When my Mom asked us what our four year old son, Mr. C, might like for Christmas, I remembered the crane that she had bought my nephew when he was about the same age. This has got to be a 15 years or so ago, as my nephew is now a 20 year old college student, so I was surprised to find that the crane was still available.
A quick search of the Lee Valley site showed that the crane I was thinking of was still being made, and it looked the same as I remembered it. My Mom bought it and Mr. C loved it as soon as he opened it.
There’s not much to do once it’s opened. Always a good thing for busy parents on Christmas morning!
I love the design of the box. With its vintage typeface and apparently hand illustrated picture of the crane, it looks as though it was first made in the early 1960′s. For someone that appreciates vintage toys, this a quite a find.
It is made in the Czech Republic, by the Kovap company. There’s a note on the box with the contact information for the company, with a note that the crane was made on July 17, 2013. I’m always interested in learning more about the company that makes a toy like this. Especially if it is made by a smaller company in an unusual location, not by a large factory that just extruded out some plastic bits and put it all into a box.
Just pull it up out of the box, lift up the crane arm, and place the strings on the pulleys and your crane is ready to go!
It’s close to 2 feet tall, made of steel with rubber wheels on the base. The crane fully rotates at the base, and there are two hand cranked locking levers that operate the arm. One crank lowers and raises the metal hook, the second raises and lowers the crane arm. Both cranks have a locking feature that keeps the arm or hook in place if needed.
The only drawback I can find is that the strings that hold up the crane arm are easily removed during play, making the crane arm collapse, which can lead to a very frustrated four year old. However, he soon figured out how the crane arm worked and after I had to fix those strings a few times, he figured out how to do it himself. I would not avoid getting it because of this, just watch what your kid is doing for awhile when they first get it. If they’re at all interested in figuring things out for themselves, I’m sure they’ll like the idea that they can make the arm move on their own once they figure out how it works. I suspect those strings will eventually break, but it looks like they would be easy to replace.
Overall, it’s a very sturdy toy that will survive rough play to a certain extent, and will most likely last for several years. My nephew played with his crane for years, and I suspect my son will have his for years too.
At just $31.50, it’s a good bargain considering that a lot of toys that are in the general price range will not survive much longer than a week after Christmas!