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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


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
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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Crayola Sketch Wizard
(Crayola $25 Score:)


We were excited when we took this out of the box. Although we are usually not fond of toys that are about tracing, this seemed a different kind of technology than tracing paper, since it suggested we could trace 3-D objects, as well as photos and pictures. Well you can and we did, but the results were mixed. Finding the right sized objects that fit can turn into a Goldilocks deal with things that are too big, too small and rarely just right. We also found that you need a steady hand and have to be very careful not to move the paper or you end up with something with extremely blurry edges. As for photos copying, that may be interesting, but not entirely satisfying. Photos that we tried to copy into line drawings looked weird. All in all, we have to say this is definitely not for young kids. Our ten-year old tester was pretty frustrated and disappointed, as were several adults who tried it. It may be interesting to some as a way of exploring drawing, though if they want something exacting, tracing paper may be a better bet. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Crayola My Virtual Fashion Show
(Crayola $19.99 Score:)

Wow! Young fashion designers can create fabulous fashions in their 20-page Fashion Sketch Book by coloring the front and back images of clothes in the book. The kit comes with 12 colored pencils. Next, they take a photo of their designs with their "device" (meaning smart phones or i-pad) and use the My Virtual Fashion Show app to customize the modelís look and accessories. Got it all set? Now kids can watch their original fashions on the runway as the 3-D model walks and spins to show front and back of their high style creations. Their creations can be saved on the device to view again and again. Instead of giving over your device, most of the designing is done on paper and then viewed on the device. Now, this is technology they gotta love, if they are into fashion! They say 6 & up. We'd say slightly older girls will be using this as more than a coloring book. Older girls will be able to add the more design elements for impressive results. Our ten year old tester said this was the most exciting new electronic art toy of the year. We have to agree.

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

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2014 Award
Spot it! Freeze
(Blue Orange Games $25 Score:)

Newest addition to the Spot it! games, a timer that really puts the pressure on players as they try to spot the matching images on two cards. There are different ways to play and two different setting on the timer that add to the challenge. However you play there is only one matching pair on any two cards, so you have to be fast. Our testers were not sure the timer would be fun for all players; it is definitely for older players. This set of cards features "temperature-charged" things such as polar bears, camels, umbrellas, beach chairs, etc. Instead of the usual round tin, the cards store in the timer, making this still an easy-to-take along game for family fun. Our testers also like the stand-alone game of Spot It Splash, no timer needed, just match up images that all relate to the water, such as boats, fish, sand castles and such. 8 to adult.

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

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2014 Award
Crayola Paint Maker
(Crayola $24.99 Score:)

Our 10-year old reviewer, who is interested in art was excited about this new take on paint that she could make herself. You get 75 color strips in three colors(red, blue, and yellow) with a color mixing guide for making custom colors. The kit also includes 15 small paint pots and labels along with base white paint and brush. Our tester's mom writes that Paint Maker "is a neat way to be part of the artistic process from the ground up." Our tester "enjoyed picking out the color combinations and was able to do the entire thing very readily on her own...getting much more satisfaction out of creating artwork from her custom creations than she would from a set of store bought paints. Each creation earned some "oohs" and "aahhs."On the negative side, though the toy is operated with a hand crank (look, Ma, no batteries!) it is a little bit loud and there were some complaints of a tired hand. That said, it was fun for a good while! From the parent's paint of view, the big bonus is that it is not too messy since the paint colors are achieved by combining little paper thin strips of yellow, blue and red pigment in various combinations within each paint pot. So, this is not an instantaneous dive in and paint material. It's more about mixing and making the materials before the painting even can begin. A refill pack is available. 8 & up

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

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