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Connecticut Magazine: Luke's Toy Factory Toy Story

Connecticut Magazine: Luke's Toy Factory Toy Story

Danbury father and son Jim and Luke Barber team up to create eco-friendly, educational toy trucks.

Five years ago, Jim Barber was in the midst of starting a toy company, but he had a major problem. He didn't have ideas for toy designs. Things hadn't worked out with an early partner in the venture and he found himself with a 3D printer and software but an utter lack of inspiration.

He turned to his son Luke, a recent college graduate for help. Ever since he was a kid, Luke had love trucks, cars, trains and anything else with wheels. Luke, who had no experience in toy design, dreamed up what would become the prototype for the company's fire truck, which is still sold. 

"I said, 'Ok, you're the toy designer,'" Jim recalls. They joined forces with another father-and-son duo, Mitch and Evan Achiron, and Luke's Toy Factory was born. 

The Danbury-based company now produces a line of 3D puzzle vehicles for children 3 and up. The trucks are manufactured in Danbury with materials sourced exclusively from the U.S. They are made from a mix of certified clean plastic pellets and sawdust from furniture mills and window factories with colors molded in rather than painted on so nothing can peel off. The result is a unique-looking toy that goes well beyond standard safety requirements for toys. 

Luke's Toy Factory won Learning Magazine's Teacher's Choice Award in the preschool category for its Educational 4-Pack of eco-friendly, American-made toy trucks. 

"The idea behind these trucks is that they're a simple puzzle that comes apart and you have to put it together," Jim says. The pieces are designed to be simple and give children leeway if they don't put the parts perfectly together. Once they build a truck correctly, children tend to experiment by putting the pieces together in different ways. "They immediately become engrossed in the toy. It's not a toy that gets its appeal from a cartoon character. There are no buttons that you push. You have to think of these things yourself."

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