Toy Insider Review Criteria

“So how do you pick the best toys?” As toy industry experts and reviewers, we face this question a lot. The Toy Insider team spends hundreds of hours testing toys 365 days a year, posting new product reviews on daily, and releasing seasonal gift guides twice a year. There’s so much that goes into our toy testing process, and we’ve broken down our “toy science” for you here:


Play value is extremely important to consumers when it comes to purchasing a toy. In a world where every penny counts, we evaluate whether or not the product is worth the price tag. Should parents spend money on this product? How much playtime will kids get out of it? Does it grow with kids? Will it last for a day or for a year? Are there multiple ways to play? Though some one-trick pony toys are outstanding and still worth your hard-earned dollars, toys with lots of play value that meet these criteria are ones we support.


With hundreds of toys on the shelves, it’s important to give your kids unique toys to keep them busy and engaged. When we review a toy, we want to consider how original the concept is, and whether or not we’ve seen anything like it before. Is this product totally new? Is it a new spin on an existing play pattern? Does it feature cool new technological elements? Is it based on a new set of fun and engaging characters? Original, unique toys shape kids’ future and keep the toy aisles fresh and exciting.


All kids learn through play, and even the most basic, simple, and silly toys have something to teach kids. We want to know, does this toy teach kids a valuable lesson or skill? Does it improve their emotional intelligence? Does it help them interact with other people? Will it get them up, active, and moving? Will it improve their small or large motor skill development? These are all important skills, and good toys can be valuable learning tools.


Product integrity is paramount when it comes to our seal of approval. No kid wants to beg for a toy because of the TV advertisement, only to be disappointed when it doesn’t live up to expectations. We want kids to be “wowed” by their playthings, so we ask ourselves: Does this toy do what it’s supposed to do? Is the packaging and advertising accurate? Is it made from quality materials? Does the brand already have a solid reputation? Is this a toy parents can feel comfortable giving to their children? Is it both safe AND kid tough?


At the end of the day, playtime really is all about fun. We will always choose toys we believe kids will absolutely love. Toys need to be engaging, exciting, and inspire a smile. If they don’t, then what’s the point? We question, does this toy seem like it would be fun? Did we laugh, smile, or “ooh” and “ahh” while playing with it?  Do we think kids will thoroughly enjoy it?


All of the toys we review and/or consider for inclusion in our gift guides must meet our quality standards. All toys must meet U.S. toy safety standards, and manufacturers must be ready to produce proper documentation upon request. Manufacturers must be reputable, with customer service resources for U.S. consumers who purchase their items. All products must be original, new, and packaged appropriately. Absolutely no counterfeit items will ever be considered review. If any of these basic requirements are not met, we will not consider these products for review.