Summer Toys…Ready to Play!

We’re on a mission at The Toy Guy this summer! We want kids to party like it’s 1966. Okay, that’s kind of a joke. However, there are several things we are advocating.

First, while we absolutely have nothing against screens, now is the time to put them away–at least for a good chunk of every day. Summer is a time to be physical, social, creative, unstructured, and, yes, perhaps even a little bored.

Speaking of that, we want to put in a plug for “boredom.” The worst thing a kid could say to Mrs. Byrne (mom) was, “I’m bored.” Her response was invariably, “No, you’re not. You’ve got your toys, your brothers, all of outdoors. Figure it out. And if you don’t, you can clean the basement.” Our basement was always a wreck. The point of this was that mom (and dad) didn’t feel responsible for our 24/7 entertainment and activity.

As a result, we got the benefit of creating our own fun…and we did. We had rules and boundaries, which were clearly expressed, but once breakfast was over, we often were turned outdoors to play. We also had the advantage of a neighborhood full of kids, all of whom were treated the same way. We also had one other advantage. Our parents were very clear about what we could and couldn’t do, and they said the magic words, “We trust you.” As kids, we tried to live up to that trust. Kids will do that, if you’re clear.

So our advice for everyone this summer is relax and have fun. All play is positive. Sunlight (with sunscreen and hats) encourages vitamin D. Making up things with friends without direct supervision is a way to grow, to say nothing of being empowering. Unstructured time gives kids a chance to explore and try different things. And trust is a powerful tool for helping kids grow up in ways consistent with your values.

And if you want some ideas for toys, well, of course we have those, too. Take a look!

Another openin’ of another show!

Playmobil My Take Long Puppet Theater From Playmobil
For ages 4-10 years
Where to Buy
Can we just tell you now much we love this toy? Or course it’s Playmobil, so it’s a quality toy, but the power of creating narrative and self-expression is so powerful for kids being creative. This is the very definition of open-ended play because kids are making it all up–the characters, the stories, and more. It’s a perfect tool for self-expression, developing confidence and engaging. Whether in solo or cooperative play, this is a new take on one of the all-time classic play patterns.

We all scream for…Kinetic Sand.

Kinetic Sand Soft Serve Station from Spin Master
For ages 5 years and up.
Where to Buy
Visitors to The Toy Guy know how much we love playing with Kinetic Sand. And Kinetic kudos to Spin Master for adding brand new, and really fun, play experiences to the mix. 
Food toys–and especially make-believe ice cream makers–are always a hit, so we were really delighted to see and play with this new set.
It comes with blue, pink, and white Kinetic Sand. Place the sand in the top of the unit, give it a plunge and you’ll create a realistic, let’s pretend, treat. You can also create cones with the scoop, decorate with sprinkles you make with the grater, and much more. When you’re done, squish it all up and start all over.
Our pro tip: For best results, warm up the Kinetic Sand in your hand a little bit before putting it in the mold. We found that letting it drip into the hopper gave us the best-looking results. But play around and experiment!

What’s cookin’, kids?

Hape Sizzling Griddle & Grill BBQ from Hape
For ages 2 years and up.
Where to Buy
Is there anything more iconic than a summer cookout? We can’t think of anything. Now little kids can feel big as they create their imaginative barbecue scenarios with this high quality toy. There are lots of accessories, and kids can make their own make believe skewers that they can cook over the “fire.” Use the grill and expand the creative opportunities. Food role-play is a time-honored play pattern, and kids love feeling like they’re the ones behind the grill. You can even use the spatula to make realistic grilling sounds. There’s even some learning going on, though that’s in the background to the play. Kids can organize and categorize, practice fine motor skills, and express creativity. We love toys where that kind of developmental stuff is built in to a fun experience. This toy has been so popular it may be hard to find. We’re told it will be back in full supply in July.

Still playing after all these years.

Pokémon Carry Case Battle Desert Playset from Jazwares
For ages 4 years and up.
Where to Buy
We love Pokémon, and it continues to be one of the most-popular character franchises for play. And for summer, this playset is perfect because it transforms into a backpack for take-along fun. Open it up, and you’ll have nine different action zones for training your Pokémon–and developing all kinds of narrative-based play. It comes with a 2-inch Pikachu Battle figure, and it’s a great stage to play with all other 2-inch Pokémon figures. We love that Pokémon has been around has been delighting kids for 28 years, and in addition to the creative play, it’s also about collecting, categorizing, creating hierarchies, and self-expression. Seems like “stealth benefits” are everywhere with toys this summer!

One of our summer faves!

Throw Throw Burrito Extreme from Exploding Kittens
For ages 7 years and up.
Where to Buy
No company has made more consistently fun, engaging, and hilarious games than Exploding Kittens. Their secret is quirky fun, great gameplay, names you love to say, and a chance for kids and adults to play together and have a blast. Throw Throw Burrito is the original dodgeball card game will have you laughing out loud–while you throw gigantic, inflatable burritos at one another. The fast-paced card game is all-play pandemonium as you try to make three-of-a-kind matches. When you match battle, war, or duel, you have different ways to try to take out your opponents. It’s silly fun. The big version includes 36-inch, inflatable burritos and oversized cards.
Don’t forget the original version, which is great for indoor play and uses soft, squishy, foam burritos. You can buy that version here.

The best fart joke!

Despicable Me 4 : The Ultimate Fart Blaster from Moose Toys
For ages 4 years and up
Where to Buy
Of course it’s tasteless! That’s why it’s so darn funny. The iconic Minions toys is back in a new “ultimate” version, which takes the inherent comedy of bodily function to a next level. Now, the favorite toy from the Despicable Me franchise has lights, fart sounds AND shoots scented fart rings that travel up to six feet away. The 14-inch-long blaster comes loaded with two “fart formulas” that produce the rings with either the good smell of banana, or the bad smell of, well, farts. The toy comes with two bottles of fart formula, each is good for up  to 5,000 fart rings and blasts. One of the reasons we love this is because it’s what we call “allowed naughtiness.

They’re fomenting a fun summer!

NERF Super Soaker Foam Fury Blaster from Hasbro
For ages 6 years and up.
Where to Buy
The next generation of water blasters shoot…foam. This is the third year that foam-tactic fun comes with warmer weather. Kids can create dramatic, and funny, foam battles. The blaster fires fluffy foam up to 15 feet for a thrilling twist to backyard battles. Simply pour foam concentrate into the tank, fill with additional water, pump and you’re ready to blast! Each fill creates over 60 foam blasts, and the included bottle of foam concentrate will last for over 4 refills.

We’re loopy for this toy!

ZipString from ZipString
For ages 8 years and up.
Where to Buy
We cannot get enough of this toy! It’s so simple and so much fun. Physics and fun collide in this amazing, and amazingly simple, invention. Simply load the string, press the start button and begin an exciting experience, unleashing your imagination to discover a world of limitless trick possibilities.  The string is comprised of ultra-light fibers capable of reaching speeds up to 35 mph, all carefully balancing several forces of gravity, lift, tension and drag to fly the string in the air. It’s powered by a rechargeable battery, and the set comes with three strings, the handheld unit, and a USB charging cable. And guess what? Coming later this summer, there’s Luma, a light-up version with a glow-in-the-dark string that will turn your nighttime into a dramatic playground. It’s bound to sell out, so stock up as soon as you can!

Bring your minions to the pool!

Squishmallows & Despicable Me Pool Floats from Big Mouth, Inc.
Ages vary.
$17.99 and up.
Where to Buy
Make a colorful splash in your pool this summer (or at the playground) with these dramatic, oversized, colorful, inflatable floats. Choose from your favorite Squishmallow character, or everyone’s favorite…the Minions from Despicable Me 4. Big Mouth makes high quality floats that will stand up to all kinds of active pool play. They’re designed for all ages, but be sure to supervise younger kids, just as you would whenever playtime means pool time!

A horse of a different color!

Unicorn Academy Rainbow Light Up WildStar from Spin Master
For ages 4 years and up.
Where to Buy (coming soon!)
The hit Netflix series Unicorn Academy has been delighting viewers with its tales of a magical world where kids and unicorns share adventures. It’s wonderfully whimsical. This toy has sensors built into tis body and responds to a touch with magical lights and unicorn sounds.  The magical moment is when one of the characters Sophia and the unicorn Wildstar bond, and turn on her rainbow lights. The toy also plays songs from the show.

Sling-It from Sling-It Games
For ages 6 and up.
Where to Pre-Order/Kickstarter
We’re so excited that we get to be the first to introduce what we think is going to be the next huge backyard game hit. Sling-It is a sausage throwing game. Yes, you read that right. Players flings sausages (really weighted beanbags) at a board (also known as the palace gate) and see which one sticks. The game was invented by the genius behind the hit Bop-It!, and there’s an entire story about the Medieval origins of this game. (Some of which may be a bit–ahem–fanciful.) However all legends aside, kids of all ages will have a great time seeing which sausage they can get to stick in the gate and win the approval of the king. That’s their story, and they’re sticking to it. You can just have fun. The game comes in three sizes, and sign on to Kickstarter to be one of the first to score one for your palace grounds.

Sustainable Toys are Hot for Summer

Over the past year, we talked to more than 1,000 parents of kids age 11 and under, and we asked them what was important to them when they shopped for toys for their kids. Of course fun and finding things their children wanted topped the list. However, we found that there is growing concern about sustainability.

We took that a step further. Yes, it’s important to use environmentally responsible materials (to the extent that’s possible in the plastics-based toy business), but it’s also important to teach kids to understand what it means to care for the planet…and that can happen through play.

Here are some toys that do a little of both.

Hey baby, come out and play!

Sustainably Soft Dolls from Baby Gund
For ages birth and up.
Birth and up.
 sourced from 100% recycled materials! It’s our gift to future generations of cuddlers. This beautiful, diverse collection of 12” dolls are crafted consciously with care, all-around softness, and a floral-patterned onesie outfit in an array of modern colors. They feature huggable and perfectly plump, playfully floppy bodies and hands crafted for little ones to hold easily, which makes them perfect partners for on-the-go play. Each doll features embroidered facial details and is perfect for all ages, newborns and up. Every component of the doll is crafted with recycled materials, including the fiber fill, recycled thread, and fabrics.


Barbie Loves the Ocean Dolls and Barbie Loves the Ocean Beach Shack from Mattel
For ages 3 and up
$9.98 and $11.98
Where to Buy
These great additions to any kids’ summer Barbie collection are made from 90 percent recycled plastic–some of it ocean-harvested plastic. It’s all the classic Barbie Beach play but with an eye to taking care of the world and being responsible citizens–a big part of Barbie play in recent years. All the packaging is made from FSC-certified paper and is completely recyclable.

Love them more now!

Good Vibes Care Bear & Sea Friends Care Bear from Basic Fun
For ages 4 years and up.
Where to Buy
They’re classic Care Bears, beloved for more than 40 years, but now they’ve got a message about caring for the environment. These 14-inch tall bears share a positive message about caring for the environment and can encourage kids to aspire to being good stewards of the planet. Each of the bears is made with recycled materials derived from plastic bottles.

Imagine a great world!

Playper from Playper
For ages 4 years and up.
Where to Buy
This is a brand new classic toy, an imaginative building set that is all about narrative-based creativity. Designed for preschoolers, the pieces are big, easy to assemble, brightly colored and so much fun for kids to build out an entire world as a stage for their stories. The eco-friendly toys are made from recycled materials, colored with non-toxic ink. They’re cardboard, but they’re super durable and have a great finish that wipes clean. This is the best of the best of sustainable products in their construction, but we love that they’re cool playsets, too.

Make a splash…responsibly!

NERF Better than Balloons from Hasbro
For ages 3 years and up.
Where to Buy
Get soaked again and again with these refillable water pods. There are lots of ways to play–pop them, stomp them, throw them, and splash them! Make up all kinds of games with these versatile water pods Here’s how they work: Self-sealing pods are engineered to stay in one piece when they burst. Just pick them up, and you’re ready to go away. They’re super sturdy and can take multiple refills. They come in sets of 36, so everyone can get into the action! Best of all, there are no burst balloons to pick up and no chance that backyard birds or animals can eat them.

Build a sustainable world.

Life in Reterra from Hasbro
For ages 10 years and up.
Where to Buy
The theme of this engaging and fun game is what makes it a perfect game for promoting awareness of the importance of sustainability. While a lot of sustainability talks about recycling and reusing materials, sustaining a culture and a community where everyone has a role is the often-overlooked pillar of sustainability programs. No more–at least not when you play this community (re)building game! It’s not quite post-apocalyptic, but players encounter a world that needs to be rebuilt carefully and responsibly. To play, choose one of 3 ready-to-play themed building sets. Then take turns laying tiles representing diverse terrain, and filling them with buildings and inhabitants to construct a community. The more a player’s community thrives, the more points they earn. It’s about cooperation–and cooperation–and it’s a deep game that will provoke thoughts about caring for a community for all to thrive.

Livin’ large in a tiny space!

Playmobil Tiny House from Playmobil
For ages 4 years and up.
You may be familiar with the tiny house movement, which is all about creative architecture and social responsibility to reduce living space and, by extension, limit the impact of humans on the planet. Playmobil has captured that movement and made it aspirational for creative kids with this beautiful house playset. Kids can imagine themselves living in the space that has solar panels, a garden, adorable rooms, and more. And they can imagine themselves living responsibly in tune with the planet. One of the things we think is so important about this toy is that kids’ play always helps form their perspectives about the world they are growing up in–and being responsible to the planet will be more important to this generation of kids than ever before.

One of the fun things we get to do at The Toy Guy is update this list as new stuff comes in. So come back and play with us often!


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