Plush. They’re one of the most diverse groups of toys out there, and they all stem from one common denominator- the fact that people love them. Past, present, and future, plush toys continue to be adored and desired for countless reasons. As children they become our best friends and constant companions, as adults they are a source of fond memories or delightful intrigue.
It seems only obvious, then, that we would compile a list of some of the coolest plush toys of the year. There are a number of reasons we chose the toys we did. Some of these have made the list because of how soft and snuggly they are, some because they are so incredibly unique, and some for being outstanding in terms of development and education (to name just a few criteria.) After plenty of research, and even more time spent testing out all the products, here they are!
UglyBuddies: The Ugliest Plush Of 2012
What’s better than one UglyDoll? Two UglyDolls! Better yet…one that’s smaller than the other, and stuffed into a pouch! Choose from a variety of well-known UglyDoll characters teamed up to make UglyBuddies. There’s OX and Ice Bat, Babo and Babo’s Bird, Wage and Babo and Bop ‘N Beep and Jeero-to name a few. One character clutches a mini version of another character in a pouch on their tummy for double the ugly fun. Watch out…It’s hard enough saying no to an UglyDoll, and nye impossible saying no to an UglyBuddy. Each duo is soft, squishy, and totally hideous (in the best way possible.)
Squishables: Most Huggable Stuffed Animals
Round and squashy, Squishables are one of the most huggable, smooshable plush toys out there right now. They are essentially giant, round, fuzzy stuffed animals. There is an extensive variety of creatures to choose from (and I mean extensive) that come in four sizes-micro, mini, squishable and massive. There’s everything ranging from narwhales to dragons, cthulhu to octopus, panda’s to hedgehogs…you name it, you can squish it. These are simply dreamy to take a nap with, curl up on to read a book, or just as a straight up cuddle buddy.
Giant Microbes: Prescription Plush For Laughter & Learning
If we asked you if you wanted the Pox, Giardia, or E. Coli, what would you do? You’d probably run clear in the other direction before any other words could be exchanged-which is why we’re passing this information on via the internet. This way, you can find out what we’re talking about instead of just making a dash. When we mention picking up The Flu, Mad Cow, or Rhinovirus, we aren’t talking literally-we’re talking about Giant Microbes-plush toys that look exactly like real microbes, only millions of times bigger. They’re incredible tools for learning, encouraging hygiene in our youngsters (hooray), and also great gifts for someone who needs something to laugh about. Laughter is, after all, the best medicine.
Alphabeasts: Creative Plush For Basic Learning
Children learn how the world works through play, and it’s important to cater to that. The creators of Alphabeasts understand that importance, and have come out with creative plush monsters that cater to the imagination and playful nature of youngsters. The ‘Beasts are a line of characters ranging from A to Z that provide an alternative to traditional methods of learning the ABC’s. Kids are much more likely to retain what they learn when they’re having fun, and that is the brilliance of the Alphabeasts. Memorize all the goofy names, learn about their world, and start having an Alpha-blast with all 26 of these neato monsters.
Dinoz: Best Prehistoric Plush
Dinoz may have been one of my favorite stuffed animals to review in the last few months. They are a line of beyond cute dinosaurs that are covered in the softest corduroy and weighted down with bean filled bottoms. They would look incredible in any nursery or children’s room, and are high quality as well. There are multiple sizes of some of the Dinoz, which proves useful if you want to take it on the go (that way you don’t have to haul a giant T-Rex to the grocery store and back.)
Yes, I am partial to dinosaurs to begin with, so of course I will be fond of the wonderful Dinoz. But that bit of bias aside, they were just plain impressive. This was an opinion shared by others who may not, well, be as obsessed with dinosaurs as I am.
Boo The Worlds Cutest Dog: Possibly The Cutest Plush Dog Ever
Until the annual 2012 Toy Fair, I had no idea who or what Boo was. The last I’d heard about a dog being skyrocketed to fame due to irresistible looks was Mr. Winkle, and that was in Middle School when a girl in my class wore a Mr. Winkle t-shirt. It’s embarrassing to admit, then, that when the P.R. representative said ‘you’ve heard of Boo right? The world’s cutest dog?” I replied “Yes, yes, Mr. Winkle.” Anyways, in a nutshell Boo is considered to be one of the most adorable canines out there, and he has amassed fans and followers all over the globe. You may not be able to have the real Boo (sadly) but you can now bring home a super soft, loveable plush version of him.
Angry Birds Space: Most Popular App Based Plush
Angry Birds have invaded space…and our homes! To honor the newest branch off the original Angry Birds App, plush are being released of the new Angry Birds Space characters. They’re a little different than their earth bound counterparts, but in a good way. We thought they were more unique, and therefore more fun to collect/play with. They’re great for just about anyone who’s a fan of Angry Birds, child or adult, and would make an equally good addition to a room or an office space.
Cloud B Tranquil Turtle: Most Creative and Soothing Sound Machine
You could go out and get a little white noise machine… or…. you think outside of the shell a bit and choose something else. Something like…The Tranquil Turtle! It is shaped like a sea turtle, and it doubles as a night light and a white noise machine. It emits the calming sounds of waves washing up on shore, simultaneously lulling your child to sleep and keeping them “distracted” while they drift off.
There is a dial to adjust the brightness of the light as well as buttons for volume control. There is also a function in which you can stop the movement of the light, or turn off the sound but keep the light on. It struck us as a very pleasant design that functioned wonderfully.
Howly Owls: Uniquely Handcrafted
So much of what we buy is churned out from a factory nowadays, it proves a challenge to dig up something that is crafty and unique (and made with a touch of love and a dash of hominess to boot.) That’s one reason why we were excited when we discovered Howly Owls, sweet stuffed owls with a handmade look that are, better yet, actually handmade. Creator Emma Louise first started making little stuffed pigs dubbed ‘Piggie Wiggies’ which in turn sparked the idea of Howly Owls. There are 2 full sized plush and 6 keychain plush that have already hatched and are available now.
Biochemies: Creative, Inspiring, and Educational.
Biochemies were developed by a PhD student of Biology in San Diego, California, who is exceptionally passionate about science education and changing the way many cultures view it. From this passion, Biochemies were born. What are they exactly? They are sweet little plush versions of DNA molecules (yes DNA molecules are sweet) with small magnets safely embedded inside of them. The magnets are places in the plush so that they connect in the same places their real life counterparts would. Therefore they form an accurate representation of the bond the molecules have. There have been 4 released so far, and we’re hoping for more soon!
MushABellies: Fun From The Future
Well, maybe not really the future, but still, futuristic nonetheless! 4.5 million MushABellies collectible plush have found their way all over the world, and now, they’re going to be accompanied by one of the neatest and newest trends in App technology -augmented reality (A.R.). It blends the game world and reality to create a 3-D MushABellies character “in front” of you. It requires a simple App and a smartphone device, and in seconds you’ll have a little MushABellie ready to be manipulated in the three dimensional world. There are also games that can be played with the MushABellies, as well as six new characters (Heckle the Hedgehog, Buzzie Bee, Mungo Monkey, Racket Raccoon, Finless Frog, and Conan Cow.)
Gruffalo: Best Book Based Plush
It’s awful to look at really, this thing called the Gruffalo. But read the book, and then take another look at this stuffed beastie. It may be that after your kids (and you) are fans of the story, you’ll begin to see the appeal in the plush.
A book character coming to life is neat to see, and when the depiction is accurate, it’s wonderful. This is the case with the Gruffalo, who is as horribly hideous and frightening in the plush as he is illustrated in the book. Boogers (or a wart), scraggly whiskers, orange eyes and tiny pupils…is this really something you want perched by your child’s bedside? That’s up to you, but once we read ‘The Gruffalo’ we decided it might not be such a bad thing after all.
GUNDimals: Most Realistic
Wild animals look so cute…so cuddly…it’s a sad, sad conundrum that they are really quite the opposite. In spite of this knowledge, people everywhere still have the urge to snuggle one or play with one.
So you can’t bring home an orangutan to play with or a leopard to curl up next to-but you can bring home a GUNDimal-realistic stuffed animals with lovely detail and an off the charts cuddle factor. There is a variety of species to choose from, and the line includes more than just wild animals. There are also dogs, puppies, kittens, pigs etc. Each one is made to look similar to the real thing, right down to the whiskers or twitching nose tip. There’s a beautiful choice to be made here with GUNDimals-what kind of animal do you want?
Fruit Ninja: A strangely addicting game…
The App called Fruit Ninja is odd, simple, and so wonderfully, completely addicting (all the traits that make up a good App right?) In it, players basically slice through fruit to satisfying squelching, squashing, swooshing sounds. To bring it to life, there are now plush versions of the fruit-complete with satisfying sound effects. They, like the game, are addicting in a weird way. Yes, I know, it’s fruit, but it’s so freaking cute! I just want to smoosh it! They have little black eyes and mouths that open to reveal the inside of the fruit and are super soft and well…plush. I have to say, they’re one of my favorite App plush out there right now.
Melissa & Doug Meadow Medley: Accurate Animal Sounds (finally!)
Not only is the Meadow Medley gang super cute and cuddly, they’re also helpful learning tools. They are basically a line that consists of 8 animals that kids will be getting familiar with at a young age. There’s a calf, a pony, a duck, a frog, a puppy, a lamb…you get the picture. Each one not only looks (for the most part) like the real animal, they also make whatever sound their real life counterpart would-and the beauty of this is the fact that the sounds actually sound accurate. Not crackly, not shrill, and not like a person pretending to be an animal. They’re a great way for little ones to learn what a cow, cat, etc. really says.
BuckleyBoo: Multi-Staged Development
BuckleyBoo is one of our favorite plush toys on this list. We stumbled upon their booth at the 2012 Toy Fair, and since then we’ve been in love. Created by a Mother-Daughter team, BucklyBoo’s are a line of sweet, snuggly buddies that also double as a multi-staged learning toy for youngsters ages 15 months to 4 years. After experience with their own children/grandchildren, the founders of BucklyBoo saw the value that their idea held. Kids love buckles-so what could be better than a toy that comes with them? Equipped with a series of changing buckles and colorful ribbons, they are not only fun, but help kids while they develop small motor skills, dexterity, and expand their cognitive understanding of things such as matching patterns or colors.
MiYim Jane Goodall Collection: Saving the earth, one plush at a time.
Supported by primatologist and humanitarian Jane Goodall, these plush are made from entirely eco-friendly materials that are safe for your child and the environment. I loved them. Not only are they sweet and soft and cuddly, they’re unique. They’re realistic, but not too realistic, and have a very specific type of cuddle factor. By that I mean they’re not floppy and squishy, they’re firmer than your average plush, and it’s a refreshing change.
Patch Buddies: A Buddy for Totin’ Along
Sending a little one off to school, camp, or the like can be tough. Often times, one of the things that helps the young ones the most is bringing along a comfort object- usually a stuffed friend. But do you really want your kid dragging their all-time favorite stuffed animal off to school with them? After all, more often than we’d like things get lost or stolen, and that can be heartbreaking. So how about a buddy that’s built into a backpack? That’s exactly what Patch Buddies are-funny, cute characters that come tucked into a backpack and made to help along those awkward transitions. They also provide a more practical alternative to bringing a beloved toy to school. In elementary school I, for instance, i toted along a small tapestry that I had made (yes, I wove on a loom at a very young age) and when someone took it, I was devastated. I never thought I would recover. For that reason, among others, I recommend Patch Buddies. I did get the tapestry back, by the way.
Squaredy Cats: Not squared to be unique.
Squaredy Cats are exactly what the sound like- square cats. Yes, they are little plush perfectly cube shaped kitties. The neat thing about them though is really all the different characters. Each cat has its own name, attributes, design, and encouraging saying on the side. For example, ‘Midnight’ is a black kitty with a sleep mask with the saying “not squared of the dark” on her side. They really press positive self-esteem messages as well.
Lamaze Toys: Awesome For Infants
Infants and babies primary sense is touch. Then comes vision, tracking bright colors and patterns etc., hearing, smell, and taste. Lamaze toys are designed so that they play into the month by month development of your child and how they interpret the world. There’s a range of plush for just about every milestone-but our favorites were the ones developed for 0-5 months. Each toy is colorful with some sort of tactile detail-filled with beads, crinkly material, rubber teething shapes and so on. It can be tough finding something that keeps you’re babies attention for too long, but we’ve found that the Lamaze plush outlast most other toys in terms of engagement.
Super Sprowtz: Encourages Good Nutrition
Few things (if any) will actually turn your child from a picky eater to one that loves vegetables, but the Super Sprowtz are going to do their best to be the first to do so. Taking many forms (including plush puppets) the Super Sprowtz are a group of vegetables with extraordinary super powers that may be granted to your child-if only they eat them. For example, Colby Carrot has super sight. He also contains nutrients that will help you gain super sight as well. There’s a storybook out about this line of fantastic veggies, and in the back it explains what makes which vegetables so healthy-a refreshing touch for children, who tire of simply hearing “eat it. It’s good for you.”
Sidekix: Always There When You Need One.
Kick ‘em, flip ‘em, zip ‘ em, stick ‘em is the motto for Sidekix- wonderfully versatile little plush balls that are more than what they appear to be. They can act as a ball, a ‘hacky sack,’ a decoration on a bag or even things such as bike handles, or an entertaining little gift. There are three lines-barnyard, safari, and ‘best friends.’ As an example, there is an egg in the barnyard line with a crack running down the middle. What’s in it? Unzip it and fold out a tiny yellow chick-then when you’re done, zip it back up into a ball. There’s a fluffy brown ball that folds out into a puppy dog, and even a globe that contains a panda bear. We loved their versatility, size, and the originality behind each one.
Mr. Monster: Build-Your-Own-Buddy
Doing fun, crafty, hands on projects with kids bring about some of the most delightful times. There’s nothing like getting creative and building something together-and when the product is something that can be loved and played with, even better.
So abandon your macaroni plates and give Mr. Monster a chance. He comes as a blank slate with a heart on his chest covered in dots that are numbered. Using the fabric provided, you push the fabric through the dots to create a fluffy, frilly heart. But don’t feel limited to the supplies that come with him, try mixing and matching the colors or using your own materials.
We’ve come a long ways from the time when the word ‘plush’ implied, for the most part, nothing but a teddy bear. Now we have augmented reality that brings plush to life, giant stuffed microbial germs, stuffed animals fit to backpacks…it’s enough to make any adult wish they were a kid again, and we’re just scratching the surface.