If you follow me on instagram and Twitter, you’ll know that I’ve been away from home a few times this past month. A few weeks ago I had the amazing opportunity to visit the Step2 Headquarters for the 3rd time as a Step2 Ambassador. You might think that you could see everything there is to see in 2 visits, but alas I saw, learned, and enjoyed even my 3rd adventure as much as the first two!
It’s always a great time to get together with my fellow bloggers, who after years of working together have turned into friends. It’s also so much fun getting to see another part of the country that I otherwise might not have the chance to visit. And if I didn’t mention the fact that the Step2 company makes us feel like very important people by treating us to a luxurious visit to Spa Walden, I’d be leaving out a favorite part of my trip. But with all that, there’s one thing that takes the cake. The one thing that gets me excited to make the [usually very adventurous] flight to Ohio… the TOYS!
From the moment you enter the Step2 building you never forget that the most important job of every employee in the building is to create quality, safe, and fun toys. The toys are on display everywhere, there are pictures of children lining the walls as a reminder of who the truly important people are in the process, and the giant American flag hanging in the front of the factory serves as a symbol that quality and affordable toys can be manufactured right here in our country.
Even though this year marked my 3rd year of taking the Step2 Factory Tour, I didn’t want to dare miss it. It seems like I see something new each time we walk around the floors seeing where the toys are made. One thing that always stands out to me during our tour is the safety standards that toy companies must adhere to. Step2 has a Safety Lab dedicated to testing their toys in-house before they’re sent out for third party testing. Last year we saw a Ford Raptor being put through the ringer and this year we spied the all-new designed Whisper Ride being pushed along in 100 degree simulated weather to be sure it holds up to those temperatures.
Other than the actual toy making process [we’ll get to that in a minute], my favorite place in the Step2 Tour of the Toy Factory is definitely the stacks and stacks of toys. I can’t help but get a little giddy and feel a slight connection with Willy Wonka and the desire to just run through the stacks of toys picking out one of each to ship home to my girls. It may seem silly, but look at those stacks and tell me you wouldn’t daydream of the same!
I’m always amazed at watching the process of making Step2 toys, but this year, oh this year, they had something up their sleeves that none of us expected! Once we were inside the plant we were told that we would get to make our own custom Kid Alert & Pup! This was a huge deal as there have only been a couple of people ever get to make their own custom Step2 product and you might have seen those lucky ones on TV!
The first thing you should know is that colored powder I’m scooping is finely ground plastic. Each Step2 toy is made by first weighing out the correct amount of powder for the toy’s mold. Then, the powder is poured into each mold and clamped down so it can go in the ovens to melt the powder into plastic.
One thing that sets Step2 toys apart from so many others is their unique rotational molding process. Now, 4 years ago I wouldn’t have understood that sentence myself, but after getting to know the products and seeing the toy making process up close, I understand the difference. This means that the toys are double-walled making them extremely sturdy and the reason that so many Step2 toys are passed down generations!
Once the plastic has completely melted and rotated within the molds, the container heads to a couple of cooling chambers before it’s time to pull it out of the mold. Notice we’re wearing gloves, though, as even through two cooling chambers that Kid Alert was still HOT!
We’ve always had the chance to see Step2 employees working in the factory on various stages of toy production, but to be up close and hands-on with the process was an incredible experience. Once the toy is pulled out of the mold, it is then trimmed and “fired” with a blow torch type tool to smooth any rough edges. If you’re wondering how much Step2 toys can withstand, this is quite the testament!
The toy making process is actually quite faster than I would imagine. Step2 employees have done this process so often they are quick and efficient. As soon as the product is fired and looked over, my Kid Alert & Pup was put right into a box for shipping.
I told my girls that I made them something special that was unique just for them and when our bright pink Kid Alert arrived, they were as excited as me. I can’t tell you how many neighbors have asked where to get one!
Although making the Kid Alert & Pup was probably the highlight of my Toy Tour, there were a ton of other brand new products on display for us to see! One of my favorite processes during our Step2 Headquarters Trip is the amazing opportunity to talk with designers, marketing individuals, and give our feedback on new products that are in production for the following season. Are you ready to see some of these great Step2 toys that we saw?
Get excited because this is an amazing sneak peek at the
Fall 2016 Step2 Toy Line!
If you’ve had a Whisper Ride, you’re going to love this upgrade to the Whisper Ride II. It is so cool in person and the perfect ride-on for a younger child. I’m loving the storage under the seat, the cupholders on the side, and, of course, the working horn which is a favorite for all little drivers.
You can definitely tell that Step2’s CEO Chris Quinn is a car guy, can’t you?! It seems like the company is heading towards a direction of making their car products more realistic and I love the idea. The Corvette Bed took a major overhaul and looks amazing. You might just see a sneak of The Bachelor House behind it too!
My girls love Arts & Crafts and as soon as I saw this unique easel, I knew my girls would love it. It’s 2-sided so perfect for multiple children and a new take on easels.
If you have a Paw Patrol fan, they’re going to love this Paw Patrol Lookout climber and slide. I love the different licensing combos that Step2 is currently using, also. It’s a great way to integrate your child’s favorite toys with a brand that you know is the ultimate quality.
Last, but not least. This play kitchen is one that we saw in drawings last year and it’s so cool to think that your personal feedback helped shape a product that is being brought to production by a major toy company.
This play kitchen is unlike any that Step2 has produced before. This kitchen is one that could go right in your own kitchen without looking out of place. It’s honestly beautiful in person and features a working refrigerator and oven light, which I just think is the coolest add-on. The styling, the appliances, the size, and the color scheme puts this kitchen at the top of my Want List for 2016… for my girls, of course.
There you have it. That’s exactly what it’s like to take a Step2 Toy Factory Tour. You fall in love with all the fabulous new and bright toys and plan your Christmas List around them!
What new toy from the Step2 Toy Factory Tour is your favorite?