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Disney Infinity Marvel Super Heroes 2.0 Starter Pack
(Disney $74.99 Score:)

Going head to head with Skylanders, Disney Infinity has called in the superheroes of Marvel. The starter pack comes with Marvel Super Heroes video game, 3 Marvel Super heroes (Iron Man, Thor and Black Widow), one Disney infinity base, 2 toy box game discs, 1 Marvel's The Avengers Play set piece and a web code card. Editors' Note: While we acknowledge that this is a large and growing segment of toyland, we still wish that the games and technology were less about combat.  On the other hand playing these types of games often becomes a social issue - in which case we suggest that you sit down and experience the game play with your child. And as with all "screen" time we suggest you put a time limit on this type of play before you bring the toy home. This type of play should not replace everything else like building, being active and creative in the real world.

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

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Skylanders Trap Team Starter Pack
(Activision $74.99 Score:)

This relative newcomer to toyland with over a BILLION dollars in sales has engaged younger kids to the world of gaming with action figures that exist both virtually and as toys. Here's the story: "Kaos has blown up the walls of Cloudcracker Prison and freed notorious villains in Skylands. You and the Skylanders must hunt them down and capture them with magical Traptanium, a powerful material that can harness the Elements. Available for all gaming systems. 6 & up. Editors' Note: While we acknowledge that this is a large and growing segment of toyland, we still wish that the games and technology were less about combat.  On the other hand playing these types of games often becomes a social issue - in which case we suggest that you sit down and experience the game play with your child. And as with all "screen" time we suggest you put a time limit on this type of play before you bring the toy home. This type of play should not replace everything else like building, being active and creative in the real world.

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

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2014 Award
Sky Viper X-Quad Stunt Quadcopter
(Skyrocket Toys $49.99 Score:)

The Sky Viper X-Quad Stunt Quadcopter is a new sleeker, smaller version of the original airborne four-blade R/C copter from 2013. Like its predecessor, the X-Quad looks a lot like the drones in the news and features technologically impressive hobby level steering and control. It's lightweight yet sturdy and can be used for both indoor and outdoor play. Be forewarned, charging takes time.

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

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Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk Remote Control Flying Car
(Mattel $59.99 Score:)

Is it a car? Is it a plane? Hold on to your remote control and it is both. Built for dual terrain versatility, the Street Hawk promises to do more than previous RC vehicles. On the ground it is powered by a 2.4GHz transmitter with ground steering control, dual 8mm electric motors and a LiPo 3.7V battery (that can be charged using the transmitter or via a USB cable). As a plane, it can fly up to 200+ feet and has dual propellors that spin over 35K RPMs. You can charge it via USB or transmitter. Manufacturer claims this is lightweight and durable and capable of aerial stunts. Marked for 5-15. We'd say more like in the middle of that with adult supervision with younger kids. [Editors' Note: Our testers all wanted to LOVE this toy and while one family was very successful getting it off the ground, the majority of our testers had problems with charging, having the propellers fall off and generally not getting it to fly as long as they had hoped.]

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

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2014 Award
MiP Balancing Robot
(WowWee $103 Score:)

This futuristic white and black robot comes with "gestureSense" technology, meaning hand motions will control the robot. However, for more action you can control your robot with a free app on your smart phone; you can make it move, dance, and play games. Watch out how you turn its wheels, though, since this is a robot with emotions, itís in your hands to make your robot happy or angry and keep its balance. Kid testers (both boys and girls) love this, parents wish that it had rechargeable batteries and some questioned (given the price) how long it would keep its novelty appeal. 8 & up

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

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LeapFrog LeapBand
(LeapFrog $39.99 Score:)

Kids usually like wearing and using tech products their parents are using and the LeapBand is a kid's version of your activity band. However, it doesn't count steps or distance or calories like the grown up kinds, but is designed to encourage activities that do keep kids moving, which is a good thing. The pet pal can be customized so kids earn points by completing 50 active challenges, such as 'pounce like a lion' or 'walk like a crab' or 'spin like a helicopter.' Our testers found this a novelty, but way too over-sized and bulky for kid-sized wrists and kids did not want to wear it for long. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Though they look similar, this is nothing like the VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch, which is really a watch/camera/recorder. 

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

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VTech Kidizoom Smartwatch
(VTech $69.99 Score:)

Though they look similar, this is nothing like the LeapFrog LeapBand. It is not an activity tracker, but more like a camera and recording machine. Kids can take photos and videos with fun effects. It also has a voice recorder with voice-changing effects as well as games and a touch screen. Finally, it is also a watch with analog and digital displays. Although parents liked the learning games they could down load, kids and parents found it annoyingly huge and bulky for kid-sized wrists. Testers seemed to like the voice changer recorder the best. Available in pink, blue and gender-free green. Marked 3-9, testers felt it too complex for very young and too babyish for the upper range listed. We think the sweet spot for novelty this is more like 6-7. 

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

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2014 Award
Fisher Price Imaginext DC Super Friends RC Transforming Batbot
(Fisher Price $64.99 Score:)

With over 100 sound effects and phrases this Batbot is part robot/ part tank that operates with a full function remote control. Little brothers and sisters will be impressed (and maybe a little scared) when the Bat Bot's eyes light up. It has a disk launcher, a batman figure, and both arms rotate 90 degrees. Our seven year old tester's eyes lit up when he saw this toy in the box and his delight only grew as he played with it, transforming it from bot to tank and back again and activating the many phrases and motions. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Road Rippers Piston Thumper Ford Raptor
(Toy State $19.99 Score:)

For noisy toy fans, this will do it, big time. The F-150 SVT Raptor has lights and lots of roaring beeping and thumping sounds that will delight kids until someone yells--turn that #*@#& off! That said, it's a showy gift for the price and you can always let the batteries go dead and still have a powerful looking SVT for dramatic play. Takes 3 AA batteries.

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

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2014 Award
Anki DRIVE Starter Kit Smart Robot Car Racing Game
(Anki Drive $149 Score:)

Remember slot cars? Now imagine "slotless" slot car races in your living room that run on a 3.5' x 8.5' racetrack mat that rolls up and stores when the fun is done. Each player needs an iOS or Android compatible device (they cannot be mixed). The base set includes two cars, chargers that are like little garages, and a track mat. It takes just 10 minutes to charge a car that will run for 20 minutes. Additional cars are $49. You'll want to use the tutorial so that you know how to control the speed of your car and how to change lanes. You don't steer so much as zig zag the track to beat other racers by disabling them with virtual force field and weapons. You can play solo or with up to four racers. A big ticket item for family fun. This image doesnít do the product justice. Look at the maker's site to see the game in action. They say 8 & up, but we think older kids and parents will like this best.

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

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