Platinum Toys for Early School Years (5-8)

October 28, 2016

 

Dolls and Pretend

 

Barbie Game Developer: Career of the Year 2016

 

(Mattel $12.97)

Hooray. Barbie is coding. Dressed in faded jeans, knit shirt and field jacket, Barbie has a computer and handheld tablet. Her dark hair has a bright layer of red streaks. Of course, she is wearing a headset and glasses to do her all important job, creating the latest computer game. This is not your mother's Barbie.

 

Ages: Preschoolers, Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

Journey Girls Dolls, New York 2016

 

 

(Toys R Us $39.99 each)

This year's Journey Girl Dolls are visiting New York City. Welcome to the Big Apple! As always they are beautifully dressed for their adventures in Gotham. Not only do they all have different colored hair, these girls have a truly individual look. Mikaella, a sophisticated foodie has strawberry blond hair and wears a floral blouse, a pink knitted sweater, black leathery skirt, and tall boots. Kelsey, with long auburn hair, is planning to visit the zoo, wearing a floral skirt, striped tee, and royal blue jacket with blue tassels on her shoes. Callie, a dancer, is an Asian American girl with beautiful black hair. She's dressed in a denim jacket, white tee, a floral hair band, and a long woven skirt. Kyla, the artist in the group is doing photos this year, clicking away at the skyline and Times Square. She’s dressed in blue stretch pants, a metallic dotted pullover and white zip-up vest. She’s a girl of color with brownish curly hair and hazel eyes. Dana, an animal lover wears tortoise-rimmed glasses that bring out her blue eyes and her dark brown hair. She wears a knitted wrap over her plaid jacket and navy blue skirt. Chavonne, a talented singer, is a girl of color with glorious Afro style hair and hazel eyes. She wears a denim skirt, lace blouse and red jacket accented by a leopard print scarf and animal print trimmed shoes. Meredith who will run in the Marathon, is a beautiful blue eyed blonde. She wears a knit dress emblazoned with New York City. Her purple quilted jacket has floral print sleeves. You’ll love her knee socks and sneakers. And you'll love the price for these beautifully made 18" dolls. Available exclusively at Toys R Us. 6 & up.

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

 

 

American Girl Melody & book

 

(American Girl $115)

In her bow trimmed hounds-tooth turquoise and cream dress, Melody, an African American girl looks ready for church where she’s going to sing a solo. Her 1964 story speaks to the many issues Americans were dealing with in those turbulent times. Melody, a typical 18” American Girl doll, with a huggable fabric body, a moveable head and limbs made of smooth vinyl. She comes packed with a back story that tries to give young readers a glimpse into the era of Dr. Martin Luther King, Motown, the struggle for civil rights, housing, and more. Her hair is long and straightened (as typical of the time) and topped with a very 60’s headband. She is less expensive at the American Girl website. 8 and up.

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Imaginarium 2-in-1 Medieval Battle Castle

 

(Toy R Us $59.99)

 

What an innovative idea! Medieval Castles are hardly new. But this 2-in-1 design is! Put the two halves of the castle together or split them apart for two players who can defend their own castle. Along with the castle(s), which will need serious adult assembling, the elaborate painted wood castle comes with 34 accessories for dramatic play: silver and gold knights with weapons, ladders for scaling the walls, two cannons and blue and gold banners that go into the gold or blue castle turrets. A timbered gate that rises on one side and a drawbridge that lowers on the other side provide entry and egress. Our tester had no trouble getting the pieces together, though it does take time. If this is a holiday gift, you may want to assemble it in advance. It’s not going to go back in the box once it’s built and it will take up a considerable amount of space. But it is a beauty! There is also a painted base with a moat that the castle can sit on. We do need to note that some of the knights have weapons with small projectiles. We suggest removing them, especially with younger children. This is marked 3 & up, but in fact it’s a setting for older preschoolers and early school age kids. This is an exclusive at Toys R Us.

 

Ages: Preschoolers, Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

 

 

 

LEGO Airport VIP Service

 

(LEGO $49.99)

In an age of private jets and stretch limos, LEGO’s press material has positioned this for the business woman passenger. A limo driver will pick her up and deliver her to the airport. It’s his job to be sure he gets her there on time. There her pilot and an airport service worker and her private jet await. The jet has an accessible interior and a nose wheel that turns. The set has four mini-figures: a businesswoman, pilot, limo driver and airport worker. The build includes a plane that is 4” high and 12” long and wide, a limo that is 1” high and 8” long, and a service vehicle that’s 1” high and 2” long. On board there is a laptop, ice cream, glass, and a walkie talkie. Marked for 5-12, this 364 piece project is not something early school aged kids can do solo. It will be a parent child project.

 

Ages: Early School, Tweens

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

Playmobil Furnished Children's Hospital

 

 

 

(Playmobil $79.99)

Patients arrive and enter downstairs through the double doors. They check in at the front desk where a nurse takes the patient’s vitals and then takes them to an exam room. A doctor sees the patient and decides how to help them. They may be taken to the 2nd floor on the working elevator. Upstairs, there are rooms for patients’ recovery, a nursery, plus a bathroom with toilet and sink. Set includes a multicultural cast of three adult figures, one child figure, and one baby figure. There are rolling beds, a reclining exam table, a respirator, defibrillator, bandages, stethoscopes, medical charts and tools, toys, and many other accessories. Even for school aged kids, putting this 291-piece set together will require adult help and supervision. Preschoolers might enjoy playing with this, but they will only be able to hand you the pieces you request in order to get it set up. That said, once the mini setting is built, kids who aspire to be doctors and nurses will especially enjoy this setting and hours of dramatic play. It is also an excellent setting for preparing for any medical procedures that the family may be facing. See the SNAP note below. 4-10

 

SNAP: For kids who go to medical centers frequently, this kind of play setting can be useful for working out some of the anxieties that kids and their families face on a regular basis. Through dramatic play parents can offer children a once-removed- from-reality way to vent their fears and clarify some of their questions and expectations. It’s a safe way to rehearse for events and assure a child that they will not be alone.

 

Ages: Preschoolers, Early School, Special Needs

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Hape Space City Quadrilla

 

(Hape $89.99)

Our testers loved the many ways they could build runs for this special glow in the dark set. It’s a 176-pieces. There are plastic domes and cosmic shapes that add to the out-of-this-world setting. Creating marble runs that twist and turn and need adjusting height and otherwise, gives kids problem solving challenges that will keep them experimenting and thinking. It calls for spatial reasoning, fine motor skills and patience. We have to say that the image looks like there are more glow-in-the-dark features than in reality. There are stickers that will glow after you expose them to light and the marbles will do so, too. But the main attraction of the set remains the open-ended aspect of building and rebuilding and learning a little about physics without any textbook or lectures. This is hands on learning that is fun! Marked for 6 & up-maybe, with help. But we think 8’s and up will enjoy this more.

 

Ages: Early School, Tweens

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

Max Traxxx R/C Tracer Racers High Speed Remote Control Mustang vs. Camaro Track Set

 

(Skullduggery $199.95)

A big (and pricey) holiday present that our testers really enjoyed. We have always loved how the Max Traxxx cars light up on the glow in the dark track. This uber set comes with 60 feet of track, two brand name race cars, and bricks for building up ramps. Cars are controlled by remote controls that are easy to operate. While our testers loved playing with this set they did note that the plastic bricks did not always stay in position which was frustrating. There are also smaller sets that we have reviewed in the past that also have the glow-in-the-dark fun!

 

Ages: Early School, Tweens

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

GAMES and PUZZLES

 

My First Bananagrams

 

(Bananagrams $14.99)

Designed for younger kids and packed in a green fabric banana shaped bag, this is a wonderfully playful learning tool for beginners. The set includes 80 single letter tiles, plus combo letter tiles such as sh, wh, ea, th, an, ee and more. Use them for making word families, blends, and vowel combos. These larger than usual Bananagram tiles are all lower case and have colorful backgrounds. It’s not one game, but many suggested ways to use the tiles with preschoolers and early school age children. For preschoolers they suggest matching letters, sorting them by color, spelling their names, and alphabetical order, which by the way, is a very tall order for preschoolers, who may be able to sing the alphabet, but not yet recognize and name all the letters. Save the alphabetical order games for early school years, along with the games of making word families, rhyming words, and simple crossword grids. A totally age-appropriate game to start them on the path to word play. 4-7

 

Ages: Preschoolers, Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Peaceable Kingdom Crazy 8's

 

(Peaceable Kingdom $6.99) 

A colorful new version of a classic card game. The object, as always, is to get rid of all your cards, but it’s not that simple. Players need to match the number or the suite (in this case the animals) to throw away a card. If they cannot make a match they must take more cards until they do. Draw an 8 and you're in luck—you can match anything! Take this along in the beach bag or flight bag. A quick, fun easy game. 5 & up.

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Peaceable Kingdom Silly Face Emoji Checkers

 

(Peaceable Kingdom $14.99) 

Checkers just got a face lift, of sorts. It's the classic game with a new 21st century look. Playing pieces can be used with or without the emoticon style faces printed on one side. The rules are not changed and the game is just as much fun as ever. For those new to strategy games this can be a safe place to start. 6 & up.

 

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Fairy Game

 

(Peaceable Kingdom $15.99)

 

For that special time when fairies fill the imagination this is a game that will please as well as challenge players to remember the rules for saving the fairies garden from Mr. Winter who wants to turn the garden to ice. Players use teamwork to rescue the flowers with cards they can play to move the four jewels from the flowers to the magic wand. There are a good number of rules and playing cards that players will need to remember and use to out wit Mr. Winter. Designed for 5’s, we think this may suit slightly older players of 6 and 7.

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

Ravensburger Buggaloop Game

 

(Ravensburger $28)

If your kids love Hexbugs, they are going to love Buggaloop. The game board has tunnels and an underground passage that the Hex bug scoots out of and then runs around knocking off other bugs. If your bug is hit you must go back. Winner is the one who manages to move all his bugs to safety first. This is a game of chance with no strategy skills needed. 6 & up

 

Ages: Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

eeBoo Mystery in the Forest, 42 Piece Puzzle
 

 

 

(eeBoo $8.00)

Artist Melissa Sweet has created Mystery in the Forest, a picture book scene with a castle, a queen, and fanciful children and creatures. It has 42 good-sized pieces that will turn into a big 11” X 15” picture with lots to look at and talk about together. Also in the same collection Animals at Work, a 42-piece puzzle featuring a construction site with animals running the cement mixer, crane, and an excavator. Also special a Daniel Kirk’s Firetruck, a realistic street scene with a big hook and ladder truck and a multicultural cast including an African American female officer directing traffic, a delivery man with boxes, a dog walker, firefighters, construction workers, a father reading to a little girl and another father wheeling twins in a stroller. Again, there’s a lot to talk about when the puzzle is all done. Monika Forsberg’s Exploring the Deep is a lot like other underwater scenes she has done on other eeBoo products. This has a lot of fish and ships and some unusual divers. Give beginners strategies for finding the straight edges pieces to make a frame for the other pieces. These puzzles are marked 4 & up, but most 4’s and 5’’s will need help doing a puzzle with this many pieces.

 

Ages: Preschoolers, Early School

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

NeatOh! Magnutto Make a Pet Educational Magnetic Activity Playset

 

 

(NeatOh! $28.10 each)
 
We really love this new series of magnetic activity playsets that are engaging and meant as a starting point for discussing feeling and moods with your kids. Each set includes over 100 play pieces that have thick foam backing (so that they're easier to pick up), two play boards and a magnetic easel that is cleverly designed to sit in the box. In Make a Pet, kids love creating their own pets with various moods. There is also Make a Dino -- which will be a huge hit with dino-lovers!  In Make a Mood Set there are faces to design with a "mood."      
 
Editor's note: We applaud NeatOh! for age rating this toy to 5 & up. However, If your child still mouths their toys, then this would not be an appropriate toy.
 
Ages: 5 & up
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016
 
Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

CRAFTS 

 

Creativity for Kids My Life Scrapbook

 

 

(Creativity for Kids $21.99)

Kids are by nature collectors and having a scrapbook is not a bad idea for keeping that stuff in one place. This kit includes a great spiral scrapbook with a cut out heart on the cover where a photo will fit. It’s a beautiful scrapbook with colored and patterned pages as well as plastic sleeves for things they can’t or kids don’t want to paste in. There are stickers, mini envelopes, stencil frames, scallop edged scissors, marker, glue stick and ideas for creating a private scrapbook. Marked for 7 and up. We do think even young tweens will like this.

 

Ages: Early School, Tweens

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

 

Alex Neon Fantastic Spinner

 

(Alex $32.00) What makes this spin art toy refreshingly new? It’s a hand powered spin art machine; no batteries needed. It’s a child powered toy in every sense. Packed with four colors of paint, 20 white cards, three colored cards and easy to follow directions. We can’t tell you exactly why, but spin art has been a long-term favorite at the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio. Perhaps it’s because you need no special drawing talent or skill to make a unique image with colors you select. Unlike a drawing set there is no right or wrong way to make this art. Not only do we like it, we find testers and their parents all smile when spinner art comes out of the box and this neon paint set is no exception. 6 & up.

 

SNAP: This is a forgiving art toy that gives results no matter how colors are combined. But it also offers opportunities to talk colors and blend colors. For kids who need to develop hand strength it just might be motivational. The lever that activates the spinner moves with real ease. Counting how many squeezes it takes to make two colors blend will add to the fun.

 

Ages: Early School, Special Needs

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

High Tech Toys

 

Wonder Workshop Dash Robot

 

(Wonder Workshop $131)

Designed to introduce kids to beginning programming, this playful robot-like toy interacts with an android or iOS device via Bluetooth. If you’re giving this as a gift charge it up before giving it to kids who will want to play instantly. There are four different apps that you can use to interact with Dish. The easiest one is Go, that can be used to move Dash, make car horn and elephant trumpet sounds, or control lights. Or they can use the app Path to do exactly that. Players draw a path on the tablet screen and Dash follows the path. There is another app that is used with an add-on Xylophone ($40) that we have not tried. Another app, Blockly, is designed for kids 8 and up and is a more complex set of blocks that appears on the screen that you slide to the right and program a chain of events that Dash will follow. The Blocky app allows for far more interesting combinations of movement, sounds and lights. Marked for 5’s and up, this has a learning curve that will call for parents to assist at the start. There is also a smaller robot, Dot ($50) that can play along with Dash or be used independently with its own Wonder app.

 
Ages: Early School, Tweens
Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016
Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

 

 

Star Wars R2-D2 Remote Control Robot RC

 

 

(Hasbro $160)

For certain Star Wars fans, this will be the droid they were looking for. Smiles and excitement were the reaction to this APP-enabled R2D2 when he made his first sound and his head moved. With your iOS or Android device, you can make this beloved robot move, make his trademark noises and even program a path for him (like Dash above).  After testing last year's breakout BB-8 from Sphero, you'll feel that R2D2 moves a bit slower - he is, after all, old school. And we should note he doesn't do all the amazing things that Dash or Cozmo can do, but he is R2D2 which may be a factor for some shoppers.  Marked 6 & up but we think the sweet spot for this will be 8s and up and up.

 

Ages: Early School, Tweens, Teens

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016

Click here to purchase this product on Amazon.com.

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