November 17, 2009
Green toys used to mean a recycling truck here or there…or a paper maker, but now there are many toys that are either manufactured with a green mandate or promote a positive green message to kids. The biggest trend are dolls made from organic materials–not all created equal in our book. Green shouldn’t have to mean scratchy or boring in design or color. Happily we received many that found the right blend of green and whimsy! The other big category — trucks…many made of recycled materials – were a real draw to our testers. Then there are the throw back toys–my personal favorite, the wind-up FM Radio.
Here’s the list of our Top Green Toys for 2009. Complete reviews on our our site, www.toyportfolio.com. Click on the toy name to read our rating/review.
Eco Trucks (Sprig Toys)
Dump Truck (Green Toys)
Playmobil Recycling Truck (Playmobil)
PushAlong Hybrid Car (ImagiPLAY)
Plan Toys Build ‘n Spin (Plan Toys)
Dolls and Dollhouse
blabla Dolls (blablakids)
Organic Joobles (Fair Indigo)
Earth Mates (Mary Meyer)
Plan Toys Green Dollhouse (Plan Toys)
Other Green Toys of Interest
Crayola Crayon Maker (Crayola)
Elia Mini Chair (eliafun.com)
Ecotronics Radio (International Playthings)
Ecotronics Mr. Robot Head (International Playthings)
November 5, 2009
Construction toys should be part of every* child’s toy experience. You’ll find that kids develop preferences to building materials–go with it. Our advice is always to start with smaller sets –building your child’s confidence about what they can do rather than frustrating them with a bigger set.
Here are five of our favorites. Click on the toy name to read our full review from www.toyportfolio.com
Lego Star Wars Collection Lego Systems
Plan Toys Build n Spin (Plan Toys)
Wedgits Pink & Purple Activity Tote (ImagAbility)
Lego Racers (Lego Systems)
*Here’s my daily plug about bringing home building sets to girls…it’s important for their math skills down the road. We want them to excel in math and engineering…it starts with building with construction toys.
October 28, 2008
We’ve been bombarded with green marketing this year…some products are well meaning but have really heavy handed messages. With that in mind we looked for toys that represent a more planet friendly agenda in how they are manufactured, as well as toys that do deliver a message but in a child friendly way…Here are our favorites:
1. Parking Garage (Plan Toys)
2. Tonka Lil Gas Pump (Hasbro) – it shows how ethanol is made on the back of the pump.
3. Sprig Vehicles (Sprig)- new line of vehicles made from recycled materials.
4. Gator Golf (Hasbro)- The classic game is now made without batteries.
5. Indoor Gardening Kit (Green Toys)- made from repurposed materials.
6. Think Green Barbie – love that she’s joined this important cause…her motto…”Think Pink, Live Green”
7. National Geographic Kids Animals (International Playthings)- polar bears and snakes–oh my!
8. Cheekeyes Animals (Cheekeyes)- handsomely crafted line of wooden animals – perfect as props for blocks.
9. Recycling Truck (Playmobil)- a fun prop for pretend that reinforces what we all should be doing.
10. Eric Carle Brown Bear Floor Puzzle (Mudpuppy)- a friendly low key way of introducing kids to the creatures we share this planet with…without a heavy message.
February 26, 2008
It’s really unfortunate that wooden trains have taken such a hit this past year. Wooden trains are one of our favorite play experiences for preschoolers. Putting down tracks is really an open-ended puzzle (hence our recommendation to stay clear of play tables that recommend gluing down tracks). If you’ve ever watched a preschooler work at the process of putting the tracks down, you can almost sense the brain power involved. I’ve also discovered that somewhere around four, most kids are far better at figuring out the tracks than their parents!
Since Brio was acquired by K’nex, the train line has taken a back seat to their core business. Sure there were a couple of new add-ons shown at toy fair, but I miss the “lines” of trains that had interesting themes. Having covered wooden train sets for over seventeen years (how many people can say that?), it’s sad to see how the line has diminished. The lead issue also rocked the world of parents who believed that they were bringing home heirlooms to their kids when they bought pricey bridges and sets from Learning Curve’s Thomas the Tank Engine line. The bridges, stations, and other accessories are always great from this line. It will be interesting to see if they can regain the trust of parents.
So you can imagine that we were pretty happy to see Plan Toys new Road and Rail set. The handsomely designed station also converts into the storage box for the whole set (pretty neat). We look forward to testing this set. Plan Toys had a number of sleekly designed wooden play settings (garage, airport, etc.) that have that level of design you won’t mind having out in your home. The company also reports that they are phthalates and lead free. We look forward to testing these sets when they’re ready.