Category: Toys + Other Playthings

Lille Huset: The diy dollhouse kits we wish we had as kids.

We adored Lille Huset’s eco-friendly, laminated, recycled paperboard DIY dollhouses the moment we discovered them at Toy Fair  earlier this year. Founder Alyson Beaton’s mission is so wonderful: to encourage kids to build and customize their homes, not just play with preexisting ones. Besides, they’re beautiful. So we are thrilled that we are now carrying the US-made Lille Huset kits at the Cool Mom Picks indie shop, along with other wonderful handmade and indie items from makers around the world. Lille Huset’s houses come flat-packed so that you can actually dissemble them whenever they aren’t being used to sit in a bookshelf, not in pieces all over your house. Each kit also...

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5 fun new beach toys for kids that beat regular shovels and pails

Tis the season for playing in the sand (yay for summer!) so we’ve rounded up some of the most fun and coolest-looking new beach toys for kids. If you’ve got a seaside trip planned,we hope these help you amp up the standard buckets and shovels. Because it’s good to keep them busy when they aren’t dodging waves or asking if they can bury you up to your neck in the sand.   SAND MOLDS FROM EDUCO Why build a regular ol’ sand castle when you could create the seaside Taj Mahal or Parthenon? I love Educo’s sand molds that come in famous shapes including the Great Wall...

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Stick-lets help build forts. And imaginations. We happen to like both.

My kids love to build clubhouses and can turn anything into a fort—our playground, the shady spot under the deck, you name it. So with summer here, I was pretty excited discover Stick-lets, a new toy that lets them do that very thing. Stick-lets are thick pieces of silicone with holes cut out, so you can slide them over the end of two sticks and build a structure with them. They call them “silicone lashings” but that sounds like something out of Game of Thrones, to us. They stretch pretty well (although it takes some strength to pull the heavy-duty silicone),...

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Tree + Me

We missed the boat on a big fancy modern swing set for my kids–maybe because we live in the city and don’t have a yard? Yeah, that could have a little to do with it. But their Grandma and Papa put up a handmade swing for them which made me realize that once again, the basics can make kids perfectly happy. Especially when it’s one that will last–maybe until the next generation? That’s why I got all “awwwww” when I saw the gorgeously handcrafted old fashioned wooden tree swing from Minnesota’s The Original Tree Swing on Etsy. Pricy? Yeah. But built (from...

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X is for Xantus and M is for Modern with these vibrant animal alphabet flash cards

Okay, so M is actually for Monkey in this set of flash cards for kids, but X really is Xantus–Xantus’s Hummingbird, to be exact. We’re stunned by the modern, gorgeous, high design illustrations on these Animal Alphabet Flash Cards by illustrator Paul Lee. Hey, we’re just impressed that someone finally found a real animal that starts with X. Lee, a father of two, originally designed the cards for his own kids, but we’re so glad he made the pack available for the rest of us. Whether you want posh cards to teach your own little monkeys the alphabet, need a stunning gift for a...

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Summer camp care package ideas so cool, the kids might even miss you. Maybe.

If your kids are headed to camp this summer, sending them a cool summer camp care package will make their day. Or week. Even if they didn’t even look back to wave when you dropped them off. We’ve got a whole bunch of fun ideas for care package goodies that, according to our own kids, will make yours proclaim you the best parent in the world to all of his or her bunkmates. Short of sending a life’s supply of candy. Just be sure to check with your camp before sending one out–they all have different care package rules, especially when it comes...

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Sponsored Post: Generation Grit retro-inspired action figures that come from history, not cartoons

This is a sponsored message from Generation Grit Mom of four, Laura Hale, was looking for action figures for her sons that would offer some of the wholesome, creative play accompanied by thoughtful storybooks that so many girls had already discovered with their own line of popular dolls. That’s why she set out to design Generation Grit, a new line of retro-inspired action figures, which has just launched a Kickstarter campaign. The series will kick off with Mac Mason, an adventurous fourteen-year-old boy from 1943 who loves ciphers, camping and baseball. An accompanying book describes his courageous adventures with his British cousin William back in...

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The new G-Bike balance bike: For kids who can’t wait for their own wheels

We love balance bikes here at Cool Mom Picks because they do such a great job of teaching young kids how to get around safely on two wheels. I was sold on them after learning the hard way how challenging it is to wean a fearful child off of training wheels (oy, my back) and now I’m particularly smitten with the new line of G-Bike balance bikes made by my kids’ favorite scooter maker, Micro Kickboard.   Micro Kickboard’s brightly colored, toddler-friendly G-Bike balance bike is created for kids as young as two who are eager to hit the open road–or more realistically, the driveway and sidewalk.  I dig the look...

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Cool custom family dolls, because everyone needs a mini-me. Or a mini-us.

We have a thing for personalized dolls at Cool Mom Picks, but I am legitimately swooning over these sophisticated (but still adorable) custom family dolls, handmade by Liliana Tijeras of Citizens Collectible on Etsy. They may be made in Spain, but the couple with the square glasses could have stepped right off of the sidewalks of Brooklyn or Los Feliz. They may even be two dads–hard to tell. Liliana perfectly captures personality in felt and canvas, customizing every doll’s hair color, facial hair, skin tone, and any of more than a dozen hair styles. You can also choose from a slew of fabrics for their outfits, and even...

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Awesome action figures for girls that are actually for girls.

I have always said that I’m not anti-princess, just pro-choice. When it comes to my daughters’ toys, I’ve always wanted them to have a variety, which is why we don’t limit ourselves to “girls’ aisles”  in toy stores. And now IAmElemental comes along and gives us actual action figures for girls–a phenomenal option to inspire creative play right alongside their action movie-themed Legos  and rag dolls and American Girl Dolls and everything else in the toy chest. Still in the midst of a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, this mom-run company is reinventing the female action figure, with a series made for actual girls to play with–instead of adult collectors to ogle. You...

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It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a girl doll in a superhero costume that you design.

We were so excited when we discovered Lottie, a doll who skips the stilettos and miniskirts (and curves) for clothes that look like what an actual kid would wear. Lottie comes with lots of skin and hair colors and has oodles of outfits and activities from martial arts to horseback riding to butterfly-catching. Until now, she didn’t have a superhero costume, but that’s about to change. Until May 7, kids can help design Lottie’s superhero persona, and one winner will see her costume actually made for Lottie dolls everywhere. We love Lottie, and we can’t wait to find out...

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Plants vs. Zombies, now on your windowsill

There’s a zombie on your la-awn… and on your windowsill, thanks to this fun new Zombie Plant Growing Kit from our pals at TickleMe Plants. Since I kill most of the plants I try to grow, I’m intrigued by the idea of a plant that is actually supposed to die when I touch it. And my kids will get a major kick out of watching it come back to life, which that tomato plant from NASA definitely didn’t do. Please don’t tell Bobak Ferdowsi. The Zombie Plant is actually Mimosa pudica, which was common in the wild where I...

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Earth Day pick: Green Toys to help keep our oceans clean

I often talk to the kids about why it’s so important to keep our neighborhood and parks clean by recycling or picking up trash we find on the sidewalk. And this Earth Day, I love that Cool Mom Picks favorite Green Toys is reminding us how important it is to take care of our oceans and waterways too. Green Toys’ Safe Seas Sets, created in conjunction with the non-profit organization Sustainable Surf, pairs a fun biplane toy or submarine toy with the paperback All the Way to the Ocean which will get kids thinking about how little actions–like tossing a gum wrapper...

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Buildex Speed Machines: Cool building toys for kids who love their wheels

If you’re looking for a neat little birthday gift, or perhaps something unique for the Easter basket, check out the Buildex Speed Machine construction toy. Because not every kid wants just a bunny in her basket. These brightly colored, wooden-construction building toys for kids turn into toy motorcycles, toy trains, and toy race cars that go together easily without glue or tape. And thanks to a GridLock construction system, they won’t fall apart when your child takes them for a spin. My son loves that the rubber rimmed wheels on his Speed Drifter Speed Bike really do spin, and the front...

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Tinyme custom letter blocks have your name written all over them

We have featured piles of cool wooden alphabet blocks for kids over the years, from modern design blocks to steampunk science blocks, to Storyblox‘s “build-your-own” wooden blocks. And now there’s a cool set of custom name blocks on the, er, block, that’s perfect for a baby shower gift or child’s birthday gift. Australia’s Tinyme, whose puzzles, labels, and fun printables have been CMP favorites for a while, has put their creative stamp on custom name blocks. In order to get these beauties into our hands (which they will), they’ve got a Kickstarter campaign in the works to raise production dollars. And...

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The Pop-Clock alarm clock for kids. Waking up almost seems fun.

I have the hardest time getting my night owl daughter up for school in the mornings. She likes to come visit us most nights around 2 AM, so when morning comes around she’s too tired to get up and dressed for kindergarten. The trick that’s working for me—for this week, at least—is Pop-Clock, a super-fun alarm clock for kids. You might be familiar with the Clocky alarm clock for older kids, and now Pop-Clock is  made just for younger ones just learning to get out of bed by themselves. When the alarm goes off, the creature’s head goes flying across the room...

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Wooden learning toys in every color of the rainbow

If you asked my daughter what her favorite color is, her answer would be “rainbow.” I can’t agree more, and its bright and cheery vibe makes the sweet rainbow learning toys for toddlers so perfect for spring. This acorn sorting game is a perfect activity for the toddler set. Found among the wooden learning toys at Etsy’s Almost Crunchy, it is a wonderful application of the simple Waldorf teaching method of learning through play–the best way, if you ask me. The handmade set comes with 18 brightly colored acorns and 6 matching bowls to engage sorting, color matching and counting skills. It...

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Chimeras mix-and-match plush toys: Lend me a hand. And an ear. And a bat wing.

If your kids are always drawing their own magical animals, these wacky and adorable Chimeras plush toys from Walrus Toys can bring their dreams to life in a way that doesn’t involve a trip to the Island of Dr. Moreau. When I was a kid, we had the Wuzzles, and we liked them–remember Ellaroo and Bumblelion? But now, kids get to mix and match all sorts of animal parts to make a Munny, a Batephant, or a Pog. Or a Munbatephanog, if you get the full set. These Chimeras come in sets of two creatures, each of which can be...

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Tegu’s new 130-piece magnetic block building set lets kids build to infinity and beyond.

We have played with Tegu and drank the KoolAid. From their mind-bending explorer sets to mobile toy kits, they simply rock the block. Our favorite eco-friendly block-makers have just rolled out a super tricked out magnetic block building set for the master builders out there, and we want it (for our kids) bad. This 130-piece classroom set is the ultimate for kids who want to get serious about their Tegu construction. We can only imagine what creations could come of out this totally souped-up box. If you are looking to kick up the playroom, add to your home school set-up, or...

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Shadow Puppets from Moulin Roty let kids see storytime in a new light

Though I think I do a pretty good “bunny” with my hands, nothing beats a great set of shadow puppets for turning a rainy afternoon or evening story time into a lively theatrical production played out behind a sheet or against a blank wall. And with a set of Moulin Roty’s Les Petit Merveilles line of Nighttime Shadow Puppets, all the kids can get in on the action. What makes these puppets superior to anything I can make with my two hands is the level of detail in the card stock that looks so cool when hit with light...

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The Simpsons LEGO minifigs are here! The Simpsons LEGO minifigs are here!

Well, here’s your first look. (Second if you count our photo on Pinterest from Toy Fair.) Itchy! Scratchy! Millhouse! Nelson! Krusty! Apu! Burns! Plus? Actual Simpsons family members. Is there anything else more to say? Yeah, probably not. Find the collection of 16 Simpsons LEGO minifigures all over the place starting in May. It will go nicely with that sweet, spendy Simpsons LEGO house....

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Handmade crocheted baby toys that could make you want another baby. (Or at least one to give them to.)

We are talking about getting a dog, which makes it official: No more babies for this household. And I’m pretty much okay with that fact until I see a store like YarnBall Stories. This absolutely adorable Etsy shop has safe and soft crocheted baby toys and decor that stop me in my tracks with the cuteness. And you know how much of a soft spot we have for cool crocheted toys and gifts like crocheted baby booties here at Cool Mom Picks. The YarnBall Stories crocheted baby mobiles come in themes like the solar system, colorful hearts, or just pretty pastels. I...

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6 of the coolest dollhouse kits that promote building, design, and imaginative play. We want to live in them.

Dollhouses have always been a common feature on the floors of Toy Fair, but Liz and I noticed more and more options this year with dollhouse kits that add building and design, and sometimes even circuitry, to the act of play. Future architects and designers of the world, we’ve found the toys for you.   Roominate Dollhouse Building Kits Combining building, engineering, and design, Roominate’s clever dollhouse building kits come together in so many different ways, kids can conceivably construct a totally different house every time they sit down to play. And I love the many ideas on their...

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History wasn’t always fun and games. Except when it is.

I’ve come to understand that for tweens, creating a love of history is often about making it as salacious and entertaining as possible. The British creators of Horrible Histories have nailed that genre, with a successful series of illustrated Horrible Histories books. Think: the story of the English monarch who died after falling off the toilet (George II), all the gory details about the Roman colosseum, and the nastiness of the Greek gods. If your older kids can’t get enough of this kind of stuff, they’re now out with a brand new Horrible Histories puzzle series, each of which feels like...

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Heart for Heart Dolls: Because African Girl Dolls, Mexican Girl Dolls and Laotian Girl Dolls are just as fun as the American ones.

While I have finally come around to accept my daughter’s affinity for American Girl Dolls, suddenly Saige and Marie-Grace have serious competition with Rahel, the Ethiopian doll from the Heart for Heart Girls dolls collection. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Heart for Heart Girls, which are each based on 10 real ten-year-old girls from Afghanistan, Belarus, Laos, India, Ethiopia, and beyond.  I really like that each one one gives your child a chance to learn more about her story and her area of the world, while a dollar from each purchase is donated to a nonprofit that...

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Stylish, fun wooden doctor’s kits for your own little medic

Based on the number of awesome-looking, well-made wooden doctor’s kits we saw at Toy Fair, we expect that a lot of kids will have fun taking care of all their new patients. Here’s a recap of some of the nicest doctor’s kits for kids that we saw, all of which should be available soon. Crafted in beautiful shades of hardwood,the Soopsori Wooden Doctor’s Kit (at top) includes the cutest stethoscope I’ve ever seen. And even if toddlers try to “eat” the wooden pills which, thankfully, are affixed to a larger wooden base, the natural linseed oil finish is non-toxic.  ...

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Everything is awesome with the new Lego Movie sets

Oh you knew I’d go there with the headline, didn’t you? What can I say, just as I said in my Lego Movie review, the song has been stuck in my head for life. Another thing you probably knew: the Lego Movie sets were not long to follow the huge success of the film.  You’re just that smart, aren’t you. We gave you a sneak peek of the Lego Movie Minifigures on Instagram, live from Toy Fair last week, and now you can find them all as part of more than a dozen Lego Movie sets which are so...

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The popular Cloud B night light embraces the octopus and the fox. No narwhals just yet.

I may in fact be the very last parent to come around on the Twilight Turtle from Cloud B, and its myriad night light variations. But after seeing a few children absolutely go from panicked to peaceful at night with this thing by their bedside, I’m converted. Even more so now that I’ve gotten to check out some of Cloud B’s new offerings at Toy Fair 2014, starting with a plush adaptation of the Twinkles to Go Octo (above) called the Cloud B Octo Softeez Nightlight. CMP is an rstyle affiliate   I love this soon-to-be-released night light which is far more compact...

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Sochi comes to life for kids with gold, silver, and bronze Maxi Micro Kickboard scooter

Though it’s clear that the Olympic athletes we’ve been watching at the Sochi Winter Games all want gold, all three of Micro Kickboard’s new medal-hued scooters would be winners with my kids, regardless of what color they choose. All dressed up for the podium in gold, silver, or bronze, the much-loved Maxi Micro Kickboard scooter is one of my kids all-time favorite scooter designs, with such a smooth ride and easy lean-to-turn maneuverability. Made for kids ages 5-11 (or up to 120 pounds for you svelte and daring parents), grab the easier-to-use T-bar or try the straight Pilot Stick...

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Smart toys for girls that defy the pink aisle. In other words, no princesses, ballerinas or “fashionistas,” whatever career that is.

This week at Toy Fair, I must say a progressive mama like me had a much harder time than expected scoping out smart toys for girls that defy the pink aisle. In other words, the girl dolls and figures were wearing something beyond princess garb or sparkly pink lace tulle. To be clear, I have no problem at all with ballerinas or fashion design kits or or traditional little baby dolls swathed in pink gingham–we feature plenty of them here But I have always wanted my daughters (and all the boys out there too!) to have choices. And if...

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