Toys that Hit this Year's Top Trends in Toyland

Pretend Play for Older Toddlers and Preschoolers Little Tikes 2-in-1-Food Truck (Little Tikes $159.99) What a great setting for dramatic play as kids step behind the counter of their big red food truck! It has a complete kitchen back there, with play sink, microwave oven, fridge and soda fountain. There's a cash register, note pads for taking orders, a chalkboard for writing the menus (or flavors) of the day, a flip out counter, order bell, and steering wheel with a working horn. As if that wasn't enough, the sign on top can be turned to make this a food truck with hot dogs or reverse it and sell ice cream. There's a trash can that comes loaded with 40 play food accessories that will surely

Laser Pegs Space Cruiser 12-in-1 Building Set

(Laser Pegs $42.99) There are a dozen ways to build this light-up space ship. You can follow the construction plans or do-it-your-way. Our tester chose the latter. Like other Laser peg construction sets, the special attraction is the the light up feature that give finished projects an extra glow. The bricks are compatible with other plastic construction toys, but testers have found fitting the pieces together harder than standard LEGO blocks. That said, for experienced builders, the appeal of the lights made up for some of the frustration. These are correctly marled for 8-14 year olds and we'd say the older and more experienced the better. Ages: Tweens Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award

Small World Neurosmith Music Blocks

(Small World Toys $62) Neurosmith Music Blocks won our Platinum Award seal years ago. We're glad to note that it is still available and at this point a Blue Chip winner. It has five colored plastic blocks, each side making a different sound. Match the shapes on the blocks or play them in random order—there’s no right or wrong way. The “composer” allows you to record and play back your composition. Comes with one jazz cartridge; we’d suggest bringing home the classical cartridge ($15), too. SNAP Activity: This is a great product for developing shape matching concepts as well as dexterity. Play a game of putting up all the triangles and play them...next try all the circles. Or how about making

Anki Overdrive: Fast And Furious Edition

(Anki $169.99 ) Everyone from kids to grownups are going to love the high-speed racing inspired by Fast & Furious. The over-the-top action takes advantage of the latest in artificial intelligence and video games technology. The magnetic pieces can be arranged into many different track layouts, fast! You can race against friends (two cars come with the set) or against characters from the movie. It is magical: the cars learn the course and can get around by themselves. You are in control of the throttle, steering within the lanes, and other controls. This makes a good gift for interactive family entertainment – a welcome change from passive screen time Ages: Tweens, Teens Oppenheim Toy Portfol

Anki Overdrive Starter

(Anki $149.99) Platinum Award Anki Overdrive is the 21st century answer to slot cars without needing a dedicated room. Set it up quick and easy with the Starter Kit that allows you to build one of eight unique battlefields. Download the Anki Overdrive app on a iOS or android device and you're ready for action! Players can compete with each other or with the virtual Commanders. Like last year’s Anki, you can customize each robotic Supercar and add expansion tracks and supercars. You do need the latest iOS device as this will not run on old technology. Your starter kit comes with: 2 Robotic Supercars,6 curved track pieces, 4 straight track pieces, 2 riser pieces,1 four-car charging system, an

Max Traxxx Max Flex RC

(Skullduggery $39.99) This toy just arrived in time for our Platinum Award List! We have been big fans of Max Traxxx cars that light up on the special glow-in- the-dark tracks. But this year, it got better. The company has introduced a flex track system that lights up even more when your car drives on the track. Comes with 200 pieces of track that click together and because they are flexible, it's easier to make interesting configurations. Car is controlled by a remote control that is easy to operate. We wish there was another car in the set but otherwise, this is just pure Platinum fun! Ages: Preschoolers, Early School Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award 2017 Click here to purchase on

Strictly Briks Brik Tower

(Strictly Briks $29.99) What a great way to build an original setting for plastic bricks! Kids can use this set with six 10”square baseplates and 50 stackers to build a tower. It comes in a blue, green and grey combo or in translucent pastels. Either way this set make good sense for dedicated builders. The set is sized for smaller peg blocks and is compatible with Lego and Megablocks for kids 5 – 12. Strictly Bricks also makes some sets with reversible plates that can be used with large bricks on one side and smaller bricks on the reverse side. One set that does that is the Cube and Pyramid ($24.99) set of square plates that hinge together to form a cube and triangles that hinge together to

Strictly Briks Starter Set Big Briks

(Strictly Briks $24.99) Strictly Briks Starter Set with 119 pieces comes with a round baseplate, two half-moons, several large triangles, large rectangles, and dozens of large size briks. It's an open-ended construction toy for preschoolers to use as they are or along with their other plastic construction sets. The basic briks are compatible with other large pre-school sized plastic bricks such as Duplo and Megabloks. Add props such as vehicles or animals and kids can build their own themed constructions. Ages: Preschoolers Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award 2017

Anki Cozmo Collector's Edition Robot

(Anki $179 &up) We've written about Anki Cozmo before -- he's a spunky little robot that has a personality that our testers really liked. Cozmo has facial expressions, words of sorts, and will recognize and try to engage you to play various games. Like a younger sib, Cozmo doesn't tire of asking again and again. He's small, but he has a mind of his own — he knows what he likes. Cozmo is compatible with both iOs and Androids. Like the original, it's controlled with the APP and the more you play, the more games that become available to you. Cozmo is real-life robot like you've only seen in the movies. The big news is that this year kids can program him, so it has STEM value as well as lots

Strictly Briks Brik Buster Toppling Tower Game

(Strictly Briks $29.99) We had good fun stacking this the Briks and floors into a five story tower of Briks. Now, the best part begins. Using the lightweight toy hammer players take turns knocking out a stack of Briks without making the whole structure fall. Choosing the stack to tap takes some strategy and players soon discover the best way to stay in the game. A god choice for mixed age players with lots of rounds of play. Rebuilding takes thinking skills as well as cooperation. Aside from playing this game, kids can use the Briks for constructions. Game comes with 133 stackable pieces. The bricks are compatible with larger pegged bricks such as DUPLO and Megabloks. Marked 3-93. We’d say 3

LEGO STAR WARS Collection 2017

LEGO STAR WARS Collection 2017 (LEGO Systems $79.99 - $ 799.00) There are so many amazing choices in the STAR WARS collection this year. It depends on your budget and level of expertise as a builder. BB-8 Droid ($99.99) from the new Star Wars movie trilogy has 1106 pieces with a wheel that rotates the head and another that opens the hatch and moves the welding torch. It comes with a display stand, but be forewarned, it does not roll and when completed is about 9” high. Marked 10-16, in other words, experienced builders. The Resistance Bomber ($109.99) and the smaller Kylo Ren’s Tie Fighter ($79.99) are both geared for battle with all kinds of spring loaded weapons. We generally steer clear

Hape Doll Family Mansion

(Hape $200) For hours of pretend play, this large three story wooden Doll Family Mansion is the ideal setting. It comes with a four-member family and is fully furnished, except for the car in the garage. There are five rooms with stairs to get from one floor to the next. There are two outdoor decks and a garage with a working door. There are also moveable working lights and a doorbell. If you are buying this for the holidays you may want to assemble it before the big day. Otherwise it’s going to take up a good deal of time to put it together. A good choice for role play, language, and spinning imaginary stories that children can play alone or share with others. In fact, this is large enough

Ultra Dash

(Play Monster $24.99) Once you get through the directions (read them all the way through) this is a terrific game for active play and can be enjoyed by mixed ages. Be sure to turn on all the switches, including the one on the side and toward the bottom Gameplay is something like Simon only here there are five plastic stands that can be placed around a room, house, field, or table top. Set the timer and each player takes a turn racing to find the colors as they light up on the main hand-held control. We liked that it can also be played solo or as relay race. A fun choice for family gatherings if there is a place to send the players - preferably outdoors! Ages: Early School, Tweens Oppenheim

Top Trends in Toyland 2017

Coding, Games and Elmo -- oh my! Coding is the Word of the Year. You’ll see it on toys for every age from preschool to high school. There are non-electronic games with giant coding cards for whole body action where kids program a pathway for another kid to follow like a real live robot. Or for less active gaming, there are dozens of coding games played on tabletops with cards or playing boards. Of course, there are even more coding choices in construction sets like LEGO Boost and on board several new electronic robots. So far, Elmo is not coding, but it’s only October. APP and Screen Toys. We’ve never seen so many toys that run on apps and screens of smart devices. Again, the trend is buil

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards for Preschoolers 2017

Preschoolers are all about pretend play and are also ready for beginning games and puzzles. Make sure that there are open-ended craft supplies and building toys that foster creativity and imagination. You'll want to be sure that their playthings have variety - not just all the same type of toy whether it's dolls or trucks. Here are the best and outstanding toys of the year that have be awarded an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award: Dolls & Doll House eeBoo Good Little Citizens Dolls (eeBoo) Groovy Girls Collection 2017 (Manhattan Toy) Hope, Fair and Grace Dolls (The Kind Dolls) Corolle Classic Poupon Baby Boy Doll / Baby Girl Doll (Corolle) My Mini Bath Doll with Boat (Corolle) Squishma

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards for Tweens and Teens 2017

Games and Puzzles Qwingo (Gamewright) Circular 500 Piece Unicorn Puzzle (eeboo) Roller Coaster Challenge (Think Fun) You Do Game (Ann Williams) Construction LEGO Friends Heartlake Hospital (LEGO Systems) Mindware Q-Ba-Maze 2.0 Stunts (Mindware) Pharaoh’s Pyramid (Playmobil) Space Cruiser (Laser Pegs) STAR WARS Collection (LEGO Systems) High Tech Anki Cozmo Collector's Edition Robot (Anki) littleBits Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit (littleBits) LEGO Boost (LEGO Systems) Crafts & Activities Aroma Jewelry Collection (Creativity for Kids) Paint Your Own Expressions: Wish, Love or Peace (Mindware) Unbored Time Capsule (Mindware)

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards for Early School Years 2017

During the early school years kids grow from pre-literate to true readers and writers. They continue to learn through play, using the skills they are learning as they play games, do craft kits, explore art materials, and construction toys. Building toys and art materials help them refine their fine motor skills as well as creativity. Through physical play they continue to gain control of their big motor skills. After hours in a classroom, they seriously need time for running, shouting, and using their seemingly unlimited energy. Playing board games gives them practice with math and logic along with learning that you win and lose some. Working at brain teasers and puzzles they stretch their a

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards for Infants 2017

We congratulate the winners in this category. To read our full review of each toy click through the title. You'll find our entire evaluation and shopping information as well. You may notice that our list this year for this age group is relatively short. We reviewed a lot of toys that just missed the mark. They were either lackluster in what they did or they did so much of the wrong thing. We all want our children to excel, but toys for infants with ABCs all over them is developmentally wrong. Teethers Atom Teether (Manhattan Toy) Rattle Rattle Collection: Butterfly, Dinosaur, Squirrel, Bird, or Star (eeboo) Making Something Happen Toys Fascination Roll Around (Sassy) Fun Feelings Monster (

Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Awards for Toddlers 2017

Toddlers tend to outgrow their toys as quickly as they do their clothes. It’s a time of huge transitions as they grow from wobbly tottering tots to steady-on-their-feet walkers; from single words to sentences and paragraphs. From playing with a toy for a few moments to being engrossed for ten, fifteen or even twenty minutes. You’ll want to choose toys to match their ever-changing physical, intellectual and emotional development. Congratulations to the best toys that have been awarded our Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Platinum Award. Dolls Dolce Pull Along Elephant (Magformers) Mini Bath Dolls (Corolle) Noah the Dog and Charlotte the Dog (Cuddle + Kind) Princess Doll (Corolle) Steiff Teddy Bear Fy

Mayka Construction Tape

(Mayka $8 and up) Add a new dimension to LEGO and other plastic building bricks with strips of pliable self-adhesive tape. Kids can build upside down, vertically, across the floor, along windowsills, any which way. We’re not suggesting using it on a painted or wallpapered wall, so you will have to set the limits as to where it can go. The tape comes in many colors and can be cut and used side by side to make a wider track. Kids will have their own creative ideas on how to use it and extend the life of their building bricks. This is compatible with all types of bricks. Depending on the length and width of tape you select, the price will vary. You'll find single packs for as little as $8 or ch

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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.