Friday, March 7, 2008

Store Review: KangarooBoo

Every time I take a look at the KangarooBoo website, there is something new. A few weeks ago, it was wooden toys from Estia. And then, there were beautiful French dolls from Petitcollin. This made deciding what to write about tough.

But I definitely wanted to write! Aside from offering us wonderful toys, KangarooBoo donates a portion of every sale to child-related charities. This takes place automatically during the checkout process, and the customer chooses which charity the money goes. If no choice is made, it goes to a default charity.

Currently, the default charity is Alex's Lemonade Stand. The Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation (a registered 501c3 public charity) evolved from a young cancer patient's front-yard lemonade stand to a nationwide fundraising movement to find a cure for pediatric cancer.

Jennic, the site owner of KangarooBoo, is a cancer survivor in her 6th year of remission and a mom to two children, ages 2 and 4.5. She and her husband (who designed the website) feel very strongly about making a difference, however little it may seem. They believe that everything has to start from somewhere and are grateful to all those who advocated throughout the last many decades. They hope their own efforts will be amplified and multiplied with the support of others.

The site can be navigated in many ways - by category, brand, child's age, country of origin, new arrivals, on-sale, NOT Made in China, and also by tag.

Now for toys!

Haba Fantasia ($29.90)

Apparently, the greatest toy that I ever bought for Arielle is the Fantasia magnet game. On the day my order from KangarooBoo, I gave it to Arielle to play with while fussy, teething Linnea napped. Arielle spent a few hours talking non-stop about how it was the toy she always dreamed of :) It's basically magnetic pattern blocks with a metal board (the stick-on magnets need to be attached prior to playing), but there are cute Haba faces and patterns. It's been a few weeks, and it is still her favorite.

But what I really want to do in this review is highlight some brands that are not as easy to find.

Petitcollin dolls was founded in 1856 and offers a huge line of classic vinyl dolls (boy dolls, girl dolls, ethnic dolls) that are still being made in France, Many of the steps are still done by hand. Prices start at $32.00.

Marie-Francoise ($78.50) is a 16” tall doll whose limbs and body are made of vanilla-perfumed phthalate/BPA-free vinyl. Her adorable outfit and shoes are removable. She can be bathed and her hair can be washed. She comes with blonde, red or brown hair and the Easter Bunny is bringing a blonde one to Arielle. She is currently hiding in the laundry room where we have deep intellectual discussions about how best to remove blueberry jelly from pretty party dresses. She is even prettier in real life and the vanilla scent is very subtle. Her toenails are painted a very pale girly pink, so she is definitely a "big girl" doll. Arielle is going to be thrilled.

Estia is a small German company established about 12 years ago. Estia makes some of the toys themselves and also gathers toys from European Artisans in Germany, Czech Republic, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland, and from a Thai company as well.

Arielle (of course) really enjoyed the finger puppets ($10.90 for a set of 3).

But, Jennic tells me that the threading animal games are very cool, as are the very unique push-along toys and pull toys. And that the airplanes are also very well made.

Push-along Hedgehog ($13.90)

Zid Zid Kids are the creation of a Moroccan & American husband/wife couple who established the company in 2003 in Morocco. Their designs capture the vibrant and rich colors of Morocco and are all handmade by local artisans. All of their items are handmade and very well done. The fabrics are thick and colorful. I love the animal pillows ($35.90) and have ordered a few to bring a touch of spring to our playroom.

Elephant Animal Cushion ($35.90)

Flensted Mobiles are made by a Danish company established in 1954. The company is still owned and run by the same owner/designer Christian Flensted, his wife, his son and his daughter-in-law. Flensted Mobiles are very well designed, light weight, and with ever so slight air movements, the mobiles turn and twist to create harmonic and balanced movements. No batteries.

They distribute parts to their employees every two weeks who then put the mobiles together at their own homes. At the end of the two weeks, a company car goes around to the 75+ employees' homes to collect the finished mobiles and to distribute new parts. They have been doing this for over thirty years, long before it was popular to be "green". It is estimated if each employee lives 5 miles from the factory, and each gallon of gasoline can go for 20 miles, then each year about 7500 gallons of gas are saved by the Flensted company's production method! KangarooBoo has one of the largest selections of Flensted mobiles on the web.

Piggie Mobile

Vulli: is another French company who's been making teethers and other toys since 1961. Many of their teethers are made from 100% natural rubber, and are phthalate-free, BPA-free, and painted with food quality paint.

Sophie the Giraffe ($18.90)

Jennic's enthusiasm for the toy is contagious. They have recently added Plan toys.

KangarooBoo has offered our readers 5% off their purchase with the code STB5. It expires 2 months from the date of this posting. Orders $75 or higher have free UPS ground shipping.


Tina said...

Great post! Thanks for the recommendation, I had never seen their site before. Lots of very interesting and unique toys. I love the designs of those pillows from Morocco. And even though my boys are no longer babies, I might need to get that hedgehog push toy for somebody's baby. It's too cute.

Sara said...

I know! That hedgehog is adorable. I'm almost sad that Linnea doesn't really need a push toy. But, when I next need a baby gift...

alianora said...

Im so sad! I found some great toys there, and I NEEDED that hedgehog - but when I went to check out, it was going to cost me almost $30 just for shipping. Ill have to wait on buying from this store until after we move out of Alaska.

I just found this blog last night, and I love it! I love the look of so many of the PLAN and Haba toys, but have always been reluctant to buy them without being able to see someone playing with them or finding out more about them. This is a huge help for figuring out what to buy my almost 11 month old!