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Instead of Toys "R" Us, try smart local toy stores 

Baby Phases Tot2Teen, Wonderland Toy Shoppe, Wabi Sabi and Leapin' Lizards

By Phil Busse

From role and pretend play, to constructive and scientific play, toys for the younger set are going back to the basics—what Baby Phases-Tot2Teen (759 NE Greenwood Ave) owner Molly Ryan simply calls, "Back to nostalgia."

"It really has to do with imaginative play, and going back to the building blocks," she says. And she means the literal building blocks. The store carries classic wooden blocks, as well as colorful click-and-place puzzles themed with rain forest animals, farm cows and pigs, and fruit motifs. There also are slightly more complicated toys that look like rainbow-colored chemistry diagrams, and soft, spiky fluorescent balls in primary colors.

Although perhaps not as many as bike stores, Bend has plenty of options for shopping locally for kid toys, from toddlers to teens.

Wonderland Toy Shoppe in the Old Mill District (520 SW Powerhouse) brims with games and books, craft and art projects, and the locally-made "Norge Boards," colorful and customized wheeled surf-skate boards. And, downtown Wabi Sabi (830 NW Wall) is an exotic collection of quirky animals and toys, while across the street, Leapin' Lizards (953 NW Wall) stocks both the best trending and the most classic toys, games and stuffed animals.

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