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Product Type: Toys

 


2015 Award
Peaceable Kingdom Dinosaur Escape Game
(Peaceable Kingdom $17.99 Score:)

Dinosaurs are everywhere this season, thanks to the new Jurassic Park movie. For younger dino fans, this Dinosaur Escape game is a more age appropriate entertainment. In this cooperative game players work together to help the dinosaur escape to Dinosaur Island before the volcano can erupt. Each player has a dinosaur playing piece, a mover. It's a game that involves counting, memory and turn taking to find a dinosaur behind a fern in the same habitat as the dinosaur you are moving. If you roll a T-Rex, watch out! All dinosaurs in play must move back to a start space. If you roll a volcano you place one piece of the volcano in the stand. The object is to find all three lost dinosaur tokens before the fifth and final piece of the volcano is built. Each round takes about 10 minutes. For 2-4 players ages 4 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Hasbro Scrabble Twist
(Hasbro $20 Score:)

How many words can you make with the same five letter choices that come up on the hand held game machine? Tap the letters and give it a twist and make as many words as possible before the timer runs out. You get 3 points for 3 letter words, 5 points for four letter words and 7 points for five letter words. You can play Solo, set it for two players on Turbo, or set it for Party for 2-8 players that gets passed around a circle. If the word is good the machine will play a you got it sound. If its not good you will see all Xs on the screen. Take this along for waiting games in the car or elsewhere. 8 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Smithsonian Museum Craft Kit Triceratops
(Skullduggery $24.99 Score:)

Our 7 and 10-year old testers really liked all the steps of this plaster mold kit. In three easy steps, it is designed so kids get to turn the powder into plaster that pours into the mold and dries in about 45 minutes. Although they were less than thrilled with coloring the poster setting, they liked painting the pieces and pasting them to the poster. There is also a set with horses, one with three space crafts, and a skeleton, a pre-med kit for learning the names of the bones for serious minded crafters. The finished pieces are not standing models. They can only be displayed lying on the poster. 8 & up

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

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2015 Award
Mattel Barbie Film Director, 2015 Career of the Year
(Mattel $ 12.99 Score:)

With her viewfinder round her neck and her utility belt on her waist, Barbie is ready to say, "Lights! Camera! Action!" Dressed in her jeans and pink knit sweater she has patterned scarf for a dash of glamour. Her flats are spares when her boots are ready to take off. Fortunately, she now has articulated ankles so she can really move at a new pace as she races to meet the deadline on finishing her newest, and no doubt award winning film! Voted the career of the year for 2015.

CHoose her as BLonde Barbie or brunette Nikki.

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

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2015 Awards
Playskool Play All Day Elmo
(Hasbro $59.99 Score:)

This season's interactive Elmo is larger and softer than usual, which makes him cuddlier than Elmos of the past. There are two modes of play: a setting for toddlers with simplest games and another for preschoolers, a nice feature, although his speech tends to be less clear than previous Elmo dolls. There are no accessories to put on and take off. All the action is built into the doll. To activate, just squeeze Elmo's big soft orange nose and he plays eight games. Of course, Elmo is "the boss" of all, telling kids let's play pat-a-cake, hop and count, freeze dance, guess colors, red light/green light, and animal sounds.  Elmo also takes naps and sings a lullaby before he goes quiet until someone is ready to wake him up and play some more. Marked for 18 months to 4 years. The swet spot ages are probably just between those-- as in 2's to late 3's.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
North American Bear Baby Hero Dolls
(North American Bear Co. $24.99 Score:)

Here she is ready to right wrongs, to rescue those who need rescuing and fly into the face of whatever she must do! You can say that again for Baby Hero Boy Doll. Both Baby Heroes are done up with masks and capes as all proper heroes must be AND Baby Hero Girl has two small red ribbons to adorn her long double pigtails. Made of several fabrics with different textures. Their bodies, capes and high red boots are done in velvety velour plush while their other clothes (unremovable) are of lovely silky satin. Of course the idea of superheroes will be lost on very young children, but this might even be a good comfort toy for early school aged kids who are dealing with health or social challenges. All ages.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag
(Fisher-Price $24.99 Score:)

A giant zip up bag full of 80 Mega bloks in bright primary colors and a variety of shapes that fit together in endless ways. This giant set comes with a platform with wheels to attach to make a small push around vehicle. The storage bag will be fun for filling and dumping, a favorite game of toddlers who love toys with lots of pieces. Putting the pieces together and taking them apart calls for dexterity and leads to discoveries about making two pieces together as big as one. Use these for stacking into towers to knock down with a ball. Sort them by color or shape. PVC Free and BPA fee bag. A basic gear toy for toddlers. Marked 1-5, we'd say more like 18 months-4 years. 

SNAP: Sorting these bloks by color or another time by shape, will give your child some concept building as you play together. Try another game of turn taking: you put one on, I put one, you put one, etc. until the tower falls over. Or use the blocks to make a pattern, yellow, red,yellow, red, yellow...what comes next?

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Hasbro Jurrassic World Hero Mashers, T-rex
(Hasbro $18.99 Score:)

If they love dinosaurs and building here is a clever toy that combines the fun of both. Hero Mashers allow kids to take their dinosaurs apart and rebuild them in all sorts of shapes and forms. Even the smallest set comes with two heads and multiple body parts to transform the figures dramatically. Taking them apart and putting them back together does call for some hand strength and visual acuity. A fun-filled choice for a fairly inexpensive birthday gift, when you have tons of party gifts to buy. For the true dinohaulic consider the larger sets to suit the budget and recipient. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends Musical Melody Tracks Set
(Fisher-Price $160 Score:)

Such a great wooden train set with action easy enough for young preschoolers to do. This is a show-stopper, with a water wheel that spins and loads cargo onto passing trains and a bridge that plays music as Thomas and Friends roll over the bridge and around the curve. It says the tune is their theme song, but we didn't hear it really; the sound is just low key and pleasing. We really like that this is a kid-activated toy, no need for lights or big tricks. It is a pricey set but comes with several major accessories and plenty of track. Along with Thomas and a flatbed carrier, the set includes a waterwheel cargo loader, the musical bridge, one ascending up hill track, 10 curves, 4 long tracks, two stone wall tracks, a bumpy track and one with pegs to grip the waterwheel. The tracks are compatible with older sets and can be added to existing sets or laid out in a variety of ways. Best of all, there is no absolute right and wrong way to use this set. Ideal for 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Fisher-Price Pirate's Cove Discovery Set
(Fisher-Price $150 Score:)

Kids can play with this train set without knowing the big backstory, but it just might add drama for some kids to share the story or watch the DVD that goes with it. Thomas is carrying TNT to the demolition crew working on a new branch line when the ground begins shaking under his wheels. Press the TNT plunger and WHOOSH! Tracks drop and poor Thomas falls as a pirate ship rolls out. Now Thomas must find the treasure without plunging into the Harbor. There is a drawbridge to let ships pass. This big set includes Thomas, cargo car, treasure cargo, a free-wheeling pirate ship vehicle, multiple track pieces, rock that hides the treasure, pirate ship launch ramp, bridge turn, museum, cargo bin, two large hill pieces with mechanism, two small hill pieces with draw bridge and the pirate ship launching bay. This is marked for 3 & up, but clearly it is a theme and story line better for older preschoolers.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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