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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Backyard Safari Mini Scoop Net
(Backyard Safari Outfitters $9.99 Score:)

Our testers fought over taking turns over who would use this sturdy net to catch moving things in their backyard. We don't usually recommend toys that involve fighting, but in this instance we simply suggest buying two. Great for catching pollywogs, butterflies, lizards or whatever. The lightweight net is perfect for wet or dry tasks and like your old Ivory soap...it floats! 

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
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror
(Mattel $69.99 Score:)

We're not really big fans of toys for apps. That said, if you have a child who loves pretend, make-up, has access to an i-pad, and you have an extra $70 to spend - you will want to know about this latest Barbie interactive toy. The actual toy is a small plastic vanity with lights on either side. In addition to an i-pad, you'll need batteries, too. There is a palette of make-up on the platform and a magical applicator. The makeup is not real--but has colors that you select, but I'm getting ahead here. The mirror of the vanity is your ipad. Just be sure it's really securely in place. You'll need to download the app and now the fun begins. For any kids who have dreamed about putting on lots of makeup (but knows they'll get in trouble for invading mom's makeup) this is really a fantasy world. The app takes your picture and then you can get busy adding eye shadow, lipstick, blush...you name it.  Remember the palette of makeup that wasn't really make-up?  You can select any color and brush it on with applicator. Blue lips, purple eyes, green rouge - whatever you can imagine, you can put on.  There are fun masks and pre-made face art to explore as well. The app allows you to save your "face art."

Our general problem with such App gear? Something feels a little off about recommending toys that require a $400+ tablet to play. There's also the issue that since kids spend enough time playing on tablets and smartphones, do we really need to buy toys that encourage them to stay on longer? We think not so much. Screen time of any kind is screen time. Just like TV time, video game time, handheld gaming...this is not a new debate - just new technology.

With all of those reservations - we know this toy will be a HUGE hit with a certain audience. It's well executed and fun to play.

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

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2013 Awards
Kids Preferred The World of Eric Carle Discovery Cube Toy
(Kids Preferred $17 Score:)

 A new and inviting look to a classic toy. This soft fabric cube comes with easy to grasp handles. The cube itself is under-stuffed, making it easier for baby to hold and explore. It has tons of sensory feedback for baby to explore. There are crinkle and rattle sounds, a variety of appliqué textures and moving peek-a-boo flaps for little fingers to lift, plastic rings with bumpy textures to grab and taste, black and white knotties, and the bold animal graphics on each side. A good choice for building knowing and naming language when you talk about the animals and the sounds they make, as well as the featured colors on each side of the cube. A charming toy for introducing the joyful patterns and delicious palette of artist Eric Carle.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
NFL Game Day: The Ultimate Football Board Game
(Fremont Die $29.99 Score:)

An fun and engaging addition to a football fan’s board game collection. Each player is given the option to customize his or her end zone with a unique team magnet. The gameplay is similar to War where both players flip their offense/defense cards at the same time. The outcome of the play is determined by the characteristics of the offensive card versus the defensive card. NFL Game Day is a must have for NFL fans.

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

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2013 Award
Justice League Axis of Villains Strategy Game
(Wonder Forge $24.99 Score:)

Wonder Forge's Justice League: Axis of Villains is a great game for DC Comic fans. Players control Superman, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern in their fight against each character's numerous villains. Through a combination of dice rolling, Justice Power cards, and Villain cards the heroes and villains duke it out until either the satellite is destroyed or all the villains are captured.  This is an old fashion and fun strategy game for fans of the Justice League.

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

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2013 Awards
Kids Preferred Playtime Plush Toy, The Very Hungry Caterpillar
(Kids Preferred $22 Score:)

There are all kinds of textures and patterns to explore on this huggable fabric caterpillar. Based on the famous Very Hungry Caterpillar, it looks straight out of the pages of the book with its big eyes and multi-colored body. The segments of the soft doll have multi-colored dots on the underside and on top there are other painterly Eric Carle patterns as well as plump parts covered in corduroy, felt, plush, and more cotton. There is a happy looking sun with rays of ribbons as well as iridescent feelers, velour knottie legs, and one segment that plays (hard to activate) electronic music--a small loss since we can do without that kind of high pitched music. Two plastic rings are attached onto the long body with crinkle sounds at both ends. Kids who know the story will enjoy lugging this good sized huggable around with them.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Awards
Chicco Tom Push N Go
(Chicco $14.95 Score:)

An easy-to-activate floor toy to motivate crawling. A child-powered rolling toy with a spinning ball inside the body of Tom, an orange and yellow cat. The ball has a quiet rattling sound and just a small push sets it in motion. For dog lovers, there is an spotted pooch called Toby Push N Go. 6 months & up

SNAP: Just a swipe of the hand powers the action, so this is a good choice for inviting beginning crawlers to go get the rolling cat or puppy.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Chicco Toby Push 'N Go
(Chicco $14.95 Score:)

An easy-to-activate floor toy to motivate crawling. A child-powered rolling toy with a spinning ball inside the body of Toby, a spotted pooch. The ball has a quiet rattling sound and just a small push sets it in motion. For cat lovers, there is an orange and yellow cat called Tom Push 'N Go.  6 months & up


SNAP just a swipe of the hand powers the action, so this is a good choice for inviting beginning crawlers to go get the rolling cat or puppy.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Alex Round the Farm
(Alex $43.99 Score:)

An update of a 2008 Platinum Award winner, this soft fabric ball has new faces, textures and sounds. There are four different animal faces, each with its own set of ears that protrude from the ball and have a sound effect appropriate for the related animal. (The frog ribbits, the cat meows, the cow moos, and the dog woofs.) There is also a small finger hole that baby testers thought was great fun. However, the toy was $24.99 in 2008. Hard to know why it is now almost twice the price. 6 months & up.

SNAP: A fun toy to motivate crawling and for developing language.
Talk about the eyes, mouth and ears of each animal. Play a singing game to the tune of "If you're happy and you know it...clap your hands...etc." Only this time play it by singing about tap the cow's nose, mouth, ears. Play it with each face of the toy and with your child's own mouth, eyes and ears.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Chicco 3-in-1 Music Band Table
(Chicco $49 Score:)

A versatile activity table with three different musical instruments: drum, maracas and DJ. Kids can play rhythms and keep time with the music, or spin their own music. For music lovers, it may be a stretch to call this a musical toy, but it is about giving tots the powerful sense of making things happen. Sitting-up babies can play their own tunes on the floor while standing-up toddlers can play side by side. Either way, this is a fun way for kids to make things happen. The sounds are not too intrusive. Happily, there are no A-B-C's or numerals to give a false impression of being more educational. But, not to worry. Babies learn a lot about cause and effect from playing with open-ended toys that invite them to turn knobs, spin barrels, and push big buttons. They are also developing eye hand skills and manual dexterity.

SNAP: You may want to tape on a fat foam hair roller to the tiny green knob of the green DJ disk. That will add texture and be easier to grasp for children who need a larger knob. For children who are not standing, the separate pieces can be enjoyed in the lap or the three pieces can fit in the white stand and be played on the floor without the legs.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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