DuneCraft Offers a Clear Choice with Ultimate Habitat Kit

t440_efcdcf52146bc28b57fdd538881c7420DuneCraft has introduced Ultimate Habitat, an eco-friendly habitat kit for children to raise tree frogs, hermit crabs, turtles, newts, and 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 Partner on Sustainable Toy Assortment in Time for Holidays

pbskidsPBS 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.

Pley Plays with Experience

Ranan - Head Shot 1It 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 Debuts Real Heroes Bopper Toys at ABC Kids Expo

Microsoft Word - ECO-BONK_RHS.ABCKIDS.docxPueri 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.

BeginAgain to Distribute Artterro Eco Art Kits

BeginAgain_logoBeginAgain is expanding its offering of earth-friendly playthings, as the three-year-old company has inked an agreement to distribute Artterro’s popular line of art and craft kits.

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 Introduces Design Tins Craft Kits

UrbanCanvas.DesignTinsUrban 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.

COMMENTARY: Endangered Species Toys Can Help Raise Environmental Awareness

CuipoGund

Endangered species stuffed animals, from Gund and Cuipo

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...]

COMMENTARY: Inside the Mega Bloks Factory, Where Innovation Is Their Building Block

March19.MegaBloksFactoryThere’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...]

Eco-Bonk Bop Bags Get New Sustainable Raw Material

Eco-BonkPueri Elemental will begin using Repreve recycled fibers to make the removable covers for each inflatable bop bag toy in its Eco-Bonk line. The fabric will be made from post-consumer recycled (PCR) plastic water bottles, fiber waste, and fabrics.

Meanwhile, Lily Gibbon, Emma Owl, and Noah Whale are joining the existing wild and wooly animals in the Eco-Bonk Wildlife Series, making it six characters in all. The line is suitable for kids ages 2 and up.

COMMENTARY: Marble Runs Are on a Roll!

During Toy Fair last month, I saw quite a few marble runs on display, which is not at all surprising. This particular toy has been around since my own childhood and never seemed to go away for any prolonged span of time. Meanwhile, one of the vendors I spoke to said marble runs have actually increased in popularity over the past year, thanks to the growth of the construction toy category. He also said that many customers opt for larger sets—or else buy multiple small ones of the same brand—and that the ability to combine sets to build ever-larger runs makes for exceptional toy value in their eyes.

Personally, I think marble runs are a thing of beauty: You drop in your fateful spheroid and watch as it winds its way toward its ultimate destiny, guided only by physics and skilled engineering. For young builders, they are a terrific means of developing an understanding of cause and effect, not to mention patience–as any seasoned vet can tell you, it can take repeated tries and multiple setbacks before a marble run is put together perfectly. But it’s worth it: A well-built run can have a downright pacifying effect, as watching the marble traveling along can put the mind in a focused, relaxed state.

Despite what they may have in common collectively, marble runs come in a range of different shapes, materials, and styles. Here are a few of my favorite companies currently producing them, but by no means should it be considered a definitive list. The breadth and scope of these toys is certainly worthy of a longer discussion; I’m just here to get the proverbial ball–or marble–rolling:

Phil.2.28.Pic2Hape is known [Read more...]