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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Tinker Toy Pink Building Set
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

If you have a girl who's not interested in building, this all pink 150 piece set may do the trick. We know that building helps develop important math, visual discrimination,  and problem solving skills - so it's very important that girls have this type of play experience.  Today's Tinker Toys are somewhat different from what you may remember. These new sets from KNEX are all plastic. They have the same rods and spools like the old sets, but now they have really neat bendy rods and faces that make them even more fun.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO STAR WARS Headhunter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

One of the intermediate builds from the new Star Wars collection for 2013, the Headhunter got high marks from our testers even though it's not from a major scene or have a famous minifig. Our tester reported: "We've built a number of the starships and most of them are not sturdy and the wings fall off and need rebuilding when you play with them. This one is impressive and sturdy." The build comes in four bags. Our tester loved that three of the bags included a minifig - keeping the interest going as the build progressed. Comes with a Jedi who has 4 arms and 2 double lightsabers. This is not your father's Star Wars!

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Hot Wheels Carcade
(Mattel $99 Score:)

Hands down one of the most fun toys we tested this year. If you like Hot Wheels cars and pinball - it doesn't get much better than this new arcade game that loads your Hot Wheels cars (it only comes with one) into the launcher that moves from side to side so that you can shoot the car into the slots above.  If you get the car into the slot when the light above it is on, you score points. It has an electronic scoreboard that keeps track of your score. It has a neat lockdown dome (think Mad Max thunderdome) that captures a car and provides added drama of doubling your points while that one car is trapped inside. This feature, while fun, did not always work well but no one seemed to mind. In order to get into the dome you have to get the car up a special ramp - our testers found this hard to do - but willing to keep on trying. Requires 3AA and 4 D batteries. Will not work with all Hot Wheels vehicles but it worked with the ones we had on hand.  This is what we call a big memorable novelty toy. The kind that gets played with a lot when friends come over! 5 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Corolle Les Cheries Camille Ballerina Doll
(Corolle $44.99 Score:)

If you have an aspiring ballerina in your midst, this is a very special 13" doll to bring home. Camille's all vinyl body is dressed in a beautiful tutu, tights and ballet slippers.   Her long hair is drawn back with a head band.  She has posable arms and legs -- and has the signature Corolle vanilla scent.   For 2013, she also comes in a super cute outfit for going to university, Camille a l'Universite.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Corolle Les Cheries Chloe Au Palais Royal
(Corolle $51 Score:)

Chloe is totally on trend with faux fur wrap (on top of her pink party dress) and leopard print ballet flats and purse! What we love about this collection of 13" fashion dolls is that they celebrate girls. The clothes give a nod to trends but in completely age appropriate styles. Girls will also love her long hair, sweet (vinyl) face and vanilla scent. Chloe is also available in a ballerina outfit. 

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO City Grand Prix Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

While Star Wars often gets the lionshare of requests from our LEGO builders, some of their more traditional trucks got rave reviews from our testers. This Grand Prix Truck received high marks because it was an interesting build. The truck opens in different ways to make room for the Gran Prix car (which "you also get!!").  With 315 pieces this is a satisfying challenge for a beginning builder. The box says 5 & up -- most fives will need assistance, which is fine.  In addition to the truck and the racing car, the set comes with three minifigures so there's lots of room here for pretend play after the building is complete.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Demolition Lab Triple Blast Warehouse
(SmartLab $39.99 Score:) We had some disagreement about this toy with such strong opinions on both sides.  So if it sounds silly to have a toy that you build only to then blow apart - then know we hear you.  On the other hand, it is really fun and actually a hands-on physics lesson (energy, momentum and don't forget gravity). The kit also requires a great deal of building and patience for that very brief moment of glory in pushing the button that brings down your structure. In an age of videos, we imagine that kids will not only love building the warehouse, but videotapping the take down.  Comes with 100 pieces for building the warehouse however you feel on a particular day.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Corolle Les Cheries Cecile A La Tour Eiffel
(Corolle $51.99 Score:)

We want to be Cecile when we grow up - down to her two-toned Chanel-inspired ballet slippers. Ready to tour all the sights in Paris, Cecile is the latest addition to this Platinum Award winning line of 13" dolls that celebrate girls (not girls dressed up as women). There are additional dolls and clothes in this collection (happily, they can all share the same wardrobe).  Each comes with an all vinyl body and the signature scent of vanilla. Tre joile!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Corolle Babicorolle Babipouce Pink Cotton Flower Doll
(Corolle $36.99 Score:)

We're often asked what kind of doll to buy for a toddler. Corolle's line of Babipouce fills the bill as a great place to start in doll land. With all a soft fabric, huggable body and soft vinyl face (with painted featured), this is a safe choice for older babies and toddlers. The pink romper and coordinating velour hat (with knotted top) will be pleasing to the touch. Very sweet. Also available in all blue, 2010 Platinum Award winner, Babipouce Sky.

 

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Corolle Babicorolle Miss Pink Cotton Flower Doll
(Corolle $23 Score:)

Miss Pink comes dressed in dreamy pink velour and has a soft plush body. With all stitched features, the Babicorolle makes an ideal first huggable. We loved the bright, cheerful colors of her outfit.  As you would expect from a little French doll, she is very stylish.  For older babies and toddlers, this vanilla-scented armful will be a favorite.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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