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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2015 Award
Mudpuppy Dinosaur 63 Piece Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $14.95 Score:)

 A challenging 63-piece puzzle that will turn into a 18 X 14 inch picture of multiple dinos in a green world. There is no frame, so kids will need some strategies for finding the straight edged pieces to build the frame. Since the dinos are intertwined, they will need the box for reference as they work their way through. This is marked 4 and up, but we think it will be a better choice for older dino lovers.

 

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

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Farm Train Set
(big Jigs $49.99 Score:)

A good beginners set that is close to a 44-piece figure eight layout. It twists in the center under an apple tree bridge and comes with train, duck pond, farm animals, trees, a farmer and child. We know it's tempting to bring this to your two year old, but there are small pieces that make this a poor choice for kids under 3 & up.  Or for more complex set see Big Jigs Dinosaur Train set.

 

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

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Bronto Riser
(big Jigs $29.99 Score:)

What a wonderful add-on to any wooden train setting! This five piece set features a giant brontosaurus with ascending and descending track. Add this to the Big Jig dinosaur train set or any other train setting for a splash of color and excitement. This kind of add-on can revive interest in an old wooden train set that may be forgotten. Adding props such as animals or vehicles for block sets, new bridges and tunnels for train sets, or dishes and pots to big housekeeping settings will make a bigger hit than you might expect and extend the life of a big toy investment. 3 & up

 

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

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Dinosaur Train Set
(Big Jigs $89.99 Score:)

A 49-piece set with plenty of wooden tracks, a mountain with ascending and descending tracks, trees, trains, nine different dinosaurs. In fact two of the dinos can ride on the train. Want to enlarge the set with a wow-ee extra? Look at the five piece Broto Riser (29.99) 3-8

 

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

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Dinosaur Set
(Magformers $219.00 Score:)

A marvelous 81-piece set of magnetic shapes and plans for building many different dinosaurs that will actually walk after they are built. Given the big outlines of the magnetic pieces, these are not highly realistic looking models, yet very satisfying approximations. Best of all they can be loaded with a power pack that brings these extinct giants to life. There is a step-by-step direction book and you can watch them being assembled on a you tube demo. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you can’t wait to buy this for a preschooler, you’ll find this is a more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. A much better choice for 5-8. Note: The price on these sets are very high-but we've noticed that they are discounted if you shop around.

 

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

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2015 Award
Hape Ice Cream Emporium
(HaPe $149 Score:)

Our testers live in sunny California, so this is an outdoor/indoor year round pretend prop for them. A handsome ice cream cart with blue and white awning that is easy to move about. Young entrepreneurs can open the collapsible side table for serving customers. Our older tester loves to write the flavors of the day on the chalk-board front, along with her name. Her dad found it easy to assemble in about thirty minutes and sturdy, as well. It's a big but versatile prop that will be used over the long haul, not just for ice cream, but perhaps a lemonade stand, bookmobile, fruit stand, whatever creative players dream up. 3 & up

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

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2015 Award
Magformer 44 Piece Unique Set
(Magformers $99.99 Score:)

You'll be amazed at all the constructions kids can make with the five geometric shapes that come in this 44 piece set. It includes squares, sectors, arches, cones and sphere sectors. A step-by-step booklet will show the way and before long they will be making their own creations. These magnetic building pieces are safe since all the magnets are inside the geometric forms. Happily, they are also compatible with all other magformer sets. Marked for 3 & up, but will probably be a better choice for older 4-7. Like other sets in this line, these are open-ended, even though they come with models kids can replicate.

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

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V Tech GO GO Smart Wheels Ultimate Speedway
(VTech $60 Score:)

Our tester liked the really smart car that came with this elaborate speedway that is 4.5 feet wide and comes with 13.5 feet of colorful plastic tracks with all kinds of tricks along the way. There's an elevator that the little car climbs to the top with and a swinging bridge to cross plus track switches and starting flags that are triggered by the little smart car, which cleverly backs up to get gas and stops for repairs that gear it up for action. With all these playful ideas packed into one playset it is hard not to say wow...but hold on. Here's the problem. It is not that easy to assemble in the first place, so if you get this as a gift for the holiday, put it together before it is given or you will spend a good part of the holiday morning reading the less than clear directions to get it assembled. Once you have it put together, it may need to stay that way, since we doubt most preschoolers will be able to do much of the reassembling on their own. In other words, this needs a lot of play space dedicated full time or a parent dedicated to rebuilding whenever it is needed. A word of warning: the swing bridge has to be put into position with care or it will seem not to work. We had to take it apart twice before getting it to swing. The remote control and little car work just fine and it can go forward or backwards. Our biggest issue with this set is the age range marked on the package: 1-5. There is nothing that a one year old can do with this except to watch it and anyone who knows a one year old knows they don't just watch—they touch and this set-up is not going stay together for long. This is a toy for older threes and up, even if there are no small parts for babies to choke on. An unfortunate example of misleading age range labeling. Had it been marked for preschool it would have had a gold award.

 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Fisher Price Turbo Flip Thomas
(Fisher-Price $49.99 Score:)

Newest remote control Thomas. This season he sports a light that that looks like a small piece of track as he rolls along. The remote control will make him do several tricks as he goes forward, back, runs in circles and even flip over, all the while saying what he's doing. A novelty toy will make a quick hit with preschoolers. However, it may run out of steam (aka novelty power) before the batteries run out.

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

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2015 Awards
Fisher Price Hippo
(Fisher-Price $14.99 Score:)

There are extras for the Little People's Big Animal Zoo. Our testers like the Hippo with snorting sounds and moving mouth. Too bad more of them do not come with the zoo! Also see the tall giraffe with a neck that bends and makes a funny sound plus a zoo keeper with food. Wait! You say a giraffe doesn't make sounds? You are right. When this giraffe is loaded with batteries what you hear are a giraffe making drinking sounds. Marked 1-5, we think this is a better choice for 2-4.

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

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