COMMENTARY: Cardboard Playhouses Help Kids Think Inside the Box

It’s almost Christmas, and for me, that means logging onto Netflix and making sure that a DVD of the 2004 film, Millions, is in the mail in time to reach me by next Wednesday. If you’ve never seen Millions, you should totally make it part of your holiday viewing, as it is a wonderful movie. Directed by Danny Boyle (of Trainspotting and Slumdog Millionaire fame), it’s not a saccharine-fest like a lot of other Christmas-themed fare; however, it is set around Christmas and packs messages about the importance of charity and human kindness, and of the power of familial love. Watching it reminds you of what the holidays can, and should, be about.

Millions is also a celebration of a child’s imagination, and one of my favorite parts of the film is near the beginning, when one of the main protagonists, 7-year-old Damian, is sitting in his backyard kingdom that’s made out of discarded cardboard boxes. Thanks to Boyle’s whimsical direction, the viewer gets to experience how something as simple as a box fort can become a source of great play potential: At one point, Damian’s entire universe trembles as a nearby train thunders by. He also has one-on-one chats with various Catholic saints, who drop by for darkly humorous interactions, and to relay messages about the boy’s recently deceased mom.

Calafant, Cardboard playhouseIt was because of Millions that I wanted to put together a list of cardboard playhouse toys. Now if you’re like me, you got your first taste of them when you were younger, shortly after a new refrigerator, TV, or bathroom fixture was unpacked at your family home. Today, anyone can still acquire a large box from pretty much anywhere and use it for playhouse-building; however, clean surfaces, such as the ones on the following products, do present an advantage for decorating. There’s another reason why I chose them: They all utilize recycled cardboard, meaning they take something that might otherwise end up in a dump and turn it into a item that creates enjoyment. Since it’s the holidays, if you’re going to give a present that encourages a child’s creativity, why not one that’s friendlier for the whole planet, which serves as every kid’s playhouse? [Read more...]

The Friend Group Acquires Majority Stake in Green Toys Inc.

GreenToysPrivate investment firm The Friend Group has acquired a majority stake in Green Toys Inc., a manufacturer of eco-friendly, socially-responsible children’s products.

As a strategic investor and active partner, The Friend Group, which has had success in the consumer products industry, brings decades of experience in manufacturing, operations, and executive leadership. Green Toys has experienced considerable growth since co-founders Robert von Goeben and Laurie Hyman founded the company in 2007.

Howard Friend will join the company as chief executive officer; Von Goeben will maintain his duties as president and chief creative officer; and Hyman will continue as the company’s vice president of marketing.

COMMENTARY: Dolls: Inspiring Kids Through Play

For years, Mattel‘s Barbie has been held under very close scrutiny for her appearance. She is often criticized for her unrealistic body type and the kind of message that sends to girls. But, of course, Barbie’s good qualities should not be overlooked. She is a smart woman with quite an impressive resume. Another quality Barbie is famous for is her vast array of careers. Barbie can be anything that she wants to be—and so can the kids that play with her. I use Barbie as an example because she is probably the most popular and widely known doll on the market, but there are many other dolls out there that have positive messages for young girls attached to them—and they come in many different shapes and sizes.

zelfsMoose Toys has introduced the Zelfs, collectible dolls that live in a “fab-itat” in the secret garden of Zardenia. This dolls, a little reminiscent of Troll dolls, feature colorful, spiketacular hair that can be style in all sorts of different ways. Each Zelf has its own unique persona and a Zelf power that is represented by a Zelf mark. The Zelf currently on my desk, Angelala, has the Zelf power of kindness. Each Zelf also comes with matching charms and hair accessories (Angelala’s got a pretty fabulous harp). The new line includes small, medium, and large Zelfs, and the Venus Fly Trap Spin Salon Playset that twirls and swirls each Zelf’s hair with the push of a button. [Read more...]

Greenpoint Brands Introduces Eco-Friendly Teether

Greenpoint Brands announced its MyNatural plant-based Eco-Teether, the new leader in baby safe, soft-comfort, bio-resin teething products.

Free of BPA, PVC, Latex, and Phthalate, the plant-based Eco-Teether features stylish, functional, multi-sensory surfaces that sooth a young kid’s tender gums. Made from natural and healthy ingredients, such as corn, potato, and sugar cane starch, the blue, green, and pink pastel-hued plant-based Eco-Teether is engaging and entertaining with easy-grip animal shape handles for babies ages 3 months and up. The Eco-Teether features a dinosaur, a pony, or an elephant.

Greenpoint Brands encourages growth and development through safe products for a child’s development and curious exploration. Committed to protecting infants’ and toddlers’ natural growth and discovery, all baby play products, such as the plant-based Eco-Teether, are 100 percent bio-resin made from the environment to support the healthiest care during key sensory transition stages.

 

COMMENTARY: Box Play for Kids Gives Imaginations a Boost

Little ones have the power to turn the most basic objects into adventure props with their own minds. Sometimes, large and high-tech toys are cast aside for the box they came in. I remember making guitars to play with out of old tissue boxes and toilet paper rolls when I was young. Now, Box Play for Kids is bringing colorful fun to recyclable, around-the-house objects, including milk cartoons, egg crates, and mac-and-cheese boxes.

Box PLay Mac n CheeseBox Play for Kids makes eco-friendly stickers that can be applied to cardboard items that would otherwise be thrown away. The stickers are printed on 100 percent recycled paper and are made in the U.S. Helping to inspire creativity and imagination, Box Play for Kids has more than 35 different designs available. Kids can make anything from a barn to a pair of binoculars to a school bus with these adorable stickers.

Now in its second year of business, Box Play for Kids is in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign. With a goal to raise $12,000 by May 8, Box Play is hoping to increase their inventory, hire additional staff members, and attend trade shows. To back Box Play for Kids on Kickstarter, click here: http://kck.st/10R4gz6.

Once Upon A TreeHouse to Showcase Products at Pre-Golden Globe Awards “Boom Boom Room” Event

Once Upon A TreeHouse, a company that sells a complete line of handmade dollhouses, dolls, and accessories, has announced that Once Upon A TreeHouse products will be featured at the pre-Golden Globe Awards Boom Boom Room celebrity gifting suite at the Hilton Los Angeles / Universal City from January 11 to 12. Once Upon A TreeHouse’s co-founders, sisters Lori Schoeneman and Tara Schoeneman-Brown, will attend the event and provide hand-crafted, eco-friendly dolls, dollhouses, and accessories to celebrity parents and their children. [Read more...]

Underwriters Laboratories Keeps Companies Sustainable with New Launch

UL Environment, a business unit of Underwriters Laboratories (UL), has launched of a free web-based tool that will help manufacturers assess their corporate sustainability efforts. Part of UL Environment’s Sustainability Quotient (SQ) Program, this tool provides manufacturers with a preliminary analysis of their sustainability initiatives relative to the requirements of the UL 880 standard, such as environmental purchasing policies, greenhouse gas reduction targets, and sustainable supply chain code of conduct. The tool also aggregates responses from all survey respondents and provides an overall benchmark of sustainability progress to date.

“Manufacturers are making great strides when it comes to their own sustainability programs, and this assessment tool will help them identify gaps in standards they are currently using,” says Gary Savin, vice president of UL Environment.

This post was originally written by Leah Rocketto and published by ToyBook.com. For more news, visit www.toybook.com, follow The Toy Book on Twitter, and like The Toy Book on Facebook. The Toy Book is a bimonthly trade magazine covering the toy industry, published by Adventure Publishing Group.

Hosung’s Eco-Brands Break Away from Company

Greenpoint Brands, LLC, maker of miYim and MyNatural eco-plush toys and infant accessories, is going solo and breaking away from its parent company, Hosung NY. Greenpoint Brands was co-founded by Serah Chae, the daughter of John Chae, CEO of Hosung. John’s other daughter, Jean, founded SimplyFido, LLC, an organic pet toy company that is also leaving Hosung.

Operating as a division of Hosung NY, the miYim brand of organic cotton toys and infant accessories began in specialty retail and has expanded, via its sister brand MyNatural, into the mass market. Greenpoint Brands will bring MyNatural’s licensed Winnie the Pooh, Cat in the Hat, and The Grinch eco-plush toys to Babies “R” Us shelves this fall. More Dr. Seuss eco-plush characters will be available at mass retailers in the spring, in time for the debut of the animated film The Lorax.

Both Greenpoint Brands and SimplyFido will soon seek investors to help fund future growth. Greenpoint Brands plans to expand into home furnishings, infant feeding supplies, and other baby essentials. Hosung NY will continue its multinational operations as a manufacturer of traditional and electronic plush.

Spin Master Works with Firm for Eco-Friendly Packaging

Spin Master, Ltd. is working with Clean Agency, a firm specializing in sustainable business strategies, to create a sustainability platform for the toy manufacturer. Some of the environmental concerns Clean Agency outlined included those related to the manufacture, conversion, and disposal of PVC and its various stabilizers in packaging. The platform will include suggestions for packaging choices that will improve its environmental performance.

For more info on Green Toys, see The Toy Book’s November/December issue to be released soon!

Ten Eco-Friendly Toys for Under $30

Eco Child’s Play and Goddard Systems, Inc. have announced its “2009 Hottest Eco-Friendly Toys under $30″ list.
[Read more...]