Stephanie Oppenheim

Stephanie Oppenheim is the co-founder of the independent consumer organization, Oppenheim Toy Portfolio (www.toyportfolio.com), along with her mother, noted child development expert Joanne Oppenheim. Together the Oppenheims have been reviewing children’s media since 1989. Their organization also started the Read It! Play It! Literacy Initiative – a series of books that encourage parents to both read and play with their children as a way of fostering a love of reading and developing language skills. The original title, Read It! Play it!, focuses on books every 3-8 should know and activities that relate to the 50 books reviewed and recommended. Read It! Play It! for Babies and Toddlers is now also available in Spanish. Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) uses the Read It! Play It! series in their literacy programs.

Stephanie is also a Contributor to NBC’s TODAY Show and has appeared on Oprah, CNN, MSNBC, CBS Nightly News and Fox News. Prior to starting the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, she practiced corporate law in NYC. (Can you guess which job is more fun?) She also holds a Masters in Psychology from NYU with a specialization in parenting. She lives with her husband and two sons in NYC.

Join  Stephanie’s facebook page to get alerts on new toys, books, music and other notable products for kids.

How we work at the toyportfolio.com.  We’ve been reviewing children’s media since 1989. So we’ve been doing this for a while!  During the course of the year, we both receive products to review that we have requested…and products that come unsolicited to us.  The products are screened  based on their quality, age-appropriateness and value to the intended audience.  Most products don’t make it passed this point.  You may be surprised to know that many toys don’t do what they say they’ll do, the quality isn’t what it should be or the toy has limited play value.  The same is true with books, music and dvds.  If a product passes this initial threshold, it is then sent to one of testing families (we have dozens of families all over the USA  that test for us).  We ask those families to observe their kids playing with the product for two weeks. At the end of that period they are asked to fill out a questionnaire — one of the most telling questions we ask is whether they would buy the product for a friend.  We want to know if they agree with the age label…what did they (and their kids) like or dislike about the product.  In all cases the family that tests the toy is allowed to keep the toy or donate it if they don’t like it. We never take toys away from our testers.  We also give lots of toys, books, dvds and cds away to charities here in New York City.

We are never paid to look at a product.  In fact we started the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio with the mission to provide objective reviews (good and bad) about the products we receive.  The concept of accepting entry fees seems to us to run counter to that mission.  We also do not take ads directly from manufacturers.  In this new on-line age, we have considered running google ads. We may start doing that soon–but there is no direct advertising available to the companies we review.  At the request of our readers, we have added a click through to Amazon.  As a member of their affiliates program we do get referral fees.

Awards.  You can’t buy an award from us.  Our awards are respected by consumers, manufacturers, and the media–because they know it’s the real deal.  We see thousands of products throughout the year…and very few actually make their way to our award lists. If a company wins an award, they are not required to buy anything from us.  If they decide to promote their award by using our trademarks, we do require that they purchase the seals from us or a license.  When we first started, we had no awards — but everyone asked that we not only review, but rate.  So we started giving awards and within weeks we were having products arrive in stores that had our “seal” on them–even on products that we had not reviewed.  As a result we are pretty strict about the use of our award seals and how they may be used.

In the end, it is our name on the line. We take it seriously.

We started with the mission that we would take the hassle out of finding quality products for your kids. We would write about the good, bad and ugly in toyland…and we still do.

31 thoughts on “About

  1. Congrats on your mention in FastCompany as “The Watchdog.”

    I am particularly interested in learning more on the Oppenheim standard on sound levels.

    Please email me at billybob2@rcn.com

    Thank you

  2. Hi Marcy
    We haven’t tested the Blue Hat Teach and Learn. If you’re thinking about buying one, I’d look at the games that are included. These machines are drill machines more than “teaching” machines. Like old fashion workbooks, if you don’t understand the material–having pages of practice doesn’t really help you. For reinforcing beginning math skills, kids are better off with concrete experiences. My mother (a former first and second grade teacher) taught me basic counting skills with Hersey’s kisses—it made the whole experience much more playful. Of course you don’t need to use chocolate, there are counting opportunities everywhere…counting Lego bricks as you build…baking cookies…etc.

  3. Yes. The majority of toys are made in China. We require all companies to verify that they meet our safety standards.

  4. Hi Stephanie,
    I’m a mommyblogger and I’m hoping to showcase/review some great educational toys. Do you have any suggestions for new up and coming companies that would like to have product reviews of their new toys It seems the same companies are reviewed over and over, and I’d love to share some new products. My blog is growing quickly and I’d love to bring some exciting products to my readers’ attention.

  5. One of the best parts of our work at toyportfolio.com is finding new mom and pop businesses–they often offer great innovation and creativity. The idea is to give them as much support as possible–so if you see something great blogging about it can really help a smaller company get on the map with both consumers and retailers. My favorite example this year is blablakids.com….this collection of handmade dolls (made in Peru) is from a small company with a fresh looking product.

  6. Sure! If you look at our list you’ll find smaller companies like blablakids, dream big toy company, daydream toy company, acting out…one of the best parts of toy fair is finding new up and coming companies to write about! Good luck with your blog!

  7. HI, I am wondering if you will publish the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio in book form again? Or have you decided to only do online reviews now? Thank you for your response.

  8. For now we’re sticking with the on-line format. It gives us more space to say what we want – instead of being limited to 20 words for each toy! We are exploring doing our Baby&Toddler Playbook again next year. We also recommend our play/literacy series Read It! Play It! and Read It! Play It! with Babies and Toddlers (this book is also available in Spanish).

  9. Hi Laura,
    I know they can be lots of fun, but there are too many trips to the ER from trompolines…so we have decided not to recommend any. Sorry we can’t be of more assistance.

  10. Can you tell me what children’s wagon you would recommend? I was looking at the Step2 Wagon for Two.

  11. Hi Cindy
    We like both the Step2 Canopy Wagon (it has a hard plastic canopy–with a drink holder on top!) or the Radio Flyer Trailblazer Canopy Wagon –with a soft fabric top that you can pop on and off (a nice feature). This one also has a storage place on the outside. Both are pretty big and you’ll need plenty of space to store either. Just looked on-line…they’re both available at Target for $99. Both have seatbelts – an important feature with toddlers. We are in fact adding the Radio Flyer to the Platinum List for this year.

  12. Hi,

    I wanted to introduce you to Artterro and invite you to visit us at the 2010 Toy Fair. Artterro designs eco-friendly art kits that are made in the US by the non-profit Goodwill Industries. We are sustainable mom-owned company offering an open-ended art experience to families at an affordable price. We are the type of product that many of your readers are looking for, we know because we are those moms too. The Artterro booth# is 6341 in the Specialty Toy Section, which is very easy to find. I have attached our brochure and you can visit our Toy Fair Press Page at the bottom of the page.

    We look forward to meeting you.


    Forrest Espinoza
    Co-owner, Sales Director


  13. What are you favorite art supplies for 3 year olds? My daughter will be getting an easel for her birthday and I need to accessorize it.

  14. What are your best recommendations for stocking a very small play kitchen with toy food and cookware? When our daughter turns 3 we will be giving our daughter one of those wooden tabletop stovetops that folds up. Space is an issue, so I want a limited number of pieces that give lots of play value.

  15. I’m not big on a lot of plastic fake food (kids are great at making up their own food with their imaginations–so giving them a lot of literal props can get in the way) but I do think a set of pots and pans are great fun if it doesn’t come with the kitchen you’re buying. Take a look at the Step 2 Stainless 10-pc pots and pans. I also really like the sets from Alex–they have a 9 piece Completer Cook set–(9 pieces). This set comes with a pot holders, a wooden spoon…just looks like real thing.

  16. What a great present. You’ll want to be sure you get the plastic paint holders and brushes. Sound like an ad for Alex today–but they really do have a great collection of regular brushes as well as what they call funky brushes. If you weren’t buying an easel I’d say that a look at the new finger paint set from Creativity for Kids–something very pleasing about feeling the paint for many kids (not all). I’d start with just three colors to start when you bring out the easel…but then if you really want to wow your child…bring out some white paint. I’m also big on taking the easel outdoors…something fun about being outside and being inspired by the world around you. And it’s much easier to clean up! Have fun! It’s a perfect third birthday present. And as my mother always wisely points out–don’t make too big a deal about any one painting–you don’t want them to get stuck. Talk about the colors, the texture, etc. The focus is on the process, the experience…not the end result.

  17. Hi Stephanie ~ I met a friend of yours from grad school Ms. McGlamery recently who said “you’ve got to get a copy of your game to this friend of mine who reviews toys for children. I am interested in doing just that. How would I go about making a submission?

    I attended toyfair three times and now my activity is used in over 3000 classrooms. Kids of all ages love the egg game. In fact Family Life magazine selected us as a ‘toy that stands the test of time’. The web site is filled with information and reviews.

    Could you let me know the process?



  18. Hi Erich!

    Glad to take a look. The submission form is on our website (www.toyportfolio.com). There is no fee, but you will need to fill out the safety verification info.
    Then send the game into us with the form to Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, 40 East 9th Street, 14M NY NY 10003.

  19. Hi Stephanie-

    My wife and I are interested in becoming testers for the toys you receive. We currently have 4 children ages Newborn, 1, almost 3, and almost 4. What is the process for being selected?


  20. Hi Jason!

    Love having new toy testers. Please send us your address. We will start selecting toy testers for next year in February. We will send you a toy, a form–and ask that you observe your child with the toy for two weeks. The toy is yours to keep (or donate if you don’t care for it!)…Stephanie

  21. We have but not for several years. I would try one out at a store to make sure you’re happy with the sound quality.

  22. Hi, Stephanie, I’m a grandmother and love American Girl dolls, but am troubled by Mattel’s practice of offering a marvelous Girl of the Year story and doll for one year, then removing all traces of the doll and articles that go with it at the end of the year. I”ve recently watched my granddaughter and many other girls (there was a line at the AG store when it opened) long to play with this doll, but be disappointed by not only it’s disappearance, but the disappearance of all articles that are part of the play…clothes, gymnastic equipment, etc. The story remains, but no way to purchase dolls or articles in order to play. The concept offered by American Girl’s Dolls is so inclusive…something for everyone, and everyone is a part. But, there seems to be another lesson too–you must have the resources to buy the doll, clothing, and articles in one year, or you are not a part. There is no time to set goals, earn money, or have more than one birthday or Christmas to receive items to play the story. If Mattel really wants to inspire young girls, I could wish for reconsideration of this marketing practice….Becky

  23. I’m curious. Do you search out toy testers? I would love to do something like this with my kids.

  24. Hi Stephanie-

    Are you going to be at Toy Fair in February? Patty Errera and I would like to meet you and show you our new doll samples that are currently in production, to be released spring/summer 2014. The dolls are modeled on a realistic positive body image and encourage saving for future goals.


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