ToyTalk is a product/review style website written by freelance journalist David Smith. He started the blog in 2006 when two young children arrived in his life and he thought it would be a good idea to study, review and share information on toys that his boys (and your kids) may want to get their hands on. The blog is published by UK-based Huckleberry Media, which is also supports a sister blog about children’s books.
Unlike most product/review style blogs, this blog is a bit different because it isn’t just a list of item after item and the relevant stats for consumers to consider. There are interviews with toy manufacturers, editorial opinion pieces, and a toy tracker for those who cannot wait for the next American Girl or British Child release. The content is so well rounded that the site is interesting even if you aren’t an industry insider. I suppose that is because it is done up by an actual writer who sees a toy not just as a toy but a slice in a much larger environment. It is incredibly informative and well done.
The blog is very colorful and interesting, easy to navigate and filled with information. The bright pink header contains site navigation tabs, and the three columns below are chock full of stuff. Far right is kind of the Advertising House — lots of big colorful graphics that take you to places to shop for the toys. Far left is the site categories and navigation information. And the middle is where you find the entries.
Another point that I’d like to raise about this blog is that I do not get the feeling that it is a pay-per-review blog. I think the “advertising” section of the site speaks volumes when it outlines that graphics of a certain size and links and rates are all that there is to the back-end angle of money making on this site. A lot of blogs like this are not real honest review sites because the writers are getting paid for their opinion, so they’ll write a favorable review of a cruddy product. The “Special Coverage” portion of the advertising page is as close to pay-per-review as I think the site gets. I honestly get the feeling in my reading through of this blog that Huckleberry Media isn’t being paid for positive reviews and their opinions. And that is refreshing in a blog for cash kind of universe. If I’m wrong, they sure hide it well.
The only thing missing is a calendar to jump back to previous entries. When I review a site like this, I don’t like to read through the categories… I like a linear walk through from beginning to today’s date. Instead I went through the tabs at the top of the screen for news/reviews/features/interviews, focusing on those topics independent from one another. A walk through from the new High School Musical product to an editorial on whether or not we should pay more for toys if they’re made safer for our kids would be interesting.
Overall, this is a great industry blog. If I were a buyer for a toy store, I’d be in here all the time. As a parent, my kids are older, but I do have younger nieces, nephews and children of dear friends who may be looking for something as a gift, and this site is helpful in the category breakdown. I rate it a 4.0 and hail it as probably the best product-review style business site I’ve seen yet during my tenure here at The Weblog Review. NULL