Choosing the right children’s toy out of the hundreds on store shelves can be a guessing game. Research company Toy Tips, which has been offering advice about appropriate children’s toys since its formation in 1991, is now offering guidance to shoppers in the form of a new magazine.
Toy Tips Magazine launched in the U.S. late last October. The 24-page publication featured 54 recommended toys, and included coupons to purchase some of the suggested products at Toys ‘R’ Us. More than three million copies were available free at Toys ‘R’ Us stores and selected hospitals, distributed by the Children’s Miracle Network.
While other resources provide toy information to parents, what sets Toy Tips apart is that it is unbiased and its suggestions are based on research, not on opinion, says Marianne Szymanski, the company’s president and founder. Toy Tips receives no sponsorship, entry fees or funding from toy manufacturers. While Szymanski will not disclose details about the company’s sources of revenue, ‘a lot of partners are involved with underwriting costs.’
Toy Tips reaches its conclusions by means of ‘qualitative and quantitative research based on children’s toys and the development of the child,’ says Szymanski. The company conducts its work at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (where Szymanski earned a dual degree in psychology and marketing), and at 50 children’s centers throughout the U.S.
To meet the grade, toys must be found to nurture a child’s development. Toys are classified into products that encourage self-discovery, self-esteem, creativity, thinking and logic, family interaction, relationships, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, speech and hearing, and sensory perception.
To date, Toy Tips has tested more than 10,000 toys from manufacturers worldwide, and the company plans to keep growing. Toy Tips Magazine will be published twice a year, with the next issue scheduled for release in May. Toys ‘R’ Us will distribute the second issue, and Szymanski is hoping to bring more distribution outlets on board. The magazine will also be available in Canada this year.
As well as its toy research, Toy Tips is busy researching other areas of the kids business. Szymanski says the company serves several international clients ‘in every industry relating to kids.’