Green Takes Over
Earth-Friendly Themes and Materials Color Show Floor
The grass is greener at Toy Fair 2008, perhaps more than it's ever been. That's no surprise, though, considering eco-minded efforts for everything from clothing and food to cars and furniture.
How is "green" shading toys at this year's show?
IT'S IN THE PACK
Some game makers are emphasizing eco not only by theme but also in the packaging. Those pairing recycled materials with soy-based inks include USAOPOLY's Monopoly Planet Earth, paintable houses by Imagination Box Co. and Alex Toys' Zoominoes and other preschool games, which include a water-based varnish.
Also employing soy-based inks, Earthopoly by Late for the Sky is environmentally friendly from its name down to the box's shrink wrap, which is made from corn and completely biodegradable.
High IntenCity Corp. is charming showgoers with its Go Green Gift Set of five charms featuring environmentally friendly messages such as "Plant a Tree" and "Reduce-Reuse-Recycle," all packaged in a 100-percent recycled cardboard box.
Ecotronic toys by Russimco come in brown, egg carton-like packs made completely of recycled materials, furthering supporting the green theme evident in the products' battery-free emphasis.
The Dynacar and other toys by Zen Design Group utilize the same concept, replacing traditional battery power with child-propelled energy created by turning a crank.
Sprig Toys unveiled a line of battery-free vehicles that, once pushed or pumped by a child, play original audio adventures. They come with little Adventure Guide figurines that sit in the driver's seat, their occupation-distinctive hats lighting up when the toy is powered.
DOLLS AND PLUSH GO GREEN
Made in India, Dreaming Lion's six Aminals plush, which are based on drawings by children, feature 100-percent organic and fair-trade unbleached, unprocessed cotton.
Director Chris Greenwood of E-Innovative Ideas said the initial inspiration for his 11", soft-bodied EcoDolls was about encouraging girls toward a better self image. But about a year ago, there was "new news from Europe that kids were losing sleep over issues in the environment," he told TDmonthly, so he designed the line with an eco focus.
The dolls come with storybooks in which characters participate in projects that help the environment, such as using water to generate electricity for businesses or wearing solar patches on one's backpack in order to power an mp3 player.
Fashion Angels' new Eco Angels line includes "Be an Environmentalist" and other kits, as well as stationery featuring maple wood harvested from a farm in Minnesota.
Perhaps because applications for a brand name were submitted around the same time, there's a second Eco Angels line — this one for babies — from Tomy. The plastic for these six products, including a grip toy and crib mobile, is derived from sugar cane, corn and other natural materials.
AN ECO-FRIENDLY HISTORY
Although being "green" is recognized as a hot, new trend this year — evident in products such as GreenTalk Conversation Cards by U.S. Games Systems — some companies historically have been mindful of the environment.
Owner Maria Carillao of Yo-Bonic told TDmonthly her company is "an existing eco-friendly company that's never really been recognized for that."
Then there's Maple Landmark Woodcraft and Holztiger, which employ maple wood and non-toxic, water-based paint or natural finishes. Furthermore, games by Uncle Skunkle Toys use materials such as bamboo, rubberwood and second-generation cloth.
See these and other "green" toys below:
The game is one of strategy, based on inner and social awareness. It celebrates Earth Day every day and invites everyone to think about their choices and actions and the larger community around them. By answering questions and engaging in discussion, players learn how their choices affect the earth and its inhabitants. "[This is] the only game on the market where a player wins by using a 'pay-it-forward' strategy," Elightened Play! Owner Eileen Thournir told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 17, 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 15870 (added 10/25/2007)
Young green thumbs can watch nature at work by growing an indoor garden in just days with this environmentally friendly Indoor Gardening Kit made of recycled plastic milk jugs. The planting kit comes with a peapod-shaped planter, three planting pots, a trowel, three packages of organic seeds (Teddy Bear Sunflower, Basil and Zinnia) and soil disks. It is made from environmentally friendly materials, helping to reduce fossil fuel use and CO2 emissions in the name of Good Green Fun™. Launch date: September 2007.
— Angel Stahl, owner of Angel's Toy Barn in Greensburg, Pa., thinks these eco-friendly toys will do well for her in 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 14772 (added 8/21/2007)
Yes, he’s a little out there. But that’s a good thing. It gives him a “big picture” view of what’s happening on Earth. (The reason he claims to be group leader – much to the chagrin of the others.) He’s loyal, honest and a good listener. But fair warning, he can get a little cranky on the subject of air pollution.
AREA OF EXPERTISE: The air we breathe
INTERESTING FACT: A bird watcher of great renown (he runs into them all day, every day)
Scout is a huggable, soft, plush toy handcrafted in Egypt with 100% organic Egyptian cotton. No two are alike - just like children!
— “Idbids are made of organic cotton and all kit components are made from Earth-friendly materials – and they’re incredibly adorable!” Idbids LLC representative Tracey Smith told TDmonthly. Launch date: February 2008. The product line received a 2008 Preferred Choice Award from Creative Child Magazine.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 16197 (added 11/19/2007)
GreenTalk TableTalk® Conversation Cards for the Entire Family by U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.
Other products from U.S. GAMES SYSTEMS, INC.
Part of the company’s TableTalk series, this colorful 52-card deck is full of ideas for greener living. Each illustrated card presents a fascinating fact about the environment and a thought-provoking question about the choices we make every day. GreenTalk provides a fun way to get conversations rolling at home, in schools or while traveling. “From the delightful graphics to the engaging questions, GreenTalk was designed with kids in mind and makes it fun for young people to start thinking and talking about the active roles they can play in protecting our Earth,” Lynn Araujo of U.S. Games Systems told TDmonthly. Launch date: April 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17787 (added 2/27/2008)
Eco Dolls are 11” fashion dolls constructed with 80-percent cotton and natural fibers and minimal plastic on the head and hands. The dolls inspire play and support the innovative and curious nature of girls. Tanya encourages young girls’ interest in science and environmental responsibility through a beautifully illustrated storybook, a learning adventure about how trees help make air quality better. “The ‘eco’ focus of the Eco Dolls truly sets this product apart — from the environmentally friendly construction to the dolls’ environmental learning adventures,” Kelli Matthews of E-Innovative Ideas told TDmonthly. Launch date: January 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17105 (added 1/17/2008)
Schoolhouse Naturals Push Pulls by MAPLE LANDMARK WOODCRAFT CO.
Other products from MAPLE LANDMARK WOODCRAFT CO.
Made of 100-percent maple, products in the Schoolhouse Naturals' line have either no finish or an earth-based finish, such as beeswax or whey. The smooth, wooden Push Pulls come in bunny, bus and elephant varieties and have holes in the front for a string so that a child can still utilize the toy when he or she starts walking.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17592 (added 2/18/2008)
Players build the tower, roll the dice to determine the destructive device and then knock down the tower with the Catapult, the Pendulum or the Ramp. The entire set is made from beautiful, sustainable rubber-tree wood. This game received a 2007-2008 Informal Education Products Award. Launch date: June 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17274 (added 1/29/2008)
The set builds environmental awareness with statement charms such as Love Earth, Green is Good, Plant A Tree and Reduce-Reuse-Recycle. Each set comes with five eco-themed interchangeable charms and a charm bracelet. The packaging is made of 100 percent recycled cardboard, features an eco-art design and comes with a 100 organic cotton insert. Launch date: Spring 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17620 (added 2/19/2008)
Based on children's drawings, these scribbly characters are made with organic cotton farmed through eco-friendly processes. The line consists of Momey, Eflong, Dady, Dinasor, Liun and Duggy. Launch date: February 2008.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17642 (added 2/20/2008)
Eco Angels "I Re-Made It" Fashion Accessories Kit by FASHION ANGELS
Other products from FASHION ANGELS
This kit is designed to show girls how they can make fashionable jewelry and accessories in a way that's friendly to the environment — by reusing buttons, beads, candy wrappers, soda can tabs and more. It comes with U.S.-made, painted wooden beads and "cause" charms, enabling girls to make up to 10 bracelets for the green cause. The set is part of the "green"-themed Eco Angels line that also includes a "Make-Your-Own Natural Beauty Products" kit and a "Be an Environmentalist" kit.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17689 (added 2/25/2008)
Sprig Toys is a new, environmentally responsible toy company created by award-winning industry veterans (former Mattel and Radica designers). Its line of kid-powered, totally green adventure vehicles for preschoolers is made from Sprigwood™, a child-safe bio-composite material derived from 100-percent recycled wood and reclaimed plastic. The Sprig Adventure Series harnesses the natural energy of push- and pump-action play to power lights and other electronics — all without batteries. Adventure Guide characters wearing LED-lit hats plug into durable, attractively designed vehicles and engage preschoolers with audio that guides them through exciting adventures as they play. Launch date: Fall 2008.
— "The sets were attractive, nicely packaged in recycled/biodegradable material, and had a rugged, tactile quality," said TDmonthly reporter Marie Raven, also a buyer for Over the Rainbow in Anchorage, Alaska, at Toy Fair 2008. "It's a small line but felt to me like an appropriate number of items for a nice in-store presentation while appealing not only to the eco-sense of our customers, but also providing active and stimulating educational play."
— “I was really impressed by all the angles that it covered,” said Jennifer Klein, who in early 2008 ordered all three Sprig Toys vehicles for her store, Earth Child, in Sebastopol, Calif. Five of 24 retailers told TDmonthly this was one of their favorite lines at Toy Fair.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17086 (added 1/17/2008)
This toy rocket lights up for flight and makes realistic rocket sounds, but doesn’t require batteries. It simply needs to be wound. The product comes in biodegradable Gekopak™ packaging made completely from recycled paper.
— Caitlin from Toys on the Brain was immediately stricken by the refreshing package the Eco Rocket came in. Both environmentally friendly and attractive, the package allowed for quick removal of the rocket to move on to play. Her kids heartily approved of the rocket, with one even exclaiming, “I love the toy you got me!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 17571 (added 2/18/2008)
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Writer's Bio: Julie L. Jones has written articles for both newspapers and magazines. Before joining the staff of TDmonthly Magazine, she worked as a communications writer and provided editorial support for a market research company. Read more articles by this author
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