There's no doubt about it - it's a materialistic time of year. I don't know about you, but I feel a little better about buying "things" when they are truly unique, high-quality, and when they come from a locally owned store. Here are some toy and gift recommendations from three local toy stores.
Sarah Stuhlmacher of Winkie's in Whitefish Bay gives the following toy recommendations:
"Thinking Putty is a high-quality, silicone-based putty that is safe, nontoxic, and will never dry out." It's available in over 40 colors and it comes in collectible tins. It's like a new and improved silly putty."
Doinkit Darts Magnetic Dart Set
"All the fun of darts, but with magnets enclosed safely inside that are powerful holding darts in place but won't harm walls or hurt children. Great for all ages and skill levels."
Mukikim Rock n Roll Roll up Piano
This flexible piano can roll up and go anywhere. It's powered by batteries or USB and featured keyboard tones, demo songs, record and playback functions, and more.
"Enter the world of magic and sorcery! With the magic hat and rabbit puppet, as well as more than 40 other magic props, kids as young as six years old can learn and perform 35 magic tricks. The manual teaches most of the tricks in three easy steps accompanied by color illustrations, first clearly explaining which magic props are needed, then how the trick is prepared, and finally how it is performed. With some practice, it becomes easy to stage a magic show filled with fun and successful tricks that will amaze your audience.
Pull a rabbit from a seemingly empty hat. Make a ball disappear from a magic cup, reappear again, and change color. Make cards grow and shrink. Make a coin disappear and reappear with a magic coin box. Use X-ray vision to magically see symbols through a solid, opaque surface. Make your magic wand float, bend, and grow. Magically change the color of a ring, duplicate the ring, and make it pass through the wand. Little foam rabbits appear, disappear, multiply, and move around as if by magic.
Astound your audience with rope tricks in which knots untie themselves and dice tricks where dice change location and color inside a magic tunnel. Conjure up money as if out of thin air. Make rabbit cards appear and disappear. Learn simple card tricks with special cards.
For one magician, ages 6 and up, and many audience members."
Ruckus and Glee
Sarah Fowles of Ruckus and Glee in Wauwatosa recommends the following toys and gifts:
"These lightweight slingshots are selling like hotcakes. They are made in Portland with nontoxic maple and foam construction. They come in classic and silly monster versions."
Mad Mattr Building Dough
"Mad Mattr is a modeling dough that can be both compacted and made fluffy. Some Mad Mattr kits come with a "brick builder" that allows you to build lego-style bricks that kids can actually build with. This product has gotten a lot of attention since YouTube sensation Guava Juice featured Mad Mattr in one of his product testing videos."
Made in Michigan, each Uncle Goose block set is an heirloom that will delight all ages. Our newest Uncle Goose block sets have outer space themes -- we have a set that focuses on constellations and a set that focuses on planets. Our most popular block sets from Uncle Goose are basic alphabet blocks, French and Spanish alphabet blocks, and a periodic elements block set.
"We are smitten with the Ozobot, which is a small under $100 robot that can be enjoyed and understood by kids as young as 6 years old. The first "language" kids learn with the Ozobot is its color language. A kid can use a plain piece of paper and Sharpie markers to learn how to draw paths that the Ozobot will follow and react to based on the color. This teaches how certain patterns create a certain result. Once a kid masters the color language, the kid can learn another "language" the Ozobot knows, which is called "Blockly" and which fosters a lot of creative thinking."
"This solo player logic game is fun for all types of learners. Kids ages 8+ learn engineering fundamentals and exercise their spatial intelligence as they use challenge cards to build and test roller coaster courses. I have never met a kid who doesn't like this game, seriously."
Linkt Jewelry Kits
"Based on the ancient art of chainmaille, these kits contain special tools allowing kids to connect soft metal loops into stunning pieces of jewelry. They are so fun to make and the end product looks great."
"We love this game because it's like Twister, but without any awkward poses with other people! Over the course of the game everyone has to hold hilarious poses that just get more and more complicated. This is a fun and fast party game that is great for kids ages 6 and up."
"This is a building toy made in Illinois and Wisconsin. LuxBlox are "blocks" that can be connected to build structures that bend, flux and move, and/or build structures that are rigid. This allows for infinite building possibilities. We are really excited about bringing this toy to Milwaukee -- it's Midwestern designed, Midwestern made, and Midwestern practical."
Andie Zacher from Little Monsters in Milwaukee shares the following gift ideas:
Choose from fun balancing games, elf catapult games, and miniature bears and mice that come with a large assortment of clothing. All of the dolls stand on their own, so it's perfect for role play, a doll house, and developing fine motor skills.
Holztiger wooden animal figures
"Heirloom quality and so beautiful."
"These beautiful dolls from France are plush, but very keepsake. They're selling like crazy!"
"I have fun unicorn hats, and all sorts of fantasy dress up for the girls from Sarah's Silks. I also have costumes for the boys: pirates, Kings, and Zorro!"
"These are always a BIG hit; you unravel the tissue to find all sorts of little vintage toys, charms, and treats! Balls come with either 4 treats or 12 depending on the size."