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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
My Girl's Dollhouse
(Good Toy $399 Score:)

A wow-wee (pricey) over-the-top 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide dollhouse that's big enough to use with American Girl and other 18" dolls. Our testers couldn't get over how enormous this pretend setting is when fully constructed.  Our parent testers thought this 100% pine wood frame went together well. The front of the house has a design --but here's the deal.  SAFETY NOTE: You have to use the SAFETY STRAP included to prevent this oversized structure from tipping over. So the design on the front isn't something you're going to see once you've put it together and secured to the wall. Of course this means that this is also a dollhouse for playrooms with lots of space. The product is marked for kids 8 & up, but we know it will be purchased for kids much younger - and even tall 8 year olds will need a stool to reach the top. So the safety strap is essential.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Corolle Les Classiques Nursery High Chair
(Corolle $44.99 Score:)

A white and pink highchair that comes with not only a cushion for your doll but with the option to convert the highchair into a table and chair. Dolls 12" to 17" will fit comfortably in this chair that provides an added prop for pretend play. 

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Prettie Girls Lena
(One World Doll Project $22 Score:)

A new collection of fashion dolls has just stepped onto the runway. Inspired by her childhood love of Barbie and a career that started with designing dolls of color for Mattel, Stacey McBride-Irby has just introduced Valencia, a Latina from Mexico City and Lena, a Business Girl from North Carolina. Like women of color, the Prettie Girls dolls come in varying skin tones and hair. Lena, the Business Girl is 11.5 inches tall and big on working out and other sports. She comes dressed for an active life style. They say 3 & up, we'd say this is going to be better for 5's and up who have the dexterity to deal with the fine details.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Prettie Girls Valencia
(One World Doll Project $22 Score:)

A new collection of fashion dolls has just stepped onto the runway. Inspired by her childhood love of Barbie and a career that started with designing dolls of color for Mattel, Stacey McBride-Irby has just introduced Valencia, a Latina from Mexico City and Lena, a Business Girl from North Carolina. Like women of color, the Prettie Girls dolls come in varying skin tones and hair. Valencia, the Athletic Girl is 11.5 inches tall and big on working out and other sports. She comes dressed for warm weather and an active life style. They say 3 & up, we'd say this is going to be better for 5's and up who have the dexterity to deal with the fine details.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Squigz
(Fat Brain Toys $29.99 - 49.95 Score:)

A fun new construction toy that will stick onto any smooth surface thanks to the suction cup designs on the various shapes. They’re made of silicone and come in bright colors. We had a fun time building with them on the counter top, throwing them on to the ground to see which would stick to the wood floor and then throwing them at the wall (that was harder than we thought it would be). Comes in sets of 24 or 50. Marked 3 & up, but more like 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Backyard Safari Critter Shack
(Backyard Safari Outfitters $12.99 Score:)

Kids can collect and observe their live finds in this clearview housing that works with wet or dry conditions. The clear view container is water-tight and has a mesh lid so critters can breathe. There is a sturdy carrying handle. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Backyard Safari Mini Scoop Net
(Backyard Safari Outfitters $9.99 Score:)

Our testers fought over taking turns over who would use this sturdy net to catch moving things in their backyard. We don't usually recommend toys that involve fighting, but in this instance we simply suggest buying two. Great for catching pollywogs, butterflies, lizards or whatever. The lightweight net is perfect for wet or dry tasks and like your old Ivory soap...it floats! 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror
(Mattel $69.99 Score:)

We're not really big fans of toys for apps. That said, if you have a child who loves pretend, make-up, has access to an i-pad, and you have an extra $70 to spend - you will want to know about this latest Barbie interactive toy. The actual toy is a small plastic vanity with lights on either side. In addition to an i-pad, you'll need batteries, too. There is a palette of make-up on the platform and a magical applicator. The makeup is not real--but has colors that you select, but I'm getting ahead here. The mirror of the vanity is your ipad. Just be sure it's really securely in place. You'll need to download the app and now the fun begins. For any kids who have dreamed about putting on lots of makeup (but knows they'll get in trouble for invading mom's makeup) this is really a fantasy world. The app takes your picture and then you can get busy adding eye shadow, lipstick, blush...you name it.  Remember the palette of makeup that wasn't really make-up?  You can select any color and brush it on with applicator. Blue lips, purple eyes, green rouge - whatever you can imagine, you can put on.  There are fun masks and pre-made face art to explore as well. The app allows you to save your "face art."

Our general problem with such App gear? Something feels a little off about recommending toys that require a $400+ tablet to play. There's also the issue that since kids spend enough time playing on tablets and smartphones, do we really need to buy toys that encourage them to stay on longer? We think not so much. Screen time of any kind is screen time. Just like TV time, video game time, handheld gaming...this is not a new debate - just new technology.

With all of those reservations - we know this toy will be a HUGE hit with a certain audience. It's well executed and fun to play.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Hearthsong Connectagons Glow-in-the-Dark Celestial
(Hearthsong $29.99 Score:)

ongKids use their creativity, eye-hand skills and problem solving to build a stabile construction with the 157-piece set of glow-in-the-dark connectogons. Put the pieces in sunny place all day and they will glow well into the night. There is no right or wrong way to build with this set of different sized disks that can be redone again and again with ease. Begin with the10-inch base with a glow-in-the-dark full moon. An open-ended construction set that also doubles as a pleasing night light. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
University Games The Very Hungry Caterpillar Counting Floor Puzzle
(University Games $13 Score:)

There are all kinds of fruits and veggies to count on this colorful floor puzzle with 26 giant pieces. Put the numerals in order to make a 10 foot long finished puzzle. Good for counting skills as well as knowing and naming familiar foods. All the healthy things that Very Hungry Caterpillar loves to nibble on. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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