Ten Colorado Toy Makers

by on February 4th, 2011
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In a world where it is difficult to find anything without “Made in China” marked on it, it is both surprising and refreshing to know that there are still toy makers in Colorado. Here are ten of my favorites.

1. Sprig Toys, Inc. (Fort Collins, CO). Sprig Toys are made with a child-safe composite they call “Sprigwood” which consists of an array of reclaimed wood and recycled plastic. Their toys have enough detail to be recognized for what they are but leave out enough detail to let a kid’s imagination work. Some of my favorite toys include the Dino Adventure Rig and the Scuba Search.

2. Fractiles, Inc. (Boulder, CO). Fractiles, Inc. was founded by Marc Pelletier and Beverly Johnson whose passion in life is geometry. They developed the Fractiles set which consists of magnetic, diamond shaped tiles that can be used to build an endless number of designs and patterns. Fractiles are used as a fun, quiet toy at home, a great educational tool by teachers, an aide to research by mathematicians, and even as a therapeutic tool for Alzheimer’s patients.

3. Never Summer Industries (Denver, CO). Never Summer Industries has been building snow boards since 1983. Their snow board expertise made their ascent into long board manufacturing a natural step. I am quite sure that I have seen many of their long boards making fast descents down Lookout Mountain Road in Golden, CO. Their snow boards and long boards are handcrafted in Denver, Colorado.

4. Estes (Penrose, CO). While officially they have been bought and sold by several companies, Estes was founded in Denver, CO in 1958 by Vern Estes. They are currently owned by Hobbico, an employee-owned company from Illinois but their manufacturing remains in Penrose, Colorado. Estes rockets have become a household name; a small, model rocket that you can launch is an Estes rocket, even if it is not.

5. Zometool, Inc. (Boulder, Colorado). Zometool kits are used to construct 3-D models of geodesic domes and other dome shapes. They are used in both private and academic settings. All the parts made in the set are molded in Denver, Colorado.

6. Little Colorado (Denver, CO). This family run business was started in 1987 and produces high-quality children furniture and wooden toys. They build beautiful wooden kitchen and home making play sets. My favorite is a wooden music table with inset percussion instruments.

7. Story Board Toys (Longmont, CO). Started in 2002 by retired engineer, Curtis Jacobson, this company builds an easy to assemble wooden house that can be decorated any way imaginable way to make a diorama. Story Board Toys offers story boards that can be used for the house and it offers free online templates to make your own story boards. It is used privately, in schools, and as a popular homeschool tool.

8. The Dough Source (Arvada, CO). Ever wonder where your modeling clay comes from? There is a good chance that it is made in Arvada, Colorado by this family owned business. They not only make it in Colorado but they also use Colorado grown ingredients to make their dough. This company will make modeling dough to your color and scent specifications. They will even package it in a container marked the way you want.

9. ImagiPlay (Boulder, CO). This company was founded by Barbara Aimes and offers a variety of mostly wooden toys like animal puzzles, wooden figurine sets, and bead mazes. They are geared for toddler and preschool aged children. The company is situated in a neighborhood area of Boulder, CO. It is claimed that many of its employees can and do actually walk or ride their bike to work due to its close proximity.

10. Kong Company (Golden, CO). Dogs need toys too! The product of this Golden based company is based off the desperate quest of dog owner, Joe Markham, to find something that his German Shepard, Fritz, could not chew up. Nothing could stop Fritz until Joe pulled off a rubber suspension part from his Volkswagen van. Fritz found his match and Kong was born.

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