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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Pretend Play

 

 
2015 Awards
eeBoo Back to School Magnetic Playboard
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

A new version of the 'make me a story' collection that may be very helpful for kids with back to school jitters. It's metal playboard with a school setting provides the background for a classroom full of playful creatures and their wise old owl teacher. The magnetic backing on the playing pieces can be moved about as kids make up their own stories using the characters created by illustrator, Kevin Hawkes. A good prop for dramatic play or talking through typical angst over the opening of school and new situations. This is not for kids who still mouth their toys. The playing pieces are large and reasonably easy to move about. Good for story telling, listening, and pretend play.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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Fisher-Price Imaginext Ultra T-Rex
(Fisher-Price $99.99 Score:)

For dino-haulics of a certain age, this Ultra T-Rex will be a heavily promoted holiday gift. This is no toy for the timid. It walks, it stomps, it roars and goes from crouching to standing at full height—2 ˝ feet tall! But that's not all, it opens its toothy jaws and closes them with chomping sounds. Sound and motion are blended with lights on its spikes and eyes that will scare off any little sisters or brothers. T-Rex can even fire boulders from its chest and claws (they do not go far; they sort of fall to the ground so they are not a safety problem as so many projectile toys can be.) Okay, it's true, this is a novelty toy that will probably gather dust before long, and end up in the landfill; that said, we have to admit, dino lovers are going to be wowed by this gy-normous motorized plastic-saurus. It will come to life with 4 AA batteries. Marked 36 months to 8 years. We say 5-7 is probably prime time for this one. AWARD pending testing.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Jurassic World Heroes Dilophosaurus
(Hasbro $14.99 Score:)

Kids will no doubt love the sounds and lights as they press the tail of this fierce blue and orange trimmed Dilophosaurus. His jaw opens and his claws move as he roars. Small enough to use with building blocks; scary enough to add drama to pretend stories of prehistoric dimensions. If you need a lot of birthday gifts that will not break the bank, this is a likely pleaser.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus Rex
(Hasbro $29.99 Score:)

Lights, sounds and a T-Rex that not only roars, you can hear it chew and swallow. This is one of the biggies in the Jurassic line-up, a giant green T-Rex with eyes that flash, spikes on its back, and a mouth full of teeth. Tip him forward and his jaw closes with a snap and the sounds of chewing and swallowing begins. Ferocious, and how! Being from the movies he comes with a handler who is small but tough and has his own leg gripper for grabbing T-Rex from behind. If you prefer a less noisy version, consider the brownish Tyrannosaurus Rex with a snapping jaw but no sounds or lights.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hasbro Jurassic World Heroes Indominus Rex
(Hasbro $34.99 Score:)

Lights, sounds and a T-Rex that not only roars, she changes skin color on her thorny grey back when she eats. Even more frightening, you can hear her chomp, chew and swallow. This is the biggie in the Jurassic line-up, a giant grey T-Rex with eyes that flash, spikes all over, and a mouth full of teeth.  Super Ferocious, and how! Maybe a bit over the top for some preschoolers who have not sorted out real and make believe. Marked 4 and up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Calico Critters Family Seven Seater
(International Playthings $39.99 Score:)

Built for a large family of Calico Critters, this navy blue seven seater has an open air top, doors that open on either side, a door to the trunk and wheels that really roll. It has two seats up front, two full benches and car seats that fit over the benches for the littlest passengers. Of course, the passengers are not included. Don't be deceived, they show critters on the box. But if your kids collect these cute little families, this will be a welcome prop for pretend play. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Neat Oh Dinosaur Zip Bin 160
(Neat-Oh $23.99 Score:)

How to keep order to the oh so many little pieces of play? Here's a creative and playful solutio. A colorful storage vinyl box where all those dino plant eaters and meat eaters can be contained between playtimes. Unzip the corners and there's a big mat with swamps, trees and rocky ledged graphics where dramatic play can come to life. A lidded transformable box comes with two dino figures with room for lots more along with a setting for hours of imaginative play. 3 & up.  

Also nice for take along fun, Neat Oh Dinosaur Brings Along Backpack(19.99)

SNAP: Play settings and boxes for storing playthings can enhance playtime. Clean up time becomes another opportunity to sort playthings, as well. A storage box for animals, aone for vehicles another for blocks, perhaps can go a long way to staying ahead of chaos and a much better idea than one big toy box where everything gets lost in the shuffle. We like the idea of the big play setting that unzips with these Neat-oh containers.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Fire & Rescue Piston Peak Air Attack
(Mattel $34.99 Score:)

Oh, Oh! There's a fire up there in the peaks and the only way to put it out is with an air attack. Take off by pulling the charger handle and watch that Firefighter Dusty go! This is typical of all one trick toys that do the same thing again and again. It requires an adult to assemble and like most track toys this is a closed system with no possibility for variation. That said, for fans of Planes, it will probably be a wowee gift for a little while, although probably not for long. One advantage over normal race track sets, the plane is tethered so it won't go lost. A novelty toy that will have a short play life--just saying. If you have a limited budget you might want to look further for something more open-ended. 6 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Fur Real Friends Get Up & GoGo, My Walkin' Pup
(Hasbro $59.99 Score:)

Newest take on Fur Real Friends: A very cute Furry White pooch on a bright pink leash. Use the remote to take her for a walk or make her sit. If you talk to her she responds with little barks that will not scare anyone. There is also an free app that you can down load with more ways to play. For the child who longs for a puppy who may be allergic to real fur or live where pets are not possible, this is the next best choice. It's not going to take the place of a real pet, but it can be quite satisfying for a while, and doesn't need house-breaking, either. 4 & up.

SNAP: A good toy too motivate active and interactive play. Getting the puppy to move motivates kids to use fine motor skills to use the remote and large motor skills to walk the pup around. The pup also responds to your talking, so this is a toy for all kinds of active learning and play. Even recalling how to make the pup bark wag its tail tilt her head and walk involve curiosity, discovery and memory.

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 $24.99 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. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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