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2014 Award
Vtech Smart Shots Sports Center
(Vtech $39.99 Score:)

Tots with big siblings who like to shoot hoops can play their own games with this low to the ground electronic hoop with a soccer net at the base. It comes with two balls for either game and responds when set by cheering and encouraging or by counting the number of times your player scores. It has an animated scoreboard and plays 50 + melodies and sounds. Our tester's mom liked that it combined active play with language and number concepts. 12 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Truck Set
(Skullduggery $ Score:)

Awesome described last yearís Max Traxxx Racing cars and the awesome-ness continues with the new Tracer Racer Truck set. With 16 feet of glow-in-the-dark track and two LED light-up trucks with lights on the bottom, kids can change the setting to adjust the type of pattern the trucks will leave on the track. Yes, like the cars the trucks leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights? Our testers loved both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse...which left a broken pattern on the track. Either way - this is another big hit. The tracks go together well and come with suction cups so that you can make two ramps and race the cars. Use this dual track set alone or combine it with last years car set and they are ready for amazing tract time. The company tells us that there is a patent pending, we just know this is sooo much fun. 6 & up

PRICE AND IMAGE TO COME

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

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2014 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Dual Loop Set
(Skullduggery $24.99 Score:)

Get ready for uber-awesome! Fans of Max Traxxx tracer racers are in for a big time glow when they set up the 24-foot light trace dual loop track and put their racers to the test! The set comes with two LED light-up cars with lights on the bottom, kids can change the setting to adjust the type of pattern the racing cars will leave on the track. Yes, the cars leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights? Our testers loved both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse,which left a broken pattern on the track. But that is not all. With this new set there is an electronic finish gate that adds a dramatic ending to each race. 6 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Hape The Challenger Quadrilla Marble Run
(HaPe $199.99 Score:)

With three spiral boards this is a step up from last year's two spiral Cyclone Quadrilla. Like all the Quardrilla Marble runs, this is a great and elegant marble run--a building toy that is more complex than most. It comes with two suggested ways of building and no doubt your young builder will come up with other ideas as well. It comes with straight and curved rails, high-velocity funnels, a see-saw, accelerators, blocks, levelers, bases and 50 marbles. Made with birch and rubber woods. The box says 4 & up, but 4's will not be able to construct this. They will play with the marbles, but even 5-6-7's are going to need adult help with building this.

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

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2014 Award
Spinmaster DigiBirds
(Spinmaster $ Score:)

Choose from various colors of these singing birds to perch on your fingers. Blow on it or whistle to it or play it with an app and your little DigiBird will sing to you. It is programmed to play 20 songs and you get 14 more on their website or still more with the app. The birdhouses are stackable just in case you need more than one singing bird. This comes with two sets of batteries, but they are hearing aid batteries and it is therefore not a toy for the very young. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Hape Play Station and Stool Set
(Hape $119.99 Score:)

A child size table and seat are what we call basic gear for preschoolers and this is a very handsome gender-free choice. A sleek modern looking wooden table and stool without any license images all over it make it an aesthetically pleasing piece of furniture to put in the family room or childís own room to be used for several years for art, puzzles, games and snacking, too. Scaled for preschoolers has a special holder for a roll of art paper that can be scrolled across the top. Art supplies can be stored in the lift up compartment of the seat. 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
Thinkfun Last Letter Game
(Thinkfun $12.99 Score:)

Deal out five of the 61 cards to each player. Put the remaining pile of cards on the table. Now the dealer turns the top card over and name something pictured on that card. All players including the dealer must now find something on one of their cards that begins with the same letter the dealerís word ended with. That player puts down her card and the next player must find a picture of something that starts with the last letter of the last word called. This is not as simple as it sounds and play can be rapid fire. Winner is the first to discard all his cards. 8 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic String Art Kit
(Ann Williams $25 Score:)

Kids can use the patterns in the box or make their own to create three string art masterpieces to hang in their room or give as a gift. The kit comes with three foam canvases, templates, 170 pins, 60 yards of colorful threads and instructions. String art involves fine motor skills, patience and creativity. Their designs include a the greeting "Hi", a peace sign and a heart. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic Spindle Weaving Loom
(Ann WIlliams $30 Score:)

A clever device that gives beginners a hands-on experience in dealing with the warp and weft of cloth making. It is a small upright loom that works like the kinds of wall size looms used for weaving fabrics and rugs. The plastic device in the kit has a shuttle lever that you must turn to shift the tall spindles after each row has been completed. It comes with a multicolored hank of yarn, some of it must be cut into long strands to make the warp (the length long lines that the weft are woven through) before you begin to weave. The end-products can be used to make scarves, pillow covers, squares for a throw...you name it. You will need scissors and more yarn for extra projects. An excellent device for learning an ancient craft that is still used in many parts of the world. 10 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic Pom Pom Kit
(Ann Williams $25 Score:)

You get an adjustable bamboo tool with three planks and two pegs so that you can make pom-poms of various sizes and quantities. In fact, you can make one or as many as twenty-four small pom-poms all at the same time. You also get 300 yards of soft colorful yarn and instructions for making everything from 1" to a giant 15" pom pom! It's a simple wrap, tie, cut and trim operation. You do not get the requisite scissors. A great craft item for 8's and up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014.

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