↑ With the hand-crafted texture of a family heirloom, Cuddle Buds provide huggable comfort for the pop culture-savvy young’un. Batman, Dr. Who, Harry Potter, live Yoda or ethereal spirit Yoda are a few of the screen-printed characters fashioned by Kansan Ben Rumback. Each Bud ($40) features a fabric front and flannel back and is densely stuffed for maximum durability. Find them at Wonder Fair, 803 Massachusetts in Lawrence. For ages 1-8.
‘My Little Blue Robot’
→ Books aren’t exactly toys … except for this one.
“My Little Blue Robot” ($19.99) is shaped like reading material but actually delivers an interactive experience, as witnessed by the “You can build me” call to action on the cover encouraging readers to pry out the pieces and start assembling. “Robot” is the latest from Kansas author/artist Stephen T. Johnson, whose previous books such as “My Little Yellow Taxi” and “My Little Pink Princess Purse” earned numerous design awards. Find it at bookstores. For ages 4-7.
→ Artisan Bruce Breslow has been cranking out clever and vivid marble designs for decades as owner of the Moon Marble Co., 600 E. Front St. in Bonner Springs. Aside from fun stuff like baseballs and eyeballs, the company presents some really unusual offerings, such as an “Earth, Moon and Mars” set and a fluorescent sampler. From pee-wees to 50-millimeter sizes, the marbles ($2 and up) are perfect as both aesthetic keepsakes and for the practical game of marbles, which still boasts a surprisingly dedicated underground fan base. For ages 5 and up.
One of the fads of the 1950s has been given a modernized, localized spin — literally.
HoopMamas has sold thousands of its hoops — as in hula — online at www.etsy.com ($21.95 and up). Each is custom-made in any size and color, including ones that change shade, glow in the dark or showcase wacky patterns. Collapsible and segmented hoops are available for the traveling hoop enthusiast. Almost everything at HoopMamas (including the shipping tape) is either recycled, re-used or biodegradable. For ages 6 and up.
The days of shooting a single rubber band at a sibling or co-worker have given way to a new arms race. Bandit Guns, at www.banditguns.com ($9.99-$34.95), offers hand-crafted methods to escalate such warfare to new heights, thanks to toys that can launch up to 10 rubber bands at a time or successively through rapid-fire blasts. The models Shotgun Sheriff, Pistol Pete and Daisy Derringer are designed by Bob Coulston, who proudly states all Bandit Guns are 100 percent sourced, manufactured and assembled within 50 miles of Kansas City. For ages 7 and up.