Candylab Toys is a small company in Brooklyn, New York that builds some of the most awesome wooden toy cars ever. The company launched a Kickstarter to develop its new line of cars. Our bet is a lot of adults (see: Us) end up buying them for themselves.
Vlad Dragusin noticed that most of the toy cars you see on the market today were made of ever-cheaper grades of chromed plastic, designed to fall apart mere moments after they were taken out of the package. He set out to design a better toy car that would not only hold up to the rigors of a three-year-old driver, but had the “glamorous ’60s American modernist vibe” that made the automobiles of the late 1960s the objects of the world’s desire.
He’s not screwing around. Vlad Dragusin is an AIA-certified architect, and he’s worked on projects around the globe, including some amazing modernist projects in Bucharest that recall the mod-era architecture of the 1960s in the United States.
The challenge with building a cool toy car out of wood is that while wood can accept intricate designs, the cost of manufacture would quickly outpace the price one could charge. The cars he builds are immediately recognizable to anyone familiar with the cars of the 1960s, but they’re not so brand specific that you’d have to license a design. “It was a mix based on my personal tastes,” he told BestRide. “I like the ‘slab-lithic’ [design] of the ’60s and ’70s cars, as well as based on woodworking restrictions.”
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For around $30 a piece, these are heirloom toys you can see your grandkids playing with after your own kids have used up a lot of creative energy on them.
Here’s a rundown of the cars available for sale right now:
You can’t help but notice the resemblance to second-generation Dodge Charger in the GT-10, and part of that’s down to the bright orange it’s painted. But there’s also a nod to the modern Charger in the GT-10’s full-width taillamp.
The Police Cruiser/Fire Chief
The Police Cruiser’s angular features and four-door design scream authority. The canted-forward, hidden headlights have some Pontiac, but also some early 1970s Imperial in their DNA. The dual bubble-gum machine beacons are 1960s icons.
Fire Chief is painted bright red, and sports a single beacon on the roof.
The Carbon-77’s design pushes the passenger cabin forward and cants the front valence into the wind. It’s a purpose-built racer and there’s no mistaking it.
Doc Ryder is the same basic shape as Carbon-77, but it adds a big Shaker scoop for effect.
Plum 50 has Doc Ryder’s hood scoop and Carbon-77’s shape, but it’s clad in the wild color that was a Mopar staple in its most memorable 1960s muscle cars.
It’s hard to mistake this as anything but a 1960s American muscle car, but there are elements borrowed from Pontiac in the nose, Ford in the fastback profile, and Mopar in the bumblebee stripes encircling the tail. Stinger is currently in preorder status.
It’s hard to imagine, but the new cars Candylab Toys is building are even cooler. The latest cars are part of the second Kickstarter effort, and are all available in the project up until May 24. After that, they go on preorder status on the website.
It’s no surprise that with performance cars like these, the occasional mechanical mishap comes along. And so does The Towie, an early ’70s Ford-inspired wrecker, ready to haul your disabled car to the shop via a boom that mates up with a button on each car’s undercarriage.
Pure ’60s slab-sided sedan in bright yellow with checkerboard flanks, the Candycab will get you home when you’re deep in a milk coma.
Blu-74 is essentially the same design as GT-10, but in a Gulf-like livery that’ll make a Steve McQueen fan weak at the knees. It also tips a cap to modern design with black wheels, but the white-letter tires keep the ’60s vibe.
The Woodie is Candylab Toys first station wagon, and it rivals the designs of any station wagon ever turned out by an American manufacturer. There’s a magnet in the roof to hold a surfboard, and a magnet in the undercarriage to haul a trailer. The wood sides? Real. Walnut. OMG, I can’t even.
The trailer you haul with the Woodie’s magnet is this, a two-tone sea foam and white nod to the Serro Scotty. Its magnetic hitch mates up to the Woodie for camping adventures.
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Because the cars are made of wood, they’re durable enough to withstand a beating from the most challenging young pilots.
They’re all rigorously and periodically tested before release, evaluated by a US-based, CPSIA-accredited lab to ensure that they’re safe for kids three and up. The cars are all made of kiln-dried beech and clad in non-toxic, child-safe paints. The tires are food-grade silicone, and made to be taken off so young mechanics can work on their own vehicles.
For the moment, Candylab Toys manufactures the cars overseas. “It’s quite a charming old school shop, in fact, that was brave enough to take these on,” Vlad says. But he’s planning on moving the manufacture closer to home. “We’re very close we hope to entering a partnership with a local US manufacturer in the Midwest.”
The earliest cars are for sale on Candylab Toys’ website, or via several online and brick-and-mortar retailers. “We seem to get easy traction with men’s gift stores alongside design and toys outlets,” Vlad says.
The new designs (The Towie, Candycab, Blu-74, The Woodie and the Camper) are available through a Kickstarter project. “You can go on Kickstarter until May 24, then we’ll switch to our site preordering system. Delivery is Fall – end of Septmeber we will start delivery,” he tells us.
For more information on the original batch of cars, visit Candylab Toys’ website. For information on the latest designs, see the Kickstarter project.
H/T to Rabia Karatela for bringing this to our attention!
(Image Source: Candylab Toys)