Find: Toys by Birmingham Toy Inventor

ticattacktoe.jpgIt’s always a little thrill to find a new toy that’s inexpensive and entertaining for the kids, so imagine how much more exciting it’s been to find toys that fit the bill (affordable but well made) and were created by a toy inventor right here in Birmingham.

Birmingham father of five – soon to be six – Nathan Jones knows the challenge of keeping kids occupied (although, to be fair, his wife Carrie probably deserves more credit, seeing as she’s been chasing the other five while pregnant with the sixth). After years working with a toy manufacturer, he decided to develop some of his ideas himself and formed PB&J Toys.

Take Tic-Attack-Toe, for example. It’s the tic-tac-toe game, except with cards that allow another level of complexity. Although a series of games can move just as quickly as the pen-and-paper version, there are also surprises as a result of the cards that are drawn. The game teaches ordinal numbers as kids learn which cards outrank others, and there is a bit of strategy involved although I’ve learned a wild card changes everything. If you’re bored with the usual tic-tac-toe game (aren’t moms always pressed into playing?) this is a shake-up from the usual.*

Every little boy loves something on wheels, and every mom gets tired of the same little cars, trains and trucks. PB&J Sports Cars are a hybrid of car and sports action figure, such as a soccer, baseball, basketball or baseball player.  You can choose the one that matches your child’s current sports interest and, at $3.99, it’s the perfect price for a little surprise or reinforcer for good behavior.

It’s fun to know these toys have a local connection to a family-owned business. PB&J Toys are available in Birmingham at Learning Express in Vestavia, Hoover and Trussville; Homewood Toy & Hobby; and the Children’s Hospital Gift Shop.

Note to Mr. Jones: I call dibs on you as my guest for the next Career Day at school. Just promise me you’ll tell the kids they’ll have to do their homework if they want to go to international toy shows one day and be among the first to see all the new toys.

*During April, PB&J Toys will have a weekly drawing for Tic Attack Toe games for Teachers and Student Teachers each week. Register online for a chance to win (each game retails for $7.99).