Thursday, November 29, 2007

A Toy Company That Roks

I love toys. I mean as an adult, I really love cool toys. I mean kids toys really, not adult toys. I mean I love adult toys too (no, not those kind of adult toys)... like cool phones or i-prefixed digital thing-a-ma-bobs... but this is about kids toys.

One toy in particular - Rokenbok - has so captured my attention from the moment I saw it practically 8 years ago, that it has literally been blamed (or thanked, actually) for convincing me to have kids, as the only sane justification for me to buy this toy ;)

So, now I have kids, the boys are old enough, and we own this incredible toy.

Rokenbok is a creative building toy and a multi-vehicle, remote control construction site toy. You build a site which becomes the playground for the trucks. The building is just as much fun as driving the trucks once you're done. Each truck has a purpose, just like on a real construction site, and... well... I'll stop there, 'cause that's not why I'm writing this post (or I would have wrote it a year ago).

I'm not writing this post to thank Rokenbok for the incredibly responsive service I've gotten when I've emailed them about issues ("hey, this bulldozer won't go!"; response: "Give us the code from the bottom and we'll get a new one in the mail today" - and they did).

I'm writing this post to praise Rokenbok as a product company, particularly for their focus on kids and safety. They recently posted a new page on their website which describes their safety testing process - to re-assure parents in the wake of this horrendous rash of lead-ridden toys coming out of manufacturing plants in China. If you have a kid with a red Thomas-Train half in her mouth, you'll understand why this is such a big deal (or you should read other articles).

Rokenbok is not just re-assuring parents as a defensive measure, I think they truly have a strong, DNA-level commitment to the importance of safety in the products that they put in kids' hands - and they deserve credit for that.

Rokenbok has remained focused on they end user over all else. That was clear when we dropped (ok, drove) our first truck off a high ledge on an early site we built - and discovered that it was clearly built to withstand much more abuse than a normal toy... but the safety focus - from design to manufacturing - that's proof of their commitment. One example, besides that they don't dip their toys in vats of chippable lead paint, is the design of their admittedly choking-hazard-sized "Roks" (the balls scooped and dumped by the trucks). They designed them with "vents" so that "if one were accidentally inhaled, a child would still be able to breathe through the vents until professional help could arrive". If only all companies had such a focus on great products as a priority over cheap delivery.

I've heard that Rokenbok recently had a significant change in management - let's hope they maintain the same values.... Thanks Rokenbok!


Mr. Rokenbok said...

Dear JR,

I am the big management change at Rokenbok. My name is Paul Eichen, the inventor and founder. I took a bit of a sabbatical, but I am back as CEO once again. Are you a member of our Forum? We have a new Building Challenge launching next week that you might enjoy. Check it out here:

No worries about product quality and safety, it remains and has always been Job #1 here.


Paul Eichen
Chairman, Rokenbok Toy

JR said...

Hey Paul,
Thanks for the comment - I went to that forum, but it looks like the last building challenge was in November... but I'll look out for the next one - my sons will love this (almost as much as me ;)
See you on the forum,