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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Blue Orange Battle Sheep Game
(Blue Orange Games $24.99 Score:)

We had mixed responses to this game...very strong on both sides. The object of the game is to occupy the most number of pastures with your sheep. You do this by blocking off spaces or "pastures" with your sheep. A fun strategy game but it does take a certain amount of time to learn how to block and acquire depending on how you move your herd. Comes with 16 pasture tiles, 64 sheep chips (16 of each color). Designed for 2-4 players 7 & 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
Mattel Hot Wheels Super Loop Chase Race Track Set
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

Our tester's mom wrote "They love it. No big surprise there. The cars go upside down." Unlike earlier wall tracks it sits on the ground and is powered by a unit with batteries, so it is not going to damage wall surfaces or possibly fall on your kids. "It's straightforward to assemble as these usually are. Not fast to build but great directions." This tester had an earlier wall track version that was, as she put it... "amazing and a bit more interesting...better for more than one kid to play, but when a large ball bonked it, the large heavy part fell off the wall and removed some wall surface (in my mom's house). This one is durable, simpler & safer." The 3-foot loop comes with only one car and takes 4 D batteries. Kids can connect this to other Hot Wheels sets. Unlike the wall track sets that take no batteries and run on gravity and momentum, this is pretty much a high speed "load and watch" toy. 5 & up.

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

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Awards
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 Awards
Faber-Castell Gel Crayons
(Faber-Castell $15 Score:)

Delicious! That is the best word to describe what rich beautiful color you get from the 12 Gel Crayons you get in this set of washable gel crayons with intense colors. The blue gel crayon pictured here is just one of a dozen brilliant colors. They are nothing like any crayons you have ever used. An exciting new medium that will invite kids to develop their creativity as well as their dexterity. Using big arm motions these crayons glide over the paper leaving bright lines that are as bold as tempera paint without the problem of dripping. They do not blend as well as ..

paint, but they do offer an easy way to encourage kids to explore color, line and expressing themselves in non-verbal ways. The set comes with 12 buttery crayons in chunky plastic that turns up as the color is used. Includes red, yellow, orange, dark blue, grass green, black, silver, neon yellow, neon orange, neon pink, neon blue and neon green. Color on textures and it shows through. They say these can be used on windows and mirrors and washed off; we have not tried them that way.These are marked 3 & up, but we suspect these make a better choice for slightly older kids. For interesting ideas on how to use these and other art projects visit greatartstartshere.com

Also fun, but water-soluble, try Faber-Castell Gel Sticks that can be applies like crayons and then wet them with water and paint brush to transform drawings into water color painting.

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

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2014 Awards
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 Awards
Playmobil Wild Life, Noah's Ark
(Playmobil $95 Score:)

Not surprisingly, this is subtitled, Noah's Ark, even though a lot of the animal pairs you might have expected to be here are not. Noah and his wife are here and the Ark could take a lot more passengers. That said, there are 101 pieces in the box and plenty of play potential. You may want to add the African Savannah elephants and rhinos to the other African animals in the set, i.e. giraffes, lions, zebras, monkeys, parrots, and ostriches. There is food on board, a ramp for getting off and on. A classic play setting for the ages. 4 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Madame Alexander Play Travel Friends
(Madame Alexander $16.95 Score:)

Dolls from around the world have been around for ages. Your own collection may have been strictly for display and dressed in traditional costumes of each country. However, 21st Century foreign dolls are meant to be played with and are dressed in modern attire. A charming doll of India wears silk-ish clothes but not a sari although she has an embroidered elephant on her sleeveless blouse. All of the collection comes with abundant hair to style and joints that bend for active playing. These are definitely girl dolls not fashion dolls like Barbie. 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
Disney Planes Fire Rescue Attack Launcher
(Disney $19.99 Score:)

Ready, aim, fire! Three light-weight foam planes can be launched 15 feet with this squeeze trigger toy. It has lights and sound when the red tab on back of the launcher is pulled back. Aside from pulling the trigger, this is a toy that will get them up and running about to pick up the planes when they land. Not exactly big physical play, but more active than most. They say 3 & up, we'd say more like older 4's and up and those that have the judgment not to aim it at your favorite vase. Itís not like a dart or heavy projectile, but although the planes are lightweight, this is a toy that will need supervision.

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

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