Editor’s Note: Babble is owned by The Walt Disney Company.
Back in 2013, Ranan Lachman was prepping his taxes when he came across one expense that made his jaw nearly drop: He’d spent $3,000 on LEGO for his son in just one year. That’s right — three. thousand. dollars.
“That’s CRAZY!” he tells Babble, looking back. “[My son] was 5 years old and had 200+ toys in his closet, yet always wanted to play with new toys. I thought, there must be a better way to give kids exciting toys without breaking the bank.”
It turns out, there was. Lachman’s fleeting thought soon gave way to an exciting idea for his next business venture: an eco-friendly toy library known as Pley. Nearly four years later, Pley has over 500 different toys to rent — including robots that teach kids to code to American Girl dolls to yes, even LEGO.
And the best part? They all arrive at your doorstep, in an eco-friendly cardboard box. Each one is customizable to suit a child’s interests — kids can simply hop on to the Pley website and select the toys they’d like to rent. Then, at the end of the month (once kids have typically had their fill), the toys can be sent back to Pley and turned in for a new box of fun.
And there to ensure each box is truly packed with kid-approved fun are Lachman’s own two children, 9-year-old Tal and 6-year-old Danielle, who test out each and every new sample toy Pley receives. (Is that the world’s coolest job, or what?)
But the concept is also a parent’s dream, for a few reasons. For one, it’s inexpensive — a monthly subscription to Pley costs just $12.99. It also cuts down on clutter, since every new toy shipment means another has just been sent back (thereby decluttering your living-room floor).
“Most families have tons of toys that are collecting dust in the attic,” notes Lachman. “The average child has 248 toys, of which only [about] 10 are used … and [even] more astonishing is that a new toy is played with for [an average of] 12 minutes only! So there is a huge waste which our toy library service tries to solve.”
Pley’s eco-friendly packaging is also waste-free, too: Each shipping box literally transforms into a playable toy. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the toys aren’t just fun, but educational.
“We work with child development experts and toy professors (yes, there is such a title!) to curate the right experiences,” says Lachman. “Soon we’ll be offering a [wider] selection of brands allowing parents to sign up and get toys that are tailored to their child’s interests, developmental skill, and age.”
Those new brands will include plenty of kid favorites: Pley is currently working with Disney to add new toys from popular lines like Star Wars and Marvel. But first up? The Disney Princess line:
Unlike Pley’s rentable toys, the Disney toys come in “PleyBoxes” which are yours to keep. Each one includes a surprise Disney story, 4-8 figurines, accessories, and what Lachman describes as other “goodies” for kids to play with — all for just $24.99 each.
Kids can choose their Disney Princess “experience,” but are otherwise totally surprised by what’s inside their mystery box.
And if all that hasn’t totally won you over yet, there’s this: For every new member that joins Pley, the company has pledged to donate a toy for a child in need.
An eco-friendly, educational, space-saving toy company that our kids will actually enjoy AND gives back to those in need? It doesn’t get much better than that.