A Future Toy Maker in Thailand?

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Blog entry by Mark A. DeCou posted 10-04-2010 07:50 PM 6464 reads 0 times favorited 16 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Ok, it’s Saturday, and my son, who is eight (8) years old, is riding with me in the “Ole-Girl” pickup truck (1972 GMC Sierra) as we travel together on the way to somewhere.

He is talking pretty much non-stop, excitedly going through his backpack showing me all of his Hot Wheel cars, and commenting on them, telling me how fast each will go, and which one is his “favorite one”. He has a lot of “favorites”, and I enjoy listening to him talk and how he appreciates the things he has to play with.

When I buy him Hot Wheels cars as gifts, I typically buy him the “classic, real looking car” toys, and an occasional cool looking hot rod. I keep all of the Corvettes and Pickup Trucks for my own collection (he borrows those once in a while to play with carefully, while his cars get run off the table, and tossed around and walked on without as much care as I wish he had).

I’ve been teaching him the names of the old cars this way.

When he doesn’t know the name of the car by memory, he’ll turn it over and read the bottom of it to me.

He says, “What’s Mal…Malis….Malisaw… what’s this say Dad?”

I stick out my hand and he gives me the car, and I look at it through my trifocals and say to him, “Malaysia…that’s where it’s built.”

Then he comes to another car, “Th…Th…Th-land? What’s this one say Dad?”

I look at it and say, “Thailand, that’s where it’s built.”

He’s quiet for a long awhile, and he says, “When I grow up I want to live in Thailand!”

I respond, “What? Why would you want to move to Thailand?”

He quickly replies, “That’s where all of the cool toys are made, and I want to make toys for children when I grow up.”

I ponder that one for the rest of the ride, all the rest of the day, and then also on the ride back home.

Back at home Saturday night, I pull down from the shelf my own Hot Wheels car collection (I have all of my old toys) to see what they say on the bottom.

These old cars are ones I collected as a kid, and they are kept up out of reach of today’s kids.

My cars are all metal, and heavy, and feel really goooood in the hand, and they quickly bring back a fun flood of memories. My cars ranged in age from 1967-1972, and my cars are stamped on the bottom “USA”.

However, there is one plastic topped car in my collection, and it’s really a piece of junk, and I quickly remember that as a kid, this car was always the slowest one I had, and I didn’t played with it as much.

I’m curious and turn it over, and it has “1974 Malaysia” stamped on the bottom.

Enough Said, it’s a sad enough story as it is.

You want to fix this economy?

Go make something USA….before all of our kids leave!

Thanks for reading,
Mark DeCou – “Proud to be called a blue-collar working American that still makes something”

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

16 comments so far

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4873 days

#1 posted 10-04-2010 07:55 PM

...and yet people swarm the Wal-mart parking lot filling up on the junk there and wonder why there are no local manufacturers anymore…how can people not make the connections?!

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


21678 posts in 4837 days

#2 posted 10-04-2010 08:28 PM

I have been wondering for 30 years how long we could export jobs? Now we know.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View hairy's profile


3276 posts in 4693 days

#3 posted 10-04-2010 08:30 PM

There is an argument to be made that says progress is putting people out of work. I go to the grocery store, scan my items, and bag them. There was a time when someone entered the price in a cash register, someone bagged, and someone else did inventory . I just did all 3 jobs,and the store saved the cost of 3 employees. Did they pass those savings on to me?

Look at farm machinery. A guy on a combine can do the work in a day what used to take several people a week.

Robots in factories are just one example of automation replacing people.

-- You can lead a horse to water, but you can't tie his shoes. Blaze Foley

View mmh's profile


3689 posts in 4883 days

#4 posted 10-04-2010 08:42 PM

Well, we are one of the wealthier countries in the world and also the biggest consumers and we want cheap. We were taught this by the marketing pros who have inundated us for decades of buying more and getting it cheaper so we can BUY MORE CHEAP! A vicious cycle that has come to head and has destroyed our way of life because we sought quantity and sacrificed quality.

Now is the time to rethink our ways and teach ourselves AND our children that cheap is not the best way to go. Yes, get more for your money by shopping around, but evaluate what the product is and if you should go cheap or pay a little more (or sometimes a lot more) and get better quality.

It’s not just the toys, it’s clothing, food, everything we allow in our market place. Even eggs, as the cheap eggs are from ill fed and housed chickens. You pay more for eggs from free range chickens, but the quality of their life and their eggs are apparent. Yet, it’s hard to readily pay double the price when the two products and prices are staring at you.

The clothing you are wearing, have you looked at the label to determine it’s origin? I doubt most of your wardrobe is currently from the USA. The USA mills and factories had to close up because they can’t compete with cheap labor from third world countries. But, are you willing to pay 30-50% more for “Made in USA”? It’s a hard reality to deal with if you don’t have much cash and even if you do, the “bargain” can be irresistible at the time, as we don’t see the harm until down the road when people are losing jobs and they can’t buy your product or services.

The pinch is here because we allowed it, be it unknowingly out of complete ignorance or just living the current moment without care and wisdom.

Thanks Mark for the eye opener.

-- "They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night." ~ Edgar Allan Poe

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5321 days

#5 posted 10-04-2010 09:40 PM

in my opinion, it’s not “where” it is made .. it is the driving force of the consumer that is to blame. “We” demand cheap; “we” demand “disposable” and the companies—ALL companies are filling the demand. Some are just better at it than others.

If we want better built products then we have to demand it, through our purchasing practices, and we have to be willing to pay for the better quality. We also have to change our lifestyles so that we aren’t living with a use & toss mentality.

And on another note I have to say how wise your son is – to make they analysis of best toys and where they were built—it really says something about how he thinks and where his future will lead him (not that it is to Thailand).

Thanks Mark. I love your stories!

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View swirt's profile


6344 posts in 4133 days

#6 posted 10-04-2010 09:52 PM

I agree with MsDebbie. It is not where it is made. I am sure there are equal craftsman all over the world. It is the fact that if a company is willing to send a job elsewhere and pay people pennies instead of real money, then the same company will also skimp on materials and designers too.

-- Galootish log blog,

View cathyb's profile


844 posts in 4405 days

#7 posted 10-04-2010 11:09 PM

I couldn’t agree more. Let’s face it, what company is making money hand over fist during the recession? Walmart. As long as people are willing to pay less money for less quality, Asia will be booming. The other day my neighbor asked me to look at cheap dining room chair that he had purchased as a set. He said, “The back broke. Can you fix it?” The upper part of the back leg had actually spit in half. I told him that I couldn’t fix it. This is third time this year that someone has approached me with a piece of junk and wanted me to turn in into a gem. Forget about it! If you are willing to buy junk, don’t expect it to last…......
Had to get that thorn out of my side!

-- cathyb, Hawaii,

View Mark A. DeCou's profile

Mark A. DeCou

2009 posts in 5566 days

#8 posted 10-04-2010 11:30 PM

I chuckled for the past two days thinking about writing this story. I did a “buy handmade” blog a long time back, and got a similar response. I love to preach to the choir!!

An internet Craft forum like Lumberjocks is a great place to write this type of story. I wouldn’t get the same response from other forums, it’s why I love this one so much.

I’m not blaming anyone for anything, neither manufacturers nor consumers.

I’m just stating that an eight year boy thinks he has to move to Thailand to make toys. Something is wrong with that picture, and he’s my kid, a kid that gets inundated daily with this rhetoric all the time around this house.

I’m trying to teach two kids that they can build anything they want to build, by a few solid skills, some research, and the passion to do it. I’m pondering now how to make sure they realize they don’t have to move to another country to do that. It’s what my dad taught me, and I caught it,so now I’m just hoping I can teach it as well.

By the way, crafts people don’t run machines that stamp out Hot Wheel cars. The craftspeople invented the machines though. I like that “How’s it Made” tv show, it’s amazing the thought that goes into machine design to make the stuff that we take for granted from circuit boards to panty hose.

And, as I write this comment, my own family is at Walmart buying things we need, and if my son can work his Mother well enough, he’ll come home with another Thailand made gem.

thanks for everyone’s interesting comments.

-- Mark DeCou - American Contemporary Craft Artisan -

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5321 days

#9 posted 10-04-2010 11:42 PM

I never even thought of it as your son thinking that he had to move to Thailand to make the toys.. I was thinking more in the lines of comparing his toys and recognizing that his favourites came from the same location.. a different style of sorting.

Somehow the “converted” / the choir has to role-model/teach/lead those who don’t know or understand – back to the path of durability and reliability.

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


21678 posts in 4837 days

#10 posted 10-05-2010 07:55 AM

The first thing that has to happen is forget this Free Trade BS and get some Fair Trade started.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View jockmike2's profile


10635 posts in 5407 days

#11 posted 10-05-2010 09:52 PM

You’re right again Mark, as you have been so many times in the past. One person I left out of “my story” in the emag was how you had such a large influence on me staying here on LJ’s. You always had words of encouragement and you don’t know what those words meant to me. Coming from such an Artisan as you. Giving me advice and appreciating what I had done, praise from you and I was on cloud 9. That and your Spirituality made me gravitate to your every blog, every word. I could speak volumes on how I felt about the influence you had on me, and I left you out of my story. All I can say is I a truly sorry Mark, old friend. You, are the reason I am a LJ today. mike

-- (You just have to please the man in the Mirror) Mike from Michigan -

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


21678 posts in 4837 days

#12 posted 10-06-2010 04:18 AM

Biggest bproblem and growing is our Congress being nothing but whores bought by the corps.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View nasrin's profile


1 post in 4064 days

#13 posted 10-14-2010 04:51 PM

great article! i own a baby & children’s e-store and have been searching high & low for USA made wooden toys for our website. they’re hard to find & often toy makers cannot or do not want to wholesale their products.

is there a page on this site that features shops that sell to retailers? i’ve looked but haven’t come across it yet. i understand these projects are hobbies, but some of the best businesses start out as hobbies. some of the projects i’ve seen here outshine anything you can hope to find in big box stores (both in looks & quality) and we would love to retail them. we want to support small, family-owned USA producers & if anyone knows where we can find them i would love to hear from you.

to get an idea of the kinds of things we’re looking for, please visit us at

View Greg's profile


335 posts in 4034 days

#14 posted 12-19-2010 05:47 AM

A fantastic, thought provoking story Mark. How true it is that Americans buy junk. The silver lining is that I hear murmurs of companies pulling out of Asia due to quality issues. We all know the differences between American and Chinese items. No comparison!

-- You don't have a custom made heirloom fly fishing Net?

View wseand's profile


2796 posts in 4202 days

#15 posted 12-19-2010 06:16 AM

You know it could be worse, if you ever see “Made by wseand” you need to throw it away, pure garbage. LOL No really.

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