We own this (best price at the time was $28.95 from threesisterstoys.com
) and I have to say I am loving this toy almost as much as the kids are. We have played with it as a stacker, as well as used the curves to be little caves or homes - plus, inverted they make a good improv rocking cradle for several small toys or dolls. My then 5 yr old discovered it also puzzles into a circle! Cool, huh?!
When it arrived (just before Easter '09, as an Easter basket present for our then 14 month old) it was SOOOO rough, I could NOT believe it. The inside curve of each rainbow was nearly splintery!
I wish I had taken 'before' pictures. I had my husband feel it, and he thought I should return it.
However, this toy gets such great reviews online, that I decided it might just be an anomaly...but after I called the online toy store, they told me that this line of wooden toys all tend to be very slightly rough, which makes them easier for little kids to handle and stack. Well, ok. But I decided to go ahead and 're-finish' this set.
Yup. I'm crazy.
But it was not hard, I just sanded it (rather lightly, afraid I was sanding off the color, but as you can see it still is quite colorful) especially the inner sides of the curves and then I oiled each piece with mineral oil on a rag and then waxed each piece with a mix of beeswax and mineral oil, about 2 parts oil to 5 parts beeswax.
How? I just melted grated beeswax in a puddle of mineral oil in a double boiler (be careful not to do this directly in a saucepan, as beeswax can catch fire!) and apply while warm to your wood with a rag. Allow to cool and then buff off excess with the same rag. (I used a cloth diaper.) You can even get a little shine if you repeat the process. (I did it just the once.)
The result is what you see in my pictures, and is exactly what I wanted and thought I was going to get when I opened the box. (Are you familiar with Plan Toys? They feel GREAT, and are less expensive. But they are usually less of an 'open-ended' sort of toy.)
Now, to be fair, this toy arrives sealed in a plastic wrapper, so there is no way the people at threesisterstoys.com
could have known that this rainbow felt splintery and 'dried out', but it did. Dried out is a good way to describe it. Like it would snap in half if a kid stood on it. But now it really feels great. Really.
When I was looking online for a good non-toxic finish to apply to these, I read that wood likes oil, and needs oil, or it becomes brittle, and that beeswax has been used for centuries as a wood 'sealer' but has such a large molecule that it needs to be mixed with oil so that it can penetrate the wood.
So this home-made finish was pleasant to work with, smelled great, and is considered food-safe, although some people think mineral oil is not very healthy - you could try olive oil, but I used mineral oil and was -and am still- pleased with the result.
And, from the amount of play this toy has received over these past few years, it was well worth the effort - at least one of my brood of 6 still manage to play with this nearly every single day, no kidding.