View Full Version : Making Playsets / Climbers last : Buy a little set and then a BIG wooden one, or buy one small/midsize wooden set?

11-14-2005, 08:44 AM
I'm cross posting this in the Toddler Bargains boards as well.

We visited a Rainbow showroom this past weekend, and the salesperson there just about had me convinced that we should buy something provisional (like a plastic Little Tikes or Step 2 climber) for our son (who will be 2 yrs old next summer) until he's old enough to really enjoy a wooden set that will last till age 10-12. Of course, the set that he was suggesting was a fully outfitted mid-height Rainbow that would have been $5700 for just the display model!! (not including mulch, area prep, etc.) Basically, the salesman said that kids play on the taller sets longer because the slides are higher and the swings have longer reach. He didn't recommend going with a set that was shorter than 11-12 feet to the peak of the roof. He says that with the shorter sets (like the Rainbow Sunray from Costco), kids reach a certain age and just stop playing with them, hence, for a given price point, its better to get a simpler, tall set than a short set with lots of bells and whistles.

What have you all done? Jump right into the wooden set, or buy the plastic stuff in the interim? Has anyone seen whether kids 7,8,9,10, or 11 play on the smaller wooden sets like the Rainbow Sunray? I guess I see the wisdom in waiting to buy, because I'd rather spend more on something that my kids can play on from age 3-12 than something that lasts from age 2-7. On the other hand, I hate to spend hundreds of dollars on a lot of plastic stuff that the kids will outgrow in a couple of years.

Any thoughts?

11-19-2005, 02:24 AM
Check out the CedarWorks sets.

Their guarantee is that "Kids play younger, kids play more, kids play older, and parents play too." Angela (here on the boards) can tell you more about her set which her parents bought for her (then) 18 month old who is now almost 8. We have waited to purchase a set simply because we have been overseas and would have had to buy a small plastic one (and they are difficult to tie down during our typhoons). Now that we are returning to the states we are buying a large wooden set, but I wish we could have started smaller/younger and then we could just add a little each year.

The thing that makes these great for the little ones is something they call the "SureStep" system which is a bit like the overlapping platforms in a commercial playground (think Burger King). They claim that it makes it possible for kids as young as 1 year to climb up (I don't know about that, my kid was TINY at one year, but I could easily see 18 months). If you got a fort with these platforms, a slide, and a "kid swing" it would cost around $1600 (I'm looking at my catalog here). Then, as your son grows, you can add monkey bars, big kid swings, and all kinds of cool stuff (we got the rollicking roundabout which I can't wait to try myself!)

I can't attest anything but their customer service...yet. The customer service has been awesome! They have been willing to work with all the crazy problems that I've had (emailing/calling from Japan, ordering a set for a yard that I haven't even seen yet, having the billing address in one location the shipping address in another and sending the instruction packet to a third) and been very patient with all the modifications we made. My set will ship December 1st and I should receive it around December 7th. As soon as I have a computer up and running in Wichita I'll let you know how they are with delivery, quality, etc. In the meantime, there are several other posters her who have CedarWorks sets who can answer questions.

Jen (soon to be) in Wichita
Mom to my sadly shorn daughter,
who is (ohmygosh!) 4, Noelle

11-20-2005, 02:49 PM
We bought a Rainbow for DD's 2nd birthday. She was a late walker and when we shopped around 19 months I couldn't envision her climbing up the chain ladder or the one with the round slats. The rainbow people said those were for 18 months and up and by 2 she should definitely be fine. I still wasn't sure and I wanted her to play right away so I substituted for the ladder that looks like steps (took some negotiating for this becuase it wasn't normally offered on our set) and I am so glad I did although she can use the rung ladder ok now she prefers the step ladder and it seems so much more secure. She has gotten a ton of use out of it so far (24-29 mos old.)
Saying that, I am not sure if the set we have (Rainbow Castle II with rock wall for right around $3000 delivered and set up) is one designed for bigger kids or not but it's not the shortest one either - our idea was use primarily between age 2 and 8. Of course DH and I have just as much fun on it as DD.
We didn't consider a plstic set at all. We considered Cedar works but couldn't see one in person and also I figured that climb up thing would only be important for a short while.

11-26-2005, 07:46 AM
I agree with using Cedar Works. I worked at a child care center and we had a cedar works playset for 10 years and it was wonderful. Customer service is great. If you have any problems they ship out replacement parts QUICKLY! Also, if new safety items are added to newer models, you can call the company and they will ship you the part to retrofit your model.

We had children who were 2 1/2 to 5 years old. The older children used the ramp to climb to the top, while the younger children or those with motor delays would use the bottom portion of the climber, or find a way to "snake" up through to the upper portions.

Older siblings who came by had a great time with the climber, too. I was also able to climb up on it and stand at the top. (Very important for retrieving little ones who don't want to go home yet!)

Sorry this is getting so long! If we had the space, this would definitely be on my list for our home.:7

12-12-2005, 10:00 AM
Don't know if you are still looking, but we are now moved in and have the playset (mostly) assembled. DH and I were able to assemble it in about 8 hours and we got a fairly big set. The only thing yet to do is finish the sandbox and hang the slide (we got a HUGE slide, and I was a little too weary by the end of the day to help hang it!

Anyway, we love it (of course we will be able to review it better in a couple of days, weeks, months, years, but my daughter already loves it). If you have any specific questions I can answer them now!

Jen in Wichita
Mom to my beautiful daughter,
who is now 4, Noelle!