“We knew right from the start that we wanted to have a slide to go with the Pikler because climbing and sliding are so intrinsically intertwined. Children often do all the hard work of climbing up to the top of a slide, just to experience the sheer joy of being able to slide down it.” Isha Gopal, Founder of Bloon Toys
The Bloon Toys Slide, an attachment to the Pikler MAX or MINI, was conceptualised along the same time as the rest of the Bloon Pikler Collection, and has been its key component ever since it was launched in Feb 2022, 6 months after our Pikler MAX was first introduced into the Indian market and the world!
At the time, Bloon Toys was a 9 person team of whom, Karan, Isha and Deepak, the only studio carpenter at the time, worked on the slide design.
The Bloon Toys Pikler Slide in the making!
It took almost 12 months to get the slide right from when they first began to work on it and each time the team thought they had a test worthy product, they would call upon one of their many toy testers to try the slide out, watching closely to see how children used and responded to it.
One of the earliest realisations they had, was that the slide simply had to have side railings to guide children down, without which, they seemed to slide right off of it! Several different railing styles and sizes were then tried, one of which was a ridged side that was duly discarded, because it was found to be too constricting for children to move around in as they would keep bumping into the railing. They decided thus, that it had to be protective while being discreet enough to not be an obstacle!
Iterations of the Bloon Toys Pikler Slide railings before the present one was arrived upon.
The idea for the slide was also to maximise its utility. It was designed to be an object that stays through a lifetime, and that can be adapted to new uses as toddlers grow into children, children grow into teenagers and teenagers grow into adults. While on one day the slide can be propped against the pikler to make for a tiny, at-home, jungle gym set, on another day, the same slide could be placed horizontally across the pikler to create a seat inside a ‘house’ of sorts!
The Bloon Toys Pikler Slide is designed to be compatible with the Pikler Collection in multiple ways.
Climbing Holds make it a Rock Climbing Face
In addition to making the slide compatible to use with the pikler in several different ways, the bloon team also thought to increase the slide’s intrinsic useability, by adding climbing holds on to one of its two large faces. These holds, made in beech wood, smoothened to perfection, are each inspired by natural shapes traced from tree branch cross sections and are perfect for toddlers to grasp at, while they still learn to stand and hold themselves upright.
The slide as a rock climbing face is in fact one of the first few things a baby takes to with the Pikler Collection.
Traced shapes of branch cross sections using which holds were designed.
Steam beech is used for the climbing holds, while the rest of the slide is made with European Birch Plywood, which is one of the strongest, most durable, non toxic plywoods in the world.
Steam beech, when oiled, has a lovely pinkish colour, which contrasts subtly but well with a very light Birch face.
Steam beech holds unoiled on the top row and oiled on the bottom row.
The Bloon Toys Pikler Slide is meant to be used and to be used often and well, with minimal adult supervision. It’s about 7 kgs heavy, so while younger kids help out with the straps, children above 7 can lift it into position, and fasten the straps themselves.
The straps themselves are made using jute, coconut leather (malai) and are lined with industrial grade velcro.
In the making of the strap, the bloon team took inspiration from an old watch and went through a variety of buckles before settling on the present one.
Proof is in the Play!
Over time (and this is the ultimate proof a toymaker needs to know that their toy is “working”), children have used the Bloon Pikler Slide in ways the team couldn't have possibly imagined or designed for - a table to eat on, a bench to meditate on and a little cosy corner to hide in amongst other things.
Children adapting the Bloon Toys Pikler Slide in their own way.