Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Posted by Missy W. @ 8:17 AM
Melissa and Doug Mailbox and Mail Set
By Melissa and Doug
Ages 2.5 yrs – 6.0 yrs
Like any self-respecting 2 1/2 year old, Sy is obsessed with the mail. Getting the mail, harassing our very kind postal carrier, sending the mail, checking out the mailboxes at the post office, ad nauseum. Ripping the important tax documents from my unsuspecting hands, running away gleefully and “mailing” them somewhere in the house has been her favorite past time this week. Sy’s her name, mail’s her game. She had been using the Learning Tower as her mail box, but it irked her a bit that her invented mail box had no real cover on it. Of course I should have just let her make stuff up, especially after reading that NPR article about the downfall of our kids due to all those thematic toys out there. But no, I’d been checking out the Melissa and Doug Mailbox and opted for that. Sorry about your brain, kid. Mama just got you a new toy.
I was a little skeptical at first because I have friends who had purchased this toy last year and had problems with the door falling off and leaving some jagged wood exposed. When I went to our local toy store, I asked the owner about this. He had never had anyone return the toy, but picked up the phone and called Melissa and Doug’s 800 number anyway (oh how I love small toy stores!). The representative who answered the phone almost immediately (no phone tree! a live person!) said that they had had some trouble with the door back in 2006 but had redesigned it to address the problem. I love Melissa and Doug. They actually care about their products and sit on the other end of the phone listening to their customers! How refreshing!
So I took the big ol’ blue mailbox home and surprised Sy after school. She was tickled pink to say the least. Not only does the mailbox have three different sized slots on top, but it comes with these hilarious wooden envelopes and post cards to mail. The mail set even comes with velcro-able stamps that you can put on the letters. The envelopes and cards have hokey names on them which were clearly written for the adult in the room like,
28 Undercover Ave
Secret, Location 73269”
54 Easy Street
Fence, This Side 32698”
Because the stamps are also made of wood, your kiddo actually has to figure out which way to put the card in the mail and which size slot. So not only are they becoming expert mail carriers, they are also learning some spatial relations and sorting. Sy just thinks the stamps are the bomb.
There are two doors, one on each side of the box. The one in front has a key hole and big wooden key. This sort of thing has never been Sy’s strong suit, putting a key in a slot and turning, but this key is big enough for her hands to hold onto it and the mailbox has enough heft for her to actually turn the key without the toy toppling over, most likely because the toy weighs almost 8 pounds. I’m guessing the door in the back is there in case you lock the mail in and then mail the key? I’m not sure, but this one closes with a magnet (I think) and is not strong enough. It flops open a lot, usually when the mailbox is full of mail, and totally irritates Sy. I end up shoving the mailbox against a wall or piece of furniture so it doesn’t come open. Part of the problem may be that my child shoves all the wooden letters plus every piece of junk mail I’ve ever given her into the mailbox in one sitting.
The decorations on the mailbox sort of mystify me. They do not seem congruent with the rest of Melissa and Doug’s simple toys. Maybe they just needed to get some giggles out for themselves. It has things like, “Open Quietly! (please don’t wake the mail)” on the front. OK… The back is even goofier. It has the collection times on the back with phrases such as, “Saturday: After Cartoons,” or “Sunday: Hot Fudge.”
When we were playing with our mailbox for the first time I noticed that the paint had definitely been touched up on one side. It says “MAIL” with an image of a letter zooming by above it. Clearly a screen print type job. It looks as if part of the screen print did not work on the letter A so they just touched it up with white paint. It looks like they used White Out. I’d go take a picture but it’s in Sy’s room and she’s asleep, so I’ll add it this week. It didn’t bother me enough to take it back but it did make me do a double take. Melissa and Doug have such high standards and that touch up looks like it slipped right on by the folks at Quality Control.
The mailbox has a felt bottom on the interior so that the mail doesn’t chip too badly or make a boatload of noise when slamming mail through the slots. That being said, of course the paint is already chipping on the corners of the wooden mail. It certainly doesn’t bug me. It’s expected when said mail is getting tossed every which way.
• Great toy for your postage-obsessed child. A much improved version over the 2006 model.
• The back door does fall open from time to time, but I bet if you put a piece of velcro on there it’d be much better.
• Goofy decorations do not detract from the toy, but they do seem to stray from the brand’s generally simple decorations.
• It’s a heavy toy, weighing in at almost 8 lbs. It’s also a nice height at about 16” high.
• A great two or three year old gift.