Since I started out as a corporate lawyer…who now plays with toys for a living, I’m always curious about how other people end up in the toy business. Today’s interview is with Fair Indigo’s founder Rob Behnke.
Green toys used to mean a recycling truck here or there…or a paper maker, but now there are many toys that are either manufactured with a green mandate or promote a positive green message to kids. The biggest trend are dolls made from organic materials–not all created equal in our book. Green shouldn’t have to mean scratchy or boring in design or color. Happily we received many that found the right blend of green and whimsy! The other big category — trucks…many made of recycled materials – were a real draw to our testers. Then there are the throw back toys–my personal favorite, the wind-up FM Radio.
Here’s the list of our Top Green Toys for 2009. Complete reviews on our our site, www.toyportfolio.com. Click on the toy name to read our rating/review.
Dolls and Dollhouse
Other Green Toys of Interest
If you have a toddler or preschooler, they probably have grown attached to one particular stuffed animal or blanket. These often well-worn “lovies” become such important touchstones, that we often recommend you have a backup. With my younger son, we spent hours scouring toy and gift stores for exactly the same Simba doll that sadly went missing at the park. Even at two, he knew the difference.
I’m always curious about how this relationship develops. With our older son Adam, we even have a photo of the first encounter. From the moment he hugged his first Gund Snuffles at his first birthday party, it was love. Even though he couldn’t talk yet, this particular bear became his constant companion and eventually would become the Mama bear to a family of smaller Snuffles. The original bear’s nose was so thread bare that we had to do a midnight exchange. (My mother was afraid that he would literally bite off his nose! ) Even as he got much older and welcomed a new brother–who of course had to have his own family of bears–this lovey remained in an honored position.
One of the great pleasures of the evening was to eavesdrop on the elaborate stories both boys would weave about their polar bears. They each had silly names, their own language and as a nod to the world they live in, they had their own Polar Bear TV Network–with lots of different programs.
Of course I still highly recommend Gund’s Snuffles. He is an institution in our house. A nearby children’s store always had a wonderful display of snuffles during the holidays..and since my kids rarely went to toy stores, it was extremely special for them to actually go buy a new bear to add to their growing family.
Here are some other choices that may invite such relationships:
1. North American Bear’s Collection of Flatsos. Take your pick, there are pink Elephants, Blue Hippos, Green Frogs…each come in a variety of sizes and are fantastically floppy and deliciously huggable.
2. Kids Preferred Asthma Friendly Puppy Dog is also very sweet and huggable.
3. Blabla dolls. I’m in love with this collection of dolls and animals. Pricey but very special.
4. Joobles. Deliciously soft and friendly…happily gender neutral.
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!
My Natural Collection (Hosung NY)
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.