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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2013 Awards
Tegu Riley Roadster
(Tegu $22 Score:)

A low slung wooden race car body has magnets inside and four magnetic wheels to attach with ease. This five-piece set is easy enough for threes to put together and take apart with a sense of building their own working vehicle. There is another five-piece car in the line, the Maddy Micro with a taller body. Either of these is less challenging than the 15-piece Dart or Hatch that are a lot trickier to put together.

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

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Puppy & Friends Learning Table
(Fisher-Price $44.99 Score:)

There are many activities built into this interactive bi-lingual table. Babies can use this on the floor without the legs and it will then grow up for standing up toddlers with the addition of the legs. They can turn the plastic pages of a book, use the buttons on a phone that counts, make music on a small keyboard and hear more than 60 songs and phrases. Babies who are learning to stand and walk will use this to pull up on and to cruise around. Be forewarned, it is not weighted and on some surfaces the table will slide. In fact, some tots may try using it as a push-around toy. Will they learn their numbers or letters with this? Not really. But most babies will start using this before they are really talking and there are more important things to be learned at that stage than letters and numbers. This is one of those toys that plays repeated lessons giving tots hands-on experiences with cause and effect. By using little fingers they gain a sense of power in being able to make so many things happen. Marked 6 months-36 months, we think this will be of most interest to kids a little older than 6 months and younger than 36 months. That said, this is a pretty good activity table.

SNAP: Adaptable for floor or stand up action, this is a versitile toy that invites hands and fingers to make things happen.

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

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2013 Awards
Fisher Price Laugh & Learn Crawl Around Car
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

You know how car salesmen tell you the car they are selling is fully loaded? That would be a good description of this red activity center that is shaped like a car. It has wheels but does not move around. It's designed for sitting up, crawling, and even toddlers who are cruising. There's a dashboard with steering wheel, lights, and buttons to activate--always a favorite of toddlers. The back wheels spin and one side door opens and closes so tots can go in and out. There is a shape sorter on one side and a ball run on the other, a windshield wiper that talks about the weather. All the pieces are sized up for young players. This toy takes some time to put together with screws and stickers. It says 6 months to 36 but we think this will be used most by babies who are crawling, cruising and beginning walkers. Lots of ways for them to make things happen and for early games of pretending.

SNAP: There's still plenty to do even though the wheels of this sporty red car do not move the vehicle about.  A good choice for a child who is ready for pretend without the need for pedals or foot power. Think of it as a pretend setting with so many ways of making things happen.

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

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2013 Award
Hedbanz Act Up
(Spin Master $19.99 Score:)

We like this new take on the original Hedbanz.  This one is played more like charades. Players put cards on their head bands without knowing what the card says. The object is for the player to guess what that card says from the actions of the other players. But in this game NO TALKING and NO PROPS are allowed! Unlike the original Hedbanz game, which was played like 20 Questions, this Act UP version is a whole lot trickier, but good fun. Our testing family (with preteens and young adults) enjoyed the game a great deal. Marked for kids 8 & up - we still think the original Hedbanz where you can speak will be less frustrating for younger players.

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
Disney Eye Found It!
(Wonder Forge $19.99 Score:)

Visit 12 Disney Realms on the giant playing board. The object is to beat the clock and arrive at Cinderella's castle before the clock gets to midnight. Designed for four players or four teams, this is a cooperative game, making it ideal for mixed ages or family fun. There is counting, looking for objects to match playing cards, and taking turns. The game board itself comes in four big sections that have to be put together like puzzle. They say 4 & up, we'd say 4's will need support. A good game for developing language, turn taking and cooperative play.

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

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2013 Awards
Creativity for Kids Grow a Hedgehog
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:)

Paint the plastic hedgehog planter, paste on the wiggly eyes and bow. Now, you are ready to grow a hedgehog! Add and fill the planter tray with the supplied potting mix. Plant the seeds and keep them moist with the spray bottle until the wheatgrass seeds sprout in 3-5 days. A little art, a little science, and a lot of learning fun. Be forewarned: the box shows the hedgehog's face blushed with yellow, but there is no yellow in the kit. It comes with white, tan and black paint. Perhaps you can use a yellow marker to add this detail. 5 & up.

SNAP: Keep a photo journal of the process with your child in the pictures. Turn them into a small book that tells about each stage. This kind of activity builds reading and pre-reading skills and puts the child in the center of the action.

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

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2013 Awards
LeapFrog Leap Pad Ultra
(LeapFrog $149.99 Score:)

How do you make a good thing better? We loved the original Leap Pad and now the Ultra takes it to a new level. It has a Hi-Res 7-inch light-touch screen, a built in 9- hour rechargeable battery, and is loaded with 11 Apps. It has a front and back camera and has 8 GB of Memory that can hold 40,000 photos or more than 100 Game apps. The Leap Pad Ultra has kid-safe Wi-Fi that will not take kids to the web locations they should not reach, but it gives them access to the Leap Frog library of more than 800 games, ebooks, videos and music that is child friendly and age appropriate. You can download learning games that are suited to you child's skill level. You'll find games to reinforce math, reading, art, science and social studies. This Leap Pad Ultra does it all and should it be accidentally dropped - not to worry. It can do that too and keep on playing. 4-9

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

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2013 Awards
Leap Frog LeapReader
(Leapfrog $49.99 Score:)

This updated product makes new uses of the earlier Tag technology to support kids' reading, but goes a step further with real writing, and listening skills. Like the original Tag reader, it can help them sound out letters, words, or read sentences. But now it can also be used like a pencil for learning to shape letters and numbers on special paper. The basic LeapReader comes with a Read, Write, and Listen Activity book and also comes with three apps and a USB rechargeable battery and holds audio for up to 40 books or 175 songs. There are more than 150 books, workbooks and special paper available separately. 4-8

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

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2013 Award
MindWare Paint Your Own Porcelain Bowls
(MindWare $24.99 Score:)

A charming craft kit that comes with three white bowls and 12 paints that are used to decorate them. The directions introduce different techniques for stippling, sponge painting or designing with masking tape. After paining they need to dry for 24 hours and then the paint is set by baking it in a regular over - not a microwave. This is a craft kit that requires adult supervision. 8 & up.

 

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

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2013 Award
Spin Master Zoomer Your Real Best Friend
(Spin Master $99.99 Score:)

An easy to train puppy, just touch Zoomer's head and he listens to your commands. He can hear from 1-3 feet away. You know he's ready for action and fully charged (takes an hour) when you see his eyes light up. He follows 14 voice commands. Zoomer can bark and "see" or sense people and objects in front of him and reacts to your movements. Our tester got him to follow his hand without saying anything. However, words count with this pooch. He's a tri-lingual pooch who understands English, French and Spanish. When giving commands his eyes light up with question marks; if he doesn't understand the eyes glaze over with X's. You do need to be patient with Zoomer since he is still a pup and likes to play, so you may have to repeat commands and speak very clearly. There's a lot of pretending here along with remembering how to make Zoomer do all his tricks. No trips to the vets or house breaking required. No batteries, either, he can be charged up via any USB port. 5 & up.

 

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

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