toy Cars & Trucks||Riding Size Wooden Animals & Kiddie Cars|
|Doll Strollers, Cradles, & Beds||Wooden Toy Train Sets||Riding Size Cars, Trucks, Trains, & Biplanes||Wooden Toy Airplanes, Helicopters, & Biplanes|
|Wooden Rocking Animals, Biplanes, & Trucks||All Pull-Carts & Circus Wagons||Pull-Toys: Animals, Carts, & Circus Wagons||Ferryboats|
|Noah's Arks||Wooden Rolling Animals of Various Sizes||Vehicles of Various Size||Farm Set & Nursery Room Decor|