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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

  
2014 Awards
Magformers 62 piece Classic Set
(Magformers $99 Score:)

This is where we started when Magformers were first introduced. It has all the basic pieces for making a dome, a square, a star and so many other geometric forms. We have to confess, we loved the dome that goes together like magic and remains a favorite at the toyportfolio. Like all of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. 6 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Magformers 62 piece Inspire Design
(Magformers $99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls with hot pink, lavender, powder blue, pink and magenta pieces, this construction set had magnets embedded in plastic shapes, so it is safe, yet challenging, inviting kids to investigate in a hands on way how magnets attract and repel, how they can put the pieces together to make three dimensional designs. This big set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of geometric constructions. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. Do we think girls need special colors to entice them? No, but apparently it does appeal to some who might otherwise not do any construction play. That would be a greater loss, since developing spatial skills and this kind of thinking should not be reserved for boys only. It this is the ticket--we say go for it.  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
Magformers Magnets in Motion 37 Piece Set
(Magformers $59.99 Score:)

This is a mid size variation of the big Magnets in Motion set that combines gears and magformers to build some amazing machines. It has a snap on crank handle and plenty of big and small gears with colorful discs that create optical illusions in motion. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. This interesting set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of constructions with gears. 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
Magformers 61 piece Magnets in Motion
(Magformers $99 Score:)

What could be more fun than combining gears and magformers? Kids are going to have good fun building machines that they can activate with the colorful gears and crank for getting all those parts moving. There are big and little gears, colorful image plates that swirl when they turn, creating optical illusions. This primary colored set is gender neutral sets it comes with step by step instructions for making their models, though the pieces can be used in an open ended way for making their own creations. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, science, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience and imagination. A smaller 32-piece set is $39.99. Or, you can add a 20 piece Magnets in Motion Accessory Set (19.99) with large and small gears and crank to enlarge the possibilities of your basic Magnets in Motion set. 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
American Girl Beforever Samantha & Book
(American Girl $115 Score:)

Samantha, an American girl at the dawn of the 20th Century, is being brought up by her grandparents to be a proper young lady of her day. But her privileged life does not prevent her from befriending a servant girl and understanding her very different circumstances. American Girl introduced Samantha in 1986 and she is reintroduced this season in a new line of historical dolls with a refreshed look. Her original look had more of a historic period piece costume; while the update has a far more modern look. That said, we expect that many of the original Samantha doll owners will be eager to bring their daughters an update of their memorable doll. Samantha is the first, but not the last of the well-loved collection to be updated. There are new books and accessories, as well. Dressed in a charming pink dress with ruffled collar and velvet sash, she is a beauty. 6 & up.

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

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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
Global Girl Doll Collection
(Global Girl Dolls $89.99 Score:)

Older girls may have put away their baby dolls, but they often still long for one last doll to treasure and this collection certainly fits the bill. These are 21" dolls each dressed and styled for a specific country. These are nothing like your mother's or grandmother's foreign doll collection with traditional costumes. Tatiana from Russia, Vivienne from France, Mei Ling from China, Marcela from Argentina, Amahle from South Africa, and Tiffany from New York wear stylish and current sophisticated outfits. Each doll was made with a unique face mold and coloring that reflects the world of today's girls. The soft-bodied dolls are poseable and can sit as well as stand. They come dressed with underwear, pierced earrings, coats and hats or lighter outer wear, and casual sports outfits. Each has shoes, handbags, and a beautiful head of hair to style and re-style. A book ($9.99) is sold separately for each doll and features both fiction and non-fiction to acquaint the reader with life styles for differing cultures. They are so new, they are only sold on line through globalgirl.com.

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

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2014 Award
Ideal Magic Magic Show
(Poof Slinky $55.55 Score:)

With 64 pieces and the promise of 220 tricks, this is a great place to start with a child interested in learning some magic tricks. The set inclues a top hat (no bunny), magic cards, cloth handkerchief, magic lunch box, a fake thumb, a magic wand, special tubes, bottles, cups, disappearing card box, etc.   There is also an instruction booklet that walks you through the tricks.While this may seem like pure entertainment, learning to do the tricks is really all about reading, following directions and practicing. It requires a lot of effort with a fun pay-off and may lead to a fun hobby.

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
Pyramix
(Gamewright $21.99 Score:)

Our testers loved the look of this strategy game that comes with 56 cubes on a base tray. The game play involves pulling cubes off the pyramid. As you do this of course other cubes will fall - this is important since the cubes left at the end will determine your score. The score is also determined by the points you received from the illustrations on the sides of the dice. An anka is one point, a crane is two points, an eye is three points and a cobra is worth zero points. Our older kid testers got the game play much faster than our grown-ups!  

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

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2014 Award
Gravity Maze
(ThinkFun $29.99 Score:)

A fun twist on Think Fun's usual brain teasers. The game board comes with spaces for placing plastic cubes that make up towers of different heights. The goal is create a maze (using the towers) that gets the marble from point A to point B on the board. The challenges (there are 60 in the set) becomes increasingly more difficult. A good choice for parent/child gaming. 

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

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