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Product Type: Toys

 


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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2014 Awards
Melissa & Doug Mega Race Car Carrier
(Melissa & Doug $29.99 Score:)

Hours of play possibilities will take off with this wonderful wooden car carrier that is loaded with six race cars. The blue truck cab attaches to the two-level carrier that opens into one long rampway. There are grooves on the carrier to hold the vehicles in place. Kids will like loading and unloading the race cars and having races with the vehicles. Want to add some math? The vehicles are numbered, so load them up from 1-6. This is one of those toys that will be used with blocks or solo. 3 & up

SNAP GAME: A playful way to reinforce colors and counting, recognizing numerals, putting things in number order. Play a what's missing game: Line up three cars in numerical order with one car missing. Can your player name the missing car? Find the missing car?

Age: Preschool. 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 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 Awards
Sassy Peek-a-boo Barnyard Blocks
(Sassy $12.99 Score:)

Four textured fabric blocks with interesting patterns, sounds, and peek-a-boo flaps that make them easier for baby to grab and explore. Use these for looking at, touching, and talking games. Stack em up and use a swipe of the hand or a ball to knock them down. They put numbers, letters, and words on them, but by the time baby is ready for those the blocks will be old news.  Just enjoy them for their sensory possibilities and for playful games.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Sassy Barnyard Animals Activity Books
(Sassy $6.99 Score:)

For laptime sharing, these small fabric books have a squeaker to grab baby's attention and different textures on each page. We like the piggy book best. There is a somewhat fuzzy velour pig page, a silky smooth page and a bumpy one. Might be useful for diverting attention or passing time in a waiting situation. It also attaches to stroller for gazing.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Manhattan Toy My Peek-a-Boo Book
(Manhattan Toy $16 Score:)

A charming all fabric book with lots of lift the flaps for finding peek-a-boo images hidden under a leaf, a cloud, a heart and more. This is interactive fun for the lap baby stage. It ends with a small peek-a-boo moment with a mirror so baby can see her own adorable face. A nice baby shower gift.

Age: Infants. 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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