With Green Day hours away, we are certainly pleased with the trend in the toy industry to go green. It seems like every week there are new organic doll collections, toys made of recycled materials, and toys/games that have an empowering (but not obnoxiously heavy-handed) green agenda. More good news-the packaging also seems to be more friendly to the environment-with fewer toys trapped in a sea of plastic.
Here is our current list of top ten green favorites–happily the list keeps growing!
Barbie is not the gymnast herself this time–but the coach – a welcome and empowering message for girls. Set comes with Barbie’s kid sister Kelly who spins on the balance beam (a fun feature). Of course there is a hairbrush, a medal and Barbie’s purse (with a bottle of water). Will be a hit with young gymnasts in training…
This seems to be the year of really fun plush doll collections! We just got in the Lubies from Rocket USA. Each of the round animals comes in a box marked top-secret. The animals to select from include: a bear, a cow, a dog, an elephant (shown), a polar bear, a penguin, a cat and a pig. The elephant is my personal favorite. I would have loved a little sound in them…maybe a chime…but then they would not have appealed to the 7 & up collector that the company seems focused on. As soon as we took enough of them out the box, our testers started throwing them. So it’s really a plush/ball? We’re giving the collection an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. They retail for $8.99-$9.99.
The new Barbie Pet Vet has arrived. The set comes with a pony (with a splinted leg), a kitten, one fish (pink of course), carrots (for the horse I assume), a laptop, a scale, a pink vet’s bag…and what’s that…oh yes, a really oversized hairbrush in the corner…just in case. All pinkness aside, I actually like this set–she looks ready for work in her no-nonsense yet fashionable brown boots.
The reveal of the new tween Dora the Explorer was going to be a pre-holiday event-much like the way the company rolls out Elmo every year. Alas–the silhouette release in February caused alot of upset. Parents were concerned that the beloved character was growing up too fast. So what’s a company to do? Release the photo and assure parents that the Dora brand has not taken a terrible turn. While the “great” reveal has been done prematurely, I’m sure the folks at Mattel are thrilled with the extensive coverage and general positive response to the new Dora. Taking a page from the American Girl (also owned by Mattel)- the new Dora celebrates being a girl. Her story line focuses on solving mysteries with her multi-ethnic group of girl friends. While we haven’t seen the games yet–it seems they have steered clear of boys and shopping at the mall. Although there is a fashion component (even a ecologically aware tween needs to look cool). We look forward to seeing the on-line component to the new Dora. Stay tuned.
I just opened a box of Joobles…a really adorable collection of knit dolls (made of organic cotton) from Fair Indigo. Each doll is knitted (some with yarn hair)…and stitched features. This is now the third collection of fabric dolls we\’ve received this month that have such wit — a really good sign that there is still a great deal of talent and creativity out there in toy land. (Apparently a lot coming from Peru! – the blabla collection is also made in Peru.) The Joobles are $29 each. They will appeal to both boys and girls- also a plus! They will be just right for toddlers that will love their squish factor and cheerful design. According to the company’s information, Joobles are made in a Peruvian co-op that also provides free breakfast to the children in their community.
Deglingos are deliciously quirky — and were a welcome treat at toy fair. The rows and rows of collectable dolls were gone this year…the dolls that look like real babies (in a seriously creepy kind of way)…we were just commenting on their absence when we hit the end of a row and found these decidedly off beat (funky meets folk art) dolls that will appeal to both boys and girls. Probably because I have two boys–I’m always sensitive to finding huggables that have that gender free appeal. The Deglingos are a collection of animals – there’s a Cow (Milkos), a Wolf (Bigbos), a Bunny (Lapinos)…you get the idea. We’re looking forward to seeing the new line of Baby Deglingos and sharing them with our testers.
Mattel and Nickelodeon/Viacom, hoping to take this hit preschool brand to the next level, is introducing a more grown up version for older girls. Much like the Elmo rollout each year, we won’t see the actual new Dora until it is revealed later in the year. We’ll see whether Dora fans transitioning into the next age group will accept an older, more mature version (she is scheduled to move to the “big city” and have a a “more fashionable look”)–or whether Dora will be a character they want to remember from their early childhood. Thoughts?
Today we’ve been opening a whole host of boxes that have arrived since we were at toy fair. Lots of books (how many books can there be about Miley Cyrus?), games, toy trucks and audio tapes. At the bottom of the stack we just opened a box that had the most WONDERFUL new dolls inside from Blablakids.com. Rarely do we get products that are so fresh looking–yet have a very retro, pleasingly familiar feel to them. There are dolls that will appeal to both boys and girls–they are all knitted – and each character has tons of personality! They have that extra dose of whimsy that makes this an outstanding collection (can you tell I really like them!). The entire collection is inspired by a trip to Peru by co-founder Susan Pritchett and French designer Florence Wetterwald. My suggestion–take a break from what you’re working on and go to their website. There are fingerpuppets, mid-size dolls, rattles, and giant (3′) dolls–you will be in for a treat. We have asked to see some of the other dolls in the line – it is truly very special.
As always Barbie is in touch with pop/cultural trends. In the past, she’s been a teacher, a vet, a pediatrician…but for this year–she’s aspiring to go with the glitz and glamour of hosting her own cooking show. Move over Rachel, Martha, Giada…there’s a new chef in town. Set ($24.99) comes with camera, demo table, lights, oven and refrigerator. Where’s the make up and hair stylist? We actually like this smart and savvy take on Barbie!
Our activity suggestion: have your young chefs tape their own cooking shows. While they’re having fun, they’ll also be researching a menu to cook (reading, planning)–do some measuring (math) in the process and practice their presentation skills. At the end of the day, you’ll have a snap shot of your school age kids that you’ll treasure.