The Best Advice on Children's Products


Dr. Toy launches the Magic Toy Box


Dr. Toy announces the opening of Magic Toy Box – a virtual toy museum and marketplace for children and adults alike, powered by super-mart emergent technology. In the magical world that is Magic Toy Box, you can learn about your favorite toys, discover new ones, share with your friends and loved ones through social media, and shop for and purchase quality and award-winning children’s products that meet our high standards. Visit Magic Toy Box.

Magic Toy Box: the newest project of Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D., “Dr. Toy”

Imagine a magical children’s universe and marketplace – all existing inside of a toy box that is presented online, around the globe and around the clock. Carnival, the digital ambassador of Magic Toy Box, is like a concierge of children’s products that are presented within Magic Toy Box. Carnival both features and links to an expanding and seemingly limitless bnak of information about Toys, including video, social media, biographical information and a buy-now link for each product.


In 1986, Dr. Auerbach founded and served as director of the San Francisco International Toy Museum, the world’s first interactive toy museum. More than 50,000 children visited the museum between 1986 and 1990, when the Loma Prieta earthquake forced it to shut its doors. New toys and products, as well as historical collectibles, were a mainstay of this unique “hands on” museum: Children could not only look at the eclecting sampling of toys, but they touch, climb on and hug most of them to their heart’s content! Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, has been for many years one of the nation’s and world’s leading experts on play, toys, and children’s products. With 30 years of direct experience, Dr. Auerbach includes educationally oriented, developmental and skill building products from the best large and small companies in her four annual award programs. Many parents, teachers and toy buyers use Dr. Toy’s guidance in making selections. Magic Toy Box is created in the spirit of the San Francisco International Toy Museum, and follows in its footsteps.

Introducing the Curiositoys™ Curio Pod

Powered by Imagination – Metamorphic Toys

by David Berglund, founder of Metamorphic Toys

curio_smThe Curiositoys™ Curio Pod is a 3-D blank canvas for creative expression and sturdy structure for open-ended imaginative play, eco-friendly and made in America. Children naturally use their imaginations to learn and process the world around them. Creative art projects and imaginative pretend play are essential to healthy cognitive, social and emotional development. Creative thinking is also an essential skill in problem solving and innovation.

The Curiositoys Curio Pod was designed to inspire the creative imaginations of children. My daughter and all the children that tested the Curio Pod discovered the magic of this toy. The Curio Pod transcends the world of toys and becomes an intimate space, personal treasure and focal point of day-to-day play activities that grows with the child. By making it their own, it becomes a source of pride to children.

There are no flashing lights, no cartoon characters, no batteries required and no instructions. Free to express themselves creatively, children invest hours decorating and inventing ways to play with the Curio Pod.


My name is Dave, designer, artist, and dad. My years designing playground equipment provided insight into child development and becoming a father taught me even more. What grabbed me was the ability of children to project their imaginations onto ordinary objects to create nearly anything they needed for play. This inspired the Curiositoys™ vision of “Abstract Creative Play”.

The best toys today are generic dolls, stuffed animals and building blocks that allow children to imprint their unique personality on the toy through their creative imagination. My goal was to make the Curio Pod this kind of toy that serves as a portable, personal space that children can control.

“Abstract Creative Play” happens when visually exciting abstract forms inspire more creative adventurous play. Giving children the freedom to project their imaginations onto these forms opens up a myriad of play possibilities. The abstract geometric form of the Curio Pod arouses the curiosity of children inviting the exploration that sparks creativity. It is the ultimate open-end toy for the natural creativity of children.

I hope the Curio Pod will help parents and children reverse the trend that began in 1990 of declining creativity scores (CQ) for American children. Let’s prepare our kids for success in the information age. After all, creativity is the most valuable proficiency in determining future success according to recent employer polls.

To learn more about this toy visit our Kickstarter project and support this new kind of toy.

10 Tips for Selecting Great Games



by Stevanne Auerbach, Ph.D. – “Dr. Toy”

Playing games is a perfect way for your child to learn and have fun. Games offer many benefits including challenge, communication, and creativity. Games are enjoyed with friends, siblings, parents, and grandparents.

Many games are useful and adaptable for a wide range of ages and abilities. I suggest before you purchase you read information about the game so you know if it will fit your family’s interests.

Make sure to read directions out loud so everyone knows how to play. Most of all have fun and have good times when playing together so your child wants to play again and as often as possible.

Before you buy a new game consider these ten tips to help you make the best selection.

  1. Learning – Playing games helps to build cognitive skills for children and also helps seniors to keep mentally active. When children play games they are also practicing reading skills, and related skills like eye-hand coordination, patterning, sequencing, and visual discrimination. Seniors benefit from interaction and cognitive stimulation.
  2. Challenging – Games that have the most benefit offer to each player a range of complexity from easy to more challenging so each player gains more proficiency, and also enjoys reaching the next levels of play.
  3. Simplicity – Each game offers its own basic aspects for play. The theme or type should be clear to each player. Games should be easy for anyone to learn how to play, offer a range of skills for all players, and be engaging.
  4. Multi-generational – Games should be flexible so as to match interests of parent and child. Every player should enjoy the game and remain interested in the continuity of play.
  5. Laughter – One of the great reasons for playing is to generate fun and laughter. Playing a game is a great way to stimulate laughter, and is a perfect way to generate more self expression, reduce stress, and help to support each player. Each player’s feelings should be respected.
  6. Fantasy – Playing games stimulates fantasy, and is a perfect way to step outside of the every day pressures of school and work. Playing supports language for each player during the game, and stimulates children to chat later about their experiences.
  7. Uniqueness – Each game is different and should not be like another one. Each one offers a set of activities that provides a new and worthwhile experience that equals and exceeds the cost of the game, and is an activity all players want to repeat.
  8. Value – Each game offers something that is enjoyable for each player whether playing as an individual or in a group. Everyone should have fun, want to play, and look forward to the time spent in playing a good game as a group.
  9. Quality – The game itself should be made of quality materials that are made to last over time and hold up with plenty of use. The pieces should have passed testing standards. The elements of the game should be well constructed and be durable.
  10. Applicability – Games should be well tested before they come to market so they play well among different ages and abilities.

Having fun comes easily from playing good games.

Be sure to put the game box away safely each time so all pieces are secured and easily accessible. I suggest you store game pieces using containers or plastic bags.

Your games collection is a family treasure chest that offers great fun, and should be ready to play anytime your family wants to get together around a game, enjoy each other’s company, and confront the challenge of a good game.

Laser Pegs: Building With Light


Jon Capriola is taking on a toy Goliath by making a run at Lego with his own line of buildable bricks and construction toys.

The Sarasota entrepreneur’s Laser Pegs toys started as an idea in Capriola’s garage and, a decade later, his company has become one of the fastest-growing toy brands on retail shelves.

The concept — a hybrid of Lego blocks and Lite-Brite pegs — has caught the attention of some of the world’s biggest merchants.

Dovetailing with that growing interest, Capriola is rolling out new product lines with licensing ties to professional sports leagues, and he is also in the early stages of developing a cartoon series based on his toys — intended to further lift his multimillion-dollar business into the kid of prominence enjoyed by Lego’s $4 billion empire.

“The toy business really is not about success, it’s about your significance,” Capriola said from Laser Peg’s 29,000-square-foot headquarters on Fruitville Road in East Sarasota. “How do you stay significant? You have to be accepted by the masses and offer a product that’s pretty unique.”

Laser Pegs are stackable blocks that are compatible with Lego, but unlike the European toy, Laser Pegs are battery-powered and illuminated with low-voltage LED lights. The toy comes in more than 100 kits — ranging in price from $19.99 to $299.99 — and allow children to build everything from helicopters to dinosaurs.

Capriola began developing the concept nearly six years ago in his garage, building the first prototype from a cardboard box and a few stickers.

Less than three years since its official launch, Laser Pegs can now be found in more than 6,000 stores in 33 countries. It’s the No. 1 selling technology toy at Target, where it has a seven-foot section on the toy shelf.

The product also is sold at T.J. Maxx, Marshalls, Costco, Home Goods, the gift shop at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas and on QVC, among outlets.

Laser Pegs uses the same nub patterns as Lego blocks — because the design of the latter are no longer protected by patents — so the two toy brands can be built with interchangeable pieces. Laser Pegs now has several patents of its own.

“At the end of the day, kids love the product,” Capriola said. “You can do or build almost anything with Laser Pegs. You get a very intense play pattern.”

View Laser Pegs’ entire product folio.

Laser Pegs Ventures LLC is a proud Dr. Toy Alumni member.

OWI Robotics: Solar-Powered Genius


Solar Power and Robotics

Some of the most popular robotic kits are also the friendliest towards the environment. Current solar technology has allowed kit designers to include solar panels to replace batteries that would eventually end up in landfills. Solar-powered robots can range from simple to complex, and they can be an excellent way for beginners to learn exactly how this alternative energy source works. Attaching and charging a robot’s solar panel is a perfect hands-on way for builders of all ages to explore the applications of this clean-energy technology.

What is Solar Power?

Solar power refers to the conversion of sunlight into electricity by a direct process called the photovoltaic effect. This technology relies on a semiconductor to pull radiation from the sun’s rays and convert it into a direct electrical current. Another type is known as concentrated solar power, which relies on a system of reflective lenses or mirrors to generate an indirect electrical current when exposed to strong sunlight.

The direct method with photovoltaics is used for both large and small-scale solar panels made with a specific number of solar cells. Some of the first devices to use this technology were single-cell solar-powered calculators. The modern solar robot is powered with the same basic technology, though sometimes with more than one cell.

How to Use Solar Power to Drive a Robot’s Motor

A robot kit’s motor works with a direct electrical current that comes from at least one charged solar cell. Depending on the complexity and difficulty level of a robot kit, the builder will need to attach each of the cells to the robot either by epoxy gluing or by soldering for more advanced kits. Solar robot cells act as receptacles for sunlight, and different robot motors require solar cells that can be charged to a certain voltage. The needed number of volts typically depends on the size of the robot, its number of moving parts and the electric power required to fuel them. Many robot kit solar cells attach to the motor with simple wires by soldering or with locking connectors found in some beginning level kits.

Solar Robot Kits Available from OWI

A number of OWI’s most popular solar robot kits provide young builders a challenging but fun project that teaches some fundamentals of science and engineering. Assembling an environmentally friendly robot will demonstrate the benefits and possibilities of solar power as an emissions-free power source. For beginning to intermediate robot kit enthusiasts, some favorites include:

6-in-1 Educational Solar Kit. This robot kit is designed for beginners and does not require seperate tools to attach the parts together. Options include building a small solar-powered windmill or one of two toy airplanes.

7-in-1 Rechargeable Solar Transformers. Robot builders can put together several different toy vehicles with this beginner-friendly kit. One big selling point is its high-caliber solar cell that recharges to full power in only minutes.

The Solar System was featured in Educational Dealer Magazine as “one of the items most ordered at the NSSEA show…Great New Products from Ed Expo.”

Solar robot kits are a fun, educational and creative means of learning about this type of energy-efficient technology. Here’s a video of OWI’s products featured on The Late Show with David Letterman. Note for impatient souls: skip to 1 minute into the video.


View OWI Robotics entire product folio.

OWI Robotics is a proud Dr. Toy’s Alumni Member.

Metamorphic Toys Powered by the Imagination of Children

The daughter of a product designer and artist inspired the founding of Metamorphic Toys with her creative imagination. As Dave Berglund observed how his daughter and her friends played with the toys he made it was clear that kids are hungry for these kinds of creative simple toys that put them and their incredible imaginations in charge.

Instead of imposing the designers’ imagination on the child, the idea is to let children imprint their imaginations on the toy. By doing this, children create a toy that is personal and important to them. Play that centers on such a toy springs completely from the child’s own imagination.

The Mailbox and Silly Signs are an art project and pretend play toy in one.
Creative expression and imaginative pretend play directed by the child is critical to healthy child development, but it also happens to be incredibly FUN! It is naturally instinctive behavior for children to learn and process the world through creativity and their imaginations. Our toys give kids this opportunity by engaging them with elegant geometric designs that also serve to add structural integrity to the toys.

There is something about three-dimensional objects that kids love to explore. Providing such an object that kids are allowed to experiment with by coloring, gluing, carrying around and playing with is very exciting for them. The Everythingland™ Mailbox, Silly Signs and Eco-Art U-Stick’ems are these kinds of toys.

Metamorphic Toys believes in doing what’s right for children, for our community and the environment. That’s why we are committed to making open-ended toys right here in America using materials and processes that are kind to the environment. (more…)

Stacking up some fun with Gibout Toys!

Remember when your mom asked you to clean your room before company came over? This usually meant shoving your unsightly toys into the closet and hoping no one would open the door. That’s about to change…

We’re excited to introduce a toy that inspires creativity, exercises the imagination and best of all adds room aesthetic instead of clutter. Our deluxe version of a classic stacking toy features some of finest and softest, minky fabric you can find. At 11.5″ each, they stack up as one of the largest plush blocks your children will get their little hands on. Moms love them because they save wear and tear on the couch cushions and provide a safe outlet for pent up energy. Not to mention they stack easily and quickly in the corner of a room avoiding any threat of a toy avalanche in the closet.

Whether you are looking for a unique addition to your nursery decor, or something your child will love to play with for years to come, these blocks have it all.

- Safe for all ages.
- Creativity enhancing.
- Easy to store by stacking nicely in a corner.
- Flexibility to build houses, play games, gets out nervous energy.
- Quiet and doesn’t require batteries or instruction.
- Instant exercise — you can always find something to do with them, whether it’s stacking, building forts, hiding, climbing, throwing, or knocking them down.
- A style mom will love and kids will play with.
- Good for siblings to have constructive, competitive play without fighting or hurting each other.
- A toy that will grow with your child as they find new ways to play with them. (more…)

Dr. Toy Announces New iPhone App

Looking for the perfect toy or children’s gift? Use Dr. Toy’s app to narrow down the search!

Dr. Toy, Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, is one of the world’s leading experts on play, toys, and children’s products. With 30 years of experience, her annual awards recognize the best in educational, developmental and skill building products on offer from large and small companies alike; now they’re available for you to take on the go.

Browse by award, skill, type, age or price, to find the ideal toy you’re looking for. Every product featured in this app has attained an award of excellence, making shopping for the right toy or gift a breeze!

View on iTunes

Dr. Toy Presents Best Toys Made by Bay Area Toy Companies

Dr Toy visited KRON Ch 4 on 12 17 11 to talk with co-hosts Marty Gonzalez and Ysabel Doron about Best Bay Area’s Toy Companies. Dr Stevanne Auerbach (Dr. Toy) author of Smart Play/ Smart Toys hared highlights of varied products suitable for all ages.

12 Bay Area Toy and Game Companies and Products include:

  1. Blue Orange Games – Spot It!
  2. Green Toys – Green Toys School Bus
  3. Folkmanis – White Mouse Puppet
  4. ImagAbility – WEDGiTS™ Starter Set
  5. Infinitoy – Zoob
  6. LeapFrog –Tag Solar System Adventure Pack
  7. Peaceable Kingdom — Hoot Owl Hoot! Cooperative Board Game
  8. Plushy Feely Corp –KimochisToys With Feelings Inside
  9. Tangle Creations – Hairy Tangle Jr
  10. Timeless Toys – Sootheze Waddles Duck
  11. Tot Talk – Sports Placemats
  12. University Games/Colorforms- Magic Fashion Show and

Creating Products for Success

by Deb de Sherbinin, KidSmart

Can you answer these 10 key questions about your hot new product concept?

An amazing number—85%—of all new products fail in the marketplace. How
can you maximize your chances beating the odds? A good place to start is by
developing an understanding of the 10 key factors that contribute to product

Bringing a new product to market requires a significant investment of
both time and financial resources, and shortcuts almost always compromise
the likelihood of doing so successfully. Spending the time and resources “up
front” to develop the answers to the following questions is best thought of
as cheap insurance that will minimize the chances of being included in the
statistic noted above.

Before bringing your product to market, can you answer the following questions with confidence?

  1. How is your product concept unique? Does it:
    • offer a new or better form of entertainment?
    • present a better price/value equation?
    • leverage a unique design?
    • build upon a hot new trend?
    • utilize a unique technology or popular license?
    • educate in a engaging way?
  2. Who are the primary target users and purchasers of your product
  3. Is the product designed to be appropriate for the age and ability of
    the user?
  4. How does the product concept measure up to competitors in the
  5. Does the design of the product and packaging appeal to the target?
  6. Can your product be designed and manufactured at a competitive
    retail price point?
  7. Through what channel(s) will you distribute your product and how
    will it be merchandised at point of sales?
  8. Is your sales goal realistic and will yield profits?
  9. How will you gain attention for your product and communicate its
  10. How will you launch your product, through what communications, and
    how will you sustain awareness and interest with your target audience?

From selecting or developing a unique new product concept to designing, refining, manufacturing, distributing and marketing it, it is a real challenge to maintain objectivity and consistently listen to what the market tells you.

Common mistakes along the product development timeline include falling in love with a product and not investing the time and effort to evaluate the item carefully, taking shortcuts in determining its appeal to the target buyer and user, and being unrealistic about how well it measures up to the competition.

The challenges of successfully launching a new product are such that the investment of time and resources should be taken to assure that the product is unique in the marketplace, has consumer interest-value, can be developed and manufactured at a cost that will meet a competitive price point and has a marketing roadmap that leads to awareness, preference and purchase. As should be clear by now, having an “idea” is just the first step in creating
a product that will lead to success in the marketplace.

Deb de Sherbinin is the founder and president of Kidsmart. Founded in 1993, KidSmart is a product and marketing consultancy that provides services that help companies successfully identify, develop and market products that entertain kids of all ages.