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February 25th, 2009 by Stinkhead

Step 2 is known for their fantastic play kitchens (like the 50s Diner), outdoor play tables and stylish push carts for toddlers that feel they’re too big for a stroller. They recently teamed up with Infantino and Thinkativity to help your infant and toddler grow cognitively and creatively. Check out all their cool new stuff below including new playhouses, artist tables and creative toys.

Art Tables
Step 2 has been making easels and drawing desks for awhile now, but these new sets feature new stylish looks, and added functionality. I really like the Sit & Doodle Turtle Desk. The shell opens up as an easel with a seat (so they can sketch portraits of tourists at the part), but you can also store drawings and supplies under the shell when its closed up. I also liked the All Around Art Tower as it accommodates more than one artist, and it has clips to display the masterpieces afterwards. This and their other desks are durable enough to last through a few kids, but offer functionality and styling that works great in the playroom. You can see more in our photo gallery.

Play Tables
Speaking of tables, I like all of their different play tables. Built for indoors or out, they’re strong and durable and offer a place for kids to play with water and sand. Sand? This is totally an outdoor toy. I hated sandboxes as a kid, so dirty… but that’s what makes strong adults, right? Anyway, one of the tables I particularly liked looks like a picnic table you can eat at or be artistic on… but pull off the table top cover and you have a play area for water and sand. (But the cover protects the sand from rain and dirt when you’re not using it) This was one of my favorites.

Activity Tables
They also had a few stand up tables. The activity sink recycles the water so it can come out of its own faucet, it features several cups with different types of holes. But I also liked the  new Arctic Splash table that featured a squirting polar bear, penguin and walrus. There are a few others in our gallery, check out the Sand & Water transportation station, and the Water Rush Quarry that opens up and has a built in excavator to dig in the sand. You have areas for toy trucks to climb or roll, and spots to dig. And it all folds up protecting the sand outdoors.

Speaking of outdoors, Step 2 makes some nice outdoor playhouses. We really liked the Nature Station because it has a roof and a few windows, so it is enclosed, but a lot of the space is actually a yard with a fence, so it’s more open, easier to clean up and see the child playing inside. I had to try this one out (without too much persuasion actually) Check out the cool accessories you get too! There is a periscope a butterfly net, binoculars, and a play sink. I like how the child could easily imagine that they’re a Park Ranger, or perhaps a Keebler Elf. Either way, if I get cookies, it’s cool.


And speaking of play-spaces (I’m going nuts with the segues here), we were big fans of Step 2’s 50’s Diner last year… it featured play spaces on each side, and a cool spin on the traditional play kitchen. This year they have a streamlined kitchen for younger chefs (Modern Lines Curved Kitchen), a play kitchen that features two sided play (like the diner), and the New Traditions kitchen that features a round sink. I like how all of their kitchens are delightfully gender neutral in color and function, but they don’t look like they’re trying hard to be gender neutral. They’re the best looking play kitchens around. All of the doors open, and each features a number of interactive sound effects (like a running faucet, beeping microwave, or sizzling range)

Infantino makes those colorful toys that clip to carseats or strollers, and are perfect for infants. This year there are a few new toys worth mentioning.  The Noodle Teethers are inspired by licorice straws and are bouncy yet soothing on aching gums.  I liked the fuzzy dice, you could hang them on the Step 2 coup. We also liked the play cellphone that is metallic looking, so it looks closer to an actual cellphone. You can get a fake phone as colorful as you want, but that baby of yours will know that its not the real deal and likely ignore it. This may help. I need them to make a Blackberry next. Apparently they’re addictive even at the youngest of ages.
We also liked the Twist & Fold Gym… it looks and acts like a Tummy Time mat, but with one twist of the knob it folds up. So you can set it up and pack it up, all with one hand as you hold the baby in the other hand. Sweet! If only they could apply their creativity to diapers or strollers that could function with one hand. And now you can hire that one-handed babysitter you were previous weary of.

The items at Thinkativity are for helping toddlers learn and explore. We particularly liked the Storyteller toys with their rolling spools. Create your own story and then the toy reads aloud what you selected. (Kind of like robotic Mad Libs?)  I like that it builds creativity all while being self contained and easy to travel… perfect for long car or plane trips.
Check out all of the toys we saw in our Step 2 Photo gallery, and swing by their official site for more information.

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Posted in 2&up, 3&up, 5&up, 8&up, baby, Boys, crafts, event, Girls, kids, toddler, Toy Fair, toys | Comments Off on Toy Fair 09: Step 2, Infantino and Thinkativity

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