How We Choose Products
at the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio
Companies submit products to us all year long. We review the submissions, weeding out products that are unsafe, unsound or obviously unworthy. Promising products are then kid tested by families nationwide. Finally, these results are considered as part of the overall evaluation of the product. The best of the best receive our year end Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards.
Unlike publications that rely exclusively on the judgement of kid-testers, our reviews take kid-tester's response to a product as one of the many factors to be considered, along with educational and play value, safety, age appropriateness, and other factors. We also factor in the feedback we receive from parents about the toy including the packaging, instructions, ease of assembly and over all play and fun value of the product.
Why not rely just on kid-testers?
What would the results be of kid-testing in a supermarket? Your basket might be full of heavily advertised convenience foods and candy and ice cream, but low on nutritional balance. We want to make sure your basket for play is also balanced, so our reviews give you the opinion of our editorial staff, informed by kid-testers and their parents.
About our Safety Requirements:
We require that toy companies verify that each toy they submit meets current federal and California safety standards (click here to review our safety verification form) and that they verify that the toys have been tested in an independent third party lab. We are delighted that the majority of companies have complied with our standards. We do not conduct this type of testing.
What happens to the toys:
Many of the toys are sent to our network of family testers. In all cases the families that test toys for us are allowed to keep the toys or donate them. We never take toys away from our testers-that's just mean. We also give lots of toys to charities here in New York City.
At the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio we don't take entry fees from companies we review. Some guides charge companies to list their product: we don't. Most magazines rely on advertising from the very companies they review: we never have. We can tell it like it is, because we don't have to worry about companies pulling their ads. You can trust our kid, parent, and educator tested picks.
We are never paid to look at a product. In fact we started the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio with the mission to provide objective reviews (good and bad) about the products we receive. The concept of accepting entry fees seems to us to run counter to that mission. We also do not take ads directly from manufacturers. In this new on-line age, we have started running google ads. This means that you may see toy retailers or manufacturers posting ads but we do not solicit ads from any company. There is no direct advertising available to the companies we review. At the request of our readers, we have added a click through to Amazon. As a member of their affiliates program we do get referral fees.
You can't buy an award from us. Our awards are respected by consumers, manufacturers, and the media-because they know it's the real deal. We see thousands of products throughout the year and very few actually make their way to our award lists. If a company wins an award, they are not required to buy anything from us. If they decide to promote their award by using our trademarks, we do require that they purchase the seals from us or a license. When we first started, we had no awards - but everyone asked that we not only review, but rate. So we started giving awards and within weeks we were having products arrive in stores that had our "seal" on them - even on products that we had not reviewed. As a result we are pretty strict about the use of our award seals and how they may be used.
In the end, it is our name on the line. We take it seriously.
We started with the mission that we would take the hassle out of finding quality products for your kids. We would write about the good, bad and ugly in toyland... and we still do.
Criteria We Use In Evaluating Products
What is this product designed to do and how well does it do it? What can the child do with the product?
Does it invite active doing and thinking or simply passive watching?
Is it safe and well-designed, and can it withstand the unexpected?
Does it "fit" the developmental needs, interests, and typical skills of the children for whom it was designed? What message does it convey?
Toys can say a great deal about values parents are trying to convey. For example, does the product reflect old sexual stereotypes that limit children's views of themselves and others?
What will a child learn from this product? Is it a "smart" product that will engage the child's mind or simply a novelty with limited play value? Is it entertaining? No product makes our list if kids find it boring, no matter how "good" or "educational" it claims to be.
Is the age label correct? Is the product so easy that it will be boring or so challenging that it will be frustrating?
Are the instructions clear and easy to follow?
Is the packaging impossible to open?
Ease of Assembly. If you need a PhD in Engineering to put a toy together, it's unlikely it will make our award list!