astra I have to tell you, I think ASTRA (American Specialty Toy Retailing Association) gets me. Just like me, they’re not too into commercialism and way more into products that make a child do, think and learn. Which, as anyone who has been reading my reviews the past 5(!) years knows is completely my style of toys.

This year, ASTRA created a Best Toys for Kids 2009 list and I’m feeling pretty proud that nearly everything on their list  of 21 items is something that we either already own or is on our list for the holidays. Seriously.

So, if you’re having trouble helping your kids come up with great gifts for this holiday, a few of ASTRA’s and my favorites include:

  • Automoblox (read our previous reviews  and whoa! Check out their new Hot Rods!)
  • Magformers building sets (I’m shocked at just how many hours my kids have created and recreated with this simple, magnetic triangles and squares)
  • WeeWedgits (we have the bigger ones, reviewed here, but I’m adding these to the list for little because these are another toy that provides hours of creative play)
  • Tea Set by Green Toys (already wrapped and ready to gift to Little, reviewed on MWS last year.)
  • Melissa & Doug Shopping Cart (what preschooler doesn’t go into a boutique toy store and start pushing the sample? My kid’s had it on his holiday and birthday wish lists for 3 years now.)
  • Bananagrams  (The four-year-old sees me playing Scrabble all the time and has now asked for Bananagrams. It may be over his head, but it’ll be great to use for years.)

It was hard for me to highlight just a few. Honestly, the entire list of 21 are all favorites. I just finished adding the few we don’t have to our Amazon Wish List. Here’s hoping Santa’s reading!

Automoblox, Wedgits and Green Toys were previously provided as samples for review on MWS. ASTRA sent Bananagrams, Mini Collectible Erasers by BC Office (which are very cute for the stockings) and a Tea Set by Green Toys as a sampling of their awesome list.


  1. Hi Julie,

    I just wanted to remind everyone that you can get all the ASTRA best toys from the ASTRA member toy stores who picked them! The ASTRA Store Finder lets people find an independent toy store nearby, or an online source in addition to TRU or Amazon.

    Philip (ASTRA member, but not a toy store)

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