Instructables
Picture of Renew Old Children's Toys
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I'm amazed at what some people will throw away. This past week my wife were driving by a house that must have been doing some fall cleaning. On the top of a huge pile stuff destined for the landfill were three gems that we couldn't pass up - a Little Tikes dumptruck and ride-on car, and a children's rocking horse. Aside from a little dirt and some peeling labels, they were still in fine shape.

This Instructable will show you how to save a little cash on kid's toys by refreshing and renewing what others consider garbage. After all, kids don't care if a toy came brand new from a store - all they care about is the fact that a new toy has appeared!
 
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Step 1: Finding Old Toys

Old toys are everywhere. Sure, you can go to a garage sale and score a few things for a few bucks each. But, you can do one better and keep your eyes peeled on garbage day - and find stuff for free!

Often you'll find that people throw out toys that are still perfectly serviceable, they're just dirty or faded. Those are problems that are easily fixed. However, when you're out looking for gems don't bring anything home that is dangerous or that you cannot repair so that it is safe. Some toys are being thrown out for a reason!

Here are some tips:

- Look in rich neighbourhoods. For some reason rich people go through stuff faster than normal people, and throw things out before it's necessary. Be discrete, though! They also don't like people rooting through their trash.

- Sometimes toys come in multiple parts. Try to find all the parts - if you're lucky, they are being thrown out at the same time.

- Look for obvious signs of damage. If the damage can't be repaired for less than what it would cost to buy the toy new, then leave it be.

- Don't get too overzealous. You can't save the planet all on your own, so don't try to bring home everything that you find. Be picky, and take only the choice cuts.

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twilson379 months ago
Isnt Krylon paint pretty toxic?
cnash9623 years ago
I just found your tutorials and WOW you have some wonderful ideas. I love what you did with your free finds especially the car, it looks better after than before. Your little assistant is awfully cute as well. Thanks for sharing your great ideas.
jeff-o (author)  cnash9623 years ago
Thanks! Yeah, the car turned out really well. The kids are still using it!
Thanx, this is very good advice! I spend a lot of time renewing old things and have found that even some of the larger thrift stores are so overwelmed with toys, that many just get tossed into the compactor and hauled to the landfill. I am working with a few of the local stores (though they are still giving me the run-around) to begin a toy recycling/reuse program.
Why would they give you a hard time, what's the point ? I don't understand these places. Last time I went to a Salvation Army they were selling cameras you can no longer buy film for at $10 each. They said if it doesn't sell they throw it out. Where is the logic here?
Yeah and you know what, Salvation Army is one of the best ones according to the research my boyfriend did with Disposal Alternatives! I am not sure why these thrift stores go so far out of their way to make sure everything goes into their compactors. My boyfriend has shown me pics and vid of pallets full of brand new items, especially toys being tossed in these stores compactors and destroyed when I know there are alternatives to sending all this stuff to our landfills. Thing is, when we ask them about why they do all this, many of them simply deny it is happening or tell us that everything is recycled even though we have pics of it all going to landfill. It is beginning to look like they think giving these things away creates competition for them or something. My boyfriend volunteers for a group called Disposal Alternatives and they have gone out of their way to work with several local chain locations. They got video now of giant compactor bins being emptied at the waste facility and they are full of toys and stuffed animals. Good news is, DA now has a program for stuffed toys so they were able to take that overwhelming room full of them I have been trying to get rid of and I can rest assured, they won't go to landfill! I am hoping DA along with some other orgs can work with these stores and that the stores realize it is in their best interest to do so... I tried to included some pics with this reply (but the uploader is not working for some reason), one of a store who threw away an entire dumpster full of stuffed animals because they did not sell during Valentines day, and a few others of a local thrift store compactor bin being emptied that was full of toys. My boyfriend just happened to notice all those stuffed animals as the truck was dumping the bin behind the store so he followed it to the landfill and got pics of it dumping. Sad thing is, in both cases, the waste facility nor the landfill would let him save a single thing! So, the stores make sure it gets tossed in the compactor and, even if you want what is left after that, you cannot even save the materials, they rather burry it all in the landfill! So, go figure that one out, it makes me sick…
does DA have a website? I couldn't find them with google.
They have to be getting some kind of rebate or tax write off for it. They are disposing of new merchandise or overpricing it so it doesn't sell and then dumping it Thrift stores used to be great places when we were kids but now they suck. The one near my mom in orlando is an american vet thrift store. She read that the owner can get away with donating five bucks to the vets and keep the rest for profit. The stuff is all overpriced. I saw a pair of old Levis for $100 once.
Yeah, I think that is some of why my boyfriend is having such a hard time dealing with them. The org he works with (Disposal Alternatives) does not even make a profit on what they do, they are one of the last few still in it for the good of the environment instead of for profit. Many big waste companies have tried to push them aside because DA makes most of them look bad. So, same with the thrift stores. Since many of them are not on the up and up, they keep the operation as closed and secret as they can. If everyone found out that their donations were mostly going to landfill except for the top notch stuff that is going to profit the private store owners instead of going to the charity they thought it was, they would be very upset! The only org we have found so far that really stands out is the Salvation Army. They still dispose of a lot of stuff but, at least they try to auction it all off really cheap first. Thing is, there is so much stuff, even some of the people who buy these big pallets of stuff only take a few things and toss the rest. Nice thing is, they are one of the few orgs so far willing to work with DA instead of just giving them a bunch of stories and red-tape. Anything we can do to keep toys from the landfill is a very good thing indeed! With all this "green" talk lately, you would be surprised at what really happens behind the closed doors of the “recycling” industry!
jeff-o (author)  Disposal Alternatives5 years ago
Good luck! :D
nickels5 years ago
For those plastic item, don't be afraid to power wash that sucker to get it really clean. I have never seen plastic items repainted with spray paint, but from those photos it appears that they look wonderful. Is there a way to fix any gouges in the plastic prior to painting? Maybe sanding them out would work, but is there any plastic grout material for deep scratches?
I depends a lot on the plastic. For softer plastics like what the car in this instructable is made of, you can sand the plastic to get gouges out, and you ~might~ have some luck with a heat gun, a gloved hand, and a lot of patience. There really isn't any filler that sticks to the plastic. You could buy a plastic welder, harborfreight.com has them for pretty cheap, but I would only bother with that for big gouges and actual cracks. For harder plastics, if super glue adheres to it. you could use that as a filler.

As mentioned, kids only care that a new to them toy is here. I wouldn't worry about it unless I was giving it as a gift. My girls love the trikes I got for them for free, and could care less that daddy did a rattle can restoration on them.
jeff-o (author)  nickels5 years ago
Unfortunately, the best I had was a hose. But yeah, a power washer would definitely clean off all the dirt, and would probably help remove the labels, too. With regards to fixing gouges, that depends heavily on the type of plastic. Some can be bonded with regular epoxy, while other plastics (especially polyolefins like polypropylene) require specialized (and expensive) adhesives. I'd recommend using something that is sandable so that you can smooth out the surface when the glue is dry. Give it a try - if it doesn't stick, chip it off and try something else.
Painted mine black & gold from pink!
You're right, krylon fusion is the way to go.
jeff-o (author)  thenotoriousrob4 years ago
Awesome! Nice work.
savtamama4 years ago
very nice...and inspiring me to find a few irems for my grandchildren! Thank you.
jeff-o (author)  savtamama4 years ago
Glad you like it!

Just today I found a used Power Wheels Harley motorcycle at the curb that I'm going to get running for my daughter this summer.  She'll have the hottest ride on the block!
greybunny4 years ago
 Dude, five stars, really. That's something instructables should have.. a star rating system. Hmm. That's amazing though, the kind of detail you'd see in those uber expensive wooden or metal toys. With details like that, you should totally make all her halloween costumes, birthday party themes.. Gonna be a hit every time, just saying.
jeff-o (author)  greybunny4 years ago
There is a star rating system!  Look over on the right side of the screen.  There's a box that give information like the number of views, author's name, tags, publication date...  and a place to rate from 0.5 to 5 stars.

Also, thanks for the kind comments!
i bought my daughter a £20 doll for xmas and gues what she takes to bed each night? a teddy she bought for 50p from a car boot sale. u are so right about not worrying about the cost of toys for kids!
jauncourt5 years ago
I like this 'ible. Renewing old, usable items is one of my soft spots! I've added it to the Green Kids group, too. I'm not sure why I didn't do it before!
jeff-o (author)  jauncourt5 years ago
Thanks! Her favourite is still the rocking horse, though on play dates other kids head straight for the car.
meanbean5 years ago
You have inspired me. I've refurbished garbage before but what you made is ARTWORK!!! Kudos to you, Jeff-o!
jeff-o (author)  meanbean5 years ago
Thanks! She likes the rocking horse the best. She plays with it more than most of the other toys we've bought.
©()()L!
JerryMopar5 years ago
Very good, its surprising what people throw away! Who says you have to spend $$$$ to get new toys for your kids, when you can get old ones for cheap, or free, and make them even better! Oh, and most of the time, you can ask for new decals, and the company will give you them cheap or free. My Dad did this all the time, and it was a BLAST to have new decals on my toys after they wore off!
jeff-o (author)  JerryMopar5 years ago
I didn't know you could ask for new decals! Good to know!
Yes, btw- its better to either call up the customer sevice line, or snail-mail them about new decals, you will get a MUCH BETTER response that way! have fun!!!
Dudeyowuzup5 years ago
Yeah, I agree. Your re-vamped car looks even better than it did when the previous owner bought it new! You're very creative with the details. Great job!
Very cool! how do you get LED lights to turn off and on, and not just flash?
jeff-o (author)  porcupinemamma5 years ago
Just a simple switch, my friend!
SugarTeen525 years ago
They're green? I thought they were blue. Maybe it's just the camera?
PKM SugarTeen525 years ago
I disagree with some people on where exactly the boundary between those colours falls- that's why I use words like "teal" and "turqoise" a lot. The degree to which perception of colour is subjective is sometimes quite surprising.
jeff-o (author)  PKM5 years ago
And as I mentioned before, it depends on the light source. However, I can say that the car is definitely Red all the time now. ;)
Hahaha. Colors are weird. Have you ever wondered if two people see different colors for the same colors? Like what if my red is your green? lol it's a weird thought.
jeff-o (author)  SugarTeen525 years ago
Well if you're colour blind then you certainly see colours differently...
SugarTeen525 years ago
Wow, that grille is really nice!
jeff-o (author)  SugarTeen525 years ago
Yeah, it turned out well. Much better than the original!
Yeah, I agree! Nice project. And congrats!
jeff-o (author) 5 years ago
It depends on the light, really. They're a sort of blue-green, and depending on whether they are in incandescent light or fluorescent, the colour sorta changes.
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