CHICAGO, Sept. 17 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Toys don't get much better than these. If you're a kid just wanting to have fun, or an overworked parent looking to keep holiday shopping simple, check out the one expert-selected holiday toy list that cuts through all the heavily-hyped electronic razzmatazz in favor of safe, creative toys with staying power.

The hot-off-the-presses 2008 Best Toys for Kids list released today by the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) gets back to the basics. It features toys for make-it-up-yourself, belly-laughing play that's safe, fun for kids and supports their physical, cognitive, and social development. These toys are a great reason to bypass the hordes of anxious, exhausted shoppers at the usual big box stores and try smaller toy stores with better selection, good service, and a priority on toy safety.

"Many toy shoppers are surprised to learn that there is a whole world of engaging, unique, well-made toys that they never see in huge, impersonal, one-size-fits-all stores. These are the toys you will find on the 2008 Best Toys for Kids list and in your local neighborhood toy store," notes Kathleen McHugh, President of the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association.

"The people at your locally-owned toy store are from your community. They hand-select a wide range of safe, highly creative toys you don't see advertised," continues McHugh. "These toys may not be the ones your kids bug you to buy them, but they will be the ones they play with over and over."

Toy store owners who are toy and play experts have selected the 2008 Best Toys for Kids (listed below). The list includes toys for infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and older children, and guides parents to toy selections according to different types of play. Details about each toy can be found at www.astratoy.org.

INFANT (Ages Birth-12 Months)

1. Busy Bee Discovery Flower (ALEX) Ages 6 months+

2. Together Tunes Too (Neurosmith, manufacturer & Small World Toys, vendor) Ages 6 months+

TODDLER (Ages 1-3 Years)

3. Wheely Bug (Prince Lionheart) Ages 1.5+ (small size), and 3+ (large size)

4. Dexter the Digger (WOW Toys, manufacturer & Ravensburger, vendor) Ages 1.5+


5. Magna-Tiles: 3-D Magnetic Building Tiles (Valtech Co.) Ages 3+

6. Magnetic Mosaics Kids (The Orb Factory) • Ages 4+

Preschool Pretend & Play (Ages 3-6 Years)

7. Road & Rail Play Set- Railway Station (Plan Toys, Inc.) •Ages 3+

8. Stablemates(TM) Red Stable Set with Two Horses (Breyer Animal Creations, Div. of Reeves International, Inc.) Ages 4+


9. Circus Ring (Playmobil) Ages 5+

10. Excalibur Castle (Le Toy Van, manufacturer & Hotaling Imports Inc., vendor) Ages 3+

11. 24-foot BluTrack Challenge Pack (MJ Sports dba BluTrack(R)) Ages 3+


12. Sticky Mosaics Jewelry Box (The Orb Factory) Ages 6+

13. Wikki Stix Tons of Fun (Omnicor Inc. / The Wikki Stix Co.) Ages 3 – 11


14. Schoenhut 44-Key Baby Grand Piano (Schoenhut Piano Company, Inc.) Ages 5+

15. Learn to Play Piano (Melissa & Doug) Ages 3+

Games FOR YoungER CHILDREN (Ages 3-7 Years)

16. Zingo! (ThinkFun, Inc.) Ages 4 – 8

17. Qwirkle (MindWare) Ages 6+

Games FOR OLDER KIDS (Ages 8 Years+)

18. Set Cubed, a Curious Game of Clever Connections (Set Enterprises, Inc.) Ages 8+

19. Bananagrams (Bananagrams) Ages 7+


20. Wind Power — Renewable Energy Science Kit (Thames & Kosmos) Ages 8+

21. Geyser Tube (Be Amazing! Toys) Ages 8+


22. The Original Flying Turtle (Mason Corporation) Ages 3 – 12

23. Mini Super Sports Disk (OgoSport, LLC) Ages 4+


24. Multi-colored Ball of Whacks (Creative Whack Company/US Games Systems, Inc.) Ages 8+

25. Karito Kids World Collection (Karito Kids by KidsGive) Ages 3+

The 2008 Best Toys for Kids list, along with an easy-to-use Toy Store Finder for locating independently-owned toy stores, can be found at www.astratoy.org.

About the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA)

With more than 1000 members, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is the largest association for companies in the toy and children's products arenas. ASTRA and its member companies promote the growth of the toy industry by delivering products that serve children's best interests. For more information, visit www.astratoy.org.

SOURCE American Specialty Toy Retailing Association