Gamewright Sushi Go Party

(Gamewright $21.99) We’ve told you about Sushi Go and now Sushi Go Party is the deluxe expanded version set—something like ordering one of those boat size extravaganzas. This updated game has a lot more sushi choices on the menu! You earn your points the same way, by picking winning combinations. The good thing is, you can make your own customized game with a la carte choices. This set is good for up to 8 players. Comes in a tin storage box with 181 cards, 22 menu tiles, 8 wooden pawns, a game board and rule booklet. Calls for looking at details (visual discrimination) and strategy. 8 & up. Ages: Tweens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016 Click here to purchase the product from Amazo

Rolling America, The Star Spangled Dice Action Game

(Gamewright $8.99) This is a quick game can be played by one or more players. It’s more about math, strategy and logic than geography. It comes with a pad of 100 maps that look like a pixilated abstract image of the US map that’s colorized in six different color zones. On your turn you draw two die from a pouch that holds seven dice. Roll your two and all players mark 2 states on their maps with the same colors and with the number shown. If your green die says three and your red die says five you and all players mark their map with a three on a green state and a five on a red state—if they can. Now the next player takes two die from the bag and everyone does what the dice say. But here’s the

Fisher-Price Thomas and Friends Minis Motorized Raceway

(Fisher-Price $34.99) Thomas & Friends fans will be able to put their MINIS in action on this motorized raceway. When the MINIS reach the top kids can choose to send the engine on the waterfall track and into a 360-degree loop or they can choose the daring jump. We have to say, this is a novelty toy with a fairly limited play agenda. Yes, kids can switch the direction the trains will go, but the track has to be built one way and stays that way. Of course, they can put several MINIS on the track at a time and just for the record this is one of those collectable “buy me-buy me” toys with 80 different engines and themed cars. You can even buy a carrying case to store your collection, a launcher

Bigjigs Shipwreck Bridge

(Big Jigs $24.95) A nice add-on for the Big Jigs Pirate train set or add this colorful bridge in the shape of a ship to any wooden train set. It’s beautifully finished and compatible with other train settings. For an ardent train buff, this and other pieces in the collection will refresh the trains that sometimes go idle and need a little something to get going again. 3-7 Ages: Preschoolers, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2016 Click here to purchase the product from

Bigjigs Rail Pirate Train Set

(Big Jigs $69.99) Ahoy, Mates! For the pirate loving preschooler, here’s the perfect gift. Big Jigs Pirate Train set with a bridge of waves, a train with a treasure box on board, a raft, an island, 2 sharks, 2 octopi, 4 pirates and plenty of room for imagination. It’s a 42-piece set with all wooden pieces. There are wonderful add-on props that will make this even more exciting: Be sure to see the wooden Galleon ($33.95 ) that works as a tunnel or a wonderful Shipwreck bridge. These extras make good add-ons for birthdays and other gift-giving occasions or for other family members to give when the train set is unwrapped. Ages: Preschoolers, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award

Creativity for Kids Light Up Heart Marquee

(Creativity for Kids $25) Color and construct this light-up decoration that will glow with LED lights, glitter and rhinestones when it’s completed. The heart-shaped base and edging are first colored with the fine tipped markers and glitter gel. Next comes the assembly of the frame, which testers warn is a little tricky and definitely a two-person (aka parental) job. After that, the lights must be pulled through the mesh light tube, another step that will need an adult assist. It’s by no means a quick fix kit and will likely take more than an afternoon and evening to get together. But that’s good. Patience and sticking with a task are good extras that come with this kind of activity. Our test

Little Tikes 3-in-1 Activity Walker

(Little Tikes $39.99) A lot of toys claim to grow with your baby and this one really does. It’s a versatile toy that can be collapsed and used as a sit-down toy for babies or raised and used as a table for toddlers who are standing, and finally as a push toy walker for toddlers on the move. It has an activity panel that slides so it can be used in different positions for each stage. Loaded with 70+ activities, songs and sounds that are easily activated. Baby will like the three colorful gears that don’t come off, and pushing the three piano keys to make music and lights. There’s a spinning ball, a sliding bar that has a tiny mirror on one side and a dog on the other side and makes the ball i

Goldie Blox Invention Mansion

(Goldie Blox $59.99) Goldie’s back and this season she’s fashioned an amazing Invention Mansion that is what her creator, Debbie Sterling calls the “anti-dollhouse” that looks like no other mansion around. In fact, since there is no right or wrong way to build it horizontally or vertically, each young builder will likely be creating a unique mansion. It has 350+ pieces that kids can assemble in endless ways. Like any mansion it can include a secret trapdoor, a zipline, levers, axels, and building boards. Step-by-step directions show builders how to make the bones of the building and then more instruction pages in the manual illustrate how to make a wackie stove that flips and rotates, a catw

Crayola Emoji Marker Maker

(Crayola $15.99) Here’s a lab that will interest both boys and girls— a step-by-step STEM toy that introduces them to how colors are blended and made into popular emoji markers. The formula is simple and the measuring vial is clear. Empty stamper bodies are filled with an absorbent rod that soaks up the liquid color supply. The directions are easy to follow and satisfying, too. When your marker/stamper is done there is even a label to put on it and there are two boxes to store your handmade markers. You get all the supplies needed to create 16 markers. You get a mixing vial, a base unit, storage capsule, marker snapping tool, 3 ink bottles, tweezers, a color mixing chart, 16 marker barrels,

Creativity for Kids Plant Peace Kit

(Creativity for Kids $22) A clever craft kit that combines science, art, and indoor gardening that can be done any time of year. The Peace-Sign tray comes with a color liner that needs to be decorated first with bright markers. Next, the potting mix goes into the planter peace sign form and chia seeds are planted and watered. It’s not an instant open-and-done deal. The coloring takes time and most of all, so will the gardening. We think that's a real plus. Marked 6-96, we think the coloring will be challenging as well as the planting for 6’s and 7’s and 8’s will need help with the planting, too. Our 11-year old tester enjoyed both the coloring and planting. In her words, “It is a fun messy p

Little Tikes Light ‘n Go Activity Garden Treehouse

(Little Tikes $89.99) Our cruising 14-month old tester keeps returning to the Light and Go Activity Garden Treehouse, making the lights of the lantern twinkle, getting dance music to play, and feeding balls into the giraffe and toucan. He liked ringing the doorbell, crawling through the giraffe arch, turning the clicking hands of the clock, getting balls to roll through the zig-zag ball drop, sliding the monkey on the zip line and oh, so many activities. Set this up like a four-walled playhouse or open it wide for an expanded and different look. As he moves around and through the archway he develops gross motor skills while many of the eye hand activities help refine his fine motor skills. A

Fisher-Price Laugh & Learn Smart Stages Home Play Set

(Fisher-Price $89.99) Our favorite in this category! One of the best play centers for cruising, crawling, and exploring babies. It has a doorway to crawl through, a door to open and close, and a doorbell, the latter remains our tester’s favorite. For learning about cause and effect, there are lots of switches and buttons to push that activate lights and music. There’s a clock with hands to turn and a peek-a-boo window. There’s shape sorter as well as 75+ songs, phrases and sounds. We could have done without ABC’s and 123’s for babies who are not even talking yet, but to baby they will simply be part of the thrilling power of making things happen and the wonder of cause and effect. This is pa

Fisher-Price Little People Sit ‘n Stand Skyway

(Fisher-Price $40) A lot of toys claim to grow with your child. This is one that really does. Getting this amazing convertible roadway together is really worth the effort—that’s the good news. The bad news is that you should plan on doing this when the children are not able to hear you fuming and shouting things they should not hear. It took our tester over an hour to get this set up and even if you never curse, it would be hard to do with eager little ones waiting to play. The great news is that once you have it set up this is going to be a fun setting for races and the kind of repetitive action toddlers and young preschoolers love. It comes with two Wheelies vehicles and converts from a ta

Gamewright Cardventures Stowaway 52

(Gamewright $11.99) Play this solo or with a friend, it’s a cardventure with choices that make it different each time you play. Stowaway is a space adventure. You are aboard an alien ship that is going to attack earth and it’s your mission to stop it from happening! Each time you draw a card you must make a new decision. Will you destroy the engine room? Reprogram the computer? It’s up to you. This is a lot like choose-you-own-adventure books with multiple choice adventures, depending on the pages you choose to read? Each card involves some reading and then making a choice between two options. Our testers liked the fun of switching gears constantly after reading the next path to adventure. A

Gamewright Cardventures Jump Ship

(Gamewright $11.99) Play this solo or with a friend, it’s a Cardventure with choices that make it different each time you play. Jump Ship is a pirate adventure. You are captain of the Black Bounty and you have to choose if you will defend your ship or plunder one. Each card involves some reading and then making a choice between two options. Will you fight a duel or jump into the water and face the enemy? Your goal is to grab the most gold! This is a lot like choose-you-own-adventure books with multiple choice adventures, depending on the pages you choose to read? Our testers liked the fun of switching gears constantly after reading the next path to adventure. Also good fun, Stowaway, a space

Fisher-Price Bright Beats Dance & Move BeatBo and BeatBelle

(Fisher-Price $35.00 each) Pink BeatBelle (and yellow BeatBo, pictured above) are talking singing interactive characters designed to get your child up and moving. They have three buttons in their feet. The one with musical notes is for music and singing that tells kids to clap, wiggle, jump and hop as Belle/Bo wiggle from side to side and their light up chests change colors. Another button has 1-2-3 on it but the songs it plays include alphabet, numbers and colors, the latter is synchronized to the lights that change as colors are mentioned. The third button is a recording button. Belle/Bo tell the players to say or sing something when their lights turn red. There is a pause and then the chi

Janod Pajamas Party Puzzle

(Janod $17.99) There’s no absolute right or wrong way to put this puzzle together. There are six different bear faces with and without glasses and six different shirts and pants that can be matched or mixed. Putting the three pieces together calls for dexterity and matching or mix-matching choices. Talk about the colors and patterns on the clothes to reinforce color concepts. All the pieces fit nicely in the wooden box and the lid with the painted tree is the frame for the puzzle pieces. A good choice for older toddlers and younger preschoolers. Marked for 2-4. Ages: Toddlers, Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2016 Click here to purchase the product from

Hasbro Monopoly Ultimate Banking

(Hasbro $25) Just when you thought you had seen every kind of Monopoly variation possible, along comes a new twist that’s totally 21st Century. In a world where paychecks are delivered by direct deposit, and shopping online or in stores is done with credit and debit cards, maybe Monopoly with play money is anachronistic. Cash is so over, as we all know. If you’ve had a problem with a sneaking cheating banker in classic games or you have mismanaged your funds, this Brave New World is played with a mini ATM and debit cards, so you not only don’t have to handle your money, you can depend on the electronic card reader (also known as your ATM) to read the cards and deduct your money when you buy

Gamewright Skiwampus—The Full-Tilt Brain Game

(Gamewright $17.99) Deal out twelve diamond shaped cards to each player and put three challenge chips in the middle of the table. Chips have challenges such as even numbers, sum of 21, all colors. At the start of the round players choose a task on one of the challenge chips and quickly as possible try to complete the task by arranging the tips of the diamond cards that match the challenge. As soon as the cards are arranged, the player puts his challenge chip on his cards and it cannot be disturbed. But watch out! Another player can be working on the same challenge and if she’s faster, she may get to keep that arrangement. Winner needs to out-maneuver other players by being quick to spot the

Hasbro FurReal Friends Torch, My Blazin’ Dragon

(Hasbro $79.99 ) Just what you always wanted— a blue dragon that can breathe fire, and toast your (plastic) marshmallow. Newest of the animatronic characters in the FurReal collection, this furry dragon is appropriately named, Torch. Unlike most pretend dragons, Torch really does puff blue smoke, moves its head, ears, and long-lashed eyes, just like any warm and fuzzy dragon should. Torch, is pure novelty and fear not—there's no dangerous flame or fire, only a mist that magically comes out of his mouth to turn the marshmallow (permanently attached to a plastic twig toasty) tan. He’s got fifty sounds and motion combos built-in, so Torch is amusing to watch. Is this going to hold anyone’s inte

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© 2016 by Oppenheim Toy Portfolio | The Independent Guide to Children's Media


Products reviewed by the Oppenheim Toy Portfolio are provided by the manufacturer at their cost. The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio does not require or accept fees for reviewing products.