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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Sesame Street Elmo Junction 2 in 1 Car and Train Set
(Hasbro $44.99 Score:)

We're not usually big fans of plastic train track sets, but this one is really fun and right on target for fans of Sesame Street. The set comes with both Elmo in a train and Grover in a little car. Elmo, the train conductor, speaks (powered by batteries). The train itself is not battery-powered so kids have to move him around the track -  a good thing in our book. It makes the toy more engaging and less about watching something happen. The other really positive aspect of this toy is that you can fold up part of the track to make an elevated roadway for Grover. There's also a ramp for Grover to reach the ground level. At the center of the track is a Sesame Street train station with a clock on top. Lots of pretend possibilities here. A winner for the older toddler/preschool crowd. 2 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Dino Construction T-Rex Skid Loader Vehicle
(Educational Insights $39.99 Score:)

Construction trucks and dinosaurs--what a winning combination! The T-Rex Skid Loader has an action neck, movable jaws, and a smashing tail. This is one of a collection of dino trucks, made without metal parts, so it will work in the sandbox, at the beach, in snow drifts, or indoors with blocks. It leaves dino footprints in the sand and needs no batteries. Also fun, Boom, Brachiosaurus Backhoe, Spike, the Ankylosaurus Steam Roller, and the Wrecker.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Hearthsong Connectagons Glow-in-the-Dark Celestial
(Hearthsong $29.99 Score:)

ongKids use their creativity, eye-hand skills and problem solving to build a stabile construction with the 157-piece set of glow-in-the-dark connectogons. Put the pieces in sunny place all day and they will glow well into the night. There is no right or wrong way to build with this set of different sized disks that can be redone again and again with ease. Begin with the10-inch base with a glow-in-the-dark full moon. An open-ended construction set that also doubles as a pleasing night light. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Kilter
(SimplyFun $36 Score:)

A fun way to learn about levers and predicting outcomes. Players take turns getting rid of their blocks on the four-way see-saw. The object is to put as many of your blocks out on each turn without tipping the see-saw. If you make blocks fall you have to take those. The first player to get rid of all their blocks is the winner. There was a lot of giggling and silliness as this was played by a multigenerational group and enjoyed by all. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
University Games The Very Hungry Caterpillar Counting Floor Puzzle
(University Games $13 Score:)

There are all kinds of fruits and veggies to count on this colorful floor puzzle with 26 giant pieces. Put the numerals in order to make a 10 foot long finished puzzle. Good for counting skills as well as knowing and naming familiar foods. All the healthy things that Very Hungry Caterpillar loves to nibble on. 3 & up

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
University Games World of Eric Carle Alphabet Floor Puzzle
(University Games $13 Score:)

Our testers loved this new oversized puzzle featuring the wonderful art of Eric Carle. Although some of the animals may be less than familiar - for example a narwhale for N, a xolol for X, and a quetzal for Q, they will stretch kids' language of knowing and naming. Done with 26 sturdy giant pieces in the painterly style of Eric Carle, this produces a floor puzzle that is ten feet long and fun to do more than once.  They say 3 & up. We think slightly older kids will like this even more.

A note from our test family said..."My boys (ages 6, 5 and 2 ) love puzzles, so they were very
excited to do this. It made for good teamwork for the older two. One would call out the next letter and the other would find it and then they would put it together. The littlest would just come behind and steal a piece occasionally. (It is definitely a 3+ toy) They loved how long it was and were very proud of their work when they finished. They both like to do puzzles over and over and especially floor puzzles. I think with this being an alphabet puzzle and their ages, they need the practice. This puzzle will help inintroducing alphabetizing for sure!"

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Mattel Barbie Fashion Vending Machine
(Mattel $23.99 Score:)

We are not huge Barbie furnishing fans, but this clever contraption could be fun for pretend play as well as a good storage device for all those little shoes, handbags, and necklaces Barbie dolls tend to generate. The working vending machine can hold all these items on the shelves that turn or put them on the right side, turn the crank and make the toys pop out.  Comes with some accessories with room for others. They say 3 & up. We say more like 5 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Creativity for Kids Fun Felt Masks
(Creativity for Kids $16.99 Score:)

Six colorful foam-backed masks are adjustable with elastic bands and ready for decorating. The kit includes a nice supply of felt stickers, self-adhesive rhinestones, and curly yarn. Little hands may need help with the peel and stick pieces, but get a real kick out of being able to design their own masks.  3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Creativity for Kids Creepy Bugs Window Art
(Creativity for Kids $16.99 Score:)

Use the colorful glue and patterns to make ten creepy bugs that will stick to the window after they dry and are peeled off the patterns. Kids can follow the patterns or do their own buggy drawings. These will be fun to make for Halloween decorations. Making the stickers involves following a pattern and eye-hand control that kids also need for writing. Easy to peel off the window when the buggy things lose their charm. Check other Window Art sets from this company for other seasons. 6 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Playmobil PopStars Stage
(Playmobil $40 Score:)

Hook up an MP3-compatable player with the cable that comes with the setting and kids can play their favorite music through this mini setting. The set includes four figures, a stage with flashing lights, drums, guitars, microphones, built-in speakers and other goodies.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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