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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Preschoolers
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Step 2 Creative Cooks Kitchen
(Step 2 $190 Score:)

Our two-year old tester loves having a kitchen of his own and his mom loves the fact that it is big enough for more than one child. He's also a tall two and this play setting "fits" him with ease. Offering his mom coffee from the coffee pot, talking on the phone, using the condiment bottles and opening and closing the window shutters are some of his favorite features. His mom says she has pushed this away from the wall so that he can get behind the windows and use it for taking orders--although she wished the backside was more finished for two-sided play. That said, she is happy with the many ways it is being used and said she would recommend it to others. Designed in bright gender-free colors, this is currently only available at Toys R us.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Barbie Splash 'n Spin
(Mattel $21.99 Score:)

A fun novelty Barbie for the bath or pool. She comes with Dolphins that spin around her middle. Esther Williams would be proud. Take a look at the video.

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

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2013 Award
Guidecraft 4-in-1 Flipping Tabletop Easel
(Guidecraft $55 Score:)

A versatile tabletop easel flips from chalkboard to magnetic dry erase board and holds a paper roll, as well. A good size tray holds chalks, markers or other art supplies, depending on the media they are using. This is basic for creative fun and will be used for years. 3 & up.

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 Award
Lego Pink Suitcase
(Lego $24.9 Score:)

Cleverly designed, this compact set for young builders comes with storage places for bricks and a building platform for creating a yard and outdoor scene for dramatic play. It has 151 pieces with two play figures and lots of props for mini-pretend play. A good choice for travel fun that stores in carry-along case. 4-8.

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

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2013 Awards
Green Toys Ferry Boat
(Green Toys $24.99 Score:)

Two cars are ready to cross the water on a chunky blue and white ferryboat with a pull out ramp. Made in the USA of 1000% recycled plastic, this is a fun choice for tub or beach. Yes, it does--it floats! 3 & up.

   SNAP: This is a sturdy, well made prop for pretend play on the floor or in the tub. A good toy for building concepts on up-down/ on-off/ in-out. Speaking of in-out, add a tab of waterproof tape to the ramp to make it easier to pull out.

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

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2013 Award
Mega Bloks John Deere Garden Cart Play Set
(Mega Blox $45 Score:)

For your youngest garden assistant, here's small wagon with plastic garden tools and a few mega bloks. This is more of a pretend toy for outdoor carting fun and comes in the traditional John Deere green and yellow colors. Or use it indoors for storing blocks that can be built up on the handle, which serves as a base. Also fun in this line, a Mega Bloks Dump Truck that will work in the sand box or at the beach. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Awards
Mega Bloks Fairy Tale Castle
(Mega Bloks $99 Score:)

A wow-ee of a gift with hours of open-ended play possibilities. A 44-pieces building set with oversized pink and white plastic bocks, a working gate, and fabric trim that can become play settings big enough to inhabit. The big blocks are easy to clean and will be used in ever-more complex ways as children's pretend play changes. Be forewarned, it takes up a fair amount of space so may not be ideal in a small apartment; the door does fall off easily and the stickers do not stick. That said, our testing family feels the positives outweighed the negatives and this is a toy with miles of good play. Also available in a less gender specific red, white and blue version. They are marked 1-5. We think 2's and up will be more on target.

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

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2013 Awards
Mega Bloks Knight's Castle
(Mega Bloks $99 Score:)

A wow-ee of a gift with hours of open-ended play possibilities. A 44-pieces building set with oversized red, white and blue plastic bocks, a working gate, and fabric trim that can become play settings big enough to inhabit. The big blocks are easy to clean and will be used in ever-more complex ways as children's pretend play changes. Be forewarned, it takes up a fair amount of space so may not be ideal in a small apartment; the door does fall off easily and the stickers do not stick. That said, one of our testing families felt the positives outweighed the negatives and this is a toy with miles of good play. One of our other testing families with a tall 5 year old found putting the structure together was fun (and enjoyed the stickers), but ultimately found the structure too small for him to play in. Also available in a pink and white Princess version. They are marked 1-5. We think 2's-3's and up will be more on target.

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

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2013 Award
Janod Bingo Tourismo
(Janod $19 Score:)

Just in time for the travel season, this 14 piece bingo set has four sturdy playing boards with eight double sided playing cards that slide in and out of the frames and wipe off markers for keeping track of items that players must spot as you travel along. Check off the bridge, train, gas pump, bus, etc. Play a quick game to find four items in a row or play to find everything on your board. There are two levels of play; one side has 16 smaller images the reverse has 12.  All the pieces are stored in a sturdy box with magnetic closure and fabric handle. A good time chaser for the back seat and the eternal question--are we there yet.4-8

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013.

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2013 Award
Brio Adventure Tunnel
(Brio $39.99 Score:)

We're always looking for add-on props to enliven train play. Action figures can climb up the side of this Adventure Tunnel with a lift up walking bridge on top. Figures can slide down one side or use the stone steps on the other side. Meanwhile, the train can go right under them. However, there are no figures in the package. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2013.

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