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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2014 Awards
Green Toys Seaplane, Safe Seas Set
(Green Toys $24.99 Score:)

With one propeller and two hefty pontoons this two toned blue seaplane is ready for plenty of dramatic action in the pool or bathtub. It not only floats, the pontoons take on water that is pun to pour out. Made from 100% post-consumer recycled plastic products that are tested for safety. This is a good choice for 1 & up, up, up. Forget the picturebook that is not going to appeal to toddlers. That said, the plane has miles of play value. 1 & up.

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

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2014 Award
Carry Case Finger Puppet Theater
(Babalu $42.99 Score:)

Cleverly designed, this wooden puppet theater fits into a small wooden case that becomes the base and proscenium arch that spans the top of the stage. It has a working curtain. Set it up for table top performances and after the show it all goes back in the base box. Puppets are extra. They make charming choice of wooden headed finger puppets:queen, prince,princess, fairy...no King in the samples we tested. ($5.50 each)

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

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2014 Award
Play-Doh Diggin’Rigs Buzz Saw Playset
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

With this fun truck kids create the play-doh logs with an extruder that pushes the tubular shapes out of the back-end of the truck. But that's not the end-all. Now they can use the crane with its child friendly buzz-saw blade to cut the logs to fit on the flat-bed of the truck. There are also molds all over the truck that can be used to make other tools. Even the play-doh containers can be used as barrels to carry things from one place to another. A nice choice that combines two of kids favorites--vehicles and fooling around with play-doh. 3 & up

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Hape Roller Derby
(HaPe $39.99 Score:)

What an unusual ball run! Instead of just rolling down a runway this clever run goes from one side of the wooden wall to the other. The balls roll through circular openings as they zoom down metal tracks, switching sides once, twice, three times and ring a bell as they reach the bottom. Though it does the same thing over and over, for the young toddler repetition is a plus. In a world full of unpredictable things, repetition gives tots a sense of power and control. They love making things do the same thing again and again. This is also a great toy for kids who are developing more complex tracking skills. 1 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Hape Anywhere Art Studio
(HaPe $40 Score:)

Designed to sit on a tabletop or floor, this versatile art studio is reversible; a chalkboard on one side, and a white dry erase on the reverse. It is magnetized, so the eraser and paper holder that come with the set, will stick to the board and even hold art paper on if your artist wants to paint or draw on something more permanent like paper. Beautifully finished with a wooden frame, this is a handsome piece of equipment that will invite hours of creative play.

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

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2014 Awards
Sesame Street Take Along Band
(Playskool $24 Score:)

Elmo and Cookie Monster faces smile on the bongo drum that can close and become a case to store the Ernie shaped maracha, a Big Bird squeeze horn, and a Grover shaker. Appealing character driven plastic rhythm instruments for toddlers. Put on some music and let the fun begin. 12 months & up

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Hape Rock and Rhythm Band
(Hape $50 Score:)


A few steps before a full drum trap set, yet a step beyond plastic toddler instruments, this has everything young percussionists will love. Unlike so may kiddie drum sets, this has a clean sound. This is not to say it is a quiet instrument you are bringing home. You'll need time and a screwdriver (plus the Alan wrench that comes with the toy) to assemble the wooden frame. Happily, there's a built in holder for drumsticks so they won't go lost. 3 & up.

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

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2014 Awards
Lincoln Log Collector's Edition Homestead
(KNEX $99 Score:)

305 wooden logs, a covered wagon, plenty of roof slats and eaves, a chimney, a frontiersman and plenty of instructions all in a large barrel for storage. This classic building toy is marked for 3 & up but we suggest that Lincoln Logs are a more appropriate choice and challenge for 6 & up

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

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2014 Awards
Tinkertoy 30 Model Super Set
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

With 200 colorful pieces, this classic building toy is packaged this season with bendable pieces as well as some that snap and stay together. Tinkertoys constructions tend to be more abstract and bare boned. Yet they are also more mechanical challenging kids to build their own moving parts to make a windmill that turns, a truck that rolls and other imaginative devices. Though it is marked for 3 & up and preschoolers will poke the rods and wheels together, to use the real possibilities of this construction toy, we think it’s a better choice for early school years builders.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Klutz My Style Studio
(Klutz $21.99 Score:)

Our tester liked this fashion designer kit because it really involved tracing, coloring, and allowed for flexibility in designing. It has restickable stickers that you put on the transparent form. Then you trace and color the unique model. The kit comes with a drawing board, four sheets of clothing, hairstyles and faces to mix and match, plus colored pencils, textured rub sheets and tracing paper. The book gives ideas for designing and adding accessories. This is not an instantaneous reward giving kit. Designing takes time, patience, and skill along with creative ideas. Though we generally prefer more open-ended toys and steer clear of coloring and tracing, we know that older kids are often frustrated with their own drawings and like the safety net this gives them for trying new skills. 8 & up.

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

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