Disclaimer: I was provided a SPARKBOX Toys trial box, an Austin Lloyd trial box, and an EZY Tidy Bag to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% my own.
Subscription services are all the rage these days. From jewelry to wine, bacon (it’s true) to makeup, there’s a subscription service for pretty much everything under the sun. Sifting through the countless options to find the right toy subscription for your child can be a little daunting, but Montco Moms is here to help! My kids, Miller and Maddox, were lucky enough to try two different (yet equally fabulous) toy subscriptions with two different approaches. Montco Moms, meet Austin Lloyd and SPARKBOX Toys.
Austin Lloyd is a subscription toy service right out of my hometown of Atlanta (extra points for the Georgia connection). Austin Lloyd takes the confusion out of choosing the best engaging, educational toys for your kids by pretty much doing it for you!
With an emphasis on cognitive and fine motor development, Austin Lloyd boxes are full of delightful, high end toys that are so unique you likely wouldn’t find them in the Target toy section. What you WON’T find in an Austin Lloyd box are toys containing phalates, BPA, or batteries. With 6 different ‘play levels’ targeting different age ranges (0-5 months all the way to 3 years), each box is customized to your child’s age and skill level.
When Miller’s Austin Lloyd box arrived, I was as eager to see its contents as she was. Nestled in the blue tissue was a book called ‘The Tickle Tree’, a set of Alexander Girard puzzle blocks, a Plui rain cloud bath toy, and Plan Toys Braille counting blocks. I was instantly struck by how pretty each toy was. These toys seriously nailed it on the aesthetics front. The book is full of tongue twisting rhymes and some of the most stunning illustrations I’ve ever seen in a children’s book. The blocks, which are lightweight and sturdy, are covered in gorgeous artwork that you wouldn’t normally find on the average toy. The Plui rain cloud is a completely fascinating bath toy that we are all totally intrigued with (science is fun, kids!), and the Braille counting blocks have taught my daughter (and me!) a skill she probably wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. I can honestly say that our Austin Lloyd box provided us with toys that we undoubtedly wouldn’t have come across on our own. The thoughtful, artistic toys have become staples in my kids’ play, and I appreciate their unique approach to learning and development.
In addition to providing fabulous monthly subscription boxes, Austin Lloyd has partnered with Room To Grow and Better World Books to bring their unique toys to the less fortunate. If you find your child has outgrown their Austin Lloyd toys, you can return the toy to Austin Lloyd free of charge. Austin Lloyd will then donate the toys to children in need. What a wonderful concept!
SPARKBOX Toys is another fabulous toy subscription, but with a twist. Think Netflix for toys. Each month, your child receives a box with 4 unique toys curated specifically for them based on their age and interests. Once the month is up, you return the toys to SPARKBOX and receive your next box of toys. Given the fact that children can be fairly fickle when it comes to toys, this is a great concept. When your child’s interest wanes, you’re not stuck with tons of unwanted toys taking up space. That being said, if your child absolutely falls in love with one of the toys, you have the option to purchase it at a discounted price!
So what makes SPARKBOX so awesome? Where to begin…
When you subscribe to SPARKBOX, you also receive a login for an online account where you can enter your children’s ages and interests. You can also view the personalized contents of your next shipment, and edit it if you so choose. All available toys are organized by age group, skill set (motor, social, cognitive and linguistic), and learning type (audio, visual, kinesthetic), and can be easily swapped out with the contents of your next SPARKBOX. SPARKBOX clearly puts a great deal of thought into selecting the best toys for your child, and also maintaining an inventory of the most innovative, fun and educational toys on the market.
Now, you may be thinking, ‘But….drool’. Rest assured, each toy is examined, cleaned and sterilized with eco and kid-safe products upon it’s return to SPARKBOX. They are then vacuum sealed in plastic wrapping for added cleanliness.
Now that that’s settled, you’re probably thinking, ‘But…we lose things’. In the event that your child misplaces a toy (or piece of toy), SPARKBOX simply charges a small fee.
Lastly, FREE SHIPPING FREE SHIPPING FREE SHIPPING.
Before our box shipped, I logged into our account to test out the ‘swapping’ feature. The toys that had been selected by the SPARKBOX team looked great, but I traded out one or two just to try out the feature. It was super easy, and super helpful on the off-chance you already own one of the toys coming your way. Miller and Maddox LOVED the toys they received in their SPARKBOX: a Fishing Hole Size Sorter, Pop Blocks Counting Crocodile (whom Miller affectionately named ‘Chompy’), Stacking Bear and Alphabet Fish. They actually loved the toys so much that I was concerned about the fallout from returning them! Miller helped me pack the toys back into the box (mesh bags are provided for easy packing) and I explained that we were sending the toys to other kids to play with. She seemed pretty satisfied with that – phew!
All in all, I love the concept of SPARKBOX. Between the emphasis on developmental play and the lack of accumulated clutter in our home, it’s a win/win.
Visit SPARKBOX on their website, Facebook, and Twitter. Use the code BURBMOM at checkout to receive either 50% off the first month on standard month-to-month subscriptions, or $25 off any annual plan.
EZY TIDY BAG
Imagine a parachute with a drawstring. You lay the bag flat on the ground and the kiddos play with their toys on top of the bag. What’s that? A knock at the door? Unexpected company?! Whoosh! Pull that drawstring and your toy mess disappears. It even has interior pockets for tiny toy pieces (or in the case of my daughter, contraband Dum Dums) and a handy dandy strap for easy carrying. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the EZY Tidy Bag may very well be one of the best things that ever happened to me. In case you haven’t noticed, I have pretty serious OCD tendencies.
Ultra quick tidying aside, there are other benefits to the EZY Tidy Bag. I LOVE the concept of SPARKBOX, but knowing my children and their intrinsic ability to lose things I was fairly concerned about returning the playsets in their entirety. Enter, EZY Tidy Bag. For the month we had our SPARKBOX toys, the kids ONLY played with them (and only them) on the EZY Tidy Bag. The EZY Tidy Bag was perfect for keeping the SPARKBOX toys separate from our toys, thus minimizing confusion and losin’. Incidentally, this is also a great tactic for vacations and visits to Grandma’s house.
Once we returned our SPARKBOX toys and the EZY Tidy Bag had been vacated, I decided to use it as a reward mechanism. The MOST AWESOME TOYS live permanently in our bag. When the kids have been extra awesome and deserve a special treat, out comes the EZY Tidy Bag! Conversely, if I see Miller beating on her brother with Thomas the Tank Engine’s train track, I pull that drawstring so fast Thomas didn’t even see it coming.
In conclusion, the EZY Tidy Bag has magical parental powers.
You can order your own EZY Tidy Bag here.