I think it may be easier being green…

Happity Frog

when you are this amazingly cute and deliciously soft. Happity Frog from Mary Meyer is just one of the six new animals in this collection.   These are ideal for toddlers–they have stitched features for safety and easy-to-grasp limbs for take along fun.  The group has received an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award. It was impossible to select just one!

If you can't find Zhu Zhu Hamsters…Don't Panic

Alternatives to Zhu Zhu Hamsters

Zhu Zhu Hamsters are getting all the media coverage (yes, I participated in some of it), but they are certainly not the only really special novelty toys of the season.  Here’s a list of other toys that may just do the trick!

Other cute animals that have a little extra something.

Yakety Yaks (Mary Meyer)  Each of these animals make a noise.  There is a pig, a monkey, an owl, a lamb, a bear and dogs.  They don’t run around like Zhu Zhus but they are pretty cute on their own. Read our review.

Kota & Pals Stompers (Hasbro) –   These little dinos are seriously fun–they not only roar they walk.  Read our Review. Watch our video.

FurReal Friends Newborn Puppy (Hasbro)- This a very sweet little puppy that wags his tail and makes little barking sounds. This is one of many in this line–there are dogs, cats, a panda, a bear.  We like the dogs the best. (In interest of full disclosure -we’re not big cat people.) We also have not received safety verification forms on these little guys–so there is no official review on our site.

Two other really cool novelty toys that should not be missed:

Hexbug Nanos (Innovation First) -Each of these small robotic bugs come in a test-tube like container.  We see that the price has come down since we first reviewed them–they are now $7.99.  Turn them on and they really are like little bugs!  They come in lots of colors and are fun to pull out of a pocket or bagpack.  Read our full review.
Watch our videos:

Zhu Zhu Hamster play with Hexbug NANOS

Mr. Robot Dances with Hexbug NANOS

Doodle Car (Day Dream Toys)- We love these super cool cars that follow lines you draw with a washable marker.  Pretty cool. Company also has seasonal downloads of roadways you can print and use with their cars. Read our full review Watch our video.

toyportfolio.com: Top GREEN Toys for 2009

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.


Eco Trucks (Sprig Toys)

Dump Truck (Green Toys)

Playmobil Recycling Truck (Playmobil)

PushAlong Hybrid Car (ImagiPLAY)

Building Toys

Plan Toys Build ‘n Spin (Plan Toys)

Citiblocs (Citiblocs)

Dolls and Dollhouse

blabla Dolls (blablakids)

Organic Joobles (Fair Indigo)

Earth Mates (Mary Meyer)

Plan Toys Green Dollhouse (Plan Toys)

Other Green Toys of Interest

Crayola Crayon  Maker (Crayola)

Elia Mini Chair (eliafun.com)

Ecotronics Radio (International Playthings)

Ecotronics Mr. Robot Head (International Playthings)

Best New Infant Toy: Mary Meyer's Sweet Chocolate Chime Ball

show_image_in_imgtag This 8″ soft fabric ball makes that lovely chime sound when it’s rolled back and forth.  Just right for encouraging babies to crawl–and fun for back and forth games on the floor with older babies and toddlers.  It also comes in pink and part of a larger line that also includes a very cuddly Sweet Chocolate Pillow Bear that opens up to become a flat pillow.  When you connect the Velcro underneath the Bear, it looks like a regular stuffed bear. The ball retails for $19 and the bear is $49. show_image_in_imgtag-1

Teddy Bears – Still a good gift?

We’re asked this question every year — mostly by grandparents and aunt/uncles that want to do the right thing. A soft huggable bear that can say whatever your child wants it to say is a great gift! For kids under three you need to be sure that the bear in question is age graded for all ages. Eyes need to be anchored and ribbons need to be absolutely secure. Fuzzy bears are not great for kids that still mouth their toys – you don’t want your child to get a hairball of bear fuzz. We’re not big on “teaching bears” that are meant for practicing zipping, buttoning and tying –these skills are better learned with real clothes and shoes!

Each year we have a Bear of the Year…this year it is Mary Meyer’s Big Ben Bear. Last year’s over-sized Creamy Bear (also from Mary Meyer) is the first thing every child goes to and hugs when they visit our office!

At our house we are huge fans of Gund’s Blue Chip Snuffles (technically a polar bear). My older son received his first Snuffles on his first birthday–over the years we had an entire family of polar bears that had their own language and own tv show. The dramatic play of the polar bears became a nightly ritual for my boys.