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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Crayola Shadow FX Color Projector
(Crayola $24 Score:)

Kids can use this innovative color projector in a number of different ways. They can draw designs on a see-through panel and project their original images on the wall with the three colored lights that pivot and allow kids to change the colors and brightness. Kids can place objects or themselves between the light and the wall to make shadow puppet shows or use the shapes provided in the kit. The projector has telescope arms so you can widen the projections. This is one of those fun art kits with a scientific edge, inviting kids to discover in a hands-on way how shadows, lights, and colors can create all kinds of images, large and small. It is also fun for storytelling and artistic expression. Kit includes special FX Gel Markers that can be stored in the base.  Testers preferred this projector to Crayola's new ceiling model. Requires 3 AA batteries. 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
Crayola Virtual Design Pro-Fashion Set
(Crayola $38.99 Score:)

This is the deluxe version of the Crayola Virtual Pro-Fashion Design kit, one of the most innovative activity kits to come down the pike in a long time. Kids can create their own fabulous fashions in the 20 page Sketch Book by coloring the front and back of the images in the booklet. Next they take photos of their designs with their device, meaning smart phone or i-pad. Using the My Virtual app to customize the models looks and accessories, they create models ready for the runway. Once the designing is done, they can watch their original fashions come to life as 3-D models walk up and down the runway, showing front and back of their fashion. Their creations can be saved on the device to view again and again. Instead of giving over your device, most of the designing is done on paper and then viewed on the device. Now, this is technology they gotta love if they are into fashion! They say 6 & up. We’d say slightly older girls will put more into using this as more than a coloring book. The more design elements that older girls can add, the more impressive this will be. This deluxe kit comes with more tools than the Crayola My Virtual Fashion Show. It includes Design portfolio case, a 20-page design book, 36 colored pencils, pencil sharpener, 20 Super Tips markers, 4 stencils and My Virtual Fashion Show App.

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
Spin master Shark Mania
(Spin Master $19.99 Score:)

Our testers laughed as they raced to be the first to get to safety. It is a shark-infested gameboard with pop-up sharks ready to chomp and take you out of the race! The backstory is your pirate ship has run aground and you and your gold are overboard. Getting to the safe island you can collect some of your gold, but watch out! There are hungry sharks that mean to get you before you reach that island. The novel gameboard adds to the fun. 6-11

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
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Truck Set
(Skullduggery $ Score:)

Awesome described last year’s Max Traxxx Racing cars and the awesome-ness continues with the new Tracer Racer Truck set. With 16 feet of glow-in-the-dark track and two LED light-up trucks with lights on the bottom, kids can change the setting to adjust the type of pattern the trucks will leave on the track. Yes, like the cars the trucks leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights? Our testers loved both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse...which left a broken pattern on the track. Either way - this is another big hit. The tracks go together well and come with suction cups so that you can make two ramps and race the cars. Use this dual track set alone or combine it with last years car set and they are ready for amazing tract time. The company tells us that there is a patent pending, we just know this is sooo much fun. 6 & up

PRICE AND IMAGE TO COME

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

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2014 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Dual Loop Set
(Skullduggery $24.99 Score:)

Get ready for uber-awesome! Fans of Max Traxxx tracer racers are in for a big time glow when they set up the 24-foot light trace dual loop track and put their racers to the test! The set comes with two LED light-up cars with lights on the bottom, kids can change the setting to adjust the type of pattern the racing cars will leave on the track. Yes, the cars leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights? Our testers loved both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse,which left a broken pattern on the track. But that is not all. With this new set there is an electronic finish gate that adds a dramatic ending to each race. 6 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Thinkfun Last Letter Game
(Thinkfun $12.99 Score:)

Deal out five of the 61 cards to each player. Put the remaining pile of cards on the table. Now the dealer turns the top card over and name something pictured on that card. All players including the dealer must now find something on one of their cards that begins with the same letter the dealer’s word ended with. That player puts down her card and the next player must find a picture of something that starts with the last letter of the last word called. This is not as simple as it sounds and play can be rapid fire. Winner is the first to discard all his cards. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic String Art Kit
(Loopdedoo $25 Score:)

Kids can use the patterns in the box or make their own to create three string art masterpieces to hang in their room or give as a gift. The kit comes with three foam canvases, templates, 170 pins, 60 yards of colorful threads and instructions. String art involves fine motor skills, patience and creativity. Their designs include a the greeting "Hi", a peace sign and a heart. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic Spindle Weaving Loom
(Loopdedoo $30 Score:)

A clever device that gives beginners a hands-on experience in dealing with the warp and weft of cloth making. It is a small upright loom that works like the kinds of wall size looms used for weaving fabrics and rugs. The plastic device in the kit has a shuttle lever that you must turn to shift the tall spindles after each row has been completed. It comes with a multicolored hank of yarn, some of it must be cut into long strands to make the warp (the length long lines that the weft are woven through) before you begin to weave. The end-products can be used to make scarves, pillow covers, squares for a throw...you name it. You will need scissors and more yarn for extra projects. An excellent device for learning an ancient craft that is still used in many parts of the world. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Craft Tastic Pom Pom Kit
(Loopdedoo $25 Score:)

You get an adjustable bamboo tool with three planks and two pegs so that you can make pom-poms of various sizes and quantities. In fact, you can make one or as many as twenty-four small pom-poms all at the same time. You also get 300 yards of soft colorful yarn and instructions for making everything from 1" to a giant 15" pom pom! It's a simple wrap, tie, cut and trim operation. You do not get the requisite scissors. A great craft item for 8's and up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014.

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Crayola Sketch Wizard
(Crayola $25 Score:)


We were excited when we took this out of the box. Although we are usually not fond of toys that are about tracing, this seemed a different kind of technology than tracing paper, since it suggested we could trace 3-D objects, as well as photos and pictures. Well you can and we did, but the results were mixed. Finding the right sized objects that fit can turn into a Goldilocks deal with things that are too big, too small and rarely just right. We also found that you need a steady hand and have to be very careful not to move the paper or you end up with something with extremely blurry edges. As for photos copying, that may be interesting, but not entirely satisfying. Photos that we tried to copy into line drawings looked weird. All in all, we have to say this is definitely not for young kids. Our ten-year old tester was pretty frustrated and disappointed, as were several adults who tried it. It may be interesting to some as a way of exploring drawing, though if they want something exacting, tracing paper may be a better bet. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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