Manhattan Toy Swaddle Baby Koala Bear

(Manhattan Toy $19) We have a special place in our hearts for Koala bears, so this one is just the newest arrival. Wrapped in a black and white striped swaddling wrap (with Velcro-like closure) a soft gray and white koala baby with white ears and black velvety nose is a sweet toy for pretend play. Marked 6 months and up. Ages: Infants, Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017 Click here to purchase the product from

Mindware Paint Your Own Expressions: Wish, Love or Peace

(Mindware $24.99) Tweens and teens will like making a porcelain sign for their room with these sets of white porcelain letters that can be painted with various techniques: stipple, sponge, masking tape or free hands designs. Let the paint dry for 24 hours and then bake in the oven to set the paint. Choose from the three different sets of Expressions: PEACE, LOVE with a Heart, and WISH with a Star. Stand them on the windowsill or desk or dresser. These would also make a nice gift for a tween to give a friend or relative. Ages: Tweens & Teens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2017 Click here to purchase the Wish product from Click here to purchase the Love product from Amazon.c

Manhattan Groovy Girls Jingle Belle Holiday Doll

(Manhattan Toy $24) Can't get enough of those Groovy Girls? Here' a special one for Christmas gifting. Jingle Belle looks rather grown up with her upsweep hair, lipstick and fancy long dress. Could this be Groovy Mama Gal? SHe's wearing sparkly silver shoes, a red velvet dress lined in green satin and an embroidered pearl necklace, and earrings for her festive look. Ages: Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017

Mega Construx, American Girl McKenna’s Gymnastics Competition

(Mattel $29.99) American Girl's construction set comes with two figures, McKenna and Toulane and designs for building all the equipment every gymnastic athlete needs. This is a 302 piece detailed set that will demand dexterity and patience. We like the theme they chose since we believe this will appeal to some girls who might not otherwise be attracted to construction kit. It's important for girls to develop their spatial reasoning skills with building toys that for generations were largely marketed for boys. Mattel has also created a larger set for this season, A Rain Forest Animal Sanctuary with 9 pets, two girls, Lea and Camila and 760 pieces to construct a 2-in-1 setting: Lea’s Rainfores

Steiff Teddy Bear Flynn in a Suitcase

(Steiff $39.99) Unlike earlier Steiff bears, that were bristly to the touch and hardy soft and cuddly, Flynn is of a new generation. He's a small 11" lovable bear, honey colored with a lighter colored muzzle and ears. His snout is black and velvety and he has a friendly face with stitched features. Toddlers will find him a good listener who can understand whatever they say and he's happy to go along wherever they may be going. Flynn comes in a small suitcase with a metal handle and clasp that make him an ideal travel mate. We note there is a Lotte bear with a suitcase, a white bear in a red case. She's nice but Flynn is gender neutral and classic. That said, the Flynn we reviewed came in a w

Gamewright Cha-Cha Chihuahua, The Game of Dancing Doggies

(Gamewright ) A game of active play with plenty of movement and lots of giggles. Players must do the action shown on the cards they draw to win a tiny Chihuahua on their turn. The winner is the one with most little doggies at the end of the game. But watch out, one or more of your doggies may end up taking a nap in the nap shack or get taken by another player. It’s a well paced game that allows for both dancing and using their big muscles as well as fine motor skills as they move the doggies around and use their visual discrimination and color recognition skills, too. 4 & up. Ages: Preschoolers, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2017

Magformers Curve 50 Piece Set

(Magformers $99.99) We’ve seen other curved sets from Magformers, but this is the ultimate curvy construction kit. With seven different shapes in multiple colors, this set allows kids to experiment with building bridges, space ships, mazes , and other invented shapes. Like other Magformers the magnets are locked inside the translucent plastic so they are safe for STEM learning. Fitting them together to make a closed circle, a dome, a circular tower—whatever the imagination dictates. In other words, this is another wonderful open-ended kit that will be used in more advanced ways as children work with the material. Don’t be put off by the 3 and up age on the package. That has to do with safety

Magformer Tileblox, Rainbow 104 piece Set

(Magformers $139.99) Wait until you see their faces when they open this box of colorful translucent magnetic blocks! There are six different shapes in the set and they can be combined to create buildings, creatures, objects, or pure abstract designs. This is a construction set with the magnets safely locked inside the plastic shapes and it’s a set that enhances STEM learning. With 104 pieces, there are enough in this set for several kids to use together. Marked for 3 and up, this is a toy that will be used in different ways by children of mixed ages or over the long haul it will be returned to from time to time. We think it will be more appreciated by older preschoolers (4s) and early school

Magformers Log House Set

(Magformers $79.99) Here’s a whole new take on log cabin building. This is not your old Lincoln Log set. It’s a magnetic building set with logs , windows, rooftops, grass, and stylized evergreen trees. This has 87-pieces and although it’s marked 3 and up, we think this is a much better choice for older builders of 5 and up. There are multiple ways to put the houses together with opportunities to shape boxes, balconies, and pointy triangular rooftops. There are no exposed magnets so this is a safe kit for kids. Reproducing the models shown is a lot like a three-dimensional puzzle or by creating their own buildings, it’s an open-ended challenge that leads to problem solving of another kind. Ei

LittleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit

(LittleBits $99.99) An exciting build for Star Wars fans. From the moment you and your kids turn on the app and the Star Wars-like music comes on, the smiles begin. The kit includes everything needed (including the battery) to make the most popular droid ever to land in our galaxy. No, the phone pictured in this beauty shot is not included. You do need your own phone or i-pad to build and use the the droid. But, with this kit, R2D2 comes to life in the young inventor’s hands! As always, littleBits’ step-by-step directions are clear and beautifully executed on phone or i-pad. The big clear parts of R2D2 come together with ease and the magnetic electronic blocks stay in place better than in ea

Learning Resources Let’s Go Code Activity Set

(Learning Resources $34.99) Coding is the big trend this year and here’s an activity set for that requires no electronics, yet really gives kids a concrete understanding of coding works. Kids themselves become the “robot” moving with their whole bodies, following the commands laid out on the coding cards. This is a cooperative game with special codes for jumping over, turning right or left, going forward, picking things up and moving from the entry point to the robot at the other end. There are multiple ways to set this up and along with learning left from right (not such a simple task) and making a plan together, this is a game for thinking and problem solving while keeping it developmental

Manhattan Toy Lullaby Sun Pull Musical Crib and Baby Toy

(Manhattan Toy $20.00) Take this along or use it at home— a charming plush musical toy that features a happy looking sun with stitched smile and pink cheeks peeking out of a white cloud. Pull the yellow star with the rainbow ribbon and the sun comes out of the cloud and plays Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Attach it to the crib rail or stroller with the Velcro-like ribbon strap at the top of the star-trimmed cloud. It’s marked 3 months and up, but we have found such musical toys can sooth even younger babies. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017 Click here to purchase the product from

Manhattan Toy Wee Baby Stella, Brown Doll

(Manhattan Toy $20 ) We’ve told you about Baby Stella in the past and now meet, Wee Baby Stella, a soft fabric doll for toddlers. She’s 12-inches big, lightweight, soft and has stitched features ( including a belly button) and just a tuft of yarn hair. To comfort her, she has a magnetic fabric pacifier and comes dressed in a removable dress with matching underpants. Also available, other outfits such as heart covered PJs ($21). Wee Baby Stella is also available in peach tone fabric. 12 months and up. Ages: Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017 Click here to purchase the brown-tone Wee Baby Stella from Click here for peach-tone Wee Baby Stella from

PlayMonster Mirari Juballees

(PlayMonster $14.99 ) Fun for stacking, rattling, rolling, taking apart and fitting together. So many ways to play with these unusual take-apart balls. Three balls come apart and each half is a different color. Each half also has a quiet rattle inside and all pieces fit together or stack with relative ease thanks to the single bump connector (that looks much like a body part that baby probably knows well—a breast). Designed for 6 months and up, we think sitting up babies and their caregivers will enjoy exploring the many ways to play with these. Like all toys for beginners, an adult or older child will need to model ways of using these. Ages: Infants Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2

Manhattan Toy Superhero Bunny

(Manhattan Toy $16) Here he/she comes to save the day…no, it’s not superman…it’s Superhero Bunny! Done up in white plush, this 12” doll has a sewn-on blue cape and a blue star-studded mask that sits above a pink nose and over small black eyes that peer though the permanent mask. No doubt, there must be superpower in the clasp of the yellow and silver fabric belt. Weighted with bean-bag fill in its bottom and feet, Superhero Bunny can sit up without falling over—now that's power! Marked for all ages, but we think it’s more like a toddler huggable. Ages: Toddlers, Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2017 Click here to purchase the product from

Manhattan Toy Aviator Bear Plush Toy

(Manhattan Toy $16) A 12” adorable caramel-tan bear is an aviator with a white fringed scarf and of course a pair of goggles (that don’t exactly stay over its eyes) but not to worry. They do not come off bear’s head, either, since they are stitched on. Weighted with bean-bag fill in bear’s bottom and feet, so it can sit without falling over (important for an aviator!) and, did I mention this is a totally huggable bear. Marked for all ages, but we think it’s more like a toddler huggable. To go along with this huggable bring home Let's Go Bobby! (Clavis $17.95) by Ruth Wielockx. It's a big board book for toddlers who are typically heavily into transportation like Bobby, the on-the-go traveler

Mirari Shellby Droppin’, Poppin’, Rollin’

(PlayMonster $19.99) Drop the four pastel balls into the snail’s shell and roll it along—pop, pop, pop, the balls bounce and pop out of the snails mouth. An active lesson in cause and effect. Or hit the lever on the back of the snail and discover another way to make the balls pop. Good active toy for crawlers to push, chase the balls, put them back in the shell, and do it all over again. The balls make a nice sound and it all happens without batteries! 9 months and up. We think this would also make a great gift for a first birthday. Ages: Infants, Toddlers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2017

Thames & Kosmos Barbie Crystal Geology Set

(Thames and Kosmos $19.99) We’ve written about other dig kits in the past, many were gender specific and aimed at boys. This one is directed to girls and includes a Barbie license. Okay, you may not love Barbie, but, before you say 'forget it', consider how well thought out this kit is and if it will perhaps interest girls who might otherwise not get involved with a geology kit. This comes with tools for digging out the quartz, amethyst and pyrite specimens buried in a plaster block. The tools are sturdy and the safety glasses (happily included!) are a must for excavating the gems. There’s also some reading involved, a story about Barbie and her friends visit with a geologist who explains so

PlayMonster Qwitch

(PlayMonster $12) An updated version of a popular card game that calls for quick thinking with both numbers and alphabet. Players race to be the first to play a matching card or a letter or number that is more or less that the one on the top of the pile with letters and numbers. The plus, minus, and equal card on the other pile indicates which way the play has to go. It’s a race to the finish as players try to be first to get rid of all their cards. Comes in a sturdy tin and with directions in English and Spanish. 7 & up. Ages: Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017 Click here to purchase the product from

Educational Insights Panda Rollers

(Educational Insights $19.99) Panda Rollers is a color matching game with an amusing game board, featuring a panda face with color dice in the bubble eyes. Each player gets 12 cards and race to find the two cards that match the panda’s eyes. First player to make the match gets a bamboo reward tile or a fortune cookie. If a player gets a fortune cookie that player gets 2 more rewards cards. Winner is the one with the most reward cards when all the rewards have been won. Labeled 3 and up, we’d say this is more like a choice for older 4s-6s. Racing to make a match will be challenging if younger and older kids are playing together. Ages: Preschool, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum A

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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.