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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2015 Award
LeapFrog LeapPad Platinum
(LeapFrog $129.99 Score:)

The new LeapPad Platinum by LeapFrog is almost identical to their earlier LeapPad XDI Ultra model except for an arguably sleeker design and new packaging including Imagicard samples. Imagicard Digital game and Interactive cards are an exciting new feature that can be purchased separately and used with other LeapPad tablets. The cards include access to photo-fun activities and learning games that stimulate activity both in and outside of the digital platform. Like previous LeapPads, the LeapPad Platinum maintains Wi-Fi protected content that keeps kid safe, while giving them access to more downloadable apps and content that are 100% pre-screened and approved by learning experts. The 7-inch tablet is designed to withstand heavy usage with a shatter-proof screen and has 8GB of memory. Color options include green and purple.

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

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2015 Award
Gamewright Flashlights & Fireflies
(Gamewright $15.99 Score:)

Imagine playing around with fireflies in the middle of winter or a sunny afternoon. True it will call for some imagination, as does this game in which players catch fireflies to power their flashlights. But watch out! There are bats, raccoons and other creatures of the night that might get in your way. It's of game of visual discrimination, deduction and pretend. First one to reach home wins. Our test family gave this high grades. Maybe no substitute for catching the real thing--but fun, nevertheless. Playtime is 20 minutes for 2-5 players. 6 & up.

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

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2015 Award
Jurassic World Heroes Dilophosaurus
(Hasbro $14.99 Score:)

Kids will no doubt love the sounds and lights as they press the tail of this fierce blue and orange trimmed Dilophosaurus. His jaw opens and his claws move as he roars. Small enough to use with building blocks; scary enough to add drama to pretend stories of prehistoric dimensions. If you need a lot of birthday gifts that will not break the bank, this is a likely pleaser.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Jurassic Park Tyrannosaurus Rex
(Hasbro $29.99 Score:)

Lights, sounds and a T-Rex that not only roars, you can hear it chew and swallow. This is one of the biggies in the Jurassic line-up, a giant green T-Rex with eyes that flash, spikes on its back, and a mouth full of teeth. Tip him forward and his jaw closes with a snap and the sounds of chewing and swallowing begins. Ferocious, and how! Being from the movies he comes with a handler who is small but tough and has his own leg gripper for grabbing T-Rex from behind. If you prefer a less noisy version, consider the brownish Tyrannosaurus Rex with a snapping jaw but no sounds or lights.

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

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2015 Award
Hasbro Jurassic World Heroes Indominus Rex
(Hasbro $34.99 Score:)

Lights, sounds and a T-Rex that not only roars, she changes skin color on her thorny grey back when she eats. Even more frightening, you can hear her chomp, chew and swallow. This is the biggie in the Jurassic line-up, a giant grey T-Rex with eyes that flash, spikes all over, and a mouth full of teeth.  Super Ferocious, and how! Maybe a bit over the top for some preschoolers who have not sorted out real and make believe. Marked 4 and up.

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

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2015 Awards
Hasbro FurReal Friends My Jumpin Pug
(Hasbro $39.99 Score:)

One of the cutest FurReals pets to come jumpin' into toyland. Motion activated, this big-eyed pug puppy yips and yaps when you come into the room. He jumps and barks and responds to being patted with sounds of delight. Short plush fur and wrinkled pug face. A fun novelty for 4 & up.

SNAP: A satisfying pretend pup that kids will like taking charge of without any of the stress of a real pup.

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

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2015 Awards
Manhattan Toy Lovies Payton Puppy
(Manhattan Toy $12 Score:)

You can find this adorable black and white pooch in three sizes, each with a slightly crooked face and angular ears that stand up and make him all the more appealing. He's done in silky plush, has pellets inside so he can sit on his lightly weighted bottom. We have the 5.5 handful and the one marked large. Either will be a perfect huggable to take wherever your toddler is off to. This is one of those classics that both boys and girls like to take wherever they go.  They have no agenda or tricks. Like a good old teddy bear or floppy bunny, Payton Puppy will listen to whatever a child has to say and do whatever he's told. He'll be completely loving with no questions as to who is the boss.

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

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2015 Awards
Guidecraft 74-piece Organics-Powerclix
(Guidecraft $80.00 Score:)

Colorful translucent plastics in interesting new magnetic shapes give kids a new range of possibilities for creating some amazing constructions with 74-pieces in eight different shapes. There are instructions for reproducing some 3-D constructions and following those pictorial instructions will challenge kids to stay with a task and use visual clues as they hone their eye hand skills. But it's not just about reproducing a model. These pieces allow for discovery and open-ended creations. This is one of those STEM toys that gives children hands on experience with symmetry and spatial concepts and will be interesting to both girls and boys. 5 & up.

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

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2015 Awards
Lincoln Logs 100th Anniversary Set
(KNEX $73 Score:)

A giant size tin container holds a 111-piece set of Lincoln Logs; truly a collector's item with all wooden pieces. This is you dad's all wooden Lincoln Log set...if he is old enough. In any case, it is just the way today's grandparents remember their Lincoln Logs days before premade plastic eaves and roof pieces came along. A great set for multiple kids to enjoy together. Pull this out if you have frequent visiting grandkids. It will keep them busy or get down on the floor and build a village of log structures with them. Labels on Lincoln Logs are often marked for 3 and up. Forget that! All a three year old can do is watch you build, knock them down or be frustrated trying to build them up. Save this for your older 5, 6 and 7 year olds and be prepared to work with them until they get the hang of how the logs fit together and how to stack the roof pieces so they donít all clatter down. Kids get a real sense of accomplishment from learning how to do this and trying to assemble different structures. It calls for visual discrimination as well as dexterity and problem solving. This is no instantaneous toy. It takes patience and thinking.

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

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2015 Award
Lincoln Logs Oak Creek Lodge
(KNEX $39.99 Score:)

This season's mid size Lincoln Log set has 137 pieces and a relatively simple build. A lodge built of traditional wooden logs with plastic door, windows and roof. Not quite your classic log cabin, by any means. Marked for 3 and up, this is simply not for 3's or most 4's. Getting the logs in place takes more visual and manual dexterity than any three year old can bring to it. You may have loved this toy, but if you are doing the building for them, you are simply diminishing of the real worth of this timeless building set. Save the Lincoln Logs for 5's, 6's and even 7's. That is when they can really figure out how these logs work and have the pleasure of making a house stand. For 3's bring on the wooden blocks or duplo blocks.

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

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