Owners Carolyn and Stan Giliberto of Over the Rainbow Toys, one of CBS Connecticut's Best Toy Stores of Hartford, regale youngsters with specialty toys from trusted U.S. manufacturers and importers, as well as one of the largest selections of toys from Playmobil. A cheery sales staff stands by to help parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles discover age-appropriate gifts, while warning customers against common child-gifting flubs, such as presenting second graders harboring tightrope-walking aspirations with wire and a balancing pole. Arts-and-crafts projects, science and learning kits, and both kid and adult jigsaw puzzles fill the bright store. Young ones can sputter airplane impersonations with a Playmobil Click and Go jet ($11.99) or hone pin-toppling skills with the sunny colors of a Happy Giddy bowling set. A set of frog-shaped baseball mitts ($12.99) enables kids to impersonate their favorite major leaguer in the backyard and prevents calamities in china shops. The shop also offers creative, free gift-wrapping, sparing parents the inconvenience of hiding toys by putting them inside of other toys.
The staff at TiddlyWinks Toys, a mom-owned-and-operated shop, handpicks a colorful collection of toys from Melissa & Doug, Little Adventures, and other whimsical brands. Scratch Art sets await a burgeoning artist's touch, and Groovy Girls dolls from Manhattan Toy flaunt colorful outfits and plush bodies, which dole out better hugs than dolls forged from hard plastic or sticky molasses. The staff assembles birthday-favor packages to match the guest of honor's favorite theme, and customers can even book soirees in the store. As their parents peruse the aisles, tykes tuckered from shopping expeditions can retreat to the store's polka-dotted play area.
Target Portrait Studios are operated by professional photographers who aim to help you capture special moments. Target's studios can be decorated for most any type of shoot, whether you're celebrating a mom-to-be, a graduation, or an upcoming holiday. Subjects also have the opportunity to choose their own backdrops or props, and they can even bring in their favorite toy or invisible friend. The customization doesn't end with the shoot, though?digital files can be personalized with borders, designs, and quotes and then printed in a variety of sizes.
Pow! Science! makes good on its one-two exclamation-point punch with a vast collection of toys, games, and educational kits for budding paleontologists, potential physicists, and future-mad scientists. Specialty items include the wizard stick ($15.99), which shoots genuine fog at the pull of a trigger, and the electro chemistry wiz experiment set ($17.85, ages 5+), which potentially lets young scientists invent a new type of adhesive that, unlike glue or thumbtacks, isn’t mistaken for food. The smart lab car design studio ($19.89, ages 7+) gives grade-school gearheads a pre-license outlet for their vehicular devotion, and Sea-Monkeys ($16.49) teach kids that life is created by adding dry powder to water.
Behind Magical Child's enchanting green and gold, Main Street–esque storefront, sunlight floods shelves of educational and imagination-stimulating toys, books, and games. Towering stuffed animals peer down on train sets—the way Clifford the Dog peers down on real trains—and puzzles from Melissa and Doug, alongside packages of Legos and Hasbro board games. A cornucopia of colorful wares permeates the shop, in which eyes can turn in no direction without meeting the glare of an alluring item. Racks of gently used clothing outfit children of up to 6 years of age, and a selection of more mature gag gifts and brainteasers grants older patrons diversion from humdrum office lives and asparagus-steaming socials.