Dec 11

The Perfect Toy Collection

I get a lot of emails about our toy collection and I figured it was time for a post since it is almost Christmas. I love kids toys. Buying them is one of my favorite perks of being a parent. My boys are growing up and now requesting not-as-cute toys (ahem, Angry Birds) but they still play with the toys we’ve collected over the years and I’m really happy with our strategy for buying toys. Our philosophy was to invest in quality collections that are well-made, beautiful, and clever. In addition I make sure that we store our toys low to the ground and in clear storage bins so the kids can access them. There have been a few that I loved that they just didn’t play with. We gifted them to friends who use them all the time so I think it definitely depends on the child and their interests. I should also point out that I don’t for a second believe a kid will be better off with these toys than the kid who is playing with kitchen bowls and cardboard boxes. I just happen to have a weird amount of knowledge about these toys and wanted to share our favorites. Here is a giant round up of all our favorite toys (I’ve starred our absolute favorites.)

Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day


Vintage Robots | This goes under the category of “adults like them as much as the kids.”  When I have to travel for work I usually pick one up to add to the collection instead of buying a throwaway toy at the airport. They aren’t great for little kids because they can break, now that they are older they play with them more. Before we kept them on a high shelf and would pull them down on special occasions. | Vintage Robots |

Schleich Animal Figurines | These are really well made animal figurines that are great for collections. We’ve slowly amassed a nice set of them over the years and the kids really love them. It’s great to add one to the collection (or use as a bribe) when you are shopping with the kids at Target.  We have a set of dinosaurs and animals. | Animals | Dinosaurs | (animal photo found here)

Musical Toys | I these when Moses was a toddler and they’ve faired really well over the years. |Red Accordion | Drum | Toy Guitar | Red Piano | Xylophone |
Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day

Planes Trains and Automobiles | We got the little wooden cars years ago and they are still going strong. They are really fast little toys and one of my favorites. The fire engine we got in France and I think it is the perfect “classic” firetruck. The helicopter, plane, and rocket are a French brand they have started carrying in the US the last year or two. They are magnetic and super clever little toys, highly recommend them! | Wooden Parking Garage | Wooden Cars | Wooden Firetruck | Train Set | Magnetic Helicopter | Magnetic Airplane | Magnetic Rocket|

Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day

Dress-Ups and Disguises We have a collection of masks and capes and wigs in a big closet. I like the Melissa and Doug Dress-ups, decent quality for the price. We always keep wigs around and the animal masks we got in France but they sell some online. | Animal Masks | Super Hero | Glasses and Wiggling Moustache | Cowboy Hat | Pink Wig | Yellow Wig | White Wig | Brown Wig | Fireman Costume | Pirate Costume | Doctor Costume|

Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day

Art and Coloring Supplies | I still love the Ikea Art Easel and we’ve become huge fans of these coloring books since a friend gave us one for a birthday last year. We discovered this German chalk a few years ago and it’s the only kind I buy. The colors are amazing compared to the pastel colors we are used to. The Kid Made Modern brand is so great. My personal favorite are the watercolors. | German Chalk | Kid Made Modern Watercolor | Best Coloring Books Ever | Ikea Easel | Cray-Pas Oil Pastel Set|

Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day

Building Blocks | My kids are really into blocks and build towers all the time which is why we have multiple kinds. | Kid O Colored Cubes | Wooden Stepped Blocks | Color Chart Blocks | Lego Duplos|

Building the Perfect Toy Collection | Oh Happy Day

Puzzles | I always make sure every toy has a place so this puzzle rack is a must-have. There are so many good puzzles out there these days. | KID O Shades Puzzle | Giraffe Puzzle | Alphabet Puzzle | Green + Blue Puzzle | Magnetic Letter Board | Cats Puzzle| Puzzle Rack

What am I missing? Do you have favorites that aren’t included here? We’ve never had board games (because of lack of space) but now I’m now the hunt for a great board game collection. Any suggestions?
That’s about it for now, there are a couple more categories I wanted to cover like stuffies and big toys but I ran out of juice. I will add them tomorrow!


  • this is fantastic. i’ve been searching for good toys for my little one for days. it’s very hard to find toys that aren’t plastic/aren’t made in china. i especially love the magnetic kits.

  • Alison says:

    Great list! FYI the link to the Animal Masks isn’t right – it goes to an Amazon search for “Plan Toys Cars”.

  • Leith says:

    This is such an amazing list, thank you! These toys are so cool and great for boys and girls! Love it, and finally know what to get my nieces and nephews! – Leith

  • Giulia says:

    Our kids really enjoy their wooden playkitchen and food. We also like the large cardboard houses/cafes or ice cream trucks that are availabe. They also like science toys such as bug kits, binoculars, microscopes, etc and classic games like twister, memory, mikado.

  • Jesse says:

    This is very helpful! i have so many ideas for my son, but this is so well curated you’re really helping me take the guess work out of it!

  • What a gorgeous collection of toys! I’m adding the art supplies to my amazon shopping cart right now…I wish my daughter was more into blocks because those are just gorgeous!

  • kokonut says:

    Such a great collection ! I especially love wooden toys :-)

  • Ilana says:

    What a great list, thanks Jordan. My son has quite a few of this list already. I also love the green toys brand, Eco friendly ‘non offensive’ coloured recycled plastic toys. Their fire truck is really cute! Speaking of, I have to buy the firemans dress up you posted but the link isn’t working! Please let me know. Thanks xx

  • Kate says:

    We love Clue “Museum Caper”. Best version of Clue in my opinion! :) They don’t make it anymore, so I got ours on ebay.

  • Olivia says:

    our favorite board games are cooperative- everyone works together to win. in Haba’s orchard game you try to gather all the fruit before the crow gets it, and in Richard Scarry’s busytown game you everybody races to get to the island [together] before the pigs eat up your picnic. they’re both great fun!

  • Cassie says:

    This is the best list ever! Question-do you know if all Targets sell the schleich toys? Are they in the toy department? I was there today and couldn’t find them, the workers had no idea what i was talking about and I couldn’t find them on!

  • Jennifer says:

    I too have checked multiple targets for the Schleich animals and have never found them. I have only ever found them at high end toy stores, and then they are very expensive. I love them though and usually get one or two as stockng stuffers for my girls.

  • This is awesome, thanks! My little guy is one so just about to grow into some of these toys. Was ogling the Schleich animals just today but so expensive! Was thinking id keep an eye out for a secondhand set but building the collection one by one is a great idea. Getting one of those easels, too.

  • What an incredible list of quality toys (e.g. the kind that will be used for hours on end). Our daughter is increasingly into imaginative play, dress-up, and arts & crafts since she has started preschool. Thanks for all the wonderful gift ideas!

  • Giao says:

    Great list, Jordan. My kids enjoy playing with LEGOS, Battleship (non-electronic), and Snap Circuits (made by Elenco).

  • Rebecca says:

    My girls (ages 7 and 4.5) love the Busytown board game. My husband and I are into playing grown-up strategy board games, and my 7-year-old has learned to play Ticket to Ride with us, which is a set-collection game, and earns extra points for geography (we play the US edition, but there are Europe and other maps available, too, from Days of Wonder). She’s tried to teach her younger sister, but it hasn’t caught on yet :)

  • Traci says:

    Check out Nova Natural Toys site for some terrific ideas on board games. My son, now a teen, grew up without t.v., in the Waldorf tradition, and we played board games a lot. The German games, with the wooden pieces are simply wonderful. We like them so much, we’ve kept them.

  • Monica says:

    My boys were forever in the castle/knights phase and we love the treehaus castle blocks to go with regular blocks and the knights from Schleich.
    Board games we love (I have a bookcase devoted to this passion) are: Labyrinth, Enchanted Forest, Catan Junior (when they get older Settlers of Catan), Scarry’s Busytown, Sneaky Snacky Squirrel, memory (there are beautiful versions), No Stress Chess (best way to learn chess!), marble solitaire, Risk, Stratego, Dugeon, and Munchkins…

  • Vanessa75004 says:

    Thanks for sharing this great list!
    My oldest son (3 1/2 yo) loves the game Operation; he is playing a lot too with his wooden playkitchen.
    And my friend made a beautiful San Francisco map playmat (Ella Lou brand) that both of my kids enjoy (my other son is 14 months).

  • Kara says:

    I too would love to know where in Target the Schleich animals are located…
    Would be so great to purchase them there! Your collection is amazing.

  • Erin says:

    Target used to carry Schleich but stopped a couple of years ago. Wal-mart now carries Schleich. Hobby Lobby and Michael’s have Safari brand animals which are good as well and you can use the 40% coupon. My kids love both brands. Magformers are one of our favorite toys as well.

  • Tamara says:

    I love your list. I am such a big fan of childrens toys too.
    Once of my favourite brands which I discovered in Europe is GOKI.
    The make the very best wooden games for children.
    We have a 3D Tic Tac Toe, Giant Mikado sticks, Master logic (like mastermind) and I recently purchased Chinese Checkers for a future gift. We go back to these games again and again.
    My daughter also has a little wooden box of dress up bears from this brand too.
    I also purchased my 7 year old son a wooden robot puzzle by Areaware called Cubebot.
    Two other favourite games of ours are both from Djeco. Magnetic Battleships (my son was playing this at 5 yrs old and much nicer than the plastic commercial variety) and Artistik (a game which sees your drawing funny monsters. You choose a funny shape to trace and then take it in turns to roll the dice. The number on the dice tells you how many eys, arms, legs etc your monster needs.)
    I think I know too much about toys too!

  • Rachael says:

    The single best toy we’ve ever found is a set of MagnaTiles (invest in the 100-piece set to start). We originally bought them for our four-year-old son’s birthday, but our older and younger children ALL love building with them and literally will play with them the entire day if given the chance. Total lifesaver for me in the summer when the kids are home from school. :-) We love the clear ones so that you can do all kinds of things with them like build houses for dolls, race tracks for cars, etc. Totally addictive and you can make an amazing number of different structures, and they are SO strong that we’ve built towers that are as tall as an adult.

  • Annita says:

    I love this list! We have collected a lot of Schleich figures as well. I have found them at small home and garden stores (mainly farm animals). My kids love to play Sequence Jr., Mancala and Parchesi.

  • Brimful says:

    Great list Jordan! We are super into Schleich at our house too. I’ve been impressed how well their barn and stable have held up over the many years of play. I agree that Janod has great toys…although recently their manufacturing as changed and quality has gone down. Unfortunately, many of the European toy brands are now only designed in the native country and made in China :(. As for board games for your boys. I highly recommend the classic version of Chutes and Ladders. My children love it! It comes in a nice square tin, which is much easier to store than a long rectangle box.

    Another good one is Chinese Checkers…great game, classic clean design:

  • Janice says:

    We love Schleich…we get ours at Walmart!
    The building blocks are great! Do you have Tegu magnetic building blocks? I’m considering them for my 5-year-old.

  • sarah heat says:

    Scrambled states of America. Even my four year old knows all of the states because of this game.

  • Becky Thomas says:

    I recently bought a cute vintage parcheesi game at a thrift store even though I didn’t know how to play. My family now LOVES it! The board itself is gorgeous and it is definitely where the inspiration for the game Sorry! came from. Great fun for adults and kids, don’t rule out those classic games!

  • Amanda says:

    It’s not a typical board game, however I think you and your family might really like Dixit. It’s a bit like an art Apples to Apples — but much more fun (IMO) :)

  • What a great collection! I love shopping for toys as well. Funny enough, I came across that red accordion in SF while visiting in high school. I brought it home with me and now my kids play with it!

  • Lindsay says:

    Loved this post! There really are wonderful toys out there if you look around. Ever since I read an article in Coastal Living about the build-up of plastic all over the globe, I’ve been avoiding plastic toy purchases whenever possible.

  • wolfie says:

    FYI, I ordered that rocket from amazon for my girls and it was recalled in Europe — choking hazard. You may wish to remove it from your list. Thanks, Amy

  • Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the tip about the animals at Walmart. Not sure I can bring myself to brave the crowds at my Walmart, but it good to know!

  • lyn says:

    We love buck, buck, moose– fun for all ages, pengaloo is fun too even little ones can join in- its like memory but with penguins, sorry is my sons favorite (they also make a vintage version), and junior monopoly (they make a few different versions i.e., arcade, party etc..) We have a ton of other games but these get played the most. Along with the classic checkers and chess which we are trying to teach.

  • such a cute collection of toys! my little man is at the cardboard boxes/tupperware/pulling things out of drawers and stacking them phase… but is just getting more into cute toys, as well! man i love that red wooden piano! we have a full sized piano which he loves to plunk away on but his own little mini one would be so cute! i like the idea of the ever-growing collection of tiny animals, too!

  • Sarah W says:

    I am so excited you did this! Just the other day I searching your old posts trying to find those blocks, because I want to get them for my kids for Christmas but I could not find them. So this really saved the day! We love board games at our house! I saw someone mentioned Chutes and Ladders and we also love that game. We have an old Scrabble Junior game that was mine when I was a kid and my daughter and I love to play that together. She also has a game called The Ladybug Game that my in-laws gave her and it’s actually really cute. We love Candy Land too!

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