Mother/Son Startup Toy Company Wins Industry’s Top Awards

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Receives Oppenheim Toy Portfolio 2010 Platinum Award on the TODAY Show October 12

The Adventures of Zylie the Bear

The bears are top quality, the stories are adorable and educational. Truly, what’s not to love? - Wyn at

With so many toys on the shelves these days, it’s unusual for a small start-up’s collection to create a groundswell and bubble up to the top, and yet that’s what this mother/son team has managed to do. Maybe it’s because parents and kids alike are atwitter over the fun adventures of Zylie, the main character in the brand-new line of fashionable plush toys, The Adventures of Zylie the Bear. And now awards programs are buzzing about the new collection, which has received the industry’s top honor, the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. Two of the toys, Zylie the Bear and Shen the Panda, were featured on the TODAY Show on October 12 as part of the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio’s announcement. The collection has also received Dr. Toy’s Best Picks Children’s Products Award, announced October 18.

When Stephanie Oppenheim presented Zylie and Shen—both 18” jointed stuffed bears that wear fashionable clothes—as winners of the Platinum Award on the TODAY Show, she introduced the bears as “… having the most amazing stylist. They almost look like they have on Tory Burch clothes …” The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio is the only independent consumer review of children's media. Award-winning products are selected by noted experts in child development and education, and further tested by the most objective panel of judges - kids.

Ms. Minton launched The Adventures of Zylie the Bear in April 2010 together with her son, Matt McCarty. Zylie, the face of the brand, is unlike other teddy bears because she is designed to be dressed and played with as if she were a doll, with her unique 18” jointed doll-like shape lending itself perfectly to wearing fashionable clothes and accessories. Her character is that of a daring, inquisitive 12-year-old girl from Manhattan. Zylie’s story is played out in a series of children’s books, and follows her travels around the world as she meets new friends who become part of the collection; her first stop is China where she meets Shen the Panda. The company’s current products include Zylie the Bear and Shen the Panda kits, both of which include a bear, clothes, accessories and a book, and 4 separately-sold outfits. Next year, the company will roll out a new adventure to another country, complete with a new character, new book, and new additional outfits for Zylie and Shen.

Children love the fact that such soft, cuddly teddy bears also have stylish clothes inspired by the adventures they go on. Parents love that the stories, while fun and entertaining, are also educational, teaching readers about the countries Zylie visits and the cultures she encounters. The company works with a prominent learning scientist to help develop the educational aspects of the brand.

The inspiration for Zylie came a number of years ago when Ms. Minton observed that her daughters played with teddy bears as if they were dolls, dressing them in doll clothes and pushing them around in baby carriages. Since the bears had rounded tummies and short legs, however, the clothes never fit well nor looked good. When those same daughters were ready to head off to college, Ms. Minton revisited the idea and started work on a prototype.

As the company heads into its first holiday season, it is planning a series of exciting promotions and opportunities to win the bears. These promotions and contests will be available through its website,

Zylie and her friends are available now on, the company’s website, and at Smart Kids Toys of Greenwich, CT and the Toy Chest in Ridgefield, Wilton and New Canaan, CT.


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Mary Beth Minton
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