From Zero to 4, Before the End of the Driveway - 2 minutes read

From Zero to 4, Before the End of the Driveway

What Mercedes, Jeep and Ford, among others, care more about is: “Does this do something for us that is a value to promulgate the brand?” said Martin Brochstein, senior vice president of Licensing International.

“It’s the beginning of building a relationship with the child,” he added. “And from the parent’s perspective, it’s ‘Hey, I’m able to give my kid a Mercedes.’ In that sense, it connects the adults to the brand even more tightly.”

Basic pedal-powered or push-powered rides sell for less than $100. At the luxury end, consider a Jaguar gasoline-powered “car” from F.A.O. Schwarz for $10,000. But the Jag is far and away the exception; most of the electric products, sold through stores including Walmart and Target and from Amazon online, cost $300 to $400.

Historically, before Louis Marx came along in the 1960s, a tricycle was just a tricycle: a red Radio Flyer was the standard. It was sort of clunky, and it rusted if you left it in the rain (and we all did).

Then the designers at Mr. Marx’s toy company reverse-engineered the common trike and flipped it. The Big Wheel sharply lowered the rider’s center of gravity so that he or she didn’t flip off the triangular perch on sharp turns. The molded plastic body and “tires” helped cushion the ride, the materials were fairly durable, and the low-to-the-ground illusion of speed enthralled kids.

After the Marx company went out of business in 1985, others took over the name, even as many toymakers rode the Big Wheel craze by churning out copies. The colorful three-wheeler was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame a decade ago. These days, an original Big Wheel sells for up to $200.

While some parents consider ride-on toys a rather innocuous excursion for tots, others take a different view.

Source: The New York Times

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