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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Playmobil City Action Crane
(Playmobil $118 Score:)


Talk about big--this is stands almost a yard tall and can be operated with a hand-held remote control. The Crane can move from side to side and the trolley goes forward, back, up and down. There is a construction worker who fits into the cab. There's a forklift for lifting loads up to the construction site. An amazing 32-piece set with step by step directions for assembling. Younger kids are going to need adult help to do this. Once it's put together, it will be a fun prop for moving toy blocks. Takes 6 AA batteries that are not provided in the package. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Playmobil Wild Life, Noah's Ark
(Playmobil $95 Score:)

Not surprisingly, this is subtitled, Noah's Ark, even though a lot of the animal pairs you might have expected to be here are not. Noah and his wife are here and the Ark could take a lot more passengers. That said, there are 101 pieces in the box and plenty of play potential. You may want to add the African Savannah elephants and rhinos to the other African animals in the set, i.e. giraffes, lions, zebras, monkeys, parrots, and ostriches. There is food on board, a ramp for getting off and on. A classic play setting for the ages. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Madame Alexander Play Travel Friends
(Madame Alexander $16.95 Score:)

Dolls from around the world have been around for ages. Your own collection may have been strictly for display and dressed in traditional costumes of each country. However, 21st Century foreign dolls are meant to be played with and are dressed in modern attire. A charming doll of India wears silk-ish clothes but not a sari although she has an embroidered elephant on her sleeveless blouse. All of the collection comes with abundant hair to style and joints that bend for active playing. These are definitely girl dolls not fashion dolls like Barbie. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Planes Fire Rescue Attack Launcher
(Disney $19.99 Score:)

Ready, aim, fire! Three light-weight foam planes can be launched 15 feet with this squeeze trigger toy. It has lights and sound when the red tab on back of the launcher is pulled back. Aside from pulling the trigger, this is a toy that will get them up and running about to pick up the planes when they land. Not exactly big physical play, but more active than most. They say 3 & up, we'd say more like older 4's and up and those that have the judgment not to aim it at your favorite vase. Itís not like a dart or heavy projectile, but although the planes are lightweight, this is a toy that will need supervision.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Magformers Magnets in Motion 22 piece Power Set
(Magformers $69.99 Score:)

This is more like an add-on for those who already own a set of Magformer gears. Plug the generator into your computer with the USB cord to charge it up or into an USB adapter. Once you have it charged, your Magformers gears are ready to spin into action. This little set comes with some magformer squares and rectangles to build a platform, two lights, two gears and the big blue spinner that will activate other gears from this and other sets. Basically, it is pretty limited as a stand alone, but a fun accessory that will add to the action of gear sets in the magformer collection.  6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Playmobil City Life Furnished Shopping Mall
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

We usually avoid shopping mall setting as too commercial. Yet, let's be honest, once built, this is a terrific play setting for trying on lots of roles as sales people, soda jerks, customers, and family members. No doubt a lot of drama does take pace in shopping malls, so why not a setting they can build and they pretend in. This elaborate set comes with seven playfigures (mostly female) along with lots of clothing that can be tried on the playfigures. There is even a mirror and bags for purchases as well as registers and money and computers. There are also manikins for displaying clothing as well as an ice cream shop and some athletic equipment. Just in case they run out of cash there is an ATM ( of course) and a coffee bar, planters, to choose from in the stores. All together there are 535 pieces in this very elaborate play setting. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers 83 Piece Magnets in Motion Power Set
(Magformers $179.99 Score:)

Here is the super duper uber size Magformer set that includes gears, a generator, and all the shapes needed for building exciting constructions that move. A pricey set that will challenge and large enough for several kids to share. Like all Magformer sets, this involves science, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience and imagination. Kids are going to have good fun building machines that they can activate with the colorful gears and crank for getting all those parts moving or use the generator to get things going. There are big and little gears, colorful image plates that swirl when they turn, creating optical illusions. This primary colored set is gender neutral and comes with step by step instructions for making their models, though the pieces can be used in an open ended way for making their own creations.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Magformers 62 piece Classic Set
(Magformers $99 Score:)

This is where we started when Magformers were first introduced. It has all the basic pieces for making a dome, a square, a star and so many other geometric forms. We have to confess, we loved the dome that goes together like magic and remains a favorite at the toyportfolio. Like all of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Magformers 62 piece Inspire Design
(Magformers $99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls with hot pink, lavender, powder blue, pink and magenta pieces, this construction set had magnets embedded in plastic shapes, so it is safe, yet challenging, inviting kids to investigate in a hands on way how magnets attract and repel, how they can put the pieces together to make three dimensional designs. This big set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of geometric constructions. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. Do we think girls need special colors to entice them? No, but apparently it does appeal to some who might otherwise not do any construction play. That would be a greater loss, since developing spatial skills and this kind of thinking should not be reserved for boys only. It this is the ticket--we say go for it.  6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Manhattan Toy Delightfuls Duffy Dog
(Manhattan Toy $18 & up Score:)

A delicious armful, Duffy Dog is a taffy colored pooch with dark brown floppy ears, velvety nose and tail. His furry coat is shaggy and his body has pellets to weigh down the bottom for sitting. He's huggable as a pooch can be and comes in two sizes, large 15" and medium 12".

Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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