Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Pretend Play

 


2014 Award
Disney Fire & Rescue Piston Peak Air Attack
(Mattel $34.99 Score:)

Oh, Oh! There's a fire up there in the peaks and the only way to put it out is with an air attack. Take off by pulling the charger handle and watch that Firefighter Dusty go! This is typical of all one trick toys that do the same thing again and again. It requires an adult to assemble and like most track toys this is a closed system with no possibility for variation. That said, for fans of Planes, it will probably be a wowee gift for a little while, although probably not for long. One advantage over normal race track sets, the plane is tethered so it won't go lost. A novelty toy that will have a short play life--just saying. If you have a limited budget you might want to look further for something more open-ended. 6 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Fur Real Friends Get Up & GoGo, My Walkin' Pup
(Hasbro $59.99 Score:)

Newest take on Fur Real Friends: A very cute Furry White pooch on a bright pink leash. Use the remote to take her for a walk or make her sit. If you talk to her she responds with little barks that will not scare anyone. There is also an free app that you can down load with more ways to play. For the child who longs for a puppy who may be allergic to real fur or live where pets are not possible, this is the next best choice. It's not going to take the place of a real pet, but it can be quite satisfying for a while, and doesn't need house-breaking, either. 4 & up.

SNAP: A good toy too motivate active and interactive play. Getting the puppy to move motivates kids to use fine motor skills to use the remote and large motor skills to walk the pup around. The pup also responds to your talking, so this is a toy for all kinds of active learning and play. Even recalling how to make the pup bark wag its tail tilt her head and walk involve curiosity, discovery and memory.

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

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2014 Awards
Spinmaster DigiBirds
(Spinmaster $24.99 Score:)

Choose from various colors of these singing birds to perch on your fingers. Blow on it or whistle to it or play it with an app and your little DigiBird will sing to you. It is programmed to play 20 songs and you get 14 more on their website or still more with the app. The birdhouses are stackable just in case you need more than one singing bird. This comes with two sets of batteries, but they are hearing aid batteries and it is therefore not a toy for the very young. 5 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Hape Dream House
(HaPe $199.99 Score:)

Our tester loves the see-through elevator that runs up and down the outside of this three-story house with chalk siding so kids can customize the exterior walls. It not only comes mostly furnished, it has decorative wallpapered interior walls that are magnetized to hold easy-to-fill picture frames for original artwork or photos. The 32-piece doll house kitchen counter, refrigerator, sofa, loveseat, 3 rugs, coffee table, floor lamp, toilet, bathtub, bed with comforter, pillows, 2 side table, armoir, media cabinet, magnetized wall sconces, wall clock, 2 art frames, bath vanity, toilet paper roll, mirror, shower,LCD/TV, and wall shelf. Note: Dolls are available in families or individually and sold separately. 3 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Felt Crown Set, Pirate
(Mudpuppy Press $19.99 Score:)

 Yo, Ho! Ho! Get ready mates! Cleverly designed for versatility, this premade felt crown with a Velcro closing to adjust head sizes, comes with an assortment of stick-on badges that can be added to the frame of the crown. Done in black, red, teal, gold and white, this is a fun accessory for a pirate birthday or other special occasions. Great for games of pretend. The company makes several other crowns including a less gender specific birthday crown for boys and girls and a wonderful ballet crown for dramatic play.

 

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

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2014 Awards
Calico Critters Berry Grove Elementary School
(International Playthings $79.99 Score:)

Fans of Calico Critters will love this two-level school setting that comes with desks, chairs, a working clock, books and even an apple for the teacher. Our testers always love the minature world of these little animal families. In keeping with the new school theme, there is also a wonderful new School Bus that comes with a working handle that opens the door (very neat). Critters can also be accessed through the opening on the top of the bus. New families for 2014 include: Beavers, Chipmunks and Polar Bears. The "family" can also get about in the new very spiffy Cherry Cruiser. One note: The school and bus do not come with any Calico Critters even though the box shows them so occupied.

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

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2013 Award
My Girl's Dollhouse
(Good Toy $399 Score:)

A wow-wee (pricey) over-the-top 6 feet tall and 5 feet wide dollhouse that's big enough to use with American Girl and other 18" dolls. Our testers couldn't get over how enormous this pretend setting is when fully constructed.  Our parent testers thought this 100% pine wood frame went together well. The front of the house has a design --but here's the deal.  SAFETY NOTE: You have to use the SAFETY STRAP included to prevent this oversized structure from tipping over. So the design on the front isn't something you're going to see once you've put it together and secured to the wall. Of course this means that this is also a dollhouse for playrooms with lots of space. The product is marked for kids 8 & up, but we know it will be purchased for kids much younger - and even tall 8 year olds will need a stool to reach the top. So the safety strap is essential.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Hexbug Nano V2 Black Hole
(Innovation First $49.99 Score:)

Hexbugs are fun all on their own, but we really love this new system with see-thru tubes. The little robotic vibrating bugs now make their way up and down the chutes and then free fall into the black hole - only to re-emerge on the base of the set and begin the trek again. We combined the Black Hole set (with 58 pieces and two nanos) with the Infinity Loop and the Watch Tower. Putting these sets together will require some parental assistance. What we really love about this set is that involves some building and then the play begins. Everyone who plays with this toy starts talking about what may happen next and where the bugs may go. You can change the set around so it's not static - there are also gates that can be moved to change the direction of the bugs. Occasionally the bugs did get jammed in one of the chutes - usually a little shake will move them. Sometimes we had to open the chute to unclog - but that's part of the fun.

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

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2013 Award
International Playthings Calico Critters Supermarket
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

Our brother/ sister tester team really loved all the details in this super elaborate supermarket. They spent hours putting the merchandise on display and then hours more playing pretend games. It comes with over 100 pieces including fruits, vegetables, bread, fish, canned food, drinks, cookies, ice cream, shopping cart, check-out counter with cash register, display stands, and more. However, like other sets in this collection, it does not come with critters, though they are shown on the packaging. So, be sure to add some critters for their dramatic play. Marked 3 & up, but we think older children will appreciate all the tiny pieces even more. Our testers were 6 & 8 and not too old for these settings.

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

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2013 Award
Calico Critters Lakeside Lodge
(International Playthings $60 Score:)

A small summer house of logs with an orange roof; perfect for vacation living. Instead of beds there are two hammocks and a loft with ladder. It has a raised entry and a terrace with a hot tub, plus a clever little upstairs balcony--just right for critters to use for viewing the great outdoors. In fact, this small house might be just the right scale as a dollhouse to keep at a summer cottage. Although it is shown with furniture and critters on the box, they are not included, but sold separately. The Lodge can also be combined with the new Treehouse, making a miniature setting of grand proportions.

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

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