Making Zelda toys for a 3-year-old
August 24, 2007 8:14 AM   Subscribe

DIY fantasy toys -- I've been playing The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess on the Wii, and my 2-year-old loves to watch and play along, to the point of sticking a foam sword down the back of shirt and running around with a Nerf slingshot and fishing pole. He turns 3 in September and in addition to his "nutritional" presents, I thought I would also get/make him some fantasy-enabling stuff. What are some existing toys that do a good job of mimicking Zelda-esque accoutrements, and/or what should be avoided, and/or what's easiest to make myself? An even bigger issue is finding "safe" stuff for him to swing his sword at ... some kind of indoor/outdoor monsters that are at least a foot tall or so. I can see making something out of pillows, or lampshades, or even buying a cheap toy if it's properly durable. Any ideas?
posted by blueshammer to Shopping (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
I should add that I want to be sure I get him toys that emphasize all of the non-swordplay stuff -- maps, ocarinas, chickens with human faces -- so I'm open to those suggestions as well.
posted by blueshammer at 8:17 AM on August 24, 2007

Oh, this is awesome. You will be his hero. It depends on how crafty you are, but you can get some nice thick foam from a craft store or fabric store (they usually sell them for people to make cushions out of). Then use scissors, knives, or a hacksaw to carve the foam into a monster shape, and use spraypaint to make it colorful. You can also use some cheap felt to give the monster clothes, hair, a cape, etc. It may not look perfect, but dude is two, he will be totally enthralled.
posted by Greg Nog at 8:21 AM on August 24, 2007

An even bigger issue is finding "safe" stuff for him to swing his sword at ... some kind of indoor/outdoor monsters that are at least a foot tall or so.

Bop Bags. Here is a cool one.
posted by ND¢ at 8:24 AM on August 24, 2007

Our crew has had serious fun with a big box of dress up clothes. They don't even have to be all that fancy - adult-sized T-shirts can be easily trimmed down (and decorated with fabric pens) to become tunics, armor, etc. For monsters, you might look for large-ish stuffed (or inflatable) animals in the bargain bins, dollar stores, etc. The 2-year-old has latched onto a stiff foam sword and shield combination that we found at Toys-R-Us, but it could just easily have been made.

Sounds like a blast! Have fun!
posted by jquinby at 8:27 AM on August 24, 2007

I've seen foam weapons at Toys R' Us. There are sturdier ones at Thinkgeek

Those might be a bit pricey.
posted by Comrade_robot at 8:37 AM on August 24, 2007

Less is more here. My cousins were totally happy pretending a bunch of shoes were army tanks, and my friends and I repeatedly used a totally non-descript maple block as The Batmobile.

For safe swords, check out foam pipe insulation at a home improvement store.
posted by Good Brain at 8:48 AM on August 24, 2007

For monsters, I'd recommend one of those 'bop n' bounce' type inflatable punching bags. They're available at pretty much any toy store, and cheap. You could decorate it however you want.

You've got a lucky kid.
posted by solipsophistocracy at 8:51 AM on August 24, 2007

Foam pool noodles? They have them at dollar stores.
posted by rhoticity at 8:57 AM on August 24, 2007

I grew up as Supergirl, with a towel for a cape and duct tape for boots. You are the coolest parent ever. Are you adopting any older women anytime soon?

You could make a very servicable boomerang out of carved foamcore. He'll need the boomerang to retrive rupees and get those out of reach hearts and stuff. A wallet - a piece of fabric tied up with string. Magic potions - empty plastic water bottles. Epona - a mop with a string head. Treasure chests - shoe boxes. Bombs - balls, painted black. A shield - trash can top with handle.

If you want to go buy a boomerang, there are a couple made from polypropylene and foam that are made for indoor use that are pretty cool. And looking around for toys and kid's accoutrements made for knight play, there's a lot of tabards and shields and cool stuff that would tie in nicely. Scroll down - a couple of the tunics look very Link-ish. A really great project would be to build Link's hut outside in your backyard Hyrule, complete with ladder and maybe a secret slide for quick escapes in case Ganon comes around. (I really want to come play at your house)
posted by iconomy at 9:09 AM on August 24, 2007

Being three, he's obviously in need of an Epic Quest. Make a map of your house/living room for him to follow. If you think he may have problems making the connection between map locations and the actual objects, add a red-dash-line to the map route and make equivalent markers on the floor out of red construction paper.

Along the probably-best linear course, have different "challenges" he must face (with rewards), including:

- Answering a riddle/easy math question (this gets him his foam sword, for he has shown that he is wise/smart enough to know how to use it)
- defeating a punching-bag-monster with said sword (getting him a heart-shaped sugar cookie)
- Uncovering his Nerf Slingshot in a big pile of towels
- Shooting using said slingshot to shoot into a box/monster, (netting a cool shield, which you can make from layered foam from a craft store)
- and so on.

It probably shouldn't be too long of a quest, but be sure to make time for Tickle Monster Attacks (defeated by playing a song on a plastic Ocarina/whistle) and a final showdown with some sort of box monster. As a reward, he'll get a bit of Triforce! (Either another cookie or a home-made Triforce bit).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 9:19 AM on August 24, 2007 [5 favorites]

There's something deeply satisfying about swinging a foam sword into a stack of cardboard 'bricks' and watching them tumble to the ground. There's some ready-made ones on the market but shoeboxes taped shut and covered with wrapping paper work just as well.
posted by jamaro at 9:34 AM on August 24, 2007

Buy him a Zelda Ocarina. He might be too small for a clay ocarina, but the last one is plastic.
posted by clearlydemon at 9:40 AM on August 24, 2007

An inexpensive foam sword (mentioned but not linked to above), a DIY wooden castle (instructions) or this incredibly cool DIY castle made from refrigerator boxes, with instructions on how to get free boxes!

I want one of these now.
posted by misha at 10:52 AM on August 24, 2007

They make Castle themed Lego Duplo sets now. They are great. I got some for my boy when he was 3 and its been fun watching how he interact with them. The process was something like:

I build it then he knocks it down.

I build it then he plays with the castle until it falls apart.

He makes general requests about layout (eg: Build a castle with a bridge!) then I build it.

Same but now he can make repairs and sometimes adds on his own stuff.

Currently: He comes up with a fairly specific plan for the castle and we build it together. I do most of the construction, he finds pieces and tells me what goes where.
posted by Riemann at 11:35 AM on August 24, 2007


When we bought them there were more sets. One had a dragon which is really kewl. Can't seem to locate them now.
posted by Riemann at 11:38 AM on August 24, 2007

bop bag and some paint!
posted by white light at 11:51 AM on August 24, 2007

re: misha's refrigerator-box castle, I bought some of Mr McGroovy's cardboard rivets (as recommended somewhere on AskMe), and they've made very sturdy cat structures, so they'd certainly work for constructing non-load-bearing Zelda structures.
posted by fidelity at 12:09 PM on August 24, 2007

First of all, I love this idea. You say he sticks his sword in his shirt, and carries all his stuff around, but it doesn't sound like he has a proper tunic. How can you be an adventurer without a green tunic and cap? I would imagine making these out of felt would be really simple, and I mean.. he is three, so the quality doesn't need to be stunning.

Actually, looks like someone has already made an entire link costume. It looks somewhat involved but I am sure you could make some modifications to make it a little more simple.

As for monsters, I don't know how much help I can be, but I think setting up Twilight Princess like scenarios and challenges would be very cool. Similar to what robocop came up with, but even closer to the TP story line. The back yard is Hyrule field. The house is the castle. A straight hallway could be The Bridge of Eldin.

Maybe make him a wolf mask?

Oh and here's an old school map of Hyrule for him to "explore" with.
posted by MaHaGoN at 12:36 PM on August 24, 2007

This is all great stuff, guys -- if there's more, keep it coming.

As a response to everyone who's strongly in favor of the idea, here's why I feel compelled to do it: We were geocaching at Interstate Park in Taylor Falls, Minn., which has a lot of trap rock, and region has gotten lots of rain recently, so it was a slippery, slidy affair for my kids and their cousins. After my son took a spill, he tearfully said, "I need magnet boots!"
posted by blueshammer at 1:10 PM on August 24, 2007 [2 favorites]

This is a very cool project.

The difficulty--in my mind--with doing something like this "all the way," (which probably isn't what you have in mind anyway) is that Link makes generous use of hammerspace.

So it might help to give him a box...maybe something that doubles as a chest during play, that he can put all the stuff in. If we were in Mario 3 world, it would be "Inventory."

Anyway, my kids watch me play Twilight Princess as well, and the boy begs me to let him play. I would, but it just doesn't work when the player doesn't read yet.

Oh, and my little brother does the Belgarath thing, or however it's spelled. He gets together with other young folks and they beat on each other with foam swords.

He creates these swords out of foam sleeping pads (available at Wally World) and rubber cement. He made one that's 11 feet long. Please, no "compensating for something" jokes.
posted by SlyBevel at 7:20 PM on August 24, 2007

go to a fabric store and buy a piece of gold or silver metallic fabric. I don't mean like glittery. It's called liquid gold or liquid silver. Make it into the coolest cape ever. The flip side is black. My kids have used it now for years, since my oldest was like yours.
posted by kch at 10:38 PM on August 24, 2007

SlyBevel, if you're playing it on Wii, I find that if I give my kids the remote while keeping the nunchuk, then for standard monster fights they do just fine -- I move, dodge and z-target (and do the spin attack as necessary), and they swing the sword.
posted by blueshammer at 5:48 AM on August 25, 2007

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