Play like Capt. Paul Watson's Sea Shepherd. Award-winner Dolphin Explorer Boat by Sprig Toys
At last week's International Toy Fair in New York City - its 107th, if you're counting - it was the first time there was a "green" pavilion featuring environmentally-friendly toys, dolls, games, and activities for kids of all ages. With a theme of "Inspiring Growth," among the trends mentioned by speakers at the trade show, the latest buzz words for toys are "green," "tech" and "classic." Of the 100,000 products on display, 7,000 were debuts, including plenty of the usual suspects like Barbie, an Iron Man action figure and an electronic Rubik's Cube, celebrating the iconic puzzle's 30th anniversary. According to Parent Dish and other sources, here are some of the eco-toy highlights for your child -- or adult:
Dept. of Energy/EPA poster courtesy of BusyMamas via Flickr
1. Captain Owen's Dolphin Explorer Boat. Among the dozen awards presented by the American Toy Association at the event, the 2010 Specialty Toy of the Year winner was Sprig's Captain Owen's Dolphin Explorer Boat made with eco-friendly materials. The Colorado-based toymaker has an array of biodegradable battery-free items from "Eco Blocks" to "Eco-Trucks" -- and Frisbees are on the way.
2. Plan Toys' Green Dollhouse comes complete with wind turbine, solar cell panel, rain barrel, sun shade and recycle bin. Plan Toys manufactures from non-toxic materials, including organic rubberwood and water-based dyes. There's even a vegetable garden to teach children about growing food.
3. Clementine Art Natural Modeling Dough. Dump the Play-Doh. This clean safe and green art supply outfit developed by a teacher produces a non-toxic series, including soy crayons, paints and markers. Clementine's modeling material is naturally colored with turmeric, carmine and spinach, and scented with lemon, lime and strawberry extracts.
4. makedo Kit for One: This 69-piece connector system is all about reuse. Turn found objects (cardboard, cloth and plastic) into rockets or kangaroos with hinges and things. Then do it again. makedo's Guided Find & Make kits include instructions to construct projects. Available in May.
Courtesy of Thames & Kosmos
5. Thames & Kosmos Power House Green Essentials: Hands-on kits with great experiments and building projects, including a lemon battery, wind power generator, solar oven and a solar cell array. T&K;'s kids kits are explained through diary entries by young explorers learning to live sustainably on an island with real-world versions of the projects.
6. Uberstix' Scavenger Series isn't assembled from the box. It lists objects to be found in order to construct toys from upcycled goods. Dig up plastic bags, water bottles and styrofoam cups to build a pirate boat. These innovative toys were written about in Treehugger previously and they also have an innovative train set.
7. Darryl Hannah's Board Games. The eco-activist actress showed up at the Toy Show to launch her line of new board games emphasizing social interaction and made of recycled materials, of course. There's Liebrary, a literary bluffing game, Famous Last Lines, a similar idea but with movies, and Call It, a memory card game.
8. Global Green Pals: soft, 12-inch dolls made of Oeko-Tex 100 certified organic cotton, and stuffed with 100 percent post-consumer recycled plastic PET bottles. With names like Clean Air Kate and Recycle Kyle, a tag offers kid-friendly "green tips" and a portion of the purchase supports environmental efforts through 1% for the Planet.
9. My First Green Toys Block Set: a line of eco-friendly, safe products made of 18 stackable, boldly-colored oversized and lightweight blocks. Made from 100 percent recycled plastic milk containers, they contain no BPA, PVC, phthalates or toxic coatings.
The Greenzys Peat the Penguin recycles, Yew Yew the Panda grows bamboo, Willow the Elephant collects rainwater, and Violet the Giraffe reduces her carbon footprint. Courtesy of Kids Preferred, LLC and Rethink Entertainment & Media
10. Stuffed Animals: Plush toy maker Hosung's miYim organic toy line has an upcoming collection named after famed anthropologist Jane Goodall. Another green brand with a series of stuffed animals and books is Greenzys which will launch at FAO Schwartz stores on April 5 for the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, with a tree planted for each critter purchased. Dandelion Earth-Friendly Goods Bamboo Zoo Collection are cuddly plush creatures made from sustainable bamboo without pesticides and stuffed with natural corn fibers. Lion, monkey, bear or giraffe, oh my.
With concerns over recalls of toys containing lead, parents who want their kids to play with the safest toys that are best for the planet might be offended by the most outrageous toy displayed at the mart: a $10,000 Snuffles teddy bear made with white alpaca fur, black pearl eyes, and a 10-carat diamond necklace. Created for Gund's 30th birthday, at least it will be auctioned off for a charity.