December 22, 2007

Via Toy Box Unboxing, Building, Stacking, Stuffing

Via Toy Box - three down, four to go Via Toy Box - building the cube - step 1

So the Via Toy Box cubes came Thursday, about 200 pounds worth. They look great in person and went together very nicely. They're not quite slick or deluxe, which may explain the differences in price for otherwise identical-looking cube systems, but we like them, and I think they'll rock the nursery.

I posted a photoset on flickr with pictures of the unboxing, cube building, and the finished tower. Some quick impressions:

After reading Kaz's tale of building his kids' VTB's, I was expecting a lot of jiggering to get the cubes together, but they bolted up tight right away. [I was stoked about the Allen wrench drill bit included! but it wasn't included. Still, I just put on the CBC and spent about 15 min/box putting them together, no problem.] The jiggering came later, when I screwed the boxes to each other. It wasn't too dire, though.

Though they're tasteful and all, I was not blown away by the color options, so we went with mostly natural and two red cubefronts. Only the red turns out to be much darker than I thought, so I'll probably paint it over. I didn't notice it when we ordered, but Via Toy Box offers custom colors, $49/color at the moment. That might be interesting. Had I known, I could've gotten that natural birch & blackboard look I saw at the Gap. [Actually, blackboard paint might be awesome on these. Anyone ever done/seen it?]

The kid's already stepped up on the tower base to reach the top cube, so I've gotta get that thing anchored to the wall pronto. My thought is to thread a wire or cable in between two boxes rather than screw anything into the panels.

All in all, though, it's a huge relief to have them in, done, and filled. And it's a relief when something you see online and think you like turns out to be good after all.

Unboxing & Building: Via Toy Box [daddytypes at flickr]
check out Via Toy Box's cube system [, remember, they advertised on DT a while back]


Chalkboard paint is available in just about every DIY store in the UK - mostly from paint brand International.
Google suggests popular US brands are Chuck's and Benjamin Moore, and I think Crayola do one too.

Blackboard paint is great and very easy to use since it's so matte. It's really hard to mess up the application. It comes in a can but you can also find it in a spray paint version that works much better for awkward shapes.

The chalkboard paint is great. The Crayola one works very well (I have used a few). The key is even application (which is easy since it is matte). 2 coats usually does the trick. Good luck!

One thing they never tell you or show you in the mags or catalogs when they show the black paint all beautiful and dark and matte, is that for it to really function as a chalkboard (i.e., you can actually have a hope of fully erasing off what you've put on), you have to cover the whole thing with chalk (I recommend the side of the chalk, not the point!) and then erase it off, leaving the black not beautiful and dark and matte but grey and a little messy looking. But it's still great; I've used it on lots of different things.

Also, in the January 2007 issue, Martha had an item about doing custom color for your chalkboard paint. The online version is here; I remember the mag version as being a bit more extensive but I could be wrong; it happens. Haven't tried this (yet) myself so can't vouch for the results.

[I haven't posted photos of the chalkboard paint table fiasco, where I tried painting an Ikea Lack table, only to find out that the sanding didn't take, and the paint didn't stick because hey-o! it's freakin' plastic over sawdust. Primer would've helped, but so would buying one of the wood veneer versions instead. -ed.]

I like to think you didn't have to do a lot of jiggering because of my advice...

... and they really didn't send you an allen wrench drill bit?? That's what you get for buying them on sale!

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