Sign Up For Dr. Toy's Newsletter ... The Toy Times!


Chat Room Transcript from

December 16, 1999

MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Dr. Toy will be with us in just a moment. Thank you for being with us this morning.

JILL: Hi, everyone

COOLMOM: Hello, every one.

MODERATOR: Folks, Dr. Toy is on the line. We will begin our questions in a minute.

DR. TOY: Hello, everyone.

SHAROND: Hi. Dr. Toy, how did you get such a great job?

DR. TOY: Somebody has to do it! I am the best qualified for the job. I have been playing all my life. It is a great thing for everyone to do. I encourage parents to play with their children a lot.

MENCKEN: Dr. Toy, let me start with a broad question. What criteria do you apply to your ratings of toys?

DR. TOY: I am looking for unique and educational products. I look for products from new companies that don't have advertising budgets. I am not so interested in licensed products. I am interested in products that teach health and well-being. They are not easy to find. Look at our website for more information.

MENCKEN: What is the age range of the children whose toys you rate?

DR. TOY: I look for products from baby to twelve years of age, and of course products that for parents and grandparents to use with children, such as games and puzzles and other items that the entire family can play together. I look at low-tech through hi-tech. Plus a wide range of products--arts, crafts, books, tapes, and much more.

MENCKEN: Dr. Toy, how often do you issue new ratings? Are they issued on a regular basis? Where can I keep up with them?

DR. TOY: have three programs a year. I just completed the 100 BEST TOY LIST FOR 1999. In the spring we look for VACATION TOYS and after school products, and CLASSIC TOYS (items on the market for more than ten years). You can find all these products on our site. Our site was the first on-line to evaluate toys.

DR. TOY: I am always looking for new products

SHAROND: Dr. Toy, how do you feel about the Pokemon craze? My son is so involved.

COOLMOM: What is this Pokemon craze? Why do my kids fight about them all the time? They love them.

JILL: Why do you think kids are so wrapped up in Pokemon? There are so many card games on the market, why Pokemon?

DR. TOY: None of the other product categories or licensed products have a television show, a highly publicized movie, and so many products. The little characters are appealing to children. The tie-in of the characters and the big media push is driving this activity.

DR. TOY: My sense of it that is after the New Year there will be something new on in the horizon.

JILL: Would you consider a doll a Smart Toy for girls?

DR. TOY: Absolutely. Dolls--such as soft ones when they are young--are very important "lovies." When they grow older, dolls they can dress and undress, help them gain confidence, practice hand coordination, and much more. Dolls teach many important skills and give children emotional support. They are a constant friend you can talk and tell secrets to.

JILL: What about typical boy toys such as fighting toys?

DR. TOY: Jill, I personally believe that toys have power. What you give children is very important. The toys that promote violent behavior (e.g. Power Rangers) often increase negative behavior in boys. It may be better to give construction toys, soft bats, and sports equipment.

MENCKEN: I just came back from your website. I didn't notice the Etch-A-Sketch. I had that when I was a kid and thought it really permitted me to be creative. What are your thoughts on that?

DR. TOY: Mencken, I love Etch-A-Sketch, too. It is on our site, in the CLASSIC TOYS 1997 program. I recommend it highly. It is a great toy to use at anytime and especially to take along on travel. I have more about Classic Toys in my newest book, Toys for a Lifetime(Rizzoli).

COOLMOM: My kids love Etch-A-Sketch. It is a great thing to have in the car on long trips.

COOLMOM: My daughter is four and she loves dolls - which one would you recommend?

JILL: What do you do when your kids want toys you don't approve of? Should you give in, or let them be the only kid without Pokemon or something.

JILL: But what if all their friends have them? Should a parent cave in?

DR. TOY: Jill, I agree that the product of peer pressure is acute. That is a problem. The pressure on children to be part of their peer group is what the marketers understand. Your child can play with their friends without having to purchase each "new, hot" product.

SHAROND: Dr. Toy, my son is four and he loves science. I bought him a science book last year and he loves doing experiments. Can you recommend a good experiment book?

DR. TOY: SharonD, there are a number of products that he can look for. Look at our site for these companies (they offer science books): Natural Science (found in our TOY COMPANY CONTACT PHONE NUMBERS) and Scientific Explorer 1-800-900-1182. They also have websites.

DR. TOY: Also, go to the library, you can explore science books for young children before you invest in them. Look for DK and EDC books also.

DR. TOY: The companies I mentioned are projects he can get involved in. Scientific Learning is another one. Many companies have websites.

SHAROND: Thanks, Dr. Toy.

MODERATOR: Dr. Toy, could you take a second to explain to our audience what makes a Smart Toy?

DR. TOY: Moderator, a Smart Toy engages the child's mind, their hands, their senses, involves them in thinking, creating, and doing.

DR. TOY: I want to suggest that there is a P.Q. (Play Quotient, akin to I.Q.).  See my book Dr. Toy's Smart Play for more information. The more children play, the more playful they will become. We can't assume that children know how to play, unless we play with them and encourage them thought puppet play, reading, constructing, playing board games, etc. Those activities are "Smart Play."

JILL: I used to have an easy time buying "Smart Toys" for my kids when they were younger. Now that they are seven and ten, it seems harder because they get so caught up in popular things.

JILL: Are there some things that ten year old girls and seven year old boys really find appealing?

COOLMOM: I agree, Dr. Toy.

SHAROND: Dr. Toy, do you feel that toys are "Smarter" now? I mean are toys being made more to engage the child's mind? Or were there just as many Smart Toys when we were kids?

COOLMOM: I want to know what type of doll that I should purchase for my four year old daughter.

DR. TOY: You might want to select a doll she can dress and undress or put in water and bathe.

COOLMOM: I have purchased a few soft dolls.

JILL: Dr. Toy, what were your favorite toys when you were a child?

DR. TOY: Jacks and ball. Great time playing with them with other girls at camp. That's the one I remember.

SHAROND: Dr. Toy, when is a child ready for a two-wheel bicycle? Is it strictly height? What abilities should the child show?

DR. TOY: Sharon, I usually do not get into bikes or roller skates, but I can give you some general advice. Check websites to get guidance material. Using training wheels is always a good idea. You should be sure your child can balance and gains confidence. Make sure it is safe where they would ride. Remember, to have them always wear a helmet.

DR. TOY: Children these days are too sedentary. We all need to move more. I recommend also finding a toy or a doll or play thing that you like yourself for you to have and enjoy. Put it near your computer.I am looking at a stuffed frog at the moment, and a little Winnie the Pooh.

DR. TOY: This morning I donated hundreds of toys entered in our toy evaluation program to the U.S. Marine's Toys for Tots Program. I recommend having your child experience sharing a toy with a child who does not have toys in your community.

JILL: At Christmas I notice children tend to get overwhelmed by presents. Do you have any advice for handling this?

DR. TOY: Children can be overwhelmed with too many toys over the holidays. They can only play with one toy at a time. It is best to put some toys away and bring them out later, so they do not experience overwhelm. Recycling toys is always a good idea.

MODERATOR: It is now four p.m. and our chat with Dr. Toy is officially over. Thank you, Dr. Toy, for sharing your time with us. Thank you, everyone for participating. You are invited to stay and chat further if you would like. Otherwise, have a great holiday everyone.

DR. TOY: I wish everyone a happy and playful holiday! Please, check our site, read my books, email me with any questions you didn't get to ask. I do stay up late every night and answer emails.

Home Copyright Arrow Up