Toy testing, “year two

If you recall from my December 2010 editor’s note, I talked about how I sent toys home with my co-workers, to have their children test them for our holiday gift guide.

The downside was that, upon completion, they had to bring the toys back to the office so I could write about them effectively, perhaps get the best ones photographed. It worked pretty well, but ultimately some kids didn’t want to give up the toys and made their parents’ lives miserable (Oh, Baby Alive, we know you were loved); some toys were never returned; and some were destroyed or stuffed into the original packaging in such a state that not even a trip to the Island of Misfit Toys could save them.

This year—a seemingly brilliant idea: To wit, we’ll just bring all of the kids here to the office, put them in the conference room with the toys and see what they gravitate toward. We will sit them in front of our lovely lit area with white backdrop and photograph each of them with their favorite toy. Wow. I have such a crazy imagination!

Truly, I have never seen one conference room go from neat to chaotic, so quickly. And what was it with that plastic chicken leg from the kitchen play set? I think every kid in the room wanted to gnaw on it for at least a few minutes. Every time I blinked, a different kid had it halfway into his or her mouth. But I think my favorite moment was three-year-old Makayla pulling the favored Hot Wheels tracks off the wall. One moment, six feet of track assembled by one of our patient staffers was hanging there perfectly like a good little toy; the next moment, it was like Godzilla went sideways and destroyed the city. Good times. That kid is fast.

But in the end, we got our photographs, we figured out the best toys, and it all begins on page 18. Season’s Greetings from all of us here at Minnesota Parent.

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