The Toy Boys!

While we are keen to keep our blog positive and trying not to lament the past too much it is fair to say that one sector of manufacturing that is almost extinct in this country is children’s toys. Having a 2 year old and not being able to buy his something to play with occasionally is a really difficult as a parent. Something really must be done to re-establish the toy industry in this country but until that happens this weekend I took matters into my own hands.

I spent 2 days making Lucan a little wooden tractor. It was actually supposed to be red as a nod to our friends at Red Tractor Assurance but Lucan had other ideas. This is how my first attempt as a toy manufacturer went:

What is great about this toy is that it did not cost me a penny. It is build entirely from bits i had knocking around in my shed. I started with an old off cut of pine 3×4″ and drew my basic shape onto it. Ideally a hard wood would have been much better and had I had some that is what I would have used (and if I had used a hard wood I would have spent a little more time on the finish).

I then cut out the shape using both electric and hands saws and finished it was a belt sander and elbow grease.

I cut the wheels with a hole saw attached to my power drill and the same with the rear arches.

After ensuring a smooth finish on all the parts I glued and nailed the arches to the main body and added a bit of dowel on the nose as an exhaust.

I them primed the pieces with grey under-primer and left to dry until Sunday.Meanwhile I drilled holes in 4 metal washers and later nailed these onto the outside of the wheels. I then spaced the wheels from the main body with 2 metal washers separated with copper grease, so they would turn freely, and screwed them all to the body.

The next day I let Lucan loose on the bits with a water based paint. This is the reason for its unconventional paint job. Once dry I coated with clear gloss varnish and left for 2 hours.

The result is a rather rustic looking toy which Lucan seems to genuinely enjoy. But it is made all the more special because father and son made it together!



  1. Great idea. As a teacher with a budget to buy more games for a classroom I looked for games made in England and discovered Orchard Game Company who still seems to make all their games in England!

  2. Lizzie Baker says

    Brilliant. You know what? he may still have that 20 odd years on and keep it as a treasured item. My 27 year old son and 24 year old daughter still have the things their Grandparents and we made for them. They have just the farmyard for that tractor. Also, when they were small, they loved playing with things that my husband’s Grandfather had made for him and his brother. They’ll all one day be played with by yet another generation. Some of these were rather rustic efforts too.

  3. That is such a lovely thing to do together.

  4. Jenny jemison says

    I agree entirely, brilliant.

  5. Probably the most inspiring thing you’ve done so far.

  6. Liz Riley says

    You are really amazing with all you are trying to do. Not only for your campaign but for Lucan too. I haven’t commented for a while – just been watching and listening in the background – you are really doing well and I am pleased you have so much support. I’m nearly 60 but remember Grandad making our sledges (there were four of us) and they were incredible – solid wood, proper polished fast runners (we live in the hilly countryside) and did they go. I hope Lucan will remember his first tractor as long as I have my first sledge. Well done – you really are inspirational – I await the rest of 2013 from you with great anticipation.

  7. saw this one on some sort of antiques programme and thought of Lucan,
    British made Teddy Bears, at least they seem to be …

  8. Looks lovely, brilliant idea!
    I’m wondering – if you’d had to buy all the materials and tools to build this from scratch, would you have come across problems sourcing British made products?

  9. `Peter says

    Awesome – I agree with Emma – what a perfectly excellent thing to do with your son!
    When I was young I remember a friend’s Dad gathering some bits of wood and building a two storey car park complete with turfed roof for our matchbox cars. The wonderment and the joy!

  10. Rachel says

    Hi, are these not British made toys – we bought some for our 2 year old son and he loves them.
    Love the tractor, have dropped a subtle hint to my husband but not sure it will work.

  11. Hi as a toy shop owner I totally agree with toy manufacturing returning to the UK. Orchard Toys are British made and produce wonderful games and jigsaws, there is also a wooden toy company again British made (Border Toys). I get quite excited when I find a ‘British toy maker’ only to find that they are just designed in the UK. Maybe you could go into production with your wooden tractor 🙂

  12. Nicola Karn says

    You might also want to try various facebook fan pages that I am fans of that make toys… Wooden Toy World, Little Waves Toy Shop, Beckenham Toys / Petts Wood Toys. I don’t know if all of them make toys, but I believe the first 2 do. Making toys together is a fabulous way to go about it though.

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