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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Vehicles

 


2014 Award
Mattel Hot Wheels Super Loop Chase Race Track Set
(Mattel $44.99 Score:)

Our tester's mom wrote "They love it. No big surprise there. The cars go upside down." Unlike earlier wall tracks it sits on the ground and is powered by a unit with batteries, so it is not going to damage wall surfaces or possibly fall on your kids. "It's straightforward to assemble as these usually are. Not fast to build but great directions." This tester had an earlier wall track version that was, as she put it... "amazing and a bit more interesting...better for more than one kid to play, but when a large ball bonked it, the large heavy part fell off the wall and removed some wall surface (in my mom's house). This one is durable, simpler & safer." The 3-foot loop comes with only one car and takes 4 D batteries. Kids can connect this to other Hot Wheels sets. Unlike the wall track sets that take no batteries and run on gravity and momentum, this is pretty much a high speed "load and watch" toy. 5 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Disney Planes Fire Rescue Attack Launcher
(Disney $19.99 Score:)

Ready, aim, fire! Three light-weight foam planes can be launched 15 feet with this squeeze trigger toy. It has lights and sound when the red tab on back of the launcher is pulled back. Aside from pulling the trigger, this is a toy that will get them up and running about to pick up the planes when they land. Not exactly big physical play, but more active than most. They say 3 & up, we'd say more like older 4's and up and those that have the judgment not to aim it at your favorite vase. Itís not like a dart or heavy projectile, but although the planes are lightweight, this is a toy that will need supervision.

Age: Preschool, Early 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 $29.99 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

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 Dual Loop Set
(Skullduggery $49.99 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. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Thomas & Friends Track Master, Avalanche Escape Set
(Fisher-Price $65 Score:)

Getting this 6-foot long roadway built is going to be an adult project that kids can help you do. Once the set-up is made, Thomas is in for quite a ride over the mountaintop track. As he climbs the steep incline he literally has to fly across the huge gap in the tracks. As he zooms down the mountain he goes over a rickety ridge that has collapsing guardrails and then into a cave. This set comes with track adaptors so that more track can be added to make this a part of a larger set-up. As a stand alone, it is a pretty closed system that does the same trick again and again. Yes, it is novel and a wow-ee kind of show the first few times. We think it may lose some appeal after the tricks become old hat. We strongly suggest additional tracks to make this a more viable play experience. For more Thomas & Friends tracks and accessories that we have written about in the past and more elaborate sets you might want to visit the thomaswoodenrailway.com site.  3-6

 

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

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2014 Awards
Shake n Go Dune Racer
(Fisher-Price $14 Score:)

Shake the four-wheel drive vehicle to make the engine roar and let it go! It not only rolls, it climbs over obstacles and up small hills. There is a yellow mudder truck, and a red hot rod racer truck. They all take two AA batteries. For the money, this is a showy little vehicle that could also knock down some blocks as it runs obstacle courses that kids love to create. Bring home two and they can have a race. These come with a warning to keep the spinning wheels away from hair. 3-7

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

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2014 Awards
Tobo Toy Track Set
(Tobo Toys $40 Score:)

Our testers liked this versatile and unusual new track that comes with only one small wooden car, but will be used with other vehicles and wooden train track set-ups. The twelve wooden pieces have multiple interlocking tabs in several shapes that are imprinted with numerals to match up. There are a variety of ways to make these connections, so in spite of the numerals, it is a pretty open-ended track that is compatible with Hot Wheels, Thomas & Friends, Brio and other car and train tracks. A fun accessory for problem solving, matching numerals, fine motor skills, creative thinking, and giving old track toys a new possibilities. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. 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
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
Hot Wheels Carcade
(Mattel $99 Score:)

Hands down one of the most fun toys we tested this year. If you like Hot Wheels cars and pinball - it doesn't get much better than this new arcade game that loads your Hot Wheels cars (it only comes with one) into the launcher that moves from side to side so that you can shoot the car into the slots above.  If you get the car into the slot when the light above it is on, you score points. It has an electronic scoreboard that keeps track of your score. It has a neat lockdown dome (think Mad Max thunderdome) that captures a car and provides added drama of doubling your points while that one car is trapped inside. This feature, while fun, did not always work well but no one seemed to mind. In order to get into the dome you have to get the car up a special ramp - our testers found this hard to do - but willing to keep on trying. Requires 3AA and 4 D batteries. Will not work with all Hot Wheels vehicles but it worked with the ones we had on hand.  This is what we call a big memorable novelty toy. The kind that gets played with a lot when friends come over! 5 & up.

 

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

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