The value of a three dollar toy.

The other day, Kai bought a little toy called, “Army Men vs Cave Men” from the “novelty toy” section. He paid three dollars from his allowance ($1.50, if you count the two for one coupon he used so he could get something else, too). There are fifteen of each.

I mentioned that I didn’t know that it was a good value but, that, of course, it was up to him. Kai bought them anyway.

After getting them home, one of Kai’s first observations was that they didn’t have hexagon-shaped bases and that he found that frustrating. Most of the miniature games he has seen or played have hexagon-shaped bases. Once he got past that, though, he found all sorts of ways to use them.

December 31, 2013

Every day, multiple times each day, he has staged mock battles.

Yesterday, he was pretending that the soldiers and cave men were Storm Troopers, Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader, and the Rebels.

December 31, 2013

Today, there were the army men versus the cave men. He also used penguins to make “fighter penguins”. He said, “These are my fighter penguins. They’re bursting in. War has a lot of bursting in.” Indeed.

"These are my fighter penguins."

It’s funny, because I never would have thought these toys would have such long-lasting appeal. Certainly not something from the “novelty section” –  toys, I typically think of as “junk”. We work pretty hard to find “good toys” that he’ll enjoy. Sometimes, though, I think maybe we work too hard, try to find the “perfect thing”. I mean, we’re usually very successful but I can’t help thinking that part of why Kai has done so much with these is that his preconceived notions were blown to smithereens, that the imperfections freed him to do it “his way”.

Or maybe it’s just that he used his own money for these? I don’t know. But I’m enjoying watching the mock battles, enjoying hearing his thinking and line of reasoning on things. I’m enjoying this three dollar toy way more than I ever thought I could.

Turns out, the three dollar toy has a lot of value after all. It isn’t how much it costs, it’s what you do with it that creates real value.

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