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Product Type: Toys

 


2015 Award
V-tech Kidizoom Actioncam
(V-tech $59.99 Score:)

Our first tester (10 years old) really raved about this action cam, saying that it is like "Go Pro" for kids. It comes with an underwater, waterproof case, an attachment for a bike, as well as a stationary stand. It takes photos, video, and stop motion video. Fun but least important it has three games to play. Our tester's favorite was the stop motion that she found fun to customize with music and self-timing. She liked some of the cute graphics to apply to videos and photos as well. Most of these bells and whistles will be beyond the four year old label on the box, though they will be able to capture their view of the world with some instructions and experimentation. That's the great thing, experimenting doesn't cost a bunch the way photo printing used to, so let them snap it and learn as they explore. But, as with so many toys with broad age labels we suggest that the sweet spot for this one is well beyond the preschool age label. We'd say 5-8's are a better bet. 

 

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Robot Set
(Magformers $109 Score:)

Robots on the go, that's what kids can build with this 45-piece set of magformers because these robots have feet for walking about! The kit comes with step-by-step instructions or you can watch the action on you tube for a fun demonstration. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you can't wait to buy this for a preschooler, you'll find this is more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. Want to involve them in the building, ask them to help you find a particular color or shape. Doing it together gives them strategies for independent bulding down the road. We think this is a better choice for 5-8.

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
R&R Face Chase Game
(R&R Games $14.99 Score:)


Players race to be the first to get rid of all their double sided face cards by matching one of four attributes on the center card. Do you have a card with the same hair? Eyes? Mouth? Nose? Players race to fill the four points on the board as they get rid of their cards. Getting early school aged kids to look at the details in a picture is a skill they need for seeing the differences between words that look almost alike. A fast fun family game for kids. Can be fun for 2-5 players, ages 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Horizon It's So Me Word Wear
(Horizon $9.99 Score:)

For the money you can't beat this bead set with over 278 alphabet Beads, 600 accent beads,78 alphabet metallic slider beads with two glitter bands to slide them onto, and three kinds and weights of cording (Elastic, Satin, and Waxed cotton). Kids can make an endless supply of bracelets to wear of give. The set pictured here is the one we tested and the one with slider beads and glitter bands. THere are other sets with a similar name that we have not tested. Just one BIG caution: Getting the packaging opened it not for kids to do on their own. Two adults working together managed to get the top and base apart without too much spillage, but it could easily of ended up all over the table or floor or both. Take your time opening this with great care! That said, the cording is stiff enough to use without the need for a needle and the beads are really varied but nice! Available at Target. 

 

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
LEGO Star Wars Poe's X-Wing Fighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79 Score:)

Once this is built there is plenty of action for recreating scenes from the Force Awakens. A 717-piece build Poe's X-Wing Fighter has amazing working parts such as: a 4 spring-loaded shooters, 2 stud shooters, retractable landing gear, opening wings, opening cockpit with space for a mini-figure and space behind for the BB-8 Astromech Droid. It has a loader with weapon rack, extra missiles and ammunition, and a seat for one of the three mini-figures. 8-14  Both our parent and child testers consistently give high marks for the great instructions that come with LEGO sets - that have really set the bar for other construction sets. The STAR WARS sets thrilled our testers who are a new generation in love with the galaxy far, far away. [Our recommendation remains the same: start small with building sets. Resist the temptation to buy the biggest set for a beginning builder. The idea is to build your child's confidence and enjoyment whether it's as a independent build or something you do together. The worst scenario - you building and your child watching.]

Also award-winning from the new collection: Millennium Falcon (1329 pieces) for kids 9-14.  Comes with Kanjiklub Gang Member, Tasu Leech, Han Solo, Chewbacca, Finn, Rey and BB-8. A big build that would make a great parent child project. Smaller, Kylo Ren's Command Shuttle (1005 pieces) for kids 9-14. Comes with First Order Officer, General Hux, Kylo Ren, First Order Stormtrooper Officer, 2 First Order Crew. First Order Transporter (792 pieces) for ages 9-14 with Captain PHasma, 4 First Order Flametrooper and 2 Resistance Soldiers. First Order Special Forces TIE Fighter (517 pieces) for ages 8-14. Comes with First Order Officer, First Order Crew and 2 First Order TIE Fighter Pilot.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Farm Train Set
(big Jigs $49.99 Score:)

A good beginners set that is close to a 44-piece figure eight layout. It twists in the center under an apple tree bridge and comes with train, duck pond, farm animals, trees, a farmer and child. We know it's tempting to bring this to your two year old, but there are small pieces that make this a poor choice for kids under 3 & up.  Or for more complex set see Big Jigs Dinosaur Train set.

 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Bronto Riser
(big Jigs $29.99 Score:)

What a wonderful add-on to any wooden train setting! This five piece set features a giant brontosaurus with ascending and descending track. Add this to the Big Jig dinosaur train set or any other train setting for a splash of color and excitement. This kind of add-on can revive interest in an old wooden train set that may be forgotten. Adding props such as animals or vehicles for block sets, new bridges and tunnels for train sets, or dishes and pots to big housekeeping settings will make a bigger hit than you might expect and extend the life of a big toy investment. 3 & up

 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Big Jigs Dinosaur Train Set
(Big Jigs $89.99 Score:)

A 49-piece set with plenty of wooden tracks, a mountain with ascending and descending tracks, trees, trains, nine different dinosaurs. In fact two of the dinos can ride on the train. Want to enlarge the set with a wow-ee extra? Look at the five piece Broto Riser (29.99) 3-8

 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Magformers Walking Dinosaur Set
(Magformers $219.00 Score:)

A marvelous 81-piece set of magnetic shapes and plans for building many different dinosaurs that will actually walk after they are built. Given the big outlines of the magnetic pieces, these are not highly realistic looking models, yet very satisfying approximations. Best of all they can be loaded with a power pack that brings these extinct giants to life. There is a step-by-step direction book and you can watch them being assembled on a you tube demo. Like other sets, this is marked 3 & up, but is really more appropriate for the 5-8 age range. They will be able to follow the plans and benefit from doing so, though fives will need help. If you canít wait to buy this for a preschooler, youíll find this is a more like a parent-child toy with you doing the building and your child waiting to do the playing. A much better choice for 5-8. Note: The price on these sets are very high-but we've noticed that they are discounted if you shop around.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015.

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2015 Award
Lift It! Deluxe
(USAopoly $34.99 Score:)

Lift It! Deluxe is one of those few games that can be truly difficult and yet simultaneously incredibly fun. The objective is to move your pawn around the board by acquiring points by completing builds. The card they draw at the end of their turn determines what the player builds, but more importantly how they build is determined by the space they land on. The player either controls their crane by hand or by strapping it to their head. When on a team two people work together using two cranes and one hook. The game can become increasingly difficult if you draw a hard build card while landing on a use-your-head space, but also incredibly funny to watch.

 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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