We received a copy of TOY TIPS and Parenting Hints Magazine before we started our holiday shopping, and explored the Toy Tips website. When the toy recall issue was at its peak, we frequently referred readers from the main blog to the Toy Tips website so they could sign up for Daily Toy Tips and Recall Alerts. TOY TIPS and Parenting Hints Magazine is chock-full of useful information for parents of babies through teenagers. I wish Toy Tips had created this magazine before I became a parent – most of the other magazines for parents are disappointing and filled with ads rather than information.
The one magazine that I remember my parents reading regularly from my childhood was Consumer Reports, and we bought things based on the results of Consumer Reports‘ testing results. I continued that dedication as I grew up, but found that unfortunately, Consumer Reports doesn’t spend a lot of time reviewing toys, so it isn’t a good resource for that area – and that area is exactly where parents need help! TOY TIPS Magazine fills that niche, with toy testing and reviews. What could be better than that? While the magazine is new, Toy Tips itself has celebrated 15 years of independent toy research and reviews.
I love the layout of TOY TIPS Magazine – it has the nice glossy feel of a good magazine, and yet the only ads are for children’s charities. The reviews are grouped by age or by skill focus, and have a clear explanation of their The Toy Tips Institute has a mission:
to provide independent, unbiased reviews of toys and child-oriented products based on solid, academic research. … In no way is our research influenced by the toy industry or toy advertisers. Toy manufacturers have never paid us – and never will pay us – a fee to give their products a positive review.
In fact, for the Holiday 2007 issue, they state that “Over 198 toys were tested for this issue. Only 68 toys made our list!” That’s the kind of selectiveness I want – I need to hear what other parents, kids, and professionals think before I pay for a toy. While there are great word-of-mouth networks, they aren’t able to review as many toys as Toy Tips.
Toy Tips Magazine has a rating system that is easy to understand, and yet it’s thorough. There is an Overall score and then the components: a Toy Tester fun score, and Skill scores for Movement, Thinking, Personality, and Social Interaction. The Skill scores rate toys based on how well the toy promotes that skill. While you would think that these ratings would automatically discount certain types of toys, it’s worth noting that games, for example, promote Fine Motor skills, a component of Movement – the Movement score is not just for physical activity. Toy Tips does rate toys higher if they are open-ended in nature. The only truly subjective part of the rating system is the “Fun” rating, which is based on the ratings of children across the country who act as Toy Testers.
TOY TIPS and Parenting Hints includes articles on parenting, and thankfully they have thus far avoided the usual boring articles you find in most parenting magazines. Instead, they have 17 child development specialists (all of whom have sort bios) who write articles and consult with them. This means that the articles are fact-based, and have useful ideas. The articles tend to be about 2-4 pages, and have a combination of useful information and tips for parents. The cover article “The TRUTH About Toys Made in China” discussed how the problems with imported toys began. The next pages explained what you could do to keep your kids’ toys safe, and then how to find out about recalls – including links to the CPSC and manufacturers. TOY TIPS magazine focused two more pages on currently recalled toys, how to identify them in your home, and the potential risks. Other articles followed the same basic structure – information on a topic and then suggestions about how to make it work. The articles were helpful and informative, and based on researched information rather than opinions.
We give TOY TIPS and Parenting Hints Magazine 5 spotlights out of 5 – it has a great look, useful articles, and unbiased toy reviews. Plus, it is easy to sign up on the Toy Tips website for free toy reviews. You can check out the holiday issue yourself, and see what you think before you buy a subscription.
TOY TIPS and Parenting Hints Magazine is great gift for other parents on your list, or for yourself! (As a bonus, if you buy a subscription on Amazon, there’s a link to printing a gift card for your recipient, so he/she has a gift to open)
We have not yet had a chance to read the Toy Tips book, but it is definitely worth checking out – just think of all those toy testing results in one location!
- Betty Crocker Gluten-Free Cake Mix
- Reviews are on hold
- Contests, cleaning, allergies, and air
- Book Review: Earthly Pleasures
- Even the police need to outfit themselves
- Science, Fun, and the Sun – a great mix!
- A Trip down Memory lane
- Book Review: Playing with Fire
- Playing Rapelli with Rapt Attention
- Have a ball outside with Boochie!