Anyone in the Pittsburgh area with kids (or stuck in their own childhoods) would be well-served to pay a visit to a new store called Playthings, Etc. the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had an article on it that intrigued us, so we paid a visit a few weeks ago.
As you can see in the links, the building is made out of welded sheet metal and designed to look like a space ship. When we got there, the owner was sprawled on his back in the parking lot under the chassis of his "shuttle craft", which seemed to be a miniature version of the store destined to be parked out by the road. He told us that by next week it should be fully functional and ready for takeoff.
The front door is designed to look like a blast door of some sort. Yank it open, wait for your eyes to adjust to the spacey darkness inside, and you are greeted with a world of odd, forgotten, educational, and classic toys. Oh, you're also greeted with a pummeling from the kid working behind the checkout counter, who proceeds to smack you with fast-moving pockets of air from a toy air cannon until you duck behind the rack of GeoMags.
Every ten minutes or so, a member of the staff calls everyone out to the parking lot, where he will proceed to demonstrate a toy rocket, a wind-up airplane, or some sort of a rock-em-sockem-robot. his demos don't always go as expected and he lost a rocket on the roof of the store, but hey- that's childhood.
The greatest thing about this store is that there ain't no Disney. no princess crap. no Buzz Lightyear. Just real, honest to goodness toys. Kites, ride-in cars, model airplanes, and science stuff. They even have an excellent collection of sleds and toboggans, something you can't seem to get at your average Toys-r-Us or Wal-Mart these days. of course, I happened to discover that some lady on eBay has a collection of classic toboggans for sale at hugely discounted prices, so I just picked up two on eBay for a third the price of one at this store, but still it's cool to see.
We spent about two hours there, left with our wallets empty and our trunk full, and look forward to going back before the holiday. Hmm, maybe I will buy something for the kids next time.