Choosing the Best Features for your Rainbow Swingset
If you’re anything like me, choosing which features you want on your custom Rainbow swing set can be overwhelming. There’s so many options: what if you choose a pirate wheel but your kids would have preferred a telescope instead? What if you add a picnic table but your kids wanted a general store? What if they wanted a disc swing but you added a tire swing?
Fear not, anxiety-ridden among us, because there’s actually a simple way to pick features that your kids will be sure to love. The best custom playsets are built around themes - pirate ship, clubhouse, Wild West, etc. and each of the features is chosen to reflect that theme. Kids are supremely imaginative, and giving them an opportunity to jump-start their pretend play with a cohesive playset theme will help them enjoy their playset even more. Alternatively, having your kids pick features they like by visiting Swings-n-Things’ showroom will ensure they’ve play-tested the features they want! We have a wide variety of models set up that display some of the most popular features Rainbow playsets offer, so you can be confident that your kids will like your custom playset.
Themed Rainbow Playsets
As we’ve discussed before on this blog, there are two major categories of playset: the Castle model which has angled support structures, and the Clubhouse model which has straight support structures. Since the Castle’s supports are angled, one side can be extended to make the deck of the playset level on unlevel yards. Although they are not suitable for unlevel yards, the Clubhouse models provide more options for role-play features like a general store or picnic table. Let’s look at some of the themed options that are available for each of these models.
Pirate Ship is such a popular theme that Rainbow has created a unique ship model, the Pirate Ship Playset (https://www.rainbowplay.com/ship/). This is the best choice if you know your kids would love a nautical-themed playset. However, if you want to give them pretend play opportunities with a more traditional swingset, Rainbow has made it simple to achieve. There are some features such as the Ship Swing (130), Bubble Panel (109), Jumbo Ship’s Wheel (104), and Crow’s Nest (112), that fall under the “pirate ship” theme which are available on both Castle and Clubhouse models. However, certain ship-like features such as the 10′ Crawl Tunnel (146), 10′ Billy Goat Bridge (147), or Periscope (139) are only available on Castle models. In general, Castle models are the second best choice for pirate ship themed sets due to their greater deck sizes and feature options.
One other consideration when creating a Pirate Ship swingset is whether you want to add Penthouses (188) for a poop deck. A penthouse is a separate deck on top of a monkey bar feature that connects to the main deck of each playset and can have Wheels (104) or Binoculars (106) to really emphasize the nautical theming. Your kids will love taking turns giving orders as the captain in the “captain’s quarters!”
General Store/Wild West/Firehouse
Features like the Tic-Tac-Toe (107), Chalkboard Panel (108), and Fireman’s Pole (115) make for excellent cowboy outposts, fire stations, or stores, and are available on both Castle and Clubhouse bases. However, the Clubhouse swingsets have many specialized bases such as Lemonade Stand (157), General Store (156), and Sandbox (154) that really elevate the role-play possibilities for kids. They can easily pretend to be cowboys and townspeople at the friendly general store, outlaw hideout, or the frontier camp with features that the Clubhouse provides.
However, one important factor to consider when going for a Wild West theme is that the Clubhouse does not come with the Rock Wall by default, like the Castle does. There is a separate feature (Rock Wall, Clubhouse (159)) that you must purchase if you want your kids to be able to climb cliffs to a hidden mine or scale a burning building to rescue citizens.
Monkey bars provide ample opportunities for your kids to act as ninjas or game show contestants. For really nailing the role-play, consider the Ninja Training Bars (185) or Dual Shimmy Bars (184), but standard Monkey Bars (180) can do pretty much anything. Another factor to consider for these themes is the slide choice. The Spiral Slides (177 & 178) contribute to a Wipeout theme with their twists, and the Scoop Slides (173 & 174) have handholds on the sides of the slide which allow kids to climb up them safely. Either of these will have your kids practicing their ninja moves nonstop! Also, don’t forget the Trapeze Triangles Combo (121) or Chin-Up Bar (125) for alternative ninja training options.
Prebuilt Swingset Strategy
For those of us that don’t have the time or desire to peruse pages of features, picking and choosing the ones we want for our theme, Rainbow has put together “packages” which are basically pre-designed playsets. At Swings-n-Things, one of the best ways to get exactly the swingset you want is to customize one of these models and just add or replace features as you see fit. Let’s walk through an example package so you can see what I mean.
This is the Rainbow Sunshine Super Castle Package II (14J). According to the chart from Rainbow’s website, this Package II model comes standard with a swing beam, in addition to other features like a tire swing, wave slide, and Jacob’s Ladder.
The real power of pre-built models comes into play when you realize you can easily replace the features you don’t like to create a custom Rainbow swingset, while gaining the benefit of Rainbow’s swingset designers for the remainder of the features. For example, if I had an unlevel backyard (a very common problem here in southwest Ohio) but I liked the 14J model, I would know to purchase the 14J model with the Unlevel Yard (144) feature. This is a very simple request that can be made at the time of purchase at most Rainbow distributors, including Swings-n-Things! We’ll be able to order your custom swing set from Rainbow and install it with the same proficiency as our store models. Rainbow maintains a list of available features on their website here.
Important Factors for Your Choice
Sometimes outside factors can determine how your swingset will be designed. We’ve already mentioned that Castle models are the only ones suitable for unlevel yards, but deck height, local weather, and the athleticism of your kids (and your kids’ friends!) can all be important variables to consider.
Rainbow playsets come in a range of sizes, from the Circus models that have a 5’ deck height to the King Kong models with a deck height of 7’ 2”! At Swings-n-Things we can source playsets of all sizes but we typically carry the sizes Sunshine (5.2’ height) through King Kong, including Rainbow and Monster sizes. Choosing the right deck height for your Rainbow swingset is important because if you purchase a playset that’s too small (for example, the Circus model), your kids may not be able to use it comfortably once they hit their growth spurt around ages 7-9. Rainbow swingsets notoriously last a long time, so building a Rainbow, Monster, or King King size playset will allow your children to enjoy using the same playset for 10-15 years! And with Rainbow’s lifetime warranty you can be confident in purchasing a swing set that your child can grow into instead of outgrowing in a few years.
Another good reason to purchase a larger playset is if you have many children, or if your house is the typical meeting place for other children in the neighborhood. With a Monster or King Kong swingset, you can add extra swings, slides, and other features that ensure everyone has enough room to join the fun. Adding a Penthouse (189) or 4 Position Swing Beam (167) feature can be an economical way to supply extra space to your kids and their friends.
However, there can be good reasons for purchasing the smaller sizes like the Circus and Sunshine. For instance, if you know you’ll be moving to an urban environment where you can’t bring your playset with you, you may want to purchase a playset that your young child can benefit from right now. Alternatively, if you’re purchasing a swingset for grandchildren, you may not be confident you’ll still be living in the same area as they grow older. Finally, you may be planning to give your Circus or Sunshine swingset away to another family once your children outgrow it. Whatever the reason, sometimes these smaller models can be the best choice for you, so don’t dismiss them. We carry these special swingsets for a reason!
Local Weather Conditions
Since your playset will most likely remain outdoors, weather can influence your purchase decision. If you live in a temperate area with little snow, you might want to avoid features like Wooden Roof (143 & 162) or Dream Theatre (158). Unlike the canvas roofs that come standard on Rainbows, these enclosed spaces with wood walls and ceilings are ideal for wasps, bees, and other insects to build their homes. Your children may not know to beware or report these invaders, and cultivating their perfect nesting environment within your child’s playset could be dangerous.
Alternatively, if you live in an area with lots of snow, choosing the Knotted Rope with Disc (123), Flat Swing (118), or Corkscrew Climber (116) may be undesirable. These features can easily become slick when wet with snow or ice, and kids could fall or fly off and hurt themselves if they don’t notice the lack of friction in time.
Not every child has the same level of athleticism. Kids can get broken legs and arms, or have a variety of conditions like Down’s syndrome or Asperger’s syndrome that can affect their coordination, strength, and mobility. Although Rainbow swingsets can be a fantastic way for all kids to have fun, get exercise, and improve their coordination, certain features may leave kids without “normal” levels of athleticism feeling excluded. Features such as the Rock Wall (159), Swinging Tent (138), Fireman’s Pole (115), and Monkey Bars (180) can be difficult for certain kids to use, and can leave them feeling left out of the fun. You should also make sure that kids have an easy way to access the deck so that they can use the slides, and that could mean getting a step ladder (145) instead of a chain ladder or bars.
Another consideration is how easily children can get down from the deck. Slides such as the Spiral Slides (177 & 178) could scare some kids who aren’t comfortable with enclosed, claustrophobic spaces and prevent them from easily exiting the swingset. The Wave Slide (172) has potential to scare kids because it can rapidly change their acceleration as they descend. And the 15’ Super Scoop slide (176) may just be too high for some kids.
Designing the perfect swingset for your kids is no easy task, but hopefully you’ve got a better understanding of which features you may want to consider and which to rule out. You’ve learned two different approaches for designing a swingset (building around a theme, and modifying an existing package), and know about other considerations like deck height, local weather, and your kid's athleticism. Keep in mind, you can always stop by Swings-n-Things’ location in Blue Ash, OH to try out playsets in person and let your kids pick their favorite models and features. We look forward to serving you!