Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Play Like a Pro Basketball Hoop
(Little Tikes $72.99 Score:)

Basic gear for active play! This adjustable hoop (from 4 to 6feet) makes this a great choice for preschoolers and early school aged kids interested in learning how to shoot some hoops!  Light enough to make this a choice for inside or outside play.

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

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2013 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers
(Skullduggery $29.99 Score:)

Awesome. If you're looking for a car track set, look no further. First, the set comes with two cars that have LED lights on the bottom (you can change the settings to adjust the type of pattern the car 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. Either way - this is a hit. The tracks go together well and come with suction cups so that you can make two ramps and race the cars.  The company tells us that there is a patent pending, we just know this is sooo much fun.

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

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2013 Award
Little Bits Deluxe 18 Bit Set
(littleBits $199.99 Score:)

Just as the name says, this is the biggest, deluxe version of a clever kit that allows kids to snap together a spectacular array of library of electronic modules. This kit has 18 color coded modules that budding engineers can explore to make sound, light, buttons and sensors without having to use wires, solder or programming. There is an excellent project book with instructions for 15 projects and many, many more projects on the littleBits website. Testers were amused with making a Tickle Machine, Prank Handshake, Auto Greeter, Truck Crane, among others. A science toy with a sense of humor. THere are smaller less pricey sets. The Base Kit $99 is a good introductory kit with 10 bits, a project book and a button, dimmer and buzzer to make a doorbell for your room. The Premium Kit $149 and has 14 bits and a good number of accessories to spark your child's creative circuits. Additonal base projects are are available online. Another good choice for STEM learning.

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

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2013 Award
Thames & Kosmos Gyrobot
(Thames & Kosmos $50.49 Score:)

Did you know that there is a gyroscope in your smart phoe, your tablet, the video controllers, airplanes, space telescopes...you name it. But how about building one? Does that sound like a challenge? In fact, following the directions in this amazing new set, kids can explore the world of physics as they build 7-motorized models that give them hands-on playful experiences as they learn about the jobs gyroscopes do in our world. In an age when science and math are so vital, this is one of those smart toys that is not instantly consumed, but rather invites repeated exploration. The well-written 24-pg manual gives them 7 experiments: the gyroscope goes into a robot, gyrocompass, flight simulator, balance game, gyro horizon, personal transporter, and a tightrope walker.  A good choice for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
K'nex Education - Exploring Wind & Water Energy
(K'nex $69.99 Score:)

Designed originally for the classroom, this is one of a new series of construction toys with a scientific edge that will entertain as well as enhance their understanding of renewable energy. In an age when science and math are so vital, this is one of those smart toys that is not instantly consumed, but rather invites repeated exploration. There are six projects in the 288-piece kit that comes in a storage tub. Our tester started with a windmill that connects and powers a shuttle ride. They can also build a Water Lift and a Hydroelectric Generator, among other projects. A great way to get kids engaged with science, math, and technology. Once they have some of the basics, they may want to invent some energy inventions of their own. Also see, K'nex Investigating Solar Energy. Ages 9 & up. Both good choices for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
K'nex Education - Investigating Solar Energy
(K'nex $69.99 Score:)

Talk about going green, this is a construction set that runs of solar energy. Kids can make six different models with the 128 piece Knex set comes in a good size tub for easy storage. It is designed to give them a hands-on experience of building a working machine from scratch. In an age when science and math are so vital, this is one of those smart toys that will both entertains and educate without turning kids off. It's challenging but rewarding. Our tester was especially taken with the "crank man" that she built and put on a sunny windowsill. Designed originally for the classroom, this is one of a new series of construction toys with a scientific edge that will entertain as well as enhance their understanding of renewable energy. This amazing animated construction set comes with detailed instructions and is sure to be a hit for kids. 9 & up. Also see, K'nex Exploring Wind & Water Energy. Both good choices for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) learning.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Deluxe Roominate
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Welcome to a new world of doll houses! It's a doll house for kids to design, build and electrify. This one is less about interior decoration and more about engineering. A terrific concept for getting girls involved with problem solving and spatial skills, and building circuits. The deluxe kit comes with a light and motor and tons of building pieces and craft materials. Elizabeth, our 8-year old tester, LOVES Roominate. Her mom reports, "She has created some really cool rooms--and I love that it's so open-ended. She loved hooking up the battery, doing the wiring - and using the paper to design the wallpapers. It's a great toy for girls because it encourages building, electrical and engineering skills and isn't too "girly." I would say that I think age 6 is probably too young for independent play with Roominate. At age 8,  Elizabeth read and followed the directions and had lots of ideas about what she wanted to build and how to do it. "

The company says 6, we agree with Elizabeth's mom and suggest you save this for 8's and up.

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

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2013 Award
Hot Wheels Wall Tracks Power Tower Trackset
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

If you're a fan of Hot Wheels Wall Tracks, you'll want to know about this latest addition to the line. The Power Tower features a central corkscrew track that brings the cars up to the top of the structure. Comes with one Hot Wheels car (we always think these sets should come with at least two!) and the magical 3M Command Strips that make it possible to temporarily place the structure on the wall. (We'd recommend not placing on wallpaper. During one of our first trials we did not pull the strip down sufficiently and as a result removed some paint from the wall. This was on us. If you follow the instructions, the Command Strips work well.)

This set kept three of our toy testers well entertained. What's nice about these sets is that they can be combined with others to create a truly amazing wall of tracks. Something some of us only dreamed about as kids!

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

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2013 Award
LEGO Galaxy Squad Hive Crawler
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

"One of the most unusual LEGO builds, ever." "Awesome."  We agree that the Galaxy Squad line has some of the most creative builds this year.  The Hive Crawler, in particular, has interesting moving legs that make a great sound as it moves. The minifig in the front opening cockpit reminds us of the bad guys from Independence Day. The Crawler has an egg launcher and two hatching eggs.  The build also comes with a smaller speedster and hero.

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

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2013 Award
Rainbow Loom
(Rainbow Loom $34.99 Score:)

The Rainbow Loom is clearly the run away toy of the year! We started getting emails from our toy testers about the must have loom that has generated so much interest (and youtube how to videos). We love a toy story that involves a small company that just hits it  HUGE.  Our parent testers told us that they helped their kids get the hang of it, but once kids learn how to use the loom they're off and running. A great craft that allows kids to make bracelets for themselves, their friends and family members.  The set comes with a loom, hook, instructions and more than 600 latex free rubber bands - will make 24 bracelets. Move over Elmo, the Rainbow Loom is the hot toy of 2013.

 

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

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