The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) has just released their 2009 Best Toys for Kids Award Winners. Selected by a panel of 500 of America's top independent and neighborhood toy retailers, the winners deliver exceptional value and expand a child's imagination by inviting discovery and exploration, getting kids moving, and building creativity.
I appreciate the fact that the toys on the ASTRA list are unique items that are not typically carried at "big box" retailers but, instead, at smaller, locally-owned toy stores. We are lucky enough to have a great one here in Wichita: Imagine That! Toys. (To find an ASTRA member store near you, use their handy Toy Finder. You can also follow ASTRA on Twitter.)
There are toys on the list that we already have and love, like the Green Toys Tea Set and Automoblox vehicles but there are also plenty of toys that are new to us or, at least, new to our list! The Playmobil Pyramid that Candice reviewed, for example, and the Wee WEDGiTS building blocks. We received a Reversible Dragon/Knight Cape and matching Reversible Dragon/Knight Hood from Creative Education of Canada's Great Pretenders collection of dress-ups. I can't tell you how great this is, especially since quality dress-up clothing for boys is not easy to find. Roo was so jealous that this was slightly too small for her and was thereby deemed Jasper's!
As super cool as the dragon side is, it reverses to a splendiferously silver knight's cape and hood:
Not that Jasper would ever wear it that way, of course. He's too thrilled with being a dragon! I think Roo will be wanting one of the reversible princess dress ups, perhaps the Cinderella Cindersweep or the Fairytale Pinafore…
Disclosure: We received the Reversible Dragon/Knight Cape and matching Reversible Dragon/Knight Hood and were encouraged to spread the word about ASTRA's 2009 Best Toys for Kids Award Winners. However, relating the sheer awesomeness of the dress-up and other items from the list was done on my own.