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2014 Award
Ideal Magic Magic Show
(Poof Slinky $55.55 Score:)

With 64 pieces and the promise of 220 tricks, this is a great place to start with a child interested in learning some magic tricks. The set inclues a top hat (no bunny), magic cards, cloth handkerchief, magic lunch box, a fake thumb, a magic wand, special tubes, bottles, cups, disappearing card box, etc.   There is also an instruction booklet that walks you through the tricks.While this may seem like pure entertainment, learning to do the tricks is really all about reading, following directions and practicing. It requires a lot of effort with a fun pay-off and may lead to a fun hobby.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Quercetti Tubation Transparent
(International Playthings $49.99 Score:)

A 70 piece set of transparent tubes that connect like pipes. What we love about this kind of building set is that it is completely open-ended. Putting the pieces together is not only fun, but it helps build hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills and creativity. Comes with 28 straight pieces, 7 t-shaped pieces, 7 crosses and 28 curved pieces. A nice set to explore together.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Frozen Surprise Slides
(Wonder Forge $19.95 Score:)

Think Frozen meets Candyland. The four main characters (Elsa, Anna, Duke of Weselton and Kristoff) move around the mountains high above Arendelle. No ladders here but there are big  pieces on the board that players may be required to turn or flip and may send a player backwards or forwards towards the finish line. Very straightforward and for fans of the movie, this will become a favorite.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Planes Sky Race Action Game
(Wonder Forge $19.99 Score:)

Our testers loved the game play here that calls for "flying" your airplane from location to location. The planes are four soft foam gliders. You create a course to fly by placing the stage markers around your house. There are flight control tiles that challenge how you throw your glider (over your head, covering one eye, etc.). Each player takes a turn. The player that lands closest to the stage marker wins that toss. The player to have the highest score at the end of the course is the winner.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Star Wars Force Grab
(Wonder Forge $15 Score:)

Star Wars fans will love this visual discrimination game that requires them to look at detail of 15 small SW icons (R2D2, Jabba the Hutt, Millennium Falcon, etc.). Players take turns rolling the objects. Then a card is turned over that has four SW objects pictured in certain positions (face up, face down). The first player to spot a match between the objects and one shown on the card must grab the "lightsaber" that matches the color in the background of the object on the card.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Pyramix
(Gamewright $21.99 Score:)

Our testers loved the look of this strategy game that comes with 56 cubes on a base tray. The game play involves pulling cubes off the pyramid. As you do this of course other cubes will fall - this is important since the cubes left at the end will determine your score. The score is also determined by the points you received from the illustrations on the sides of the dice. An anka is one point, a crane is two points, an eye is three points and a cobra is worth zero points. Our older kid testers got the game play much faster than our grown-ups!  

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Gravity Maze
(ThinkFun $29.99 Score:)

A fun twist on Think Fun's usual brain teasers. The game board comes with spaces for placing plastic cubes that make up towers of different heights. The goal is create a maze (using the towers) that gets the marble from point A to point B on the board. The challenges (there are 60 in the set) becomes increasingly more difficult. A good choice for parent/child gaming. 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Fire & Rescue Piston Peak Air Attack
(Mattel $34.99 Score:)

Oh, Oh! There's a fire up there in the peaks and the only way to put it out is with an air attack. Take off by pulling the charger handle and watch that Firefighter Dusty go! This is typical of all one trick toys that do the same thing again and again. It requires an adult to assemble and like most track toys this is a closed system with no possibility for variation. That said, for fans of Planes, it will probably be a wowee gift for a little while, although probably not for long. One advantage over normal race track sets, the plane is tethered so it won't go lost. A novelty toy that will have a short play life--just saying. If you have a limited budget you might want to look further for something more open-ended. 6 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Kids Preferred Socks Rock Dolls
(Kids Preferred $21.99 Score:)

Designed for toddlers, these big-eyed fabric dolls with stitched features have just the right heft for a good sized armful. They have fabric hair as a safety feature, since two's are not ready for fine haired wigs on dolls that they might mouth. You can choose from a yellow haired, blue-eyed doll in s pink outfit with patterned pink socks or a brown haired and brown eyed gal in yellow blouse and pink skirt with an overlayer of netting or there's a pink haired doll in lavender blouse and plaid skirt. All of these dolls have non removable dresses with high socks AND they come with a matching pair of socks that your child can wear. With long legs and arms that are easy to grab and take about, these are child-friendly dolls for beginners. THis is one of many that come in different colors.  2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Fur Real Friends Get Up & GoGo, My Walkin' Pup
(Hasbro $59.99 Score:)

Newest take on Fur Real Friends: A very cute Furry White pooch on a bright pink leash. Use the remote to take her for a walk or make her sit. If you talk to her she responds with little barks that will not scare anyone. There is also an free app that you can down load with more ways to play. For the child who longs for a puppy who may be allergic to real fur or live where pets are not possible, this is the next best choice. It's not going to take the place of a real pet, but it can be quite satisfying for a while, and doesn't need house-breaking, either. 4 & up.

SNAP: A good toy too motivate active and interactive play. Getting the puppy to move motivates kids to use fine motor skills to use the remote and large motor skills to walk the pup around. The pup also responds to your talking, so this is a toy for all kinds of active learning and play. Even recalling how to make the pup bark wag its tail tilt her head and walk involve curiosity, discovery and memory.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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