Toys for kids of all ages can be found at Possum Products in Newcomerstown. Russ Riggle creates quality handmade wooden toys from over seventy different items he has designed.
Making toys was a hobby for Russ for many years. He’s always had a passion for building things from wood and remembers a very rough wooden car he built at the age of five. By the time he was in fourth grade, he built a wooden Viking ship. Now his toys are more elaborate and much better quality.
After working as a mechanical engineer for many years, his job moved overseas about seven years ago. At that time, he started selling some of the toys he made at the Newcomerstown Farmers’ Market. Sitting around isn’t something that Russ enjoys, so he began experimenting with new designs and products. Russ claims that he makes “anything with four wheels or that can fly in the sky”.
Besides their being quality toys, they are all made right here in Newcomerstown, Ohio with U.S.A. materials. All toys are smoothly sanded but there is no finish applied. They are lead-free, with no metal or plastic parts and the glue is even food grade in case a young child just happens to chew on it.
Now he travels to festivals and craft shows all over the state and has even expanded his shows to some out-of-state venues. His toys are very popular as people like to buy things that are created with American-made materials and craftsmanship.
His sons enjoy helping at the festivals and even make a few wooden toys of their own. Adam and Ben frequently appear to help their dad with setting up the booth. Both enjoy talking to the customers as much as Russ does, and Russ says they are both great salesmen as well.
Having seen Possum Products at the Paul Bunyan Show, Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival, and Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, it became evident that their products were something that people from birth to ninety years old enjoy. Boys and girls walk up to their booth and roll the toys along the table, often reorganizing it. It’s a great tool for developing their imagination.
One little girl found a snowplow on the table, picked it up and walked outside. There she decided to move some gravel around with the snowplow. She put that toy to work.
Their display includes a large selection of small wooden animals, which the children pick up and name. One youngster was naming the animals and came to one they called “Cloud”, which was really a sheep. Another cute name the children came up with was “Fast Food” for a pig on wheels.
Since Russ works out of his basement at home, purchases must be made from the website and festivals he visits. They are busy with shows, and just recently had done eight shows in three weekends. Now you see why it’s important to have his sons involved.
A rather popular way of using the wooden items is to laser etch the customer’s logo onto the sides. Then they can hand out the wooden truck or tractor with a long-term advertisement. While he doesn’t do custom work, he does get many ideas from his customers for future toys.
This is Russ’ only job right now and he spends many long hours doing something that he thoroughly enjoys. Making trains, planes, trucks, and tractors takes time and patience as he uses his own designs and even custom-makes his wheels. His prices are very reasonable ranging from $2 for small animals to $72 for a train.
Visit Russ on his website www.possumproductsllc.com or see his toys in person at a festival or consignment shop near you. In the coming year, Possum Products will be going to Algonquin Mill Fall Festival, Pike Elementary, Roscoe Village and the Salt Fork Arts & Crafts Festival.
For the guys at Possum Products, the best thing about making toys is the look on a child’s face when they pick up the toys. Russ takes pride in the wooden toys he makes. When he isn’t making toys, he’s playing with them!