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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2011

 


2011 Award
Monster High Dead Tired Lagoona Blue Doll and Hydration Station Playset
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

We have to admit when we first saw this collection, we thought it was the product of young toy designers having their way with making an edgy line of dolls that would really appeal to the older doll collector. We were wrong. The line has captured the attention of older school aged/tweens. It makes sense given the "twilightization" of america's pop culture at the moment. The dolls are all related to monsters we know and love.  There is Frankie Stein, Holt Hyde, Ghoulia Yelps, Abbey Bominable, Clawdeen Wolf, Cleo de Nile (you know the daughter of the Mummy). You get the idea. Each doll has a backstory and there own issues in high school. For example, Cleo de Nile is described as: "a princess but she's not a mean ghoul. This has allowed her to establish genuine relationships with fellow students who can 'Let Cleo be Cleo' even when 'her imperial bossiness' forgets that at Monster High she's just one of the ghouls." 

Our toy testers really loved the Hydration Bed set that comes with Lagoona.  Some will find this line ridiculous, after listening to our testers we know that they like the silliness of it all. While each of the dolls are dressed in over-the-top outfits, the focus is not on their sexuality but on their character. We like that! We also were thrilled that there were boy dolls in this collection as well.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Business Stand
(Little Green Money Machine $249.99 Score:)

We would consider this the uber business stand for kids. While there is a pretty hefty price tag, this is the type of table that will probably find most use from student groups that raises money on a regular basis. The table is well-constructed. We loved that the wipe board allowed kids to personalize the use of the table for any particular function. It also comes with a lock box for money collected and a solar powered calculator...also useful.  The stand comes on wheels (that lock) - ideal for moving from location to location.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
RoadTrip Game of Wacky Words
(Daddy-O $26 Score:)

Players use their word skills and a bit of geography to make their way cross-country from the West coast to the East. Players roll the multi-faceted die and craw a challenge card. The player must complete the challenge card by filling in the missing words using the letter that comes up on the die. The missing words have to make sense, although they can be silly. There are rest stop cards and other challenge cards--some that require the player to come up with lists of words starting with the letter rolled. Handsomely packaged in metal container shaped like an old style camper. 2-4 players. 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011.

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2011 Award
Anti-Virus
(Smart/Tangoes USA $26.99 Score:)

In this clever brain teaser, the object is to get rid of the red virus that has invaded your system. To do this you need to slide the many colored tiles that are blocking each other. BUT you can only move diagonally. It's not easy! There are 60 challenge cards at five levels. Designed for solo play, this is marked for 7 & up. It will be enjoyed most by older players.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Pocket Katamino
(Gigamic / Back Alley Traders $25 Score:)

This is a new and smaller version of the original Katamino. We have to say that for kids under-8 we think the original game with bigger playing pieces is a better bet. However this version, with its small pieces, is harder and a better choice for older players, 8-80+. It's a challenging brain-teaser game that builds spatial awareness and problem solving skills. To start you need to read a graph that tells what pieces to use to solve the puzzles that get progressively larger and more complex. It's a wonderful game that can be played solo, cooperatively (especially for beginners) or challenge another player and take turns. The geometric shapes must fit together and figuring out how to make that happen requires patience, persistence, eye hand and visual discrimination. The game comes in a sleek storage box with room for the playing board, playing pieces and grid with puzzles to be solved. The big, original game Katamino ($25) is marked 3-99! No way! This is not a game for 3's or even 4's and 5's. Y our 6-9 year old is going to need a partner to get started. The pieces are bigger in the original wooden set, but learning how to select the playing pieces and solving the puzzles will be better if played cooperatively. Be forewarned, it's easier to pack it away by looking at the pattern on the instruction book. 8 and up, up, up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Stomple
(Spinmaster $29.99 Score:)

We love the feel of this game that comes with a handsome wooden board and 49 marbles. The goal here is to use your wood stomper to push through your opponents marbles until their colored marbles are trapped on the board with no similar colors adjacent. Our testers found that this is the type of game that you get the hang of (and enjoy) the more you play. The game also comes with a pouch for all the marbles (a good thing!). The player with the most number of marbles at the end of the game is the winner. 8 and up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Perplexus Rookie 3D Puzzle Challenge
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2011 Award
Kabaleo
(Gigamic/ Back Alley Traders $24 Score:)

We like the look and feel of this colorful game that combines strategy with a fair amount of bluffing. Each of the players draws a cone to determine their secret color. Each player gets the same number of colored cones and takes turns at placing them on the board. You can pick at random, depending on the game you choose to play. The object is to have the greatest number of cones in your color when the game ends. Of course, you and the other players use the playing pieces by stacking them over what they believe is another person's preferred color. If two pieces of the same color are stacked then a player can take the pair off. The action of the game changes quickly as all the colorful cones are gradually played out and the winner emerges--the one with the most cones in their color on the board. Going last may give a player an advantage. We suggest you rotate who plays first, next or last. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Rockboard
(Rockboard USA $199 Score:)

Our experienced scooter riders were excited to give this new twist on the classic ride-on a try.  Rather than just ride on the scooter, riders need to rock back and forth on the mechanism that is on the top of the platform where you'd usually stand flat.  We found that kids that already knew how to ride a bike and therefore had that balancing thing done a little bit better, had more ease with this scooter. Those testers really thought the added dimension of this scooter to be great fun. Our testers that still were using training wheels needed help balancing, but still enjoyed it. That said, we'd say this is really for older kids. Our parent tester loved that it had a kickstand--so it did not need to lean like most other scooters. It is heavier--so while it does fold--it is not like the little scooters that many parents end up carrying. (Note: the company offers a new mini version that we have not tried yet with our testers.)

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Awards
Big Boggle
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

For Boggle aficionados this is the ultimate Boggle game with a bigger grid and nine more letters than the standard game. With this new edition you can make longer words or just more words than the original game. Shake the cubes, turn the 3 minute sand timer and start writing! When time is up players read their list and cross out any words the other player also saw. Your score is then based on the words left on your list. They have added a double letter cube that adds Qu, An, He, Er, Th, and In to your word building choices. We have to admit to being addicted to the Boggle App on the iPad, but this one allows more people to play at one time--a great family game. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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