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2014 Award
Faber-Castell Gel Sticks
(Faber-Castell $12.99 Score:)

Kids are going to love the buttery Gel Sticks that can be used for drawing and then turned into water color paintings with a paintbrush and water. These are not to be confused with the also wonderful Gel Crayons that are not water soluble. You will want to protect the table surface where they work, since these are a bit messier than regular crayons, but also far more versatile.  You get 12 gel sticks and a paintbush in the set. This would make a great stocking stuffer.

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
Hot Wheels Spin King
(Toy State $14.99 Score:)

A showy present, this blue racer is not only motorized to rev up and roll, it lights up and even plays some music. A great novelty toy that is sure to please any 3 & up on your list. May not go the distance and requires three AA batteries, but if you shop you will find it for even less than the sticker price and appreciate it for the short term novelty fun it provides.

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

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2014 Awards
Manhattan Toy Playtime Activity Cart
(Manhattan Toy $74 Score:)

For toddlers, a cart for loading and unloading is a favorite plaything. Unlike many so-called walkers for the less than steady on their feet beginners, this one is surprisingly stabile, even for tots who are still pulling themselves up. It has stoppers on the back that add stabilization. It is not weighted, but very well designed and well-balanced. It also has sliding gears on the side for sit-down fun. The wooden cart has a fabric pouch that attaches with Velcro-like closures and its big wooden wheels have rubber treads for better traction. This is a piece of basic gear that will transport dolls, teddy bears, blocks and whatever else your toddler decides needs to be on the move. Though it is pricey, it is painted in gender free bright primary colors, it can be passed along to baby brothers and sisters and cousins in the family. 12 months and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Alilo G6 Cute Rabbit Player Children's English Song & Story Player Machine
(Alilo $59.99 Score:)

An awesome bunny (available in pink or blue, that is a combination night light, music player, story teller, recorder and customizable player that you can start using with infants and well beyond. The pre-recorded music, both songs an just instrumental, is pleasant and not the typical tinny electronic stuff. Push the light switch and bunny's ears light up and change color slowly and without big brightness. It comes with 20 nursery rhymes and stories that preschoolers will enjoy and you can customize it and add your own stories and music. The plastic body is made tough and the battery is rechargable. You can lock the settings and oh, yes, the volume control(built into the tail) is easy to adjust and has some real range, not just high and low. It comes loaded with a micro SD card slot and mini USB port to update content. One of the most innovative toys we received late this holiday season. Marked 12 months and up, though we think the music on a table in an infants's room would be fine. It's not a toy you would give a 12 month old to handle either. For the very young, this is a listening or watching toy. Preschoolers are the ones who will want to learn how to push the buttons.

SNAP: A night light, music player, story teller, this is a gift that will be enjoyed by children from infants to well beyond preschoolers. Best of all you can record storeis, and music of your own choice to the extensive library.

Age: Infants, Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Early Years Stack N Nest Cups
(International Playthings $7.99 Score:)

Looking for a toy that will go the distance? A classic set of nesting cups may look old fashioned, but to your baby they are new and loaded with fascination! With their wide easy to grasp rims, these cups are fun for floor play as well as the tub. They have safety holes in the bottom, so they cannot form a vacuum on baby's face. These are what must-have basic gear for sitting up babies. No bells, whistles or lightsójust solid hands-on play with seven bright cups that stack into a 12-inch tower or nest neatly inside of each other.

note: the link online calls this a toddler toy, but the box is marked as it should be : 6 months and up.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Snow Queen Lottie
(Lottie $19.99 Score:)

One of the charming Lottie Doll collection, a 7" doll that fits in the small hand of preschoolers, who like to carry their dolls along. Lottie Snow Queen is dressed for a pretend ball, maybe Halloween. She has a blue and white gown and wrap. Unlike fashion dolls with make-up and high heels, she is a girl doll who can actually stand on her two feet and has bendable arms and legs. Designed for 3 and up, these Lottie dolls are affordable and have accessories as well as hair play possibilities.

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

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2014 Award
Lottie, Autumn Leaves
(Lottie $19.99 Score:)

One of a charming collection of 7" girl dolls that are not fashion icons, wear no make-up and can stand on their two small feet. Autumn Leaves Lottie is dressed in striped tights, stout boots, and a pink felted coat. She has bendable arms and legs and is ready for outdoor fun. Her buddy Kite Flyer Finn, is a boy doll who comes ready for outdoors, as well. Also see the fancy Snow Queen Lottie. These are affordable dolls designed for pretend play that will appeal to 3-9's.  

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

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2014 Award
eeBoo United States Geography Bingo
(eeBoo $15.99 Score:)

Maps of the United States are divided into six regional sections and players vie to be the first to cover all the products their states are known for producing. The back of each playing board lists the states, the capitals, state flower, nickname and state motto. Marked for 5 & up, but we think it is probably maker a greater hit with slightly older kids who are hungry for information and curious about maps. 6-9.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
LeapFrog LeapTV
(LeapFrog $149 Score:)

Designed for younger player, 3-8, this is like the Wii for wee folks with a console, camera and controller that you hook up to your TV. These are largely games that will get kids off the couch and playing active physical games that are non-violent and have some educational content that parents can choose to fit their kids' ages and stages. Kids play by moving their bodies, using the controller that is designed for child size hands. They can use the controller two-handed play as with a joystick and buttons or change the handle into pointer mode and swing it like a wand. One of our test families liked the fact that they had access to LeapFrog's giant library of educational games. They did have some challenges in getting the children of different heights onto the screen at the same time.

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

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2014 Award
Manhattan Toy Skwish Stix
(Manhattan Toy $32 Score:)

Like the classic Skwish, here's a tabletop version that may buy you some time when you are stirring up baby's lunch. Use this on the high chair table or put it on the floor for sitting up babies. A strong suction cup will hold it in place while baby explores the colorful wooden beads, rods and springy cords.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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