European toys have a reputation for being safe, durable, and educational. Toy experts agree that Europe has the highest safety standards for toy manufacturers. With many parents dreaming of a China-free Christmas, the trend for the past few years has been toward more classic toys that stand the test of time. Toys from Europe tend to be more costly, yet in the long run are worth the price for their use of sustainable materials. These toys can easily be passed to the next generation. It’s more efficient to buy a few classic pieces than to try to buy out the entire toy store on cheap plastic toys that will not only end up broken in the closet, but could also pose potential health hazards. For a list of green toys, including some manufactured in the U.S. see our top ten list of green toys. Here are some picks for classic toys made in Europe.
Vulli Sophie the Giraffe Teether
Vulli is a French company who have been in business since 1946 and specialize in nursery items and toys for babies up to 6 months old. They manufacture 60% of their products in France including their legendary Sophie the Giraffe Teether which has been their classic toy for 40 years. Sophie is made of 100% natural rubber and food paint and is Phthalate and BPA free so parents can feel at ease without worry of toxins. With lots of places for baby to grip, soft to the touch, and a squeaker when squeezed, Sophie stimulates the developing senses of babies. Highly popular, this toy has received an average 4.5 star from 819 customer reviews on Amazon. Though higher in price than your average teether, most parents agree it’s worth it with many saying it’s their babies’ favorite toy. Recommended for ages 0-12 months.
You can get Sophie the Giraffe Teether on Amazon for $17.49.
Haba Fantasy Blocks
Founded in 1938, Haba Toys is one of the oldest European toy companies and a leader in manufacturing non-toxic wooden toys. Promoting sustainable forest management, Haba blocks are made of solid beech wood from German forests and painted with a water-based, solvent-free dye. The Haba Fantasy Blocks are made in Germany and have won the Dr. Toy 100 Best Toys Award as they develop fine motor skills and promote independent play. With such high quality, these blocks could be passed down from child to child and even on to the next generation. Amazon reviewers have given them an average 4.5 stars. Recommended for ages 1 and up.
Haba Fantasy Blocks sell for $35.99 on Amazon.
Käthe Kruse “Grabbing Toy” Camel
German toy and doll maker, Käthe Kruse has created a line of grabbing toys for infants. All of their toys and dolls are handmade in Germany of organic materials. Parents have raved about their quality, saying they stay looking new much longer than other toys, even after washing. The camel grabbing toy features an eye-catching design that develops hand-eye coordination. Machine washable and recommended for ages 0 and up. Measures 8.5″ tall.
The Käthe Kruse “Grabbing Toy” Camel sells on Amazon for $20.00.
Playmobil Family Camper by Playmobil
Playmobil is a classic German toy company who have won countless awards, including safety awards. These toys get played with the most in my house. Though most of their toys are made in Germany, a small percentage are being outsourced to other countries, such as their take-along line. However Playmobil is still committed to customer satisfaction and knowing that parents value the “Made in Europe” label. The Playmobil Family Camper is made in Germany and is one of their most popular pieces. Features a variety of accessories to develop imagination and pretend play. Recommended for ages 3 and up.
Sells on Amazon for $42.19.
Orchard Game by Haba
The Orchard Game from Haba has been their classic flagship game for over 20 years. With no single winner, it promotes co-operative play and is simple for young children to learn. Players roll the dice and collect fruit from the matching color tree before it gets eaten by the raven. Made in Germany with Haba’s high-quality standards and materials. This is a game that parents won’t mind playing with their kids. Amazon reviewers have given it a 5 star average. For 2-8 players and recommended for ages 3-6.
The Orchard Game is sold on Amazon for $35.99.
Mini Wooden Beetle Car by Vilac
Every child needs a classic wooden car and this one is made in France by Vilac who has been crafting wooden toys since 1911 and makes a whole line of vehicles perfectly sized for little hands. This retro-style beetle car is made of solid wood and finished with a non-toxic lacquer. European wooden toys are built to last and will sustain years of use. The Vilac Mini Wooden Beetle Car is recommended for ages 3 and up.
Sells on Amazon for $10.99.
P’Kolino Triangular Crayons
Crayons are often associated with America, but Europeans have been making high-quality crayons since the late 1800s. P’Kolino Triangular Crayons are made in Europe. Jumbo sized for a long life, they are non-toxic and ergonomically designed for an easy grip by pre-schoolers. The triangle shape prevents the crayons from rolling off the table. They come in a durable container and are not wrapped in that messy paper. One reviewer on Amazon said they color smooth and with vibrant color.
You can get a pack of 12 P’Kolino crayons on Amazon for $5.39.
Quercetti Georello Kaleido Gears
This gear set by Quercetti is made in Italy of durable, non-toxic plastic. Quercetti has been making educational toys in Europe for over 60 years. We had a gear set in our house that got a lot of use, but continuously ate through batteries. The Quercetti Georello Kaleido Gears is a hands-on system where the child turns the crank to make the gears move. With 55 interlocking pieces that come in 3 gear sizes, kids can experiment with all different combinations. This toy stimulates creativity and intuitive reasoning. The manufacturer’s recommended age is 3 and up.
Sells for $22.48 on Amazon.
LEGO Harry Potter Hogwarts Game
There’s a reason why LEGO is the fifth largest toy manufacturer in the world. They have a reputation for making ingenious and durable toys that kids spend hours upon hours with in creative and educational play. As a European company, they follow strict safety standards and most of their components are made in Europe, specifically Denmark, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, however some components are outsourced to Mexico and China, though none of the actual “bricks” are made there. The LEGO Creationary Games Series is all the rage for this holiday season. While a lot of the LEGO sets are geared toward boys, the Creationary games, including the Harry Potter one, are perfect for both boys and girls. Kids get to build their own game board which LEGO says takes about 20 minutes for the experienced LEGO builder. You can customize the board to your liking and preferred difficulty level, changing up the game every time you play. The object is to collect four different items from the four classrooms and the first to turn in their homework wins. For 2-4 players, ages 8 and up.
The LEGO Hogwarts Game sells for $29.99 on Amazon.
Kettler Kettrike Air Navigator Trike
Kettler products are made in Germany and their line of trikes for toddlers and pre-schoolers have become popular in the U.S. The Kettler Kettrike Air Navigator is designed for ages 18 months to 5 years. For the beginners, it features a locking handlebar and optional pushbar so parents can guide while the child rests their feet on the pedals. Also features multiple frame adjustments as the child grows and a tandem seat can be added which is sold separately. The bucket in the back tips back for loading and unloading. The frame is made of high carbon steel and shipping weight is 24 lbs. Amazon reviewers have given this trike an average 4 out of 5 stars with the biggest praises being the quality construction and durability and the biggest complaint being that it is hard to pedal for some kids with the auto free wheel design.
Sells on Amazon for $219.00.