Play comes in All Colors


Gender differences are real, and color-gender stereotypes are nowhere more pronounced than in the toy industry. Our job is to neither exploit nor fear these differences. 


Tegu introduced its Sunset and BLUES “colorways” in November and December this year.

At Tegu, we’ve done more in color this year than ever before, and we wanted to take a moment to share with you a bit about what’s behind our approach. I was shocked at what little I knew (or remembered) about the biology and physics of color as I recently began to consider the subject more holistically.  As humans, we identify color as it “occurs” via visual perception when certain parts of our eyes receive and communicate certain light data to our brain via the optical nerve. This is an active, working process, most intensely concentrated on a tiny dimple on the retina (back of eye ball) known as fovea centralis. At the risk of getting too technical, think about the eye and the brain working as a team in tandem to help you identify greens versus greys, reds versus blue, and so on. It’s real work, and, of course, like breathing, we do it without thinking about it all.



Source: Wikipedia. The eye and the brain work masterfully together as we encounter millions of colors around us.


Color is a vast scientific and emotional subject, and we’re increasingly fascinated with its role in toy design and play possibilities. Color is awesome.


Ever since we entered the toy industry, we’ve loved being outsiders, and we’ve been determined to avoid the pitfalls of “me too” thinking that often hinders creativity and real innovation amongst our peers. Most companies prioritize what will sell according to what has already sold well. This mentality breeds narrow perspectives and often leads to the deepening of cultural stereotypes, especially as it relates to the color-gender debate.  Originally, conventional wisdom would suggest that our toys were too expensive to produce, and veterans of the space warned us that it would be bad business to launch a company around the idea of a system of magnetic wooden block play.  The margins were, presumably, just too low to be worthwhile.  Similarly, as we began to research the use of color in Tegu’s lineup, we kept hearing feedback from salespeople at other toy companies that bright colors sell the best. Frankly, all of this seemed way too simplistic. And, to top things off, we were borderline nauseated by the prevalence in toys of primary colors – red, yellow and blue – as if color and play research supported their specific use amongst kiddos.  How they have somehow come to therefore dominate the toy industry remains a mystery to me. In seeming competition to the prevailing toy design wisdom of using primaries, I recently learned that at one week after birth, infants can see red, orange, yellow and green. But it takes a little longer for them to be able to see blue and violet. So, what gives on the primaries in toys? We reject conventional wisdom which calls us to use them alone, or, maybe worse, to mindlessly head the way of pinks and blues because others have done the same for the last thirty years.


One thing is for sure. Color has become increasingly controversial as it finds itself wrapped-up in gender. Pinks for girls and blues for boys is a cemented cultural construct that seems to be nowhere more pronounced than in toys and fashion.  Interestingly, while these color-gender stereotypes are, from a cultural standpoint, almost second nature today, they’re relatively new developments. And, the backlash from certain segments of the population on this gender-typing is severe. When LEGO launched its girls-oriented LEGO and Friends line a couple years back, the color palette was almost entirely pinks and purples. Many parents were mad, and yet so many of them were excited to see their daughters choosing to engage with construction toys in addition to doll play and the like. It’s a tension: can we draw girls more into “engineering” type play if we incorporate colors that seemingly appeal to them more? Hard to say, but it appears to be a billion dollar ticket for LEGO.


If I may be so bold, I am comfortable saying that girls really are different than boys, and visa versa. Gender differences are real, and that’s a good thing. And at the same time, those differences – I believe – are far more nuanced and, in total, not nearly as binary as advertisers might have you believe. By way of example, you might be surprised to learn that modern color-gender associations are relatively new. In fact, at least in infant clothing in the early twentieth century, pinks were actually the color for boys and blues the color for girls. I found this history almost impossible to believe when I encountered it.


At Tegu, we believe our responsibility as a toy design firm is neither to exploit nor fear these differences. Sometimes, when we’re considering certain colorways internally at Tegu, one of us will turn to the other and say “that’s too boy.” And, it’s in these moments that we, too, unknowingly fall prey to prevailing cultural gender group-think. But, as we seek to maintain discipline on design, what you can expect is that we won’t create versions of toys explicitly for boys or explicitly for girls. At the same time, if we create an all blue set – as we recently did in our BLUES colorway – don’t assume it’s been designed for boys only. It’s a good example of how we think about color. It is not intended in any way to be a “boys color.” More notably, it’s a different approach to blue – a combination of bold and soft – that we know both genders will find attractive. Whether they like it for its boldness, its softer side, or because of the beautiful combination this creates, isn’t up to us to decide.



Related, our Tints line – Tegu’s first entry into color back in 2010 – is a beautiful combination of “softer” colors that are more pastel in appearance, with pink included. As we started experimenting with colors, we pursued translucent finishes in the Tints line to let the beauty of our woods’ grain shine through the finish, and this approach may well be one of the most distinguishing design features of our product.  And, while you could argue that it isn’t “boy friendly”, it has been our most popular historical seller, by a long shot. So, who are we to say that an iconic color scheme punctuated by pink isn’t appropriate for boys in the end?


Tegu uses beautiful hardwoods from Central America and seeks to let gorgeous grain striations shine through its proprietary finish formulations.

In truth, I dressed my eighteen-month-old daughter today in a pink Patagonia down jacket and put her to bed tonight in a pink and purple onesie. If she grows up loving pinks and purples, I’d have to say that’s partly on me; we know that a little nurturing goes a long way. But it might just be what she learns to love. Either way, what matters most is that she knows what she loves. Perhaps its time to rethink the color palette of her wardrobe…or just see how she responds to 42 blue blocks

Playfully yours,

All Things Design |

These magnetic wooden blocks are not just for kids! Great gifts for all.

Giftable for all. Moms, graduates, teachers. The Tegu Pocket Pouch Prism. School’s (almost) out! Celebrate with Tegu. The Pocket Pouches from Tegu are great gifts for all ages!

Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, and tell the teacher in your child’s life how much you appreciate his or her hard work in the classroom this year. Do you remember the teacher who made math ‘click’ for you? Or physics? Or spelling? Teachers provide an amazing foundation and the building blocks for kids to grow.

Celebrate Mother’s Day, May 12, and tell your mom how much you love her. She holds your family together with that magnetic force called love.

Celebrate the graduate. From preschool to grad-school, graduation is more a beginning than an end. We want to say, keep learning, dreaming, creating and growing. We hope no matter how old you get, that you will always stay a kid at heart.

So give Tegu to celebrate and say thank you. Get a free Pocket Pouch Prism Nelson when you spend $30 on through May 6, 2013. Buy one for your mom and get one for your teacher. Or buy one for your favorite graduate and keep one for yourself!

Did you know Tegu Blocks make really fun desk toys? It’s true! The most beautifully designed paperweight in the office will attract more than just paperclips. These magnetic wooden toys will get creativity flowing and help you avoid any mental-blocks!

Your beautiful wooden Tegu Blocks will also look right at home on a coffee table, functioning as a conversation piece or fun game. In recent New York Times article “Building Blocks,” architect Michael Arad mentioned Tegu Blocks as blocks that “tend to be more aesthetically appealing, so the adults at home don’t mind if the blocks are left out for days on end.”

All Things Design, Uncategorized |

When kids want to bring their favorite blocks along…

We are TOTE-ally excited to announce that the Travel Tote is back! Our Tote was an immediate favorite when we first introduced it in 2010. But as our magnetic building block system grew, the Travel Tote needed to as well.

So we redesigned our Tote. Of course it is still beautifully made with industrial strength felt to protect your premium wooden blocks wherever they go, but now it’s large enough to fit even our Explorer Set inside!

We're TOTES excited that the Travel Tote is back!

With the weather is getting warmer, we are thinking of weekend getaways and summer vacations ahead. And what makes a fun trip even more fun? Bringing your favorite wooden blocks along of course! Just as the building options with Tegu Blocks are endless, now the places to bring them are as well. Trips can be as short as the playroom shelf to the kitchen table, or as long as flights to grandma’s house. We want to see the places you bring your Tegu Blocks!

Buy your Travel Tote now and get 20% off your whole order! Offer valid through April 15, 2013.

All Things Design, Children's Play Time, Uncategorized |

Behind the scenes: How your favorite wooden blocks are made

Today’s Annual Report promo: Get a free Hatch when you spend $70 or more!

Use code: FREECAR  Valid March 19, 2013 on

You are about to find out (most of) the secret recipe to our one-of-a-kind magnetic wooden blocks!  The cycle goes all the way from one tree to another, creating a beautiful building system of Tegu Blocks in the process!

From Tree to Tree Tegu Wooden Blocks

You have probably heard about our mission in Honduras. But maybe you wondered where you are calling when you have a customer service question? Or where our designer sits when he comes up with the newest Tegu product? We included this map so you can get to know us a bit more!

Tegu Office USA

View our 2012 Annual Report here:

All Things Design, Our Annual Report, The Tegu Team, Uncategorized |

From Our Original Wooden Block Set to Many

Did you know Tegu started with just one set, the ORIGINAL SET? Look how much we’ve grown! We’ve expanded our color selections, block shapes, and product lines. And we are going to keep expanding! Tegu is a system to keep building on to.

Today only, to celebrate how much our product portfolio has grown, get a FREE Pocket Pouch Prism Jungle when you buy any ORIGINAL SET!


Valid March 15, 2013 on

Tegu 2012 Product Portfolio

View our 2012 Annual Report here:

All Things Design, Building the Business, Children's Play Time, Continuous Improvement, Our Annual Report |

Best toy company of the year?! :) See our 2012 Annual Report

Maybe you have been with us since our very first magnetic wooden block set launched in 2009, or maybe you had never heard of Tegu before receiving a set for Christmas last year. However long it has been, we want to take a moment to say thank you! 2012 was a big year at Tegu, and we couldn’t have done it without you.

People are first drawn to Tegu for many different reasons. Our social mission in Honduras. Our desire to foster creativity and help equip your children through open-ended play. Our eco-friendly and sustainable practices. Our simply beautiful design. We are taking these things seriously, and having fun doing it!

Thank you for caring about these things too. Thank you for introducing Tegu Blocks into the lives of your family and friends. We look forward to many years together ahead! We love being a toy that children return to year after year and we love seeing the way our building system grows with a child as their imagination grows. We look forward to seeing their children play with Tegu. Yes, that’s right! We are confident in the heirloom quality of our product and we are creating a toy company designed to be around 100+ years from now!

Before we get ahead of ourselves, we want to celebrate 2012. Starting tomorrow we will be sharing fun facts from our 2012 annual report and hosting 24 hour promotions to let you know how much we appreciate you!

View annual report here! 

2012 Thank You From Tegu Founders

A Bold Block

From aspiring architects to budding builders, the new Nelson blocks will kindle your children’s creativity and build a new generation of designers, inventors, and artists. Named in honor of famous designer George Nelson, these multi-colored blocks will help transform their visions into realities–and even unleash your inner child in the process!

Like the designer himself, these simple (yet inspired) blocks will allow your children “to do much more with much less.” While you can’t have an unlimited number of blocks, the creative possibilities with Tegu Blocks are endless. With shades of orange, blue, gray, and green, the Nelson scheme adds a modern twist to a classic toy and helps kids everywhere visualize their designs in a new light (and color). In fact, between now and Friday, you could win the Nelson set of your choice by telling the Tegu Team about what inspires you!

Enter on Facebook

  1. Like Tegu on Facebook
  2. Publicly share any Nelson post (and your inspiration) with your friends

Enter on Twitter

  1. Follow @Tegu
  2. Tweet: “Hey @Tegu! I’m inspired by […]?” and, of course, include your inspiration

You only need to share or tweet once to participate. The contest launches today and ends Friday, October 5th. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Tuesday, October 9th. Even better? You can start building with these multi-colored blocks right now by using the discount code TEGUNELSON to receive 20% off any Nelson block set through Wednesday, October 10th. Available in the Pocket Pouch, Pocket Pouch Prism, Endeavor Set, or Explorer Set.


All Things Design, Children's Play Time, Play Value of Toys, Uncategorized |

Reach New Heights With Wooden Toys

From castles to cathedrals, the latest Tegu Block sets allow your aspiring architect to defy gravity and reach new heights. With the new 22-piece Endeavor and 40-piece Explorer Sets, we’ve transformed the Tegu experience and added a whole new dimension to open-ended play by introducing columns, mega-planks, and trapezoids into the mix. These new shapes and sizes seamlessly integrate with any existing Tegu Block set—an excellent case study in modular design. Combined with cubes and planks, they enhance the capabilities for building bigger, taller, and more angular creations. And, of course, the embedded magnets prevent your ships, towers, and skyscrapers from crashing to the ground.

With no instruction manual, children will only be limited by their imaginations. With the new Endeavor and Explorer, they will not only build architectural masterpieces, but also their creativity, motor skills, and spatial reasoning. In just a few snaps, children can unleash their curiosity and broaden their architectural horizons!

To help channel your inner Frank Lloyd Wright, we’ll be giving one lucky winner either the Endeavor or Explorer Set (individual will select which set/color). Between now and Wednesday, tell your friends and family why they should explore the world of Tegu Blocks and you could win!

Enter on Facebook:

  1. Like Tegu on Facebook
  2. Publicly share any Explorer/Endeavor post with your friends and tell them why they should explore the world of Tegu

Enter on Twitter:

  1. Follow @Tegu
  2. Tweet: “Explore the world of @Tegu #Blocks w/ me”

You only need to share or tweet once to participate. The contest launches today and ends Wednesday night. The winner will be chosen at random and announced Thursday morning on Facebook and Twitter.


All Things Design, Play Value of Toys |