Brain Noodles

Friday, January 23rd, 2009

About two feet long and extra-fuzzy, Brain Noodles are like pipe cleaners on steroids.  Bend them; twist and twirl into odd monsters and plants; glue on googly eyes.  Now, untwist and start over.  They’re sturdy and reusable, so they make a really interesting construction and sculpture toy, and the lush, silky texture and eye-popping colors make them really fun to interact with. 

Unlike other construction toys, there are no tiny parts to lose.  Instead of following instructions to create rigid angular structures, kids are the sole creators, inventing organic abstract forms that resemble three-dimensional finger paintings.  Even if you don’t have children, you can use them as an everchanging art piece for your coffee table.

Check out their website for ideas and lesson plans for parents and educators.

$14.50 for 12 pieces.  Available in solid colors or stripes. Ages 5 and up.

Margarete Steiff Billboard Teddy Bear

Friday, January 16th, 2009

If you’ve perused the plethora of beautiful mohair bears in our Steiff cabinet, you may have wondered, “What’s up with the Andy Warhol bear?”  The face adorning this animal commemorates Margarete Steiff, who started the Steiff company in 1897.  In 1902, Steiff company became famous for creating the first upright jointed bears.

Limited Edition
Printed cotton fabric

Come see our bears and the rest of our wonderful Steiff menagerie.  We have over 150 pieces.  Steiff animals are made of genuine mohair, which is long-lasting and stands up better than other materials.  Most synthetic animal hair imitates mohair.  Each animal has the trademark “Knopf im Ohr”  (Button in Ear) which marks authenticity.  A white tag indicates a limited edition piece, which will come with an official box or bag.  Animals with yellow tags are not limited edition, but they tend to be in production for only a year or two.  We also have Steiff North American Exclusives which can be found only in – you guessed it – North America.

When buying a stuffed animal, consider Steiff – beautiful, durable, and collectible.  Margerete’s Steiff company motto says: “Only the best is good enough for children”.

Plan Toys: Green Toy, Green Company

Monday, January 12th, 2009

The Dancing Alligator is back! He’s our cutest and best-selling pulltoy.  Recommended for 19 months and older, $19.


Sturdy basic wooden dollhouses make a great compromise for kids aged 3 to 6 who may not be prepared to care for more traditional, delicate dollhouses and furniture.  In addition to the Chalet Dollhouse, My First Dollhouse, the Doll Family and various furniture sets, we now also have the Contemporary Dollhouse ($120) and several more furniture sets including: Bedroom Neo ($20), Household Accessories ($20), and Bathroom Décor ($22).  The Contemporary Dollhouse is simple and stylish, with sturdy curves, a movable staircase, and a sliding transparent paneling – this house reminds me of euro-modern architecture with picture windows.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about Plan Toys’ green practices:
-After 25 years of production Thailand’s rubber trees are cut down and burned, then replaced with new, more productive trees.  Plan Toys buys trees before the rubber companies burn them and uses them to make toys.
-Plan Toys uses a water-based, all-natural dye for all its colors.
-The company doesn’t use chemicals to produce its lumber, and the bonding blue contains zero formaldehyde.
-The Plan Toys workforce periodically makes trips and physically plants trees across Thailand, almost 10,000 trees a year.

from A Plan For Staying Green (Toys & Family Entertainment, June 2008)

Latest Awesome Thomas Trains

Saturday, January 3rd, 2009

Thomas Wooden Railway released an exciting new line of Talking Railway trains and destinations for the 2008 holiday season.

Talking Railway trains include Thomas, Toby, Percy, and Rosie ($15 each), and James and Edward ($25 each).  Kids can distinguish these trains from the rest by the gold magnet and a Talking Railway Series icon on the bottom of the train.  Sir Topham Hatt will recognize these trains by name and say special greetings as they roll through a destination. Any non-Talking Railway train will not be recognized by name, but will still receive a greeting.

Talking Railway destinations include the Stop & Greet Signal $60, Cranky the Crane $80, and The Great Discovery Set $160.  Each destination issues unique greetings.  All are compatible with the standard wooden railway tracks, and will make a great addition to any Thomas gear you may already have.

Come try out the new train demos, and while you’re here you can still get some good deals on the Great Train Sale.  We still have several of the Buy One Get One trains left (lights and sounds trains, dairy cars, chicken cars), and if you buy $25 worth of any tracks or destinations, you get a free Thomas AND Toby (usually $12 each).  [While supplies last.]