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Stuffed Bear Gets Seal of Approval

Mary Beth Minton knows just how special a teddy bear can be, and so does the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio . The startup toy company was recently awarded the 2010 Platinum Seal award, one of the most prestigious in the toy industry.

In honor of their success, NBC's "Today" show featured Zylie and a number of other winners. "It was the most amazing experience, especially as a startup," said Minton. "It didn't seem real until we were actually on the show." [breakhere]

With the help of her children, Minton launched "The Adventures of Zylie the Bear" out of her Greenwich home in June. Zylie is jointed like a doll — allowing her head, arms and legs to move and change positions—which has set her apart from the main street teddy bear. As Zylie's adventures take her around the world, Shen, an equally stylish panda from China, joins her. Each excursion teaches children about different cultures, maps and history. The bears cost $75.

Minton's son, Matt McCarthy, is in charge of marketing. He planned a method to use the Internet as the brand's main marketing tool.

Joanne Oppenheim, a well-known author and expert on children's toys, created the OTP in 1989. After finding little information to rate children's toys, Joanne and her daughter, Stephanie, created their own. The awards have become a level of distinction in the toy industry.

"There is a part of me that feels that Zylie was meant to be," said Minton. "But [the recent success] is also mind-boggling."

Minton and her bears also have won Dr. Toy's Best Picks and Creative Child Magazine . The bears are sold at Smart Kids Toys on East Elm Street and at Amazon.com .

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