Atticus loves to climb.
When he first started walking, he’d toddle onto overturned stools, using the upturned legs for support. Once he was steady on his feet, he crawled up said stools and loved the thrill. Anyone on a ladder spotted anywhere would hold his attention for a very long time.
Even now, just past the age of 2, his fascination with ladders has not dissipated, probably fueled even more by his new found independence – in a moment of weakened resolve in the face of an insistent toddler – he was allowed onto a ladder. Since then, climbing one, two.. or three ladders has become a routine part of his play even more so than visits to the playground.
When the challenge of the climb wears out, he keeps it interesting by giving himself a purpose for climbing, like pretending to be a worker fixing something. (To detract a little, those plastic construction helmets are such great toys to have – very affordable, like $2 each from Daiso, and provide hours of fun for our boy. We have three, in red, blue and yellow which he uses to transform himself into a fireman or some type of worker at his whim.)
Despite his requests, we’ve managed to stay firm about disallowing him on our highest 8-step ladder, which to be honest is scary at the top even for us. For now, he accedes without much ado to our denying his request but who knows how long we can keep him away from it.
In any case, I wasn’t keen on his continued playing with ladders and wanted to find a safer alternative for his interest and high energy levels. My search was disappointing as anything locally available was too big or too expensive. I found a second hand slide/swing climbing on Carousel but it was still rather expensive for something we thought Atticus would get bored of quite quickly.
I turned to Amazon and searched for climbing structures that would ship to Singapore and Toy Monster Monkey Bars Tower turned up – on sale for US$133 (U.P US$220)!
I was very excited until I realised shipping and tax was an additional US$135.48. That meant spending S$372 in total. I toyed with the idea of having it (or one of the other brands available that wouldn’t ship to Singapore) sent to a relative in the US and having them ship it over but that cost nearly S$500 to do.
I pretty much gave up on the idea until I spotted one on a random venture into Toys R Us over the weekend. It was of a different brand – Eezy Peezy — but it was set up on display and I immediately knew it would fit in our living room. Even better, it was on sale for S$269. I was to be honest a little hesitant simply because having put the idea out of my head, I hadn’t prepared myself mentally for losing my living room but I consoled myself with the fact that if it didn’t work out, there was a 14-day return policy.
Despite the brand name and its claim to be “easy to assemble”, it isn’t. The plastic pipes slide into the connectors easy enough but that’s only a small part of the assembly required.
Other than confusion with the pieces that look the same but are not, some strength is required to force adjoining pipes into position at the correct angle. It is also very difficult to remove the pipes from the connectors when a mistake is made. After a few tries, our finger tips were sore from pushing the nodes out so we turned to using a screw driver instead. This worked too well and some of the nodes sprang loose and fell out. Good thing my dad’s quite a handy man and was able to fix this every time it happened. The poor man however did bleed some during the assembly process when his thumb got caught in between a pipe and its connector. I don’t think I could have put it together on my own. I also feel there’s no way we were going to take it apart again to make a return.
Having said that though, we are quite pleased with the assembled product. It’s sturdy and doesn’t wobble so the young un’s can climb to their hearts’ content without mine stopping, especially since it’s on the play mat. What’s a little bump here and there anyway, right?
The box actually contains a couple of really solid steel earth stakes as well. So if you’ve a garden, they would really be useful for grounding the structure firmly onto the ground. But I’d be a little cautious about bringing this outdoors. According to one reviewer on Amazon, the plastic started to crack under outdoor conditions and became unsafe. But I think that’s to be expected. Keep indoors and away from sunshine to prolong its life span I say.
Am I worried that the kids will get bored of this quickly? Not really. It holds up to 150lbs so they’re not going to outgrow it any time soon. Plus, to increase its utility, I held off assembling the top tower portion for now until Atticus gets really comfortable with his climbing/ hanging skills (and very bored with the dome). So far he’s only climbed upwards and hasn’t even begun to explore how to maneuver sideways around the dome. The structure, however, has not changed his need for ladders and he’s somehow managed to incorporate a ladder into his play with the dome. So much for my plan.
There’s of course also Ainsley who is at the cusp of learning to walk. She’ll definitely be able to use the structure to help herself up and about. Eventually, I think both little critters will be mucking about on it. When all else has been tried and tested, we’ll probably introduce a blanket and create a fort with it.
After that, all bets are off.