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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
LEGO Fun with Vehicles
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Kids love to build toys that work and this 525 piece set comes with mechanics and all the parts needed to build five vehicles. These are building plans for building and assortment of racing cars, tow truck, flatbed, jeep and convertible. The set includes 2 male mini-figures, wheels, tools and color-coded basic elements
This set is marked for 4+, but for those with limited dexterity, this may be a better choice for 5's and 6's. The step-by-step plans are clear, but younger kids will need help in learning how to "read" the drawings.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Kid O Plane
(Kid O $19 Score:)

Pick your favorite color or buy the fleet - blue, red or green. These chunky 8" X 9" planes are uncomplicated enough for toddlers to scoot around with on their knees or lift in flight. The appealing planes roll smoothly and have propellers that turn only if your toddler makes it happen. Fun for crawlers as well as beginning walkers as they begin to enjoy early pretend play. 1 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Race to the Treasure
(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99 Score:)

We had good fun racing to beat the Ogre as we connected the pathway cards and collected the key tokens. This is a cooperative game that helps older players guide younger players with discovering strategy skills as well as learning to share decision-making. Set-up involves some math grid concepts, though the bigger lesson is teamwork with players beating the Ogre rather than each other.   It's an easy to learn game for 2-4 players that takes about 20 minutes and good for mixed ages. 5-50+.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Snug as a Bug in a Rug
(Peaceable Kingdom $20 Score:)

A clever, fast, and easy-to-learn game that is played cooperatively. Put all the bug playing pieces on top of the rug. Players take turns spinning the spinner to find out what color bug they should remove and put under the rug. Once there is a color that cannot be found (this happens about half way through) you have to put a big grey stinkbug on the rug. Now the attribute that players have to find and remove changes from colors to big or little eyes. Watch out! You want to get rid of all the bugs before a second stink bug has to be added to the rug. The object is to get rid of all the bugs before all three stinkbugs are on the rug! Changing attributes calls for some flexible thinking.  A fun game for developing color, shape, and simple counting skills.  3-6

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
CitiBlocs Glow in the Dark Blocks
(Citiblocs $29.99 Score:)

70 Glow in the dark and 30 natural blocks come in this new set of blocks. If you expose them to light for 10 minutes they will glow for over 40 minutes. These are fun to use separately or as additions to other building sets. We can report that they do work and add a new kind of sensory dimension to building fun. Build before bedtime and there is a nightlight when the overhead light is turned off. Also new this season, a set of Neon color Citiblocs.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Kaleidograph Flora
(Red Hen/Kaleidograph Design $12.99 Score:)

A perfect choice for travel or quiet time play. Each set comes with 12 die cut cards that are brightly colored on each side. Arrange them and rearrange them making original designs as they are stacked or use the patterns poster to reproduce the patterns shown. There is a "flora set" with circular frame or the "crystal" set with more angular frame. Either set provides multiple possibilities for creative fun and visual experimentation. All store away in a CD style case for easy take-along diversions. 5 & up.

Activity: Give your child a chance to explore the cards for a while. Then open the poster and choose a design you'd like to reproduce. Note that each design involved three or more colors. Select the colors and then experiment with putting them in various layers until you find the order that reproduces the pattern you chose from the poster. A good game for enlarging color words, matching skills as well as shapes and sequencing - along with visual discoveries.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
The Original Egg Game
(egggame.com $$10 Score:)

In the middle of receiving what seemed like an endless supply of plastic toys (many, we should note are on our award list), arrived a package that seemed like a throw back to a different era. The Original Egg Game consists of a circular board (you can buy a small, medium or large board) that is made of particle board material and a stone egg.  For this holiday season, we received a Five board set in a big canvas storage bag. A great set for a group setting is $100. Or you can start with a single and grow from there.  Now, we have to tell you that if you have trouble spinning a top (like some of us at the toyportfolio, you may have trouble getting started).  You have to be able to spin the egg--and if you watch the video from the company they do provide a number of suggestions that proved to be most helpful!).  Specifically we found the two handed start method most useful.  In any case, once you get the egg going, how long can you keep it going--alone or with a partner holding the board.  This really becomes a group activity that invites group problem solving, trial and error...and along the way, there's a great deal of laughter.  You can purchase a  small board with one egg for $10 or the medium board (shown in the picture) is $20 and comes with two eggs.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Journey Girls Kelsey & Friends
(Toys R Us $32.99 Score:)

With her striking auburn hair and hazel eyes, our 2011 Platinum winner, Kelsey is one of a collection of multi-ethnic 18" dolls that will not break the bank. For 2012, new clothes have been added to the collection and her affordable wheel chair is still available. She's featured as the most fearless--a girl who likes to go climbing and hiking. Maybe that is why she arrived along with a wheel chair and crutches set ( sold separately $24.99) She wears sensible outdoor clothes, a fleecy zippered vest, insulated knit shirt, shorts, walking shoes and carries a rugged backpack. All the dolls in the collection have soft bodies, jointed shoulders and luxurious hair for styling. Dressed in sports clothes they are active girls ready to take adventurous journeys. Their eyes do not open and close and they are not very flexible. Kelsey sits in the wheel chair with her legs stiff in front of her. Her hips are not jointed, so she sits, but stiffly. That said, they are an affordable alternative to many very pricey 18" dolls. Tanya is African American and heading for New Orleans Jazz Festival. Meredith is a blonde beauty dreaming of skiing in the Alps. Callie is an Asian girl, who longs to go to London and Alana is a Latina heading for Rome.


The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

The wheel chair and crutches are listed and sold separately. Like the dolls, they are more affordable than most and well made.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
LeapFrog Tag Interactive World Map
(LeapFrog $19.99 Score:)

An update to the original Platinum Award winning World Map of 2011. Now LeapFrog has redone the sturdy cardboard map into a two-sided interactive puzzle. It has a Political Map on one side with each of the country's names and borders. Kids can play a quiz game that help them learn the names of the countries and oceans. The reverse side shows a Physical Map of the world that shows the seven continents, oceans, major mountain ranges, deserts, rivers and major landmarks. Putting the puzzle together gives kids some hands-on experience with learning to map the world. As with the USA Map, this is an add-on to the TAG Reading System (the TAG pen is not included in this package). With the TAG, your child can explore the map on several levels. We love the ability to explore and hear the name of place touched on the map. If you ever wished your atlas could talk to you (or was that just us?)...this is really what happens with this mode. There is also a lot of built-in trivia...another passion with school-aged kids who love to amass facts! Our favorite is the travel time mode so that you can find out how long it would take you to travel from New York to Sydney!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Corolle Large Rag Doll (Pink or Grenadine)
(Corolle $34.95 Score:)

 Ready for hugging - these lovable 13" dolls are dressed in velour and have long arms and legs for easy grabbing. Safe stitched features make this a good choice for a first doll. Choose from the red and hot pink version (called Grenadine) with melon colored scarf and shoes or the pink one. Either is a winner. Their striped skirts and textured bodies add to their sensory appeal. These blue eyed rag dolls are big enough to give toddlers an armful of delight while remaining light enough for them to handle with ease.  Clothes are sewn on for safe keeping and the doll is machine washable. One and up.
    

 

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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