By Noelle, Librarian Extraordinaire
Walking the mean aisles of the Javits Center during Toy Fair 2013 will wear anyone down if you don’t have a clear goal. There are simply too many toys of every type: plush, plastic, wood, electronic and metal. Toys that you can shoot, decorate, hug, collect, ride and build. It is dizzying.
I went into Toy Fair this year with a plan: to find toys that would encourage imaginative play with girls in mind. Far too many toys have a short play life for kids. Once the novelty wears off, the game has been played, the treasure has been found, many a toy ends up in a quiet closet corner. Where are the toys that your kids will go back to again and again?
Here are a few that caught my eye during Toy Fair 2013…
Goldie Blox and the Spinning Machine. Engineer Debra Sterling was disappointed to find so few women entering the profession. Only 11% of engineers in the States are women and Debra thought something should be done. She left her job and did research with Harvard and came up with Goldie Blox. Goldie is a character in a spiral bound book that likes to help out her friends by building a machine. With very clear step by step instructions (and all the pieces needed), kids can build a spinning machine for Goldie’s dog. But as more characters are introduced, the machine needs to get more complicated. By the end, your child has built a large machine where multiple wheels spin. The book then ends with diagrams to make more spinning machines, and blank grids for kids to imagine their own in. More sets are planned and the combination of storytelling plus engineering looks like a real winner. Colors are mainly soft pastels and are certainly very appealing. Finally, parents who like to do more than build with blocks and Legos with their daughters have something to go to. First sets are shipping in March and they are already getting a lot of buzz. Visit Goldie Blox to learn more.
WinGreen Play Houses. This UK based company has done it right. Yes, you’ve seen the pop up tents and plastic castles. What makes these stand out is the quality and construction. Hand stitched in India with embroidered details, these cotton play houses include multiple themes, from the classic fairy house to a beach cottage, making them both girl AND boy friendly. Colors are vibrant and the the fabric is sturdy, unlike the cheap tent material used in the pop ups. Clear instructions show how to construct the simple metal frames, much like a real tent. With two sizes, a purchase of one of these houses can insure creative play time for years and with the lightweight materials, these houses are easily moved. And when your child has outgrown the house, there will be no question of getting rid of it–these are hand me down keepers, for your grandchildren or best friend’s kids. Learn more at Win Green.
Topsy Turvy Dolls from North American Bear Co. Okay, so topsy turvy dolls are an old idea. If you don’t know, this doll held upright is, perhaps, a princess. But flip her upside down and under that skirt is an entirely different doll, perhaps the beast to the beauty. North American Bear Co. has created topsy turvy dolls from popular fairy tales, including the Wizard of Oz with Dorothy on one side and the Wicked Witch on the other or Little Red Riding Hood with the wolf on the reverse. These dolls encourage girls to retell stories, reinforcing literacy skills, and also encourage them to create their own tales. An old idea reimagined brilliantly. Learn more at North American Bear Co
Dot Jewelry and Clay Charms from Klutz. Klutz books are well known for creating craft kits, the marriage of a book with all the supplies needed to make whatever the activity may be, from knitting to juggling to drawing. The newest additions to their spring line include some fantastic jewelry making ideas. Dot jewelry simply uses fishing line, glue and circles of various colors and patterns to create necklaces and bracelets. So simple it is genius. Clay Charms includes clay of vibrant colors, a book to start you on ideas of charms to make, and many hooks to turn the charm into jewelry to attach to a bracelet. The limits of these kits is simply imagination. They also lend themselves well to friendship activities, parties and gift making. Dot Jewelry particularly is created from such simple ingredients that even when the original supplies have waned, girls will be able to make their own to keep on going with just a couple of bucks. Discover more at Klutz.
Zeenie Dollz. A doll is a doll is a doll, right? Sure, some may have some bells and whistles, but at the end, it’s just a doll. That’s true and also the key to why Barbie has existed for over 50 years. When a kid has no direction for their play, she creates her own. What makes Zeenie Dollz different? Nothing, really. They are just dolls…dolls made out of 100% recycled materials, each one a representative of a different endangered ecosystem. With 12 ball joints, tastefully stylish and pretty clothing (there’s no inappropriate “night club wear” on these girls) and a percentage of each doll bought going to the World Wildlife Fund, there’s not much to dislike. Kids can go onto the Zeenie Dollz website (zeeniedollz.com) to learn more about each doll and the ecosystem she protects. You can learn how to help the planet and play games at the same time. Unlike many other companies, Zeenie Dollz don’t require a purchase to unlock content on their site. The dolls are very attractive and unique in their way, encouraging creative play around saving the planet. If altruism is introduced in children while they are young, they are likely to keep it up throughout their lives, and this tiny new company is lending a helping hand. Learn more at Zeenie.
More Toy Reviews and Previews Are On The Way
There are many more toys that will be reviewed from our Toy Fair 2013 journey, so keep your eyes locked on DadDoes for more about what’s new in 2013!
|Noelle has been a children’s librarian for over 15 years. She’s also been a student teacher, worked as an online account manager, worked in a pet shop and as a supermarket checkout clerk, and as a dishwasher and fry cook. She is the proud mom of a beautiful daughter. You can read more of Noelle’s book reviews at Rave Reviews Log
Noelle can be reached at “Noelle @ DadDoes.Com”
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