The best kids’ nesting doll – Chicago Tribune


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Who doesn’t like a little excitement in their life? If you’re familiar with the phrase, “but wait, there’s more,” then you know it certainly applies to kids’ nesting dolls. These delightful dolls, also known as matryoshka, hail from Russia. Excitement builds as you crack open each doll, only to reveal tinier iterations. Before you know it, you’re left with an entire collection of characters, which return to their magical land when you reassemble them. Best of all — kids can bring these compact, tidy toys anywhere. Ready to explore kids’ nesting dolls? Take a look at our buying guide, which has an overview of our favorite sets. We’re including our top choice, Moonmo’s Panda Nesting Dolls, which consists of 10 hand-painted dolls. Considerations when choosing kids’ nesting dolls While nesting dolls are typically associated with Russia, the first known early sets can be traced back to Japan. They were purchased in a market by a Russian monk in the late 19th century, who teamed up with fellow countrymen to design Russian versions of nesting dolls. Original designs feature a mother and her children, which are still seen in modern versions. As with any toy, kids’ nesting dolls should indicate their intended age group. This is done for safety reasons. You’ll find that sets featuring larger dolls lack diminutive figurines, as they could be choking hazards. Sets with the tiniest dolls, as expected, are more common in sets geared toward older kids. Kids’ nesting dolls are plenty of fun, but did you know they’re often used as educational tools? Not only do they require motor skills for assembly, kids can flex their counting and spatial skills while stacking. The dolls also aid in building vocabulary, especially when it comes to learning superlatives and order. While traditional nesting dolls are handcrafted from wood, modern iterations are often mass-produced and made from high-grade plastic. If you prefer handmade wooden sets, invest in quality to ensure dolls nestle into one another and won’t splinter. If you’re leaning toward plastic dolls, be mindful that paint may wear off during play or fade when exposed to sunlight. Perhaps what’s most charming about nesting dolls is that they’re themed. Your set will include a collection of animals, dolls, robots, characters, or even spaceships. If you’d like to go the traditional route, rest assured you’ll find plenty of Russian-themed, hand-painted nesting dolls. There’s no standard number of nesting dolls, however, the average set contains between three and six dolls. Those designed for younger kids tend to have fewer dolls. As for older kids and adults, you might find a set with as many as 20 nesting dolls. Sets with high numbers are usually collectible and a bit harder to find as they’re often handmade by artisans. Limited sets of kids’ nesting dolls cost $10 and under. Those consisting of larger numbers of dolls and made from better-quality plastic or wood cost closer to $30. High-end and collectible nesting dolls, featuring fine detail such as foiling and engraving, can be $40 or more. Q. Can I wash plastic kids’ nesting dolls in the dishwasher? A. While they feel like they’re made from food-grade plastic, it’s best to simply hand wash these. This is especially important if they have painted designs as opposed to etched ones. Soap and warm water can cause the paint to chip, which is why it’s best to wipe them down with cool water or white vinegar. Q. How hard is it to find handmade kids’ nesting dolls? A. If you don’t know a local artisan or speciality shop, you might need to hop online to locate one. You’ll get a one-of-a-kind set, or depending on the artisan, they may be open to making custom nesting dolls for you. Kids’ nesting dolls we recommend Our take: Extensive collection of wooden pandas with hand-painted detail. What we like: Quality construction. Packaged in a drawstring bag. Popular choice for vanity storage. What we dislike: Better for older kids, as tiniest pandas can be too small for young children. Our take: Modern robot character with a traditional nesting design. What we like: Made of high-grade toy-safe ABS plastic. Each doll features different robotic detail. What we dislike: Safer for older kids, as the smallest robot is too tiny for young children. Our take: Classic wooden dolls with traditional matryoshka detail. What we like: Vibrant, hand-painted designs. Top-quality linden wood. No odor from wood or paint. What we dislike: Some dolls are easier to open and close than others. Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds. BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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