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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Janod Body Magnets
(Janod $29.99 Score:)

For school-aged kids who are curious about what's inside their bodies, this magnet body set is a great place to start. Comes with 36 cards that show the different systems (skeletal, vascular, etc.) and the 76 body magnet parts are fun for layering on the human body form.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Janod Kubix Geometrix Blocks
(Janod $24.99 Score:)

A pleasing set of 50 wooden geometric cubes in an array of colors.  We love the open-endedness of this set-- exploring how the differently shaped cubes can fit together.  Fun to work on with your child - a great opportunity to talk about colors and shapes.  The blocks are also ideal for working on visual discriminaton skills. The only issue we had with the product was the recommended age. While an 18 month old could fill and dump with these pieces, the set is better suited for older preschoolers given the fine motor skills needed to turn the pieces - not to mention the problem solving skills required to fit the pieces together.

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

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2012 Award
Chicco Koala Rattle
(Chicco $5 Score:)

An easy to grab yellow koala bear holds on to a bent branch with two green leaves that will slide and rattle. The happy face on the koala is good for tracking before baby can even take hold of the rattle. Chicco makes a similar black and white Panda rattle that will be used the same way and will attract the attention of newborns who see the high contrast of black and white before they see colors. Also, a similar easy-to-grab Baby Birdie is done in bright red with licks of green, royal blue and yellow. It has tail feathers of orange satin ribbons.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Polly Pocket Spin 'N Surprise Hotel
(Mattel $49.99 Score:)

Whether you're a fan of Polly Pockets or not, there is something about the clever/silliness of the tiny settings that makes you think about the design team behind this line.  The new hotel feels like Polly Pockets meets Austin Powers/Get Smart. The rooms move and are dual purposed to give the two level structure a 60s POP feel.  We also love the little suction cups on the Polly Pockets shoes that allow them to stand up and play ping-pong on the flip down table.  Our testers also gave high marks for the slide that takes the girls from the top level to their waiting pool below. The elevator also twirls the Polly Pockets as they go up and down.  Take a look at the video to see all the transformations packed into this little space.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Hulk Helicarrier Breakout
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

The HULK action figure sold our testers on this Marvel Super Heroes Kit. With 389 pieces, it's a medium build with lots of pretend action when you're done. The set also includes Thor, Hawkeye and Loki.  The Helicarrier and jet fighter are also part of the build. If you have a child that's into LEGO and the HULK, this set will be a hit.  No one will be angry.

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
Playmobil Farm House with Shop 5120
(Playmobil $69.99 Score:)

A small two story house with a leanto attached outside and an arbor for growing roses. There are two gardener playfigures, a male and female and dozens of small details. A chain-link fence, a starter garden with sun flowers. Tools for working the land and an awesome supply of veggies, chickens, ducks, and bunnies. This will not please anyone who hates lots of little pieces but it will thrill kids who love miniatures for dramatic play. If you have babies you will need to give your older child a space where the tiny props are out of baby’s reach.

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

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2012 Award
Playmobil Ferry Boat
(Playmobil $59.99 Score:)

A big 21-inch ferry that opens to 25 inches when the on and off ramps are opened. It comes with four passengers, a motor scooter and bike, life preservers and a landing station with piers to tie up to.  This is a 63-piece set to assemble and use for dramatic play. Kids will no doubt add cars and other props to the setting. This will work in the tub or pool as well. 4-10

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

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2012 Award
Small World Bouncing Balls Kit
(Small World Toys $19.99 Score:)

Kids can make eight small sparkly bouncing balls with this easy to do kit. It comes with an easy to fill mold and water bowl. You pour some of the colorful beads from one of the five packets. Add water to the water bowl and let them stand for two minutes. Wait another two minutes and open the mold! Voila! You have a bouncing ball the size of a Jacks ball to play with. Our tester said you can buy a bouncing ball that will bounce higher, but that is not the same as making one. This is a little bit of chemistry, reading to follow directions and a finished product for active play. A good choice for play date or nice birthday gift. Finding craft kits to appeal to boys as well as girls is rare. This is one of those gender free products. For 6 and up. Adult supervision will be needed.

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

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2012 Awards
Tranquil Turtle
(Cloud B $44.99 Score:)

Our parent tester aptly described this electronic turtle as a night light with spa music. It is a purple fabric turtle with a light in the clear plastic shell. Put it on a cabinet in baby's room and the wave-like light will reflect on the ceiling while two tunes of quiet spa music play. It will turn off automatically after 23 minutes. This does not go in the crib. Newborn and up.

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

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2012 Award
Creativity for Kids Mask Making Kit
( $20 Score:)

With plastic mask bases, full face and smaller eye shape, kids can create 4-5 different masks with special plaster wrap. The kit comes with a variety of items for decorating the masks with feathers, tissue paper, paint ribbons, glitter and glue. This is apt to be a bit of a messy craft, so protect the surface with the plastic sheet, gloves and other items that come with the kit. You may want to add some newspaper as well. There will be a waiting time for the plaster strips to dry before the decorating can begin. Adult supervision is strongly recommended. That said, working with the plaster makes for an interesting craft experience. 7 & up.

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

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