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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
Creativity for Kids Fleece Fashions
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

A three-piece beginners sewing kit that kids can wear after they put their own creative touch to the headband, scarf and touch screen friendly gloves. Pre-cut fleece petals and flowers, pearls, beads, and colored embroidery threads are packaged along with a needle threaders and instructions. Beginners will like the pre-punched stitch guides on the scarf and headband as they learn some basics. Of course, the colors may not go with everyone's winter jacket, but if the neon green and hot pink gloves are a go, this will be a hit for girls 7 & up.  

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Mudpuppy The Yellow Submarine 300 Piece Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Turn on the music!  "All You Need is Love" and some patience while you work "All Together Now" on this handsome 300-piece puzzle of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Set up a table where everyone can return to from time to time. This will not be done instantaneously, but it makes a great family project. Comes in a handsome keepsake tin that makes it an extra special gift. 10 & up

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
V-tech Kidizoom Actioncam
(V-tech $59.99 Score:)

Our first tester (10 years old) really raved about this action cam, saying that it is like "Go Pro" for kids. It comes with an underwater, waterproof case, an attachment for a bike, as well as a stationary stand. It takes photos, video, and stop motion video. Fun but least important it has three games to play. Our tester's favorite was the stop motion that she found fun to customize with music and self-timing. She liked some of the cute graphics to apply to videos and photos as well. Most of these bells and whistles will be beyond the four year old label on the box, though they will be able to capture their view of the world with some instructions and experimentation. That's the great thing, experimenting doesn't cost a bunch the way photo printing used to, so let them snap it and learn as they explore. But, as with so many toys with broad age labels we suggest that the sweet spot for this one is well beyond the preschool age label. We'd say 5-8's are a better bet. 

 

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Star Wars Poe's X-Wing Fighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79 Score:)

Once this is built there is plenty of action for recreating scenes from the Force Awakens. A 717-piece build Poe's X-Wing Fighter has amazing working parts such as: a 4 spring-loaded shooters, 2 stud shooters, retractable landing gear, opening wings, opening cockpit with space for a mini-figure and space behind for the BB-8 Astromech Droid. It has a loader with weapon rack, extra missiles and ammunition, and a seat for one of the three mini-figures. 8-14  Both our parent and child testers consistently give high marks for the great instructions that come with LEGO sets - that have really set the bar for other construction sets. The STAR WARS sets thrilled our testers who are a new generation in love with the galaxy far, far away. [Our recommendation remains the same: start small with building sets. Resist the temptation to buy the biggest set for a beginning builder. The idea is to build your child's confidence and enjoyment whether it's as a independent build or something you do together. The worst scenario - you building and your child watching.]

Also award-winning from the new collection: Millennium Falcon (1329 pieces) for kids 9-14.  Comes with Kanjiklub Gang Member, Tasu Leech, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Finn, Rey and BB-8. A big build that would make a great parent child project. Smaller, Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle (1005 pieces) for kids 9-14. Comes with First Order Officer, General Hux, Kylo Ren, First Order Stormtrooper Officer, 2 First Order Crew. First Order Transporter (792 pieces) for ages 9-14 with Captain PHasma, 4 First Order Flametrooper and 2 Resistance Soldiers. First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter (517 pieces) for ages 8-14. Comes with First Order Officer, First Order Crew and 2 First Order TIE Fighter Pilot.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Lift It! Deluxe
(USAopoly $34.99 Score:)

Lift It! Deluxe is one of those few games that can be truly difficult and yet simultaneously incredibly fun. The objective is to move your pawn around the board by acquiring points by completing builds. The card they draw at the end of their turn determines what the player builds, but more importantly how they build is determined by the space they land on. The player either controls their crane by hand or by strapping it to their head. When on a team two people work together using two cranes and one hook. The game can become increasingly difficult if you draw a hard build card while landing on a use-your-head space, but also incredibly funny to watch.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Wonky: The Crazy Cubes Card Game
(USAopoly $19.99 Score:)

Wonky is a neat and interesting twist on any beloved stacking game. Each set comes with three large, medium, and small blocks, with one of each color being blue, purple, or green. The cards tell the player what kind of block to add to the tower. The building process is reminiscent of Jenga, with the anticipation of the towering fall hovering over the playerís psyche. The first player to play all of their cards is the winner, similar to UNO, but there is some strategy involved to reach this goal. Whether you place your block precariously hoping the tower will fall on the next person's turn, or play cards that force opponents to draw additional cards there is a hidden depth to Wonky.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Mattel Hot Wheels Ultimate Garage
(Mattel $99.99 Score:)

Our 8 and 5-year old testers enjoyed that there were so many stations and ways to play in this massive miniature setting (Whoa! Is that an oxymoron?) It can store up to 36 cars and has eight areas with lights, sounds, and a car-grabbing helicopter. The two elevators stop at four levels of the parking garage and there are side-by-side ramps for racing games as well as a spiral ramp. But watch out! There is a shark at the bottom of that ride. Can you get past those jaws? If you live in tight quarters this may be a bit over the top in terms of storage space. On the other hand all those cars in the hot wheels collection can find a home here. Another good feature is that itís big enough for two kids to enjoy together having races and doing repairs. A great setting for pretend play. Our parent testers were split on whether this was easy to put together - depends on how handy you are with this type of build. In either case, you'll need to leave yourself some time - it does not come out of the box ready to go. They also liked that the garage was large enough for two kids to enjoy it together.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
R&R Strike A Pose Game
(R&R Games $19.99 Score:)

Remember playing statues? Well this party game takes statues to a new and hilarious level. In each round one person is the 'Guesser' and goes out of the room. All other players draw a number card and then must assume the pose that matches that number on the chosen pose card. Once they freeze the Guesser comes back into the room and reads the pose card before guessing what each poser represents. Testers thought this was hilarious good fun for a party or family gathering. Can be played by 3-14 players, so it's good fun for holiday gatherings or tweens and teens party; the more the merrier! Even younger players can enjoy this, though it's marked for 10 & up.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Craft-tastic Yarn Tree Kit
(Ann Williams Group $34.95 Score:)

Instead of the usual jewelry box hang your jewelry on the branches of a colorful yarn tree. The 18-inch wire tree comes ready to wrap in bright yarn. You can bend the branches, which have pink plastic tips so there is no danger of getting jabbed with sharp edges. A clever intro to the art of armatures as the base of creating other sculptures only in this case, no need to cut and secure wire. The roots of the tree can be bent and arranged for stability. Hang on! Here is a decorative and fun way for girls to enjoy their jewelry, even when it is not being worn. 8 & up.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Dinosaur Challenge
(Simply Fun $24 Score:)

Players each get three dinosaurs and read their cards noting their dinosaurs' most important traits. Are they flexible, tough, speedy, and are they large or small? Your dinosaur card tells you all that. Now a challenge card is turned over and read; it might be climate change, lava flow, a flash flood or worse. Each player must find the dinosaur in his hand that would most likely survive. Turn the card over and see what trait was most important. Is it flexibility? The dinosaur with the most flexibility wins that round. Player who has won the most challenge cards is the winner. This is a game that requires some strategy as well as critical thinking and logic. It's a nice blend of gamemanship, science, and fun. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015.

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