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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


Award
Leap Frog LeapPad3
(LeapFrog $99.99 Score:)

A new, improved, 5-inch touchscreen and Wi-Fi protected content that keeps kid safe but gives them access to more content. This is the fastest 5-inch tablet that us designed to withstand drops and such unavoidable wear and tear. It has kid-friendly web content that is 100% pre-screened and approved by learning experts and has 4GB of memory; enough to allow kids to store 20,000 photos plus a two-megapixel front and back cameras and a video recorder for young film makers. It has a built in rechargeable battery. LeapPad3 includes 10 Apps:Music player plus 10 songs; Pet Party, 5 utility apps and a choice of 1 App download. Like previous LeapPads it gives kids access to a learning library with more than 1,000 games, ebooks, and videos approved by educators. For more memory (8GB and a larger 7-inch screen consider the LeapPad Ultra XDi ($129) comes in green and pink. 3-9

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

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2014 Award
Toys R Us Journey Girls 2014
(Toys R Us $39.99 Score:)

This year's Journey Girl Dolls are off to London. These 18-inch play dolls spent last year in Paris and now they have moved on with a change in their clothes. They are still a great buy for the price and this year's costumes are spot on for riding in Hyde Park, shopping in Regent Street, sightseeing on the Thames, London Tower, Westminster and the British Museum. A multi-ethnic collection with tons of accessories and furnishings that you can add as other gift events arise. Check out Kyla, a brunette in a khaki trench coat and leggings; Kelsey, a red head in a tartan skirt; Chavonne in a denim vest and red pants; Callie with a Union Jack shirt and pink skirt; Dana in a blue and white two piece outfit; Meredith in a red trench coat and jeans. You can't go wrong with any of these playdolls for girls of 6 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Roominate Chateau
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Newest in this award winning construction set, all the makings for building a chateau with pieces for creating a spiral staircase, bunk beds and more. It has a motor and light circuits for running elevators, lamps, and windmills. The 131-piece set has walls, wheels, axles, and more. Along with ideas in the box there is a website with even more creative ideas for making the chateau run. This is more about building and less about typical dollhouse pretending. For future engineers, scientists and architects, this is the dollhouse of choice.

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 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
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
Knex Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster
(Knex $49.99 Score:)

Our twelve-year old tester took four days to complete, working approximately two hours a day. He considers this particular set very difficult and in his words, "Kids with short attention spans will take a lot longer to do this because each of the steps takes at least 10-15 minutes, and I believe there were 53 steps in this set." When asked about the age label on the box When I asked him if the 9 & up age range on the box he said, "There is no way that a 9-year-old could put this together.” He thinks that a more realistic age bracket would be ages 11+ but it would have to be a pretty disciplined eleven year old because with the rail, for example, one false move and you'd end up having to reassemble a huge portion of this." Unlike other builds, our tester felt there as not a lot he could do with it after it was built. He played with it for a few days and then it has been untouched. His mom, a teacher of gifted kids, thinks it will appeal to engineer-type kids for whom the assembly is the thrill. On the positive side, our tester reported, "One good thing about playing with this is that the little car keeps its momentum all the way down, which you wouldn’t expect since it goes upside down."

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. 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
Magformers Magnets in Motion 37 Piece Set
(Magformers $59.99 Score:)

This is a mid size variation of the big Magnets in Motion set that combines gears and magformers to build some amazing machines. It has a snap on crank handle and plenty of big and small gears with colorful discs that create optical illusions in motion. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. This interesting set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of constructions with gears. 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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