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2014 Award
Corolle Mon Bebe Classique Happiness Doll
(Corolle $84 Score:)

The latest from Corolle's classic multi-cultural 14" Bebe collection. She has a soft body with vinyl arms, legs and head - all with their signature vanilla scent. Comes in a floral romper, a matching scarf for head, adorable sandals and a pacifier. Her blue eyes open and close when she's put in a sleeping position.  We also loved: Bebe Classique Valentine Doll - she comes in a pale grey dress with a pink sweater. There is also a very sweet African-American version  - see our review of Bebe Classique Graceful Pink.  We love that these dolls are so huggable and because they're weighted in their bottoms,  they will sit up on their own.

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

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2014 Award
Magformers Magnets in Motion 22 piece Power Set
(Magformers $69.99 Score:)

This is more like an add-on for those who already own a set of Magformer gears. Plug the generator into your computer with the USB cord to charge it up or into an USB adapter. Once you have it charged, your Magformers gears are ready to spin into action. This little set comes with some magformer squares and rectangles to build a platform, two lights, two gears and the big blue spinner that will activate other gears from this and other sets. Basically, it is pretty limited as a stand alone, but a fun accessory that will add to the action of gear sets in the magformer collection.  6 & up.

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
Knex Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster
(Knex $49.99 Score:)

Our twelve-year old tester took four days to complete, working approximately two hours a day. He considers this particular set very difficult and in his words, "Kids with short attention spans will take a lot longer to do this because each of the steps takes at least 10-15 minutes, and I believe there were 53 steps in this set." When asked about the age label on the box When I asked him if the 9 & up age range on the box he said, "There is no way that a 9-year-old could put this together.” He thinks that a more realistic age bracket would be ages 11+ but it would have to be a pretty disciplined eleven year old because with the rail, for example, one false move and you'd end up having to reassemble a huge portion of this." Unlike other builds, our tester felt there as not a lot he could do with it after it was built. He played with it for a few days and then it has been untouched. His mom, a teacher of gifted kids, thinks it will appeal to engineer-type kids for whom the assembly is the thrill. On the positive side, our tester reported, "One good thing about playing with this is that the little car keeps its momentum all the way down, which you wouldn’t expect since it goes upside down."

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

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2014 Awards
Little Tikes Splish Splash Sink and Stove
(Little Tikes $26 Score:)

This is the buy of the year as toy kitchens go...the tabletop toy has a working faucet that circulates the water in the sink for splish-splashing good fun. Unlike so many toy kitchens, this really has a sink big enough to wash dishes, not to mention getting to play in water. However there are two issues you need to know up front:  1) no soap bubbles are allowed since they might clog up the works and 2) real hand strength is needed to get the water action going. Of course, this can be messy, but good play often is exactly that. Adding to the value, this combo sink and stove takes up very little space but has a lot of pretend play built into the affordable mini-setting. The stove has knobs that click and the young chef will love cooking with and cleaning up a fry pan two dishes, cups, and cutlery that comes with the set. 

SNAP: Put this on a table top for kids who are in a wheelchair. The water faucet does require hand power and may be too hard for some. It is otherwise a terrific water toy/ pretend prop for dramatic play.

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

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2014 Award
Little Tikes Ultimate Cook Kitchen
(Little Tikes $150 Score:)

Our test family gave this kitchen setting very high grades. Our three-year old tester's mom tells us "he is having a ball with it..." He loves every detail of this kitchen and especially likes to make them Cappuccino and asking them if "we need some coffee?" She likes the fact that it went together easily and is also being enjoyed for pretend play by his six and seven-year old siblings. Although some of the hanging pieces do not stay in place, they had no complaints. It has been used daily since it arrived and as our tester's mom wrote, she is impressed with the durability of Little Tikes products... "if three boys can't destroy it, it has to be made well." We like the fact that his kitchen is not gender specific and will be enjoyed for years of dramatic play by boys and girls. 2 +

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

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2014 Award
Playmobil City Life Furnished Shopping Mall
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

We usually avoid shopping mall setting as too commercial. Yet, let's be honest, once built, this is a terrific play setting for trying on lots of roles as sales people, soda jerks, customers, and family members. No doubt a lot of drama does take pace in shopping malls, so why not a setting they can build and they pretend in. This elaborate set comes with seven playfigures (mostly female) along with lots of clothing that can be tried on the playfigures. There is even a mirror and bags for purchases as well as registers and money and computers. There are also manikins for displaying clothing as well as an ice cream shop and some athletic equipment. Just in case they run out of cash there is an ATM ( of course) and a coffee bar, planters, to choose from in the stores. All together there are 535 pieces in this very elaborate play setting. 5 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Little Tikes Touch N Go Racers
(Little Tikes $12.95 Score:)

Choose one of the five Touch n Go Racers; a black and white police car, a green hatch back, a red truck or a blue or grey racer. All have buttons that start the engine, rev it up, honk the horn and a GO button that sends it zooming. Bring home two and have your own races. This is small, very special, but affordable toy that will get lots of action.

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

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2014 Award
Corolle Mon Premier Sky Stroller
(Corolle $34.99 Score:)

We're always happy to report when there's a blue stroller on the market. This is a very light weight white and blue plastic stroller that is designed for Corolle's new Babipouce Blue Star Doll (also dressed in a blue romper). This is not the sturdiest of strollers but it gets high marks for color choice.

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

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2014 Award
Corolle Bebe Bath Doll
(Corolle $52.50 Score:)

This 12" Corolle doll is really ready for bath time! Comes in a pink suit with a mask/snorkel, water wings and flippers. Designed for toddlers 18 months and up, this may do the trick to get reluctant bathers into the water. The polystyrene beads help the doll dry quickly.

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

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2014 Award
Bebe Calin Maria Baby Doll
(Corolle $42 Score:)

The latest from Corolle's wonderful line of 12-inch Calin dolls - ideal for older toddlers.   We love that this is a multi-cultural collection and that there is always a boy doll in the mix.; They are hand washable and have soft vinyl heads, legs and arms. Their  beautifully finished rompers also add to the appeal. Their bald heads are a safe choice for toddlers who are still mouthing toys. Their bean-bag bodies allow them to sit in many poses and their sleeping eyes open and close. Best of all they are light and cuddly for early pretend play.

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

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