ASTRA Announces the Launch of

CHICAGO, Oct. 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Get ready to discover the Woohoo! factor! The American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) announced today the launch of, a new website designed to celebrate the thrill, excitement and fun of finding and playing with today's best toys.

Packed with expert advice on toys and play for children of all ages, the new website encourages parents to embrace the "woohoo!" factor of shopping and playing locally. Created as an online resource that connects parents with local toy stores, specialty toymakers and toy industry experts, features the most up-to-date information on creative and educational play, toy trends and news, child development and where to find the best merchandise on the market.

"Our goal is to help families discover the "woohoo!" factor - or the delight, joy and satisfaction - of finding and playing with today's top toys," said Kathleen McHugh, President of ASTRA. " is designed to provide parents with a clear and comprehensive overview of what to look for when selecting a toy, how to maximize the benefits of playtime and where to find the best selection of high-quality merchandise."

The new website includes the following content-rich, easy-to-use features:

Featured Articles
Local toy stores and industry experts will share original articles on a wide range of topics, including creative and educational play, toy trends and child development. How-to features will present parents with craft tutorials, game ideas and other inspirational projects. Sample articles include: Everybody Wins with Family Game Night, Five Games to Build Math Skills, Get Creative without the Toxins: Art Materials Buying Guide and Importance of Imaginative Play. New content will be posted weekly.

Toy Store Locator
To help parents find the best selection of specialty toys on the market, a "store locator" search function will allow users to find their own neighborhood toy stores by city, state or zip code. The oversized search window is posted on the top of the home page for quick and easy access.

Play News and Resources
Relevant consumer news from ASTRA, such as a list of the annual Best Toys for Kids winners and details on Neighborhood Toy Store Day, will run for parents' convenience. In addition, families can sign up for a weekly e-newsletter.

Calendar of Events
The Event Calendar will announce upcoming events in local toy stores and information on fun, play-inspired holidays such as "Play Tag Day" and "Teddy Bear Day." Information on ASTRA's Neighborhood Toy Store Day and details on Shop Locally events will also be featured.

Toy Buying Guide
Guided by research from child development experts, the Toy Buying Guide provides parents with tips on how to spot a "good" toy and includes product recommendations by age through eight-years-old. A special section on toys for children with disabilities is included as well.

For additional information, visit the website at

Founded in 1992, the American Specialty Toy Retailing Association (ASTRA) is a non-profit organization that provides leadership and resources to grow the specialty toy industry. As the largest association serving the specialty toy industry, ASTRA members include independent toy and children's product retailers, specialty toy manufacturers and industry affiliates. For more information on ASTRA, please visit