There was a time when consuming toys required going to where the toys are. That meant the neighborhood toy store, or the big chain retailer attached to the shopping mall. Even with the advent of Internet shopping, buying a new toy still required logging onto an online account, browsing for the item, and clicking a mouse to purchase it.
Ah, the start of a new year. Typically, it’s the time in which we take stock of what we have, consider how we can make our lives even better, and then “resolve” to carry out those plans. It’s with this in mind that I’ve put together a list of New Year’s resolutions–not for myself, mind you; I’ve already composed that list, which is why this commentary is up at deadline, instead of several hours past. No, I’m talking about resolutions that I’d like the toy industry to consider taking on. Because as absolutely perfect as a thing is, there’s nothing like a detached observer’s unsolicited advice to make it even more perfect, am I right? [Read more...]
The habitat includes a pool with variable depths, planting holes, and several sitting ledges to fit the needs of any small critter. The habitat’s clear underwater viewing side allows children to watch their amphibious pets move from dry land to water. Decorative accessories and plants, which create the proper ecosystem for any small creature, are also included. The lid is equipped with a positive lock system to make sure it stays put.
PBS Kids and Whole Foods Market are partnering to bring PBS Kids’ line of educational and earth-friendly toys exclusively to the supermarket’s customers this holiday season. Starting this week, gift givers can find the PBS Kids line, including classic wooden toys and soft plush animals, at Whole Foods Markets nationwide in the retailer’s Whole Body department.
Appropriate for young children ages 6 months to 3 years, the PBS Kids toy line features race cars made from recycled milk bottles; colorful, wooden vehicles assembled by hand from local wood in Vermont; shape sorters and stackers intended to inspire a love for fruits and vegetables; and phthalate- and PVC-free plush. Each item is made with safe, non-toxic materials and inks, and all packaging is made from recycled materials.
It can be hard to say no to a kid who consistently begs for a toy. But once they have that toy in their hands, parents are never sure how long the kid will play with it before they are ready to move on to something else.
Ranan Lachman had the same problem when his son was about five years old. Lachman realized that he had spent about $3,000 on toys, only for his son to play with each for only two to three hours. Lachman knew there had to be a more efficient way to provide toys for his son. Thus, he became the co-founder and CEO of Pley (yes, that’s spelled correctly), a company that allows its customers to rent as many Lego sets as they want for a monthly fee. [Read more...]
Pueri Elemental is expanding its plush bop toy collection with its new Eco-Bonk Real Hero Series. These latest boppers join the ranks of the Eco-Bonk Wildlife Series, and will include Soldier Ethan, Fireman Mason, and Doctor Sophia.
Suitable for ages 2 and up, Eco-Bonk boppers are fitted with a soft cover made from 100 percent recycled plastic, while their covers make them feel more like interactive plush toys. Each durable vinyl inflatable is non-phthalate-based, contains no traceable BPA, is kinder to the earth, and packaged in recycled materials.
All three will be featured in the Made in USA Showcase and available for purchase in the South Hall, Level 1, Booth 4121, at ABC Kids Expo on September 7 to 10.
Artterro is known for unplugged art projects made of sustainable materials, and the company’s line is assembled by hand in Madison, Wis. It includes eleven titles featuring needle felting, mixed-media collage, art journaling, and more.
Urban Canvas, an eco-friendly craft toy company, has introduced Design Tins, a new collection of portable tin boxes packed with art activities. The first two kits in this collection, Doll-Tin Cafe and i.am.ro.bot., contain wooden and paper board pieces that children can decorate, assemble, and easily transport from place to place in a tin box.
The Doll-Tin Cafe contains two wooden dolls, decorative tape, paper board furniture pieces, and wooden tableware. With this kit, children can use their imagination to create a cafe scene and “dress up” wooden dolls with removable decorative tape.
The second kit, i.am.ro.bot., is a do-it-yourself block set. With this set, children can mix and match robot parts with blocks that are decorated with stickers that they can stick on and color. The kit comes complete with four wooden blocks, robot stickers, and colored pencils.
Animal-themed toys are nothing new, but in recent months, I’ve been noticing a focus on endangered species. Shortly after Toy Fair 2014, BeginAgain released its Balance Boat: Endangered Animal Edition, a stacking toy featuring rubberwood versions of the panda, rhinoceros, tortoise, and more. Meanwhile, Green Tones by Hohner put out Endangered Animal Shakers, beautifully carved rubberwood musical toys that depict an owl, leopard, and turtle.
And on the plush front, Wild Republic has added vulnerable species such as the Siberian Tiger to its Cuddlekins line. Last but not least, Gund and Cuipo have collaborated on stuffed animals based on the endangered sun bear, emperor monkey, and three-toed sloth, among others. [Read more...]
There’s been a trend of late among North American toy manufacturers to either move manufacturing back home or to stay put entirely. Recently, I had a chance to visit the Mega Bloks factory in Montreal, where Mega Bloks—the signature toys of Mega Brands Inc.—are produced, and it only strengthens the argument not to export toy-making abroad. Jean-Francois Albert, vice president of manufacturing for the company, offered a guided tour that showed off the facility’s various innovations, which keep it cost-effective, even compared to China and other countries that traditionally offer cheap labor. [Read more...]