I boxed them up and plan to dump and donate them. The energy in the play room felt better immediately-- more inviting and calm.
Was I raised with only wooden toys? No. Am I a hippy? Definitely not. Am I environmentally conscious? I'm working on it. Bottom line is, I HATE PLASTIC TOYS, especially battery-guzzling plastic toys. I have tried to politely mention this to family & friends before parties...yet, still more plastic crap. I realize I should be grateful they come to the party or even bring a gift...yadi-yadi-ya. I don't make a gift registry (maybe I should), or refer them to educational stores, or hand out catalogs (like my friend)... but there are a plethora of alternatives. Books, balls, art supplies, blocks, puzzles, instruments, puppets, dress-up... Even Target has a natural and retro toy section...with Lincoln Logs, Tinker Toys, blocks, pounding benches, metal Slinkies...
Wooden toys feel better, they smell better, they look better (to me), and my toddlers would probably say they taste better. They're quality-- heirloom quality (many are handmade). They inspire imagination and creativity...hence, they will play with them much longer than a plastic toy that loses their interest quickly. Last but not least, they are safe and environmentally friendly. They sometimes cost a bit more, but are well worth the investment. Used wooden toys are just as great. So are the dolls made of felt or soft flannel cloth & and play silks... or the old metal toys, like the old metal Tonka dump trucks vs. today's junkie plastic alternatives.
If you prefer bright colors, they make some beautiful non-toxic painted and lacquered toys--prettier than any plastic toy.
Honestly, I don't care for plastic toys because they just seem cheap to me. They are built to be disposable. They require dictated play. And children automatically want to know, "What does it do?" They are intended to entertain and distract our children...but an assortment of them just over-stimulate. I hate all the beeping, vibrating, talking, singing chaos. I'm not one of those paranoid parents, but natural is always better than synthetic.
After doing a little more research today I also learned some things. I found that PVC, the most toxic plastic, is the soft type of plastic most commonly used in children's toys (especially infant toys). Heavy metals (like lead and cadmium) are added to make the rigid type of PVC more durable for use in older children's toys. Yes, the chemicals can be absorbed through the mouth and skin, and can show up in the bloodstreams of children. These chemicals are also hormonally active and can interfere with normal growth and reproductive development in children. Lead causes damage to the nervous system, leading to decreased learning ability and behavioral deficits. Children are especially susceptible because they absorb and retain lead more easily and because their brains are still developing.
Wooden toys are memories that last a lifetime. :)