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Baltimore Goods

Best Toy Store

aMuse Toys

1623 Thames St., (410) 342-5000; 2576 Quarry Lake Drive, Pikesville, (410) 415-0000;

Trips through the aisles in pop-culture indoctrination machines Toys “R” Us or Target make us appreciate independent toy stores like aMuse. Call us snobs, with our predilection for movie-character-free toys made in snobby countries like Italy, Germany, and Sweden (and yes, even the United States—they do exist), but really, a kid will always love a toy that engages his or her imagination, with or without the Pixar imprimatur. AMuse is refreshingly free of brand and the desperation of desire that accompanies an empty spot where a Lightning McQueen product should be. It’s small enough to not overwhelm if you just need to pick up a quick gift for your or your friend’s child. The staff is super helpful, leading you to the right building set, puppet, toy car, rocket, or puzzle. And they have giftwrapping on the spot, with their trademark bright yellow paper. AMuse takes the tense out of toy shopping.

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