PlayFair Toys opened in 1982 with the focus of providing nothing but non-violent toys that cater to both boys and girls. The store didn’t have a section for boys with a bunch of toy guns or a pink section with baby dolls targeting little girls — a boy or girl could enjoy every single toy in the store. Almost three decades later, PlayFair Toys is still holding strong to that vision.
“Gender-neutrality is still important,” says Marilyn Walker, an environmental biologist with a doctorate who bought the store in 2004. “I wouldn’t say it’s nowhere near as important as it was back then; I won’t reject a toy because maybe it’s pink. But we really stay away from violence. We don’t carry any kind of guns. We actually carry plastic toy soldiers because we have a lot of people with family in the military, and I feel like they should be able to act that out a little bit. I think that’s a good thing for them, but we don’t go heavy in that area at all. But from the very beginning, non-violence I hold very dear.”
So if there aren’t any Barbies or Star Wars lightsabers in the store, what kind of toys do they carry? Quite a variety. The toys range from games and construction sets to a wide array of action figures, dolls, puppets and stuffed animals.
“Our toys are engaging,” says Walker, who is also affectionately known as Professor PlayFair. “Every toy in here has an intrinsic value. We’re really different. I picked every toy in here, personally, to be engaging. Every toy in a place like Toys ‘R’ Us has to do with margins, corporate agreements and trying to take things to the masses and what’s on TV. To me, it’s all about ‘what are our customers going to love?’” So what are the hot toys for this holiday season? Professor PlayFair gives us an inside look:
“This toy made a real resurgence after The Pursuit of Happyness came out,” Walker says. “It’s become a classic toy.”
RAGGEDY ANN & ANDY
The pair of dolls originally came out in the early 1900s along with a book of stories.
“It’s just a toy that grandparents really love, and the story is really touching,” Walker says.
It’s a card game created by a local employee of Array BioPharma that builds logic and memory. “He wanted a game he could play with his kids that didn’t require any reading but challenged him as a Ph.D. biologist,” Walker says.
“This is really a hot game that’s taken off,” Walker says. “It’s got a Tetris kind of approach. You have four different boards where you race against other people to fit these pieces together.”
“It’s a real simple concept,” Walker says. “They have these plastic pieces so they can build their road however they want. They come with batteryoperated cars, and you can switch the track around, to make different things happen. It’s like a train set but with cars.”
DARDA CARS RACE TRACK
“These cars don’t have any batteries, they’re incredibly durable, and are very fast,” Walker says. “Plus these tracks don’t fall apart like the Hot Wheels tracks.”
MYTHBUSTERS: POWER OF AIR PRESSURE SCIENCE EXPLORATION KIT
Based on the popular Discovery show, Mythbusters, this item comes with four different kits/experiments. “This is a new line this year that has been really popular with 8-year olds and older,” Walker says.
It’s a collection of triangle and square-shaped magnets that children can use to create different objects and shapes. “It’s also a really great adult desk toy too,” Walkers says.
MY LITTLE SANDBOX PLAY SET
It’s a miniature sandbox that comes with action figures, environments and tools.
Playfair Toys is located at 2550 Arapahoe Ave. Visit www.playfairtoys. com for more information.