Toysmith Busy Zoo Activity Center

Toysmith Busy Zoo Activity Center

The Parents Magazine Battat Busy Zoo activity cube is a fun-filled learning experience. The activities are simple enough for one-year-olds to understand and large enough for them to manipulate with ease. On top, they can move animals along tracks or twirl wooden shapes along looping wire. Choices around the four sides include rotating picture blocks until they form a picture of a variety of animals; turning any one of interconnecting gears to make them all spin; opening and closing a door and window. For the future, reversible alphabet blocks show a picture and its initial letter on one side, and the upper and lower case letter on the reverse. The various finger and hand manipulations will develop the muscles later used in learning to write.

Main features

  • Five sides of fun, including animal alphabet, squiggly tracks, jungle design pattern doors, silly critter puzzle and snake along beads
  • Promotes early development of hand and eye coordination
  • Stimulate the imagination with the movable objects and colorful design
  • Solid wood construction with rounded corners
  • Designed for a child 12 months and above

Verified reviews


Child loves it, but it’s very poorly constructed

After reading the other reviews about peeling paint, I was hesitant to buy this, but gave it a try anyway. Right out of the box I noticed chipped paint and areas that had been touched up with somewhat mismatched dabs of paint. Globs of glue were noticed around the “zoo” structures on top of the box. I don’t think this will look good for long, as it already looks worn and well-loved – even though I’ve had it less than a week. I can say that my 9 month old absolutely LOVES it (I know, I know, much younger than the recommended age, but she plays with it supervised). 3rd party sellers are selling this for way too much – you can find it in the store at Target for 49.99.

Marilyn New Burnside, IL

Hands and fingers trapped in two of the sides

I bought the Busy Zoo at Target and my then twelve-month old twins liked it very much, although it did not take my son long to learn to tip it over and reach inside the hollow underside. After a month, however, both my babies started getting their hands and/or fingers trapped and pinched in the two sides with spinning wood blocks. They would cry and could not get their hands and fingers out without my help. I did not, however, have peeling paint, as others have. I took the Busy Zoo away, of course. Interesting that the description for the product reads for one-year olds, but there is a warning for choking hazards on the Amazon page, stating not for children under three.

Eugenia Sandston, VA

My Son loved it at 6 months and loves it at 12 months!

The best toy I’ve bought for my son. He loves to spin the beads and the abcs. A type of toy that is very versatile with age.I also love that I bought mine on super clearance at Target for $[…]. Still can’t believe the price.It was an amazing find.

Eve Lackawaxen, PA

Great Activity Toy

I bought this for my one year old daughter and she loves it. It comes fully assembled, and is very safe and durable. All the sides have a fun activity that keeps children busy. Older children also enjoy playing with this. I highly recommend the toy.

Sallie Jeremiah, KY

My 11-month olds love this toy

This is the first toy they have that allows play while standing. They like to stand, using it as support, and use their hands to manipulate all the “things” with their hands and fingers. This big block is loaded with “things” to move around with little hands.Mine looks just like the one in the picture. The paint was fine with no chips or any problems. The corners have a the edge taken off just like in the pictures. I can’t see how this toy will tip over and fall on them at this age, given their sizes I mean. It’s pretty sturdy.The colors, patterns and symbols all over this toy are probably good for learning many things. At this point, I don’t know if the babies learn from them but it’s hard to tell what they learn when they can’t talk yet.The downsides are obvious – this toy is relatively expensive (but probably worth it), it is big (but not alll their toys should be small) and it is heavy (you don’t want to have to pick it up and move it all the time).I recommend this toy just because it’s not like any of the others and the babies liked it right away and used it to support standing while playing.

Melba Seneca, MI

Poor Finishing Costs This Toy a Star…

My six month old grandson loves his Busy Zoo Activity Center, but I am very disappointed in the finishing techniques used during the manufacturing process. I would have expected a toy that was this expensive to have been made more carefully. I would not recommend allowing an unaccompanied child, particularly a very little one, to play with this toy.Some of the vertical edges of the large cube are sharp and, in several places, rough. Wood can cut as seriously as a knife blade, so it seems that the manufacturer should have rounded the edges or smoothed them more carefully. The beads which are on the top of the Center are finished inconsistently; some are very shiney, and others have a matte finish and uneven color. The differing finishes are mixed on the three wires atop the Center, so it does not appear this was a conscious decision on the manufacturer’s part. Further, most of the beads are nicely rounded, but there are several that are shaped more like olives – again, I do not believe this was a conscious decision. One of the bridges on top of the Center was not sanded down at all; it is very rough to the touch and could easily splinter. The animal decals on the mixed-up and match the parts side are already bubbling off; the tops and bottoms of these wood pieces are somewhat rough. However, as they are end-grain wood, it may not be possible to smooth them as well as one can do with the straight-grain side.One of the more serious problems I saw with this Center was on the side which had three serpentine pathes for different circles to descend. The manufacturer used plywood on this side and it is splintering off on two of the serpentine paths. Further, the paint on these paths is chipping away where the plywood has splintered off.My last observation has to do with the spinning alphabet side of the Center. Each letter has a picture with the name of the object under it. Many are unusual animals, not frequently associated with teaching the alphabet to a child. I liked that because it broadens a child’s knowledge. However, the “u” animal was a unicorn – the only mythical creature represented; since “x” was represented by “X-Ray” I think it would have been better of the manufacturer had used a real object, e.g. ukulele, in place of the mythical one.While this could be a wonderful toy for a toddler, I would definitely recommend being very picky about the finish before accepting final delivery on this expensive product.

Marta Port Hadlock, WA

Cute but not well made

I received this as a gift for my 7 month old son. We had to send the first one back because it had been damaged and someone did a lousy job of repainting the damaged area. The second one has lots of little flaws – poorly painted in areas, painted over tape, crooked parts. Overall, I do like it, but I wish it was better made.

Miriam Bridgewater, NY

Came up short

This is a fun toy for a child just learning to stand, but once they are a little bigger, this is just too short for them to use. It also seems top heavy and tips over easily.

Lacy Adna, WA

Toy holds interest without bells and whistles

First off, don’t pay $75 for this — I found it for about $40 on this site. Bought this for my nine month-old who is now ten months old; she loves it and plays with it every day. I worried after reading a review that a child fell on one and required stitches so I put it away for a bit. My mom (a retired kindergarten teacher of more than 25 years) told me I was being ridiculous and dragged it back out one day for my daughter. She said you would have to jump off something and land on the cube, or really be horsing around and fall hard on this to hurt yourself badly — and she’s right. All the edges are rounded and the top is covered with rubber covered wire that beads are on. A kid can get hurt on anything, and this toy is no worse than any other. The cube is so “busy” that it holds babies attention without loud annoying sounds or flashing lights. It’s a nice quiet toy that is educational and fun, and if you ask me, there are precious few of those around these days. I highly recommend it. It’s also built very well — it looks like a toy from yesteryear, carefully and lovingly crafted with hand-painted images. My mom as an early childhood educator thinks this toy is great. Well worth the money.

Terra Glen Haven, CO

Three years and going strong!

I bought this when my daughter didn’t want to stop playing with one at the doctor’s office (she was 2 at the time). She got a lot of playtime in with this, and now my son (just turned 2) has as well. My daughter (almost 5) will even play with it if her brother is playing with it. We haven’t had any craftsmanship issues, and each side has something different enough to keep the kiddo(s) entertained.

Tracy Alexandria, SD

An Extremely Entertaining Toy…

I’ve seen these before, but never really gave them much thought. When I took my 15 month old son to the doctor for his latest check-up, they had a similar version of this in the office…he was absolutely enthralled with it. Since we had to go to Wal-mart afterwards, I figured I’d check to see if they sold something similar…that’s where I found this (much cheaper I might add).For such a simple toy, my son just loves it. He’s sitting in the middle of the living room playing with it as I type this. His favorite is the bead coaster on top, but he also really likes the abacus on the side. I absolutely recommend this toy (or even something similar if this particular one doesn’t interest you). Even when he gets tired of it and moves on to something else, he always comes back to this cube. I’m VERY happy with this purchase.

Candice Menno, SD

Great toy for the 12 and up crowd

First, let me say that there are a LOT of reviewers bashing this toy for things that have occurred to their infants while playing with it. Those are through no fault of the toy, that is the fault of the parent for introducing it too early. This toy is rated for 12+, not 9 months, not 10 months, but 12+ months. There is a reason why toys have age ratings, for the safety and development of your child. My daughter has this and LOVES it… but I did get it out for her too soon, so I was one of those parents, however, I didn’t blame the toy, I blamed myself. She pulled it over and it fell on her. Once she was 12 mo she was better able to use it without having to use it for full support. I think that this the difference. She tips it over all the time to look underneath, but understands now that she needs to do that away from herself and not ON herself.Secondly, there are many reviewers bashing that their infant found it boring… again, those reviewers stated that their infants were under 12 months. I won’t repeat myself.Thirdly, there are a lot of reviewers stating that the toy is poorly made. We have this toy and it is NOTHING like described by those reviewers. Ours is perfectly painted, sturdy construction, and smooth as can be. My advice to them is to contact the company and have it replaced. Companies need to know when they are doing a poor job, and simply returning the item doesn’t do that.My daughter is now 16 months and plays with this daily. I agree that the ticket price is high, but in my opinion, compared with similar models, this one is superior and worth the money.

Elma Kilgore, NE