Friday, December 12, 2008

Sara's Toy Box Presents...

Our first annual awards. All the toys reviewed were eligible - and we reviewed a lot this year! These are the toys that we think are the very, very best.

Sorry, we have no shiny statues or great big checks. Just a big "YAY!!!!"


1. Best Eco-Friendly Toy: Green Toys Tea Set ($24.99)

The tea set is made from 100% recycled plastics. It is phthalate free and BPA free. It's recyclable. It can go outdoors or in the bath. It can be washed. What else is there to say?
Oh, yeah. It's lots of fun. We play with ours almost every day.

We also really liked the Cookware and Dining Set ($39.99). Click here for the original review.

2. Best American-made toy: Wooden Acorns ($5.99)

Acorns are very useful for feeding visiting squirrels, play cooking, counting, pretend dog food, just carrying around in a tote bag... We also like to put them in bean pots ($3.99).

3. Best Toy Under $10: Anamalz ($5.99-$6.99)

These adorable animals are made of organic maple wood and textile products, non-toxic glues, and paints. They were the almost Arielle's favorite toy this year. Arielle and Linnea love them.

4. Best Outdoor Toy: Baby Footprint Bucket ($6.09)

We play with our buckets in the sand, we play with them in the water, and we play with them in the snow. We fill them with bits of grass and flowers and make a dinosaur salad. We collect fallen leaves and dried plants for art projects. Everybody needs a good bucket, and this one is bright and colorful and just right for tiny hands. The spoon-shaped shovel is Linnea's favorite.

5. Best Game: Djeco Color Animals Domino ($16.99)

Arielle says this is "the one." It's one of several games we played this year that were simple, quick and educational. I love the bright, happy illustrations. But, Linnea and I prefer Djeco Animal Lotto Game ($16.99). I love watching her name and match the animals.

6. Best Learning Toy: Vilac ABC Wooden Blocks with Cart ($46.99)

These win for sheer versatility, and because they provide many years and many levels of play. Check out our review.

7. Best Travel Toy: Kathe Kruse Nicki Baby ($21.95)

We have several of these. They make nice gifts and they fit easily in a pocket or diaper bag. Their cute faces seem to inspire love. Best of all, they are soft and light weight and won't become dangerous flying objects in an accident.

8. Best Toy to Grow With: Holztiger Animals ($5.99 and up)

Start with a few and build a collection. These simple, but beautiful animals are great for all sorts of creative play.

9. Best Building/Stacking Toy: Eeeny, Meeny, Miny, Zoo Wooden Blocks from Haba ($49.99)

Haba blocks are always awesome, and they came out with some really beautiful sets this year. But, the animal blocks are hands-down the cutest. Linnea gets excited every time I take them out. And of course, they are compatible with other Haba block sets.

10. Best Toy for Cuddling: In our house Daddy Dolls get the most hugs, followed closely by the Bamboletta Dolls. They are both absolutely wonderful, I'm going to call it a tie.


Linnea's Toy of the Year:
Lady bugs in a pot ($9.95)

These ended up being one of Linnea's favorite toys. Now that she is learning to count, it is very sweet to hear her "one, two, fee, four..."
She also loves to carry these around. Of course, they are tiny, and not really suitable for children under three, so she must be supervised.

Arielle's Toy of the Year: Magic Cabin's In the Dog House Set ($89.98)

Where is the review for this wonderful toy? I'm working on it and it will be up just as soon as I can get a good picture. This is the perfect gift for the child who really, really, really, really wants a pet, but isn't quite old enough. Chocolate Tapdancey Licky-Barky hasn't left Arielle's side since he arrived a week ago. The set comes with everything a doggy needs.

Toy store of the year: Stubby Pencil Studio

I am so happy to announce that Stubby Pencil Studio is our store of the year. I work with many wonderful store owners: Virginie from PetitBaby, Jennic from KangarooBoo, Bridgitte from Natural Pod, Anthia from UrthChild, and Sonya from A Toy Garden are all really sweet women who are great to work with, and I love their stores. Because I might be biased, I came up with my short list and then discussed this decision with other moms, all blog readers. The store that came up the most - for selection, for customer service, for helpfulness, for filling a real need, and for the nice little gifts - was Stubby Pencil Studio. Congratulations, Kate!

A bit of activism

We are very fortunate to get to try out so many great toys. It was tough to narrow our favorites down to only ten. However, natural and handmade toys in the United States are threatened by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). Please visit the Handmade Toy Alliance website for more information about how we can keep toys safe, yet still keep our favorite toy makers and toy stores in business.

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