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A World of Toys Not in Walmart, Toys R Us, Target and Other Mainstream Stores

Updated on December 3, 2016
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Nicholl McGuire has been providing useful content on websites since 2007. Learn more about her business Nicholl McGuire Media.

They are Out There - Fun, Unique Toys

Unlike what you have been exposed to in local stores, there is a world out there of many toys that are fun, interesting, educational, and will definitely enhance your children's minds. Now this isn't to say that what is in chain stores isn't good, but let's be honest, if you have spent much time walking around with your children in department stores, after awhile the stuff all seems to function the same. The colors might be different, some make sound, others don't, some large or others small, these toys are played with for a moment and then they end up in piles in boxes, drawers, and elsewhere.

One of my sons, who enjoys taking his time analyzing toys at eye level, commented one day how he didn't really like this toy and that one while saying, "This toy is boring...that one is cheap, his hands break off. I don't like him, his head and legs don't move. That one you won't buy because it costs too much, he doesn't do anything anyway...(sigh) I guess I'll get another Lego set."

So I started my quest years ago to find some interesting toys. I found that when I began ordering toys online (and of course taking advantage of discount programs, coupons etc.), there was a world of toys out there that I should have long ago tapped into. I will say that some of these toys aren't for the parents who don't have budgets set aside to buy quality toys. These sites don't have many so-called bargain basement types of toys. In addition, I have found that the quality of toys at some of these sites is either about the same or better than what you would find at local stores.

I must admit that I took a liking to the small mom and pop stores who have some unique picks and even thrift stores who periodically have older toys that have stood up to time. I also check places like eBay as well for interesting toys that will also help them mentally. I'm not talking about toy with wheels, loud noises, and faces either. On this hub, you will find some links.

On Grooming Your Child to be Future Firefighter, Police Officer, or Soldier

Notice year after year the toys that are readily available to your children from the local drug store to the mall that related to firefighters, police officers, and soldiers. From the time a child is a toddler on up, he or she is most often not exposed to what their talents might be since many parents aren't that discerning. Rather, they take interest in what is put in front of them that is readily available, on sale, discounted, etc. Items that are strategically designed, planned and placed on shelves by government related groups.

Anyone of us can perform research and find that in one's own living-room you can view the programming at work. See here. You can check labor statistics in your area to find out whether blue collar professions are rising or falling in public interest. For instance, Sam is graduating highschool this year. Will he go off to the police academy? The local police might need a few good men and drop some hints in young Sam's ear. Depending on Sam's exposure growing up (i.e.) police related toys, movies, and even relatives in the force, he just might end up at the police academy after high school. However, is that what Sam truly wanted to be? Eventually brainwashing fails as an individual gets older and realizes that what he thought was his own interests, really never were.

Think about the special guests that visited your school for a moment. Did you ever sit down with military recruiters? How about representatives from local colleges and trade schools? Did you have a clue what you wanted to do when you sat down and talked with these people or did someone or a group subtly influence you from ninth grade on (maybe earlier) to make a career decision?

Back when I was 13 years old, I didn't think much about a feasible career profession that had less competition and would be good for community. I just assumed I would be a singer, dancer and actress and would eventually move out of town. I never considered the sheer amount of competition in the entertainment industry at the time. That is until my dad one day awakened me to reality. He said, "Pick an attainable goal something that isn't so competitive." He knew that I wouldn't be financially successful at being those things, not because I wasn't any good, because I was (school awards, summer program for the city with honor and stipend, etc.) but he knew that he hadn't spent any money or time guiding me in that direction for years. He personally didn't like what he hard about the industry (although he said I could be a good jazz singer--an interest of his), and we had no family, social or business connections that could propel my future career. It definitely is who you know in the entertainment industry!

After I had turned 14 years old, I participated in a career assessment questionnaire based on my personal interests. The professions that seemed to fit my personality were reasonable: a social worker, English teacher or Journalist. At 17 years old, I went off to college and declared my major to be Journalism and Communications. The one passion that stuck with me since I was about seven years old was writing.

Little did I know, the government had plans for us students at a high school that was located in a lower and middle class neighborhood of primarily renters. The military recruiters were coming in almost daily looking for a few good men and women back in the 1990s. There was a push back then to recruit women. I was targeted as well as other people I knew because we were in a career program that met a couple times of week. I had also been in the college club since ninth grade, so I was getting hit from every side. I started thinking about how the military would be a good idea. It was strange, because prior to sitting down with the recruiter I thought about the Army and Marines. When I looked back on my childhood, I had been a part of the American Legion Auxiliary by no choice of my own. I had also received toy firefighters, police men, and soldiers by different relatives and I had played target practice video games. In addition, I played gun games sometimes at an amusement park with my dad who had been a former Sergeant in the Army during Vietnam.

When I was being heavily brainwashed at 15 years old by military recruiters who came to my school, they had me take the ASVAB test and fill out other paperwork, so that I could go off to the either the Army boot camp or Marines (I had a choice). My dad calmly told me that wasn't a good idea and didn't believe I would last a day. If he hadn't broken programming by sharing with me a few of my personal fears, I would have been a soldier to date.

When Shopping for Children's Toys Be Sure to...

Shopping for children's toy should be a big deal considering that you are raising a future marriage partner, business owner, employee, or worse a menace to society. This is why it is so crucial to get a child off to a good start! Go beyond what people have told you about your children. Have you assessed your child using your parental wisdom? What do you see, since this child is comprised of some of your DNA as well as a long line of generations before you?

Prior to selecting yet another toy that will lead your child on a path you might not want for him or her, consider the following:

1. Is this toy bringing the best out of my child?

2. Am I selecting the toy because it will make a great babysitter?

3. Will this toy help my child achieve in school?

4. Is the toy going to bring drama to my household i.e.) arguing, tears because it easily breaks, spiritual warfare, pain or an emergency room visit, lower grades, attention span, etc.?

5. Can I afford more than one toy since I have other children?

6. Is this a toy that is age appropriate?

7. Have I bothered to read the reviews on this toy?

8. What does my partner think about it?

9. What are the restrictions for its use?

10. Are there more pressing concerns in my household that need my attention right now besides getting this toy for my child? Can I put it off?

Toys of the Future - London Toy Fair

Save money and time with the useful tips contained in this informative book!
Save money and time with the useful tips contained in this informative book! | Source

On Toy Shopping for Families of Mixed-Age Groups

I am a mother of four boys who were once in the following age groups: baby, toddler, tween, and teen. So shopping for gifts that met their different age groups were at times a challenge. I would spend hours visiting website after website in search of toys that met my children's ages, interests, and my patience. I will tell you from personal experience, there are just some toys that should never see the light of day for small children. For instance, toys that are difficult to put together, come with small parts, cheaply made, don't have volume control, smaller than what they appear on boxes, and fail to do what they claim. Just imagine looking at the face of a baby that is crying hysterically because the toys scare him or her due to the sound or the ugliness of it. Then those toddlers who claw at the box only to find nothing much in it. So they keep turning the box thinking something else is in it. Before long, the box is more interesting than the toy. As for the older ones, it better deliver; otherwise, you are going to hear about your poor choice as a parent. Meanwhile, you might have thought your selection was wise because you got it on sale. "But that isn't what I wanted...Seriously Mom...What is it?" Don't get caught trying to do something different while saving money, one or both plans will collapse. When dealing with older children, it is always best to get what they want. The time and energy you save not returning an item is well worth it!

As for advising those parents who might get caught like I did with a variety of age groups, think about the following:

1. An envelope saving money system for each child. Since most toys for the older ones tend to cost more than those for the younger ones, you will put more money away for them.

2. Avoid the temptation to want to spend a lot of money on toys for babies. If it is bright, shiny, colorful, moves, and feels good to the touch, most babies are fine with those toys. However, focus on those with some educational value.

3. Don't assume that because the item is hot, featured, or on sale it must be good. I have found far too often that the toy isn't always the greatest especially when it isn't the one that your child really wanted. Always check with the older children first.

4. If you are buying children the same things just because they want them, stop doing it. Children need to establish their own identities, interests, etc. and they also need to learn to share. So teach children to make selections based on what they like not what brother or sister likes. If you can take them to stores separately sometimes, do it. Of course, there will be some jealous moments, but that is all a part of growing up.

5. Spend some time researching items before you get to the store. Too often parents feel pressured to buy something for a child just because he or she cries, screams, complains, etc. Learning more about a toy before you buy will eliminate future issues. Consider this, most of all child's requests is based on what someone in school has or what they viewed on television.

6. Delegate the toy shopping tasks. There is absolutely nothing wrong with asking relatives and friends for help especially during holiday times. Get specific details about the toys your children want and share with those willing to buy. Some loved ones get a kick out of revisiting their childhood through toy shopping.

Your View on Toy Shopping

When you shop for children's toys, what are you thinking?

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Ethnic Toys - Show Your Support

Unlike days of segregation, a parent is not forced to have to buy any toy with European features with no other options. Thanks to the Internet, you can find a toy that suits your child's identity. You can also use ethnic toys to teach children to appreciate and love who they are. There are also many educational toys that help children as well. Some sites worth noting include:

Grace and Ellie - African inspired clothing.

Fearless Five - Superhero team with books, clothing and other related goods.

UniteeDesign - T-shirts that celebrate African culture.

Sweet Honey Child - Baby items and other gift items.

HIA Toys - Collectible figures that are used to tell historic stories.

Cush City - handmade stuffed toy dolls.

Popular Places Online to Buy Toys - Pros and Cons

Toys R Us
Variety of toys sold by businesses and individuals.
Toys are typically sold from warehouse, but Walmart has partners on site that sell too.
One of the largest places to find toys for all age groups.
Has many trending brand name toys.
Prices and shipping costs on some items can be a turn off because of the huge differences between sellers.
Toys are priced reasonably but not unique.
Prices on toys can sometimes be much higher than other stores.
Since this isn't a toy store, prices aren't always good, so do compare prices with other stores.
All of these stores may have problems keeping certain popular items in stock online. In addition, sometimes the toys don't always look or work as well as described. When shopping these stores, always look for coupon codes, discounts, and other prom

One of the Most Popular Toy Reviewers on YouTube - Evan

Toys Made in America

One thing that many parents don't think about when traveling with restless children in the backseats of cars crying about yet another toy, is who is manufacturing the toys they will eventually get for their children.

Most of us know about those toys made in China that are appear in every store that sells toys, but what exactly is made in America. For the answer to that question, one doesn't have to look too far. A website called, Toys Made in America, helped answered that question. You can also find a manufacturer near you on Alibaba.

Popular Brand Names of Toys

Largest toy-maker in the world.
Named by Fortune magazine as one of the top 100 companies to work for in 2013.
In 1998, Lego bricks inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, The Strong in Rochester, New York.
LeapFrog was awarded the 2011 Toy of the Year Award, Instructor Magazine's 2011 Teacher’s Pick Award 2010,and numerous others.
Began in 1923, three brothers, Hillel, Herman, and Henry Hassenfeld founded Hassenfeld Brothers
Company's name is derived from Harold "Matt" Matson and Elliot Handler, who founded the company in 1945.
The Lego Group began in the workshop of Ole Kirk Christiansen from Billund, Denmark. He began making wooden toys in 1932.
LeapFrog started in the late 1980s, co-founder Michael Wood, had difficulty teaching his son how to read.
Known for transforming toys like Transformers and time passing board games.
Has one of best toy assortments for girls, dolls, doll furniture, clothing, etc.
Lego began manufacturing interlocking toy bricks in 1949.
Creates educational toys for children from infancy through grade school.

Toys and Games for Teens 13-17 years

Despite all of the marketing for video games, there are many toys out there for teens to keep them busy. However, if a parent doesn't restrict the time a teen spends gaming, then he or she will never know what is being offered to them. At this age, teens are into building things. I came across many websites that have everything from building things from metal parts to cardboard.

Many teens enjoy remote control items. I learned this when the grandparents bought a couple of my children some cool cars that spun, flipped, and did other interesting things. They also got the boys remote control air crafts and at my request, a drone.

In recent years, all of my children and extended relatives have been exposed to tablet devices and smart phones. However, the stories of accidents, as well as moments of upset when something doesn't work, tells me that maybe it is just a good idea to wait until both the younger and older children are mature enough to handle those electronic gadgets.

Here are some ideas that were suggested by websites with toys for older youth. However, keep in mind military programming is all over some of these products:

1. Any Nerf product that aims and fires.

2. Super hero kind of men designed for imaginative play battles and collecting.

3. Board games like Battleship or trivia games.

4. Kits for building figures, monuments, vehicles, science projects, etc.

5. Toys that teach how to create and cook desserts like Easy Bake Ovens.

6. Mystery games.

7. Dolls and soft fuzzy collectible items.

8. Recording devices.

9. Video games, consoles and portable devices.

10. Tools and software programs related to creating music, editing video, uploading video, etc.

11. Entertainment related gadgets.

12. Outdoor play (balls, bikes, scooters, pool toys...)

© 2015 Nicholl McGuire


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