Just in time for the holidays, a couple of Brooklyn fellas have debuted Commute, a giant, playable pegboard subway map of New York City. It's made locally from local, sustainable, blah blah blah plywood and stuff, and it looks fantastic. It's available in a limited edition of 100 for
$550 $450 [! -ed.] or, translated into the local currency, [less than!] half a Bugaboo.
Let's just acknowledge upfront that it looks sweet, and it is a great idea, beautifully crafted, and authentic, right down to the apparent absence of the G train. Let's also commend Commute's creators for realizing that their original name, See Something, Play Something, is totally awesome and should NOT go unmentioned, but that it also doesn't really work as a product. Smart.
Let's also assume that there will be--the have to be--at least a couple dozen kids' rooms or nurseries in the city where this will be proudly installed. Westchester grandparents-to-be are standing by. As a design theme, this looks perfect. Just keep the ropes out of reach of toddlers; you don't want some sort of tragic window blind-type strangulation situation.
But therein lies a problem, if that's the right word. And it doesn't have to be the right word. Because I'm not quite seeing how the hole placement, apparently optimized for aesthetic possibilities, offers enough playability to keep the thing actually interesting to a kid.
A real train freak city kid could get stuck on the inaccuracies or limitations [The G-train and/or Verrazano Bridge problem]. A casual train rider will make a couple of variations, and then leave them; what's the diff? The fix, as it were, of having more holes, or actual pegboard, with more and finer rope, loses some of the pared down aesthetic appeal.
So the ideal target shifts, perhaps, to playrooms in luxury condo buildings in Brooklyn, plus slightly wistful parents who did make the move out of the city, but are still wary of raising a suburban kid. A trunk show at the Scarsdale Kidville feels very promising.
$550 $450 | PlaySomething! [playsomething.org, thanks for the update, good move on the price.]