Platinum Toys for Early School Years (5-8)

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

Platinum Toys for Infants and Toddlers

Finding the best toys for this age group was the most challenging this year. Too many of the toys were just off the mark for the developmental needs of babies and toddlers. So the products on this list really came through. We also encourage you to review our Blue Chip Award winners in these age groups. North American Bear Mosie Puppy (North American Bear Co. $25) A 14-inch black and white knit puppy with plenty of eye catching pattern for newborns to focus on. Mosie has all stitched features and no doo-dads for safe playing. Also a companion 8” squeaker, Moe ($12) is covered in black and white star pattern that wears a label saying Future Rock Star. Both are machine washable. Ages: Infants,

Platinum Toys for Preschoolers

STEM Toys Guidecraft Grippies Builders - 30 Piece Playset (Guidecraft $47.99) Even the younger builder can explore magnetic attraction with this set of pastel colored sensory Grippies and magnetic balls. The Grippies come in two lengths, four colors, and interesting textures. Combined with the big white magnetic balls, these are an open-ended building material for older toddlers and young preschoolers. A 20-piece set is also available ($32.99) Marked 18 months and up. We think this will be of more interest to slightly older kids and continue to be used by preschoolers in more complex ways. SNAP: The soft spongy covering on the rods make this an easier-to-grasp toy. Grippie Games: Use these f

What Do I Do? Conversation Cards

(eeBoo $11.99) We're usually not big on flashcards, but this is a really playful set that can help open the conversation with your kids about social situations. For example, if there's a group of kids already playing a game -- how can you join in? For certain kids these types of prompts will be very comforting as they start navigating school and the world on their own. Ages: 5 & up Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2016

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 woul

Platinum Toys for Tweens & Teens

Construction 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, axles, 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

Star Wars Smart App Enabled R2-D2 Remote Control Robot RC

(Hasbro $137.99) R2D2 had us at the first iconic beep. Our tween testers loved that they could program him to move in a certain way. R2D2's grey and blue top moves back and forth just as it does in the movies. He lights up and makes the entire range of sounds (we challenge you not to smile as he goes through his routine). As the title suggested, this beloved droid is controlled by an APP that our testers felt was easy to navigate. This will be a big hit with tweens, teens and adults. Ages: Tweens, Teens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

Who's older? Toys vs. the Today Show

It's hard to believe that there was a time when there were no Rubik's Cubes, Monopoly Games or Easy Bake Ovens, right? Play our game of Who's Older? - Today Show edition. (1) Savannah Guthrie or Easy Bake Oven? (2) Al Roker or Slinky? (3) Kathie Lee Gifford or Monopoly? (4) Hoda Kotb or Etch-a-Sketch? (5) Carson Daly or Star Wars Action Figures? (6) Dylan Dreyer or Cabbage Patch Kids? Answers: 1. Easy Bake Oven is older. First Oven sold in 1963. Savannah was born in 1971. 2. Slinky is older. Metal Slinky's first sold in 1943. Al Roker (b. 1954). 3. Monopoly was first introduced in 1933. Kathie Lee Gifford (b. 1953) 4. Etch-a-Sketch is older (1959) - Hoda Kotb (b. 1964). 5. Carson Daly (b. 1

Disney Princess Bell Musical Tea Party Cart

(Jakks Pacific $59.99) We're not usually fans of big plastic toys, but we do have to say this one will likely be a huge hit with the Disney Princess crowd. The very pink tea cart has a musical component that will be a crowd pleaser - Mrs. Potts and Chip (of Beauty and the Beast fame) spin as the song "Be Our Guest" plays. Very cute. However, we do need to point out that the toy comes with a warning that the tea cups are not meant to be used with real liquids (no drinking!). That said, our testers added their own tea service to the cart and enjoyed pushing the cart around and hosting their own tea parties. Ages: Preschool Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2016 Click here to buy this pr

LEGO STAR WARS Rebel U-Wing Fighter

(LEGO $79.99) If you're looking to make a huge hit with a LEGO STAR WARS fan, this rebel space ship will likely due to the trick. The cockpit opens as do the side of the craft so that figures can emerge. Also pleasing to fans, it comes with five minifigs: Bistan, Rebel Tropper, U-Wing Pilot, Cassian Andor and Jyn Erso. Comes with 659 pieces so this is not for a beginner builder. Be forewarned, there are small projectiles - so be careful with younger siblings. 8 & up. Age: Early School Years, Tweens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2016 Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com

Fisher-Price Brilliant Basics Baby's First Blocks

(Fisher-Price $9.99) Technically this is a shape-sorter, but the 10 blocks will be used to fill, spill and throw long before the baby can fit them into the shape-sorter lid of the container. Put the lid away for now. A no gimmick classic that is neither complicated nor expensive. We much preferred this toy, back in 1995 when it only had three shapes (circle, square and triangle)--the addition of the other shapes and more openings makes this less age appropriate and user friendly...but it's still a good basic toy for that favorite game of fill and dump. Ages: Infants, Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Blue Chip Award 2015 Click here to purchase the product from Amazon.com

WowWee CHiP Interactive Robot Pet Dog

(WowWee $196) CHiP is a programmable robotic dog that got high ratings from our testers. He's the latest entry from the folks at WowWee. Like real family dogs, CHiP enjoys playing fetch with his "SmartBall". The included SmartBand will mean that CHiP will recognize one and only one owner. He'll want to play with you and also tell you when he's hungry. According to the company, CHiP will learn about you from all of his sensors and adapt. Our testers liked that he'll go back to his SmartBed when he needs to recharge and that he'll come find you. Our parent testers liked that the sounds it made were not too annoying and that the APP was easy to use. Our testers did report that the motor was l

Max Traxxx Tracer Racers RC The Showdown

(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 A

Blue Orange Dr. Eureka

(Blue Orange $18.99) An unusual “scientific” looking game that comes with test tubes and colorful marbles (symbolic molecules) that players must rearrange to match the formula card for the round. You do this by being the first player to move the colorful marbles in your three test tubes without touching them with your bare hands -- before the other players beat you. It’s a real brainteaser of a game and can be played solo or competitively. It comes with 12 plastic test tubes, 24 colorful marbles, and 54 Challenge Cards. Requires logical thinking, problem solving, and eye hand skills. Good family game night fun. Best for kids 8 & up, up, up. Ages: Tweens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award

Playskool Love2Learn Elmo

(Hasbro $59.99) Testers were pretty unanimous about this year’s Love2Learn Elmo, a novelty doll that learns your child’s name and can play dozens of games. You’ll need to use the Elmo app to personalize the doll and select the subjects, level, and games that Elmo will then play with your child. It has 350+ responses, 10 songs, laughs and plays three different games. Love2Learn Elmo app works with select iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Android devices. One tester loves squeezing his nose to make noises. Another carries Elmo wherever she goes and listens to what he has to say. A very young tester was a little put off by Elmo at first meeting. But when her mom put Elmo on her own lap and clapped

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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.