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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

My Monopoly
(Hasbro $19.95 Score:)

The new My Monopoly board game allows you to create a personalized Monopoly game, but, as our testors told us, it's not that easy to do. You can download the free My Monopoly app or visit www.mymonopoly.com to set up an account and personalize property spaces, game tokens, Community Chest and Chance cards to use in the My Monopoly board game. Choose your own photos from your computer or smart device and add captions to the photos. Then, you need to print them out on the sticker sheets, and you are ready to play. Our test families loved the concept, but found doing all these so-called simple steps a real challenge, that took too much stress, time and fun out of the fun. For all but the most savvy computer-able players, stick to Boardwalk.

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

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Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack
(Activision $74.99 Score:)

This relative newcomer to toyland with over a BILLION dollars in sales has engaged younger kids to the world of gaming with action figures that exist both virtually and as toys. Here's the story: "Kaos has blown up the walls of Cloudcracker Prison and freed notorious villains in Skylands. You and the Skylanders must hunt them down and capture them with magical Traptanium, a powerful material that can harness the Elements. Available for all gaming systems. 6 & up. Editors' Note: While we acknowledge that this is a large and growing segment of toyland, we still wish that the games and technology were less about combat.  On the other hand playing these types of games often becomes a social issue - in which case we suggest that you sit down and experience the game play with your child. And as with all "screen" time we suggest you put a time limit on this type of play before you bring the toy home. This type of play should not replace everything else like building, being active and creative in the real world.

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

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Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car
(Mattel $59.99 Score:)

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Hold on to your remote control and it is both. Built for dual terrain versatility, the Street Hawk promises to do more than previous RC vehicles. On the ground it is powered by a 2.4GHz transmitter with ground steering control, dual 8mm electric motors and a LiPo 3.7V battery (that can be charged using the transmitter or via a USB cable). As a plane, it can fly up to 200+ feet and has dual propellors that spin over 35K RPMs. You can charge it via USB or transmitter. Manufacturer claims this is lightweight and durable and capable of aerial stunts. Marked for 5-15. We'd say more like in the middle of that with adult supervision with younger kids. [Editors' Note: Our testers all wanted to LOVE this toy and while one family was very successful getting it off the ground, the majority of our testers had problems with charging, having the propellers fall off and generally not getting it to fly as long as they had hoped.]

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

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2014 Award
MiP Balancing Robot
(WowWee $103 Score:)

This futuristic white and black robot comes with "gestureSense" technology, meaning hand motions will control the robot. However, for more action you can control your robot with a free app on your smart phone; you can make it move, dance, and play games. Watch out how you turn its wheels, though, since this is a robot with emotions, itís in your hands to make your robot happy or angry and keep its balance. Kid testers (both boys and girls) love this, parents wish that it had rechargeable batteries and some questioned (given the price) how long it would keep its novelty appeal. 8 & up

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

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2014 Award
Anki DRIVE Starter Kit Smart Robot Car Racing Game
(Anki Drive $149 Score:)

Remember slot cars? Now imagine "slotless" slot car races in your living room that run on a 3.5' x 8.5' racetrack mat that rolls up and stores when the fun is done. Each player needs an iOS or Android compatible device (they cannot be mixed). The base set includes two cars, chargers that are like little garages, and a track mat. It takes just 10 minutes to charge a car that will run for 20 minutes. Additional cars are $49. You'll want to use the tutorial so that you know how to control the speed of your car and how to change lanes. You don't steer so much as zig zag the track to beat other racers by disabling them with virtual force field and weapons. You can play solo or with up to four racers. A big ticket item for family fun. This image doesnít do the product justice. Look at the maker's site to see the game in action. They say 8 & up, but we think older kids and parents will like this best.

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

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2014 Award
Hot Wheels High Jump Frenzy RC
(Toy State $109.99 Score:)

Maybe this should come with a warning to all house cats--they'd better not tangle with this 9-pound racer with a new twist; as the name on the box says--it is a high jumper and it can flip while doing so. It can do 360-degree spins, as well. Move those china cups before the fun begins! It takes two hours to charge and adapter must be plugged into the wall outlet. A novelty toy designed for 8 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
eeBoo Color Pencils Striped Biggies
(eeBoo $7.99 & up Score:)

Designed for small hands these oversized colored pencils come in sets of 12 or 24 along with a special sized sharpener. The delicious colors will make paper and pencil tasks more fun and may be just the right inducement for kids who are just starting to write words and letters in school. As the box says, they are shorter than most pencil sets, but jumbo in thickness, giving beginners a broader line and more control. Drawing, coloring or writing, these are terrific tools for developing eye hand and for refining those small muscles in the fingers and hand that are needed for the task. Bring home a Sketchbook with elves carrying Striped Biggies. 5 & up.

SNAP For all the reasons stated above, these are a good choice that will make pencil tasks more pleasing.

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
Lydia, Your Georgian Girl
(Girls for All Time $109.99 Score:)

Travel with Lydia, a stunning 18th Century girl who leaves England in 1760 with her family to settle in Colonial Boston. She wears a charming buttery yellow gown trimmed with rosettes and lace. Her long dark brunette locks are waiting to be brushed and admired as her fortunate owner enjoys reading Lydia's story in the book, Lydia in the New World (book available in 2015). Also available for Lydia a lovely teal blue party dress trimmed with Chinese braid and cream colored underskirt. Or she also might like a totally perfect riding outfit with a skirt of blue linen, a white shirt with cravat and a double breasted brass buttoned blue jacket. This is a doll for older girls with a beginning sense of world history and perhaps an interest in fashion in history. She is meant to be played with, though collectors will certainly like her, as well. Visit a girlforalltime.com site for recipes, history and other information about Lydia.

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

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2014 Award
Faber-Castell Gel Sticks
(Faber-Castell $12.99 Score:)

Kids are going to love the buttery Gel Sticks that can be used for drawing and then turned into water color paintings with a paintbrush and water. These are not to be confused with the also wonderful Gel Crayons that are not water soluble. You will want to protect the table surface where they work, since these are a bit messier than regular crayons, but also far more versatile.  You get 12 gel sticks and a paintbush in the set. This would make a great stocking stuffer.

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
Lexigo RUSH
(Wiggles 3D Inc. $16.99 Score:)

Our testers found playing against the timer a challenge. Word games are played by laying out a grid of 13 letter tiles, turn the 60 second timer and each player makes a list of as many words as they can see by using letters that connect in any direction. You can ever repeat the same letters, just as long as they continue to connect. When time is up players read their word lists and cross out words that others also found. You get points for any words that you alone were able to find. It's a bit like Boggle without the frame and box and with bonus rings for bonus points. 10 & up.

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

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