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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Holiday Princess Cinderella
(Mattel $34.99 Score:)

Although she does not light up, as the regular Cinderella does, the slightly larger collectable Holiday Princess has jointed arms, long white gloves and her gown is trimmed with silver lame. Her hair-style is also more elaborate and her tiara is more delicate that the regular Cinderella. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Fat Brain Arx Magnetic Building Pieces
(Fat Brain Toys $28.99 Score:)

An open-ended magnetic set of arcs with 24 colorful pieces. They can be used flat on the table or use the bases to build vertically in two stacks or an arching one. Happily the magnets are fully enclosed for safe play. There is no right or wrong way so this is a set that invites exploration and imagination. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Plan Chalet House with Furniture
(Plan Toys $167.49 Score:)

An unusual modern-style dollhouse. This big three story chalet comes in two parts. Kids can rearrange them into different configurations. The open wall and roof design makes it accessible by several children at a time. We are not crazy about the color scheme and we wish it came with play figures as well as the furniture. Note: the colors online are different from the toy we tested. The roof is orange not yellow as pictured. Figures are extra. Made of recycled rubber wood, it has the look of pressed or composition board and it is stained, rather than painted. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
eeBoo 24 Pencils Bird Tin Artist Colors
(eeBoo $15 Score:)

A beauty of a gift tin of colored pencils. The flat metal tin is printed with birds, a flowering tree and flowers. It will make a gift to enjoy for months ahead. Sometime we forget how welcome a basic set of art supplies can be as compared to the novelty gifts that lose their pazazz almost as soon as the wrappings are gone. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Haba Zoolino Effect Building Blocks
(Haba $74.99 Score:)

24 colorful wooden blocks, some with animal faces can be stacked in various open-ended ways. The pieces have interesting shapes and some have holes that fit on posts to hold the critters kids create. These are attractive pieces, nicely finished and pretty abstract. We do wish they came with a storage bag since it is nearly impossible to fit the pieces back into the box for storage. You will need to find a container for these to keep them together once you open the box. It is marked 1 and up, but a better choice for 18 months-3.

SNAP: These open-ended blocks can be used for simple stacking or to create creatures and whatever the child imagines. They also lend themselves to building color and pattern concepts as well as language. As you put them away together, ask you child to give you all the pink blocks, all the blue blocks, etc. These are teachable but playful moments. For kids who are not ready to follow such directions, build language by describing the block your child wants to put in the basket first, next, and so on. You supply the words for beginners. You take your lead from where they are and build from there.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Janod Kubix with Letters and Numbers
(Janod $28.99 Score:)

A colorful set of solid wood blocks with letters and numbers imprinted on them. They are marked 18 months and up. We suspect kids that young will like filling and dumping them and eventually lining them up. Building upwards will be something adults or older sibs can do for little ones. They will like knocking them down. This is definitely a toy that will get lots of mileage. Learning letter names and the sounds they say comes much later. 18 months and up, up,up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Galactic Floor Puzzle
(Janod $23.99 Score:)

All the pieces fit in this beautiful case with galactic images. Inside are 36 good sized pieces to fit together into a 24 x 36 inch picture of space with astronauts, planets, stars, and rockets. Heavy cardboard pieces will hold up as kids love doing their puzzles many times. 4-7

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Crayola Digital Light Designer
(Crayola $59.99 Score:)

Forget about paper, now kids can draw on a "Spinning Light Canvas" that is really a light dome. It is activated with a stylus that is used to draw anywhere on the round surface that lights up as they draw. Kids can make drawings, animations, and messages. They can keep favorite creations and there are eight game and activity apps to add to the fun. This does come with a warning about this being an inappropriate toy for those who are photosensitive and have seizures from flashing lights and patterns. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Albert's Insomnia
(Continuum Games $9.99 Score:)

Here's a very clever math card game that grows with your math skills. No matter what level, you deal the cards. The idea is then to look at the cards dealt and find how you can count from 1 and up by using the numbers you have been dealt. For example, if you have 4, 5, 8, 7, 9...you could do 5-4 = 1, 7-5=2...and so on.  Of course more advanced math students will do many different operations to get to their desired number.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
DoArt Watercolor Pencil Art
(Faber Castell $14.99 Score:)

We love this series from Faber-Castell that allow kids to try their hand at different aspect of pencil and brush arts. This kit includes instruction for how to work with watercolor pencils.  Comes with ten colored pencils, sharpener, sketchbook, eraser, tracing paper and twenty page instruction book. A great choice for traveling during the holidays for older kids.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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