A cool thing about going online to shop for toys is being able to visit a lot of stores without being on your feet for hours, an advantage that grandparents can appreciate. You'll enjoy the experience more if you sometimes leave the online big-box retailers and venture into smaller sites. Here are some to check out. Each began with a specific vision, and each has its own market niche. It's a different experience to shop for toys at these online sites. I think you'll enjoy it.
1. Kazoo Toys
This online store's slogan is "Toys that play with imagination!" You may need a little imagination to use this website, as its search features are limited. Carrying over 200 brands, Kazoo is likely to have that perfect toy, if you can just find it. You can get free help from a personal shopper via phone. Kazoo carries two of my favorite doll lines: Karito Kids and Groovy Girls. Look for Imagiplay play sets, baby toys from Manhattan Toys and Zoomorphs, the animals with interchangeable parts.
Click on a type of toy in the left hand menu, and this website shows you a selection, with the left menu changing to one that allows you to "refine" for category, age, price, brand and country. Fun to browse and easy to use, Moolka could become one of your favorite Internet shopping sites. To get free shipping, order $60+. Moolka has a lowest price guarantee, but read the fine print. Look for animal-building sets by Bloco, gear sets by Quercetti and cool open dollhouses from Plan Toys.
On Oompa's website founder Milanie Cleere discusses searching for toys that are sturdy and brand-free. Her search took her to Europe, the source of most of this website's offerings. Oompa's website promises "No batteries. No blinking lights. No cartoon-themed toys. Period." The site has good search-narrowing features and free shipping for orders over $65. Look for whimsical stuffed characters by Pooki & Co, funny beanbags from Fatboy and marble runs by Haba.
As its name suggests, Fat Brain Toys excels in the area of educational toys. You can click on a link for American-made toys or a link for toys that are suited for special needs children. You can shop by category or age or use the Gift Wizard to help you make a selection. There are lots of ways to narrow your search, but the Fat Brain system isn't as intuitive as some others. Fat Brain Toys offers live chat and user reviews to help you make your decision. Look for Dado Cubes building toys, Flower Fairies by Safari Toys and Hexbug robotics.