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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Faber-Castell Gel Crayons
(Creativity for Kids $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.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. 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
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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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
Playmobil City Life Furnished Shopping Mall
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

We usually avoid shopping mall setting as too commercial. Yet, let's be honest, once built, this is a terrific play setting for trying on lots of roles as sales people, soda jerks, customers, and family members. No doubt a lot of drama does take pace in shopping malls, so why not a setting they can build and they pretend in. This elaborate set comes with seven playfigures (mostly female) along with lots of clothing that can be tried on the playfigures. There is even a mirror and bags for purchases as well as registers and money and computers. There are also manikins for displaying clothing as well as an ice cream shop and some athletic equipment. Just in case they run out of cash there is an ATM ( of course) and a coffee bar, planters, to choose from in the stores. All together there are 535 pieces in this very elaborate play setting. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. 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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