Friday, February 16, 2007

What's a Cubit?

Does anyone remember that old Bill Cosby bit, where God is talking to Noah? God is giving directions, and Noah, who's a little overwhelmed by the entire process suddenly stops and asks, "What's a cubit?" Seems like he isn't up on God's measurement system. It's pretty old, but still funny.

Even older than that bit are Noah's Ark toys. They have appeared in the U.S. since the 18th Century. Dickens writes about them. And, in fact, Noah's Ark was probably the most common form of hand-carved toys in Colonial America, after dolls.

While Noah's Ark toys have been around forever, they more or less dropped out of sight in the 70s and 80s, limited to specialty and religious stores. But that's all change in recent years. Fisher-Price, Melissa & Doug and many smaller manufacturers as well.

One line we found at Toy Fair truly blew us away. It's called Noah's Pals, and they're made by a company here in New York. What makes this company distinct is that it's not just allowing kids to act out the Biblical legend of Noah, the company has married kids' fascination with animals, their love of factual information and a passion for collecting.

The result is an initial group of 40 pairs of animals, a beautiful ark and human characters. Each of the animals comes with information about them--how common they are, whether they're endangered and their habitats. The sculpting on the animals is absolutely gorgeous, and (We love this.) the male and female animals are different in scale and structure. Plus, the more endangered the animal is, the more limited the edition, which adds to collectibility. This is smart, fun stuff.

Of course, we were taken with the Caribou because it's named Christopher, but that happened long before they met me, and it's a popular name again. (Wish it had been when I was a kid; I got teased for my name all the time.)

The other unique thing that this company is doing is offering special prizes and collectibles when you register on their Web site. Follow the link in the title.

The toy industry can be pretty rough, but we're guessing that this young company is really on to something, and we're expecting big things of them. We also want to know them if it starts to rain alot.

-C. Byrne