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2013 › Critics › Shopping ›

Best New Playful Second Street Addition
Toy Joy

... on the corner of 29th & Guadalupe, the tiny, twisted Toy Joy has sprouted wingz and landed their Hello Kitty gear ...

After more than a dozen years on the corner of 29th & Guadalupe, the tiny, twisted Toy Joy has sprouted wingz and landed their Hello Kitty gear and pregnant-lady keychains in the upscale Second Street district. And not a moment too soon, bringing some levity to all those "Downtown has no soul/what is happening to our city?" conversations that seem oh so reductive. With Toy Joy's move into the bustling bear heart of Austin, we hope other Austin staples are taking note. We work within machinations that are bigger than any one of us, and Toy Joy has the spunk and attitude to make and remake Austin into the place we adore wherever they are. That, and we can never go very long without buying a bag of unicorn farts.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2013 › Critics › Arts & Culture ›

Best Spirit of Schroeder
Michelle Schumann

... Michelle Schumann, and not just because she plays a mean toy piano (as she's shown at her annual Happy Birthday, Mr. ...

Of all the Peanuts gang, Schroeder was the most dedicated; his devotion to Beethoven and the piano outshone even Charlie Brown's unflagging commitment to baseball. We see a lot of that comic-strip prodigy in Michelle Schumann, and not just because she plays a mean toy piano (as she's shown at her annual Happy Birthday, Mr. Cage concerts). As artistic director for the Austin Chamber Music Center and its yearly summer festival, she's shown a Schroeder-like enthusiasm for music of all kinds, from Bach to the Bad Plus (including Beethoven, natch), and sought to share its beauty with everyone. Listening to her effuse about Brahms or play a Schubert sonata is to be won over to the classical cause. And Schumann went full Schroeder last December, playing the entire Vince Guaraldi score to A Charlie Brown Christmas (a treat she'll repeat this year). Her joyful, jazzy performance had our inner Snoopy dancing.

Michelle Schumann, Austin Chamber Music Center, 4930 Burnet Rd., www.austinchambermusic.org

2011 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toys
TIE: Terra Toys; Toy Joy

Terra Toys and Toy Joy have their subtle differences. Terra is more ...

Terra Toys and Toy Joy have their subtle differences. Terra is more classic and cerebral, where Toy Joy is nearly seizure-inducing in its modern, DayGlo craziness, yet both of these wonder emporiums strike the balance between fads and infinitely fun, affordable and uppity, new school and Playskool, pink and blue. Though people get old and gross, these stores' youthful spirits will endure, and they’ll still have what we like and welcome us.

Terra Toys, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C, 512/445-4489, www.terratoys.com

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2009 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toys
TIE: Toy Joy; Terra Toys

... they'll be spellbound for hours, but sneak over to Terra Toys by yourself to stimulate your own cerebellum or to find ...

Sure, you can take the kids, they'll be spellbound for hours, but sneak over to Terra Toys by yourself to stimulate your own cerebellum or to find a silicone likeness. For those near campus, check out the smiles behind the aprons at Toy Joy. It's overrun during the holidays for good reason, so we pace ourselves and go all year 'round for the best in Sanrio (Hello Kitty and beyond), Japanese candy, David Lynch-ian Chinese bird art, and plastic jewelry, followed by sweet vegan brain freeze in the back room.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

Terra Toys, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C, 512/445-4489, www.terratoys.com

2008 › Critics › Kids ›

Happiest Vegan Bakery & Cafe
Dhaba Joy

Dhaba Joy has grassy walls, glittery chandeliers, and a 100% vegan menu ...

Dhaba Joy has grassy walls, glittery chandeliers, and a 100% vegan menu of special edibles. From the Hello Kitty Cupcake to the Lavender Lemonade Freezie, the treats are made with rare originality and flair. Separated from Toy Joy by a disco curtain, this place is pure fun for kiddies and grownups both.

Dhaba Joy, 2900 Guadalupe, 512/320-0705, www.dhabajoy.com

2006 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toys
Toy Joy

... rainbows and nuns, oh my!” Behind its cheerful mural-covered walls, Toy Joy eschews movie merchandising in favor of real toys – ...

“Yetis and rainbows and nuns, oh my!” Behind its cheerful mural-covered walls, Toy Joy eschews movie merchandising in favor of real toys – gooey eyeballs, clockwork animals, and fuzzy puppets. While a location two minutes from the UT campus means it attracts its fair share of students, this independent toy store puts children first.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2005 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toys
TIE: Toy Joy, Terra Toys

Our readers love both of these Austin-based toytowns! Terra Toys offers an escape from reality. Step into colorful ...

Our readers love both of these Austin-based toytowns! Terra Toys offers an escape from reality. Step into colorful walls lined with Steiff teddy bears, a wooden Playmobil world that makes Dad jealous, and imported toys that you can't get anywhere else. Check out the kids clothes shop Dragonsnaps within. Toy Joy is bursting with pizazz, right out onto the street, inviting kids and adults alike to come in and play. Put up yer dukes with the classic fighting nuns, say hello to that certain Sanrio Kitty, and let the candy department bring you back to the days of Chick-o-Sticks and Fireballs. And the employees are the biggest kids of all, setting up funny displays, running around with all the energy and excitement of Christmas morning.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

Terra Toys, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C, 512/445-4489, www.terratoys.com

2004 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toys
Toy Joy

Don't go to Toy Joy unless you have several hours to spare. You don't ...

Don't go to Toy Joy unless you have several hours to spare. You don't have to be 9 to appreciate tiny plastic dinosaurs, masks, stickers, or Coke-bottle glasses. The store's inventory is not limited to fascinating toys; purses, clocks, candy, and jewelry are scattered throughout the entire store. If you don't walk out of Toy Joy with a pig catapult, a pack of Sour Patch Kids, and a grin on your face, you should have at least picked up a clock made of ramen and some fake facial hair.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2003 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toy Store
Toy Joy

... figures!) and still more new inventory (Necco wafers! Dino slime!). Toy Joy is the perfect mix of bizarre kitsch and genuine ...

Hand-scrawled sardonic (but good-naturedly so) warnings and didactic recommendations line the shelves here, written up by the clever employees who also are forever stocking more new inventory (Lava Lamps! Day-Glo stickers!) and more new inventory (Satan Ducks! Jesus action figures!) and still more new inventory (Necco wafers! Dino slime!). Toy Joy is the perfect mix of bizarre kitsch and genuine sentiment, filled with offerings to satisfy both the most innocent, not-even-aware-of-the-word-cynicism tot and the incredibly cynical punk rock of heart. With all sorts of wacky selections in between. Plus, man, they play great music.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2002 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toy Store
Toy Joy

This fun-loving, and sometimes twisted, toy store is fun-plus for kids and adults alike. With a ...

This fun-loving, and sometimes twisted, toy store is fun-plus for kids and adults alike. With a clutter of old favorites to the new and obscure, shoppers can find at least a dozen goodies they cannot live without. Even better, it stays open until at 11pm every night should you be driven by some strange craving for Dinosaur Slime, Silly Putty, and Sock Monkeys.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2001 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toy Store
Toy Joy

More than a mere toy store, Toy Joy is a wall-to-wall shrine to giant rubber ...

More than a mere toy store, Toy Joy is a wall-to-wall shrine to giant rubber bugs, wind-up Nun-zillas, lava lamps, Day-Glo(TM), and astronaut everything. There are old standbys, too, like Pez(TM), Frisbee (TM), Sanrio(TM), Beanie Babies(TM), and Curious George(TM) (and we don't mean that monkey in the White House). Speaking of simians, you'll be measuring couch space for their gigantic sock monkey; we know we did. All this, and Toy Joy is easy on the budget, too, with something in every dollar range, including the elusive "less than 99 cents." Bologna Bubblegum, anyone?

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

2000 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toy Store
Toy Joy

Boxing nuns, glass marbles, squishy rubber brains, wind-up dinosaurs, diffraction-gratinged gyroscopes, holographic puzzles, Pokémon and Sanrio, and skadoodles of other junior J-pop paraphernalia, balls that bounce crookedly, or beep when they bounce, or light up when they bounce, or simply bounce - this is where we go when we want our children, even our inner children, to think there's a heaven on earth. The angels can keep their silly old halos - we'll take a foil-embossed, die-cut decal of the Powerpuff Girls, thank-you-very-much.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1999 › Critics › Kids ›

Best Place To Find Santa, The real Santa
Sharps Locksmith

... it. This guy is the real thing: white fluffy beard, joyful, smiling face, big round belly, generous helpful spirit, and a ...

There is no doubt about it. This guy is the real thing: white fluffy beard, joyful, smiling face, big round belly, generous helpful spirit, and a red hat, too, but of course, he only sports that around the holidays. Norman Sharp is at his shop all year long making keys and selling locks and getting folks out of various jams. Hey, Santa can't just make toys all year long. He's in the Golden Slipper Village. (Where else would Santa make his Southern workshop?) So next December, or anytime you need to buy a lock and key, swing by and say hello. He'll give you a "HO HO HO" like you haven't heard since your childhood.

Sharps Locksmith, 507 W. Mary, 512/447-1061

1998 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Gifts - Novelty
Toy Joy

The nun collection alone (including the spark-spitting Nunzilla) is enough tohypnotize you. But wait, look over here at these weird lizard hand-puppets.No, no, come over here, check out this dogs-on-TV thingie. We can't! We're toobusy trying to figure out this 3-D lamp. Hey, and they gift wrap for free,too.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1997 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Gifts - Novelty
Toy Joy

The bright, visual cacophony and smell of new plastic makes every kid's pulse race.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1996 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Toy Store For Grown-ups
Toy Joy

... for yourself. Forbidden Fruit tempts with a different kind of toy and joy in second place. And Sharper Image takes third.

Sure, take the kid. See how much stuff you get for yourself. Forbidden Fruit tempts with a different kind of toy and joy in second place. And Sharper Image takes third.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1996 › Readers › Kids ›

Best Toy Store For Kids
TIE: Terra Toys; Toys R Us

... very David and Goliath about this. South Austin's beloved Terra Toys takes on the mammoth giraffe and makes a good show! ...

Something very David and Goliath about this. South Austin's beloved Terra Toys takes on the mammoth giraffe and makes a good show! Toy Joy, Over the Rainbow, and Anna's Toy Depot fill out the runners-up positions.

Terra Toys, 2438 W. Anderson Ste. 1-C, 512/445-4489, www.terratoys.com

Toys R Us, 4025 Capital of Texas Hwy., 512/441-7216

1995 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Toy Store For Grown-ups
Toy Joy

You said it last year, so we will, too: the little Shriners are the best. With lots of cool jewelry, games, puzzles, books, cards, shower curtains, and sundry wacky stuff.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1994 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Toy Store For Grown-ups
Toy Joy

Readers simply Lava their lamps. Great jewelry, watches, and little Shriners, too.

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

1993 › Readers › Shopping ›

Best Toy Store For Grown-ups
Toy Joy

1992 › Critics › Entertainment ›

Best Place to Have Fun When Trying Not to Smoke or Drink
High Time Tea Bar & Brain Gym

... tables full of every kind of board game, puzzle, mind toy, and neural synapse stretcher known to man. We rediscovered the ...

If you're from the generation that grew up believing it simply was not possible to have much fun without smoking or drinking, well, honey, these kids today can open your eyes. This little juice bar (?), nightspot (?) - in our day you would have called it a coffeehouse - is more healthy fun than we've had since last month's trip to Schlitterbahn. High Time has a whole menu full of juices and "smart drinks," in which are mixed special (legal!) extracts and potions to make you feel sexy, relaxed, wired, or other moods of your choice. They also offer Pacific Northwest quality espresso options. There's good, healthy food, tables full of every kind of board game, puzzle, mind toy, and neural synapse stretcher known to man. We rediscovered the joy of backgammon one night at High Time, and have been at it ever since. Not to mention the interesting art on the walls, poetry readings, and cool music. Check it out, man.

High Time Tea Bar & Brain Gym, 1501 S. First, 512/479-0307

1992 › Critics › Kids ›

Best Toy Store To Go To Without A Child
Toy Joy

Everything at Toy Joy is so touchable! And wondrously accessible to people of ...

Everything at Toy Joy is so touchable! And wondrously accessible to people of all sizes. But you can't trust little kids when they twist the knobs on wind-up monsters, squeeze on the squishy, unidentifiable and occasionally disgusting creatures or try on weird jewelry. So leave the children at home - select an appropriate guilt offering if you must - and go play!

Toy Joy, 403 W. Second, 512/320-0090, www.toyjoy.com

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