Toy Report 2014 – Toys by category, from 1+

A description of the categories will be coming soon.
 
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Arts & Crafts

★★★
Birthday
Play Art Gouache Watercolor Paint (PART14111)
Bo-Jeux Toys Inc.
18 mos – 4 yrs

Paint it up! These 4 bright paints (red, yellow, blue, green) come in nicely sized tubs that are easy for little hands to open but hard to knock over. Our testers liked how the paint spread easily. They enjoyed creative exploration with colour and the feel of the paint’s Jello-like texture. The paint easily washes off hands, which families appreciated, but they also noted that the red paint can stain clothing.
Construction Toys

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Animal Blocks (8444)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

E, I, E, I, O! This colourful farm set has stackable animals (duck, cow, fish, sheep, and horse), as well as 6 regular building blocks. Our testers enjoyed the variety of easy-to-distinguish animals and engaged in imaginative play with them. One little tester pretended the animals were her pets, and she built enclosures for them with the other blocks. Families liked that the pieces are durable, easy to clean, and compatible with other Mega Bloks sets.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Block Buddies Friends (6623)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

Introduce some friends to your building creations. The 3 cute little Block Buddies (a girl, a boy and a puppy) can integrate with any Mega Bloks First Builders sets. Our testers liked this new dimension to block building, and for some it revived their interest in construction play, although many wished the buddies could be placed side by side. Our testers built homes and towers for the characters and also played with the toys separately. Families also appreciated the durability of the plastic characters.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Block Buddies Hero Team (6624)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

Add the element of heroic adventure to your construction play. This building set comes with 77 colourful building blocks and a set of 3 brightly coloured adventure figures (knight, dragon, horse) who are ready to animate any creation. Our testers took to this toy right away and began building castles, towers and other constructions. They appreciated how the pieces fit together nicely but come apart easily too. They used the figures separately and with the blocks in imaginative play. Parents appreciated the sturdy zippered bag for easy storage of the pieces.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Block Buddies Rescue Squad (6622)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

With a policeman, fireman and Dalmatian dog, this rescue team is ready to be of assistance in any emergency. Our testers enjoyed the colourful, durable little figures that easily fit onto Mega Bloks building pieces (although they cannot sit adjacent to each other). Families liked how the figures sparked ideas for creative and imaginative play with building sets or on their own. They also noted that the figures were easy to store in the provided plastic bag.

★★★
Mega Bloks First Builders – Farm (6626)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

Get ready for some fun on the farm. This colourful building set includes a farmer, a tractor and 4 animals, as well as almost 90 decorated pieces that kids can use to build a barn and other farming items. Pieces come in a Mega Bloks tub with a lid that can be used as a building base. Although most of our young testers could not build the farm as shown on the packaging, they enjoyed playing with the pieces, which fit together easily, and they incorporated other toys and Mega Bloks sets in imaginative play.

★★
Mega Bloks First Builders – Lil Princess Unicorn Stable (80416)
Mega Bloks
12 mos – 5 yrs

Only the best stable will do for the princess’s unicorns. Build a pretty, sparkling stable with these pink, purple, blue, white and green building blocks designed for those learning to build. This set comes with a cute princess and 2 unicorns, which our testers used with the set and for separate imaginative play. Families appreciated how the 85 pieces offered lots of building potential and possibilities for shared play. Blocks are packaged in a handy storage container that is big enough to hold additional blocks and toys.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Ricky Race Car (80438U)
Mega Bloks
12 – 24 mos

This friendly-faced, bright red car has a removable driver, a top that can be placed on or off, and a back seat loaded with Mega Bloks First Builders pieces. Our testers enjoyed this 6-piece set. It was easy for them to handle, and they engaged with it in imaginative play and incorporated other Mega Bloks sets as well. They liked how the wheels rolled well and they could play with it anywhere—outside, in the bath, around the house, etc. “My son lugged it everywhere”, reported the mom of a 1-year-old tester.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Safari Train (08424U)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

Choo-choo! Catch the safari train with this colourful 13-piece building set. Our young testers delighted in the little train and 5 stackable safari animals (alligator, elephant, hippo, lion and parrot). They liked pressing the red button on the train engine to hear the little toot and were pleased that the wheels rolled well on most surfaces. Blocks are well-sized for toddler hands, and animal pieces were used in imaginative play. Pieces can be incorporated with other Mega Bloks toys.

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Steer-Me Steve (80415U)
Mega Bloks
12 mos – 3 yrs

Load ’em up! With this bright ride-on truck, tots can load up and dump out their Mega Bloks cargo. A great first truck, this sturdy vehicle comes with 10 Mega Bloks, which can be used as cargo and as building blocks. Our little testers delighted in Steve’s friendly face and his smooth-rolling wheels. They enjoyed being dump truck drivers, even if they found the dumping lever a little stiff. They also liked finding other cargo in the house to carry. Ready for hauling!

★★★
Birthday
Mega Bloks First Builders – Susie School Bus (80441U)
Mega Bloks
12 – 24 mos

This bright pink and purple plastic school bus comes with five Mega Bloks, which can be stored inside the bus or stacked on the roof, as well as a cute little bus driver that can be removed and played with separately. It was very attractive to our little girl testers, who especially enjoyed using it to haul blocks and other toys around. The appeal was strongest among testers who enjoyed using their developing fine motor skills to stack, open and roll things.

★★★
Batteries
Mega Bloks First Builders- Billy Beats Dancing Piano (08427U)
Mega Bloks
12 mos +

This cute and colourful piano has eight light-up keys that can play single notes or programmed songs. Kids can play listen to pre-recorded tunes, watch Billy dance, or free style with their own musical creations. Piano also comes with eight First Builder Mega Bloks that can be stacked on top of the piano or stored inside. Our young testers found this toy very engaging and liked that there was a variety of functions, songs, and play options. Families appreciated the toy for providing an enjoyable way for tots to learn about music. Requires 3 C batteries.

★★★
Mega Bloks John Deere – Garden Cart (80834CA)
Mega Bloks
12 mos – 5 yrs

This attractive toy in the authentic John Deere colours is ready to get to work. The toy comes with a large, durable bin on wheels that can roll easily indoors and outside, as well 20 First Builder Mega Bloks (best suited to indoor play). The handle can be used as a building base or to pull the cart. Our testers enjoyed filling and dumping the bin and liked the compatibility of the pieces with other Mega Bloks sets. Parents liked how play develops fine and gross motor skills, but they were concerned that all children wanted to climb into the cart, even though the toy was not designed for such use.
Developmental Toys

★★★
Birthday
Go! Kitty (211240)
Manhattan Toy
12 – 24 mos

Kitty cat, kitty cat, where have you been? This yellow plastic kitty will go zooming around your home. Tots push down on the kitty’s arched back to make it roll across the floor. This toy is a good size for young kids to carry and play with, is easy to use, and helps develop gross motor skills. It was most enjoyed by testers under the age of 2 who were strong enough to push the kitty but young enough to want to sit and watch it. Parents appreciated the fact that no batteries are required.

★★★
Birthday
Go! Puppy (211150)
Manhattan Toy
12 – 24 mos

This puppy’s on a roll! Our testers enjoyed this cute brown plastic puppy that easily zooms across the floor. Tots push down on the dog’s back—with the release he’ll roll away on his red and blue wheels. This toy is a good size for young kids to carry and play with. Playing helps develop gross motor skills and hand–eye coordination. The puppy was most enjoyed by testers under the age of 2 who were strong enough to push the kitty but young enough to want to sit and watch it. Reported one testing family, “This toy took a lot of crashes into walls and furniture without any damage.”

★★
Stacking Story Blocks (212120)
Manhattan Toy
12 mos +

These 4 colourful plastic blocks have cute animal graphics and various attachments (such as a button and a clicking door) designed to engage young tykes. Our testers enjoyed exploring the attachments and were attracted to the bright colours. They would play with blocks individually or build towers to knock down. But testing families reported a lot of visible wear over the testing period: the stickers on the blocks will come off if they get wet.
Dolls, Houses, & Accessories

★★★ Best Bet
Mon Premier Bébé Bath Doll & Accessories (Y5449)
Corolle
18 mos +

Time for a bath! This cute baby doll is ready to accompany your child into the tub. So light that she floats, she is made of quick-drying materials and can be hung to dry from a little loop on her back. She comes with several swim accessories (flippers, snorkel, goggles and arm waders) that, while not always easy to attach, added to our testers’ imaginative play. They also liked her pretty face and eyes that close when she is laid down. And she is a perfect size and weight to be easily carried around.
Educational Toys

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
K's Kids 2 in 1 Talking Ball (KA10621)
K's Kids
12 mos +

“Now I know my ABCs!” This plush ball recites the alphabet or counts numbers when it is tossed or dropped. Most of our testers enjoyed playing with this colourful toy, and families appreciated how it helped young children learn numbers and letters. Parents thought it was a great size (20 cm diameter) and weight for little hands to throw and carry around. Some thought the instructions were too complicated, but all were happy that the ball is machine-washable when the battery compartment is removed. Requires 2 AAA batteries.
Imaginative Play

★★★
1-2-3 Take Along Barn (6778)
Playmobil
18 mos +

Fun on the farm! This durable and attractive 13-piece Playmobil set comes with a barn, fences, a garden, hay, a wheat bag, a ladder, a cat, a bird, a pig, a horse and a rider. The barn has a latch and hinge so it can be folded together for storage and carrying or opened wide to reveal the interior. Pieces fit together nicely (rider sits on horse, fence pieces clip together, etc.). And with its compact size and built-in storage, this is a great travel toy. Although some of our testers were frustrated when the barn came apart, requiring help from mom or dad, they still enjoyed imaginative play and could integrate the pieces with other Playmobil sets.

★★★
1-2-3 Take Along Fire Station (6777)
Playmobil
18 mos +

No cause for alarm! This cute fire station is ready to respond. The set includes a brightly coloured 2-level fire station with an elevator, a red fire truck, 2 firemen, a hydrant, a bed, a chair, a bookcase, tables, and a horn. The station folds up into a take-along case with everything inside. Our testers loved the variety of durable, attractive pieces and created lots of imaginative scenarios that were often integrated with other toys. Parents appreciated the gender-neutral colours, portability, and easy storage.

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
Dr. Doctor (BX1024)
B. toys by Battat
18 mos – 5 yrs

Is there a doctor in the house? Children are ready to make house calls with this perfectly sized medical kit. The doctor’s bag includes a stethoscope, otoscope, blood pressure cuff, safe syringe, childproof scissors, thermometer, tweezers, and mirror, as well as a beeper for our busy little MDs. Great for imaginative play, this kit has enough medical instruments for several kids to play together, and the gender-neutral colours ensure that nobody feels left out. This toy was particularly enjoyed by testers over the age of 3 who are capable of independent, cooperative, and imaginative play. Requires 2 AAA batteries (beeper) and 3 AG13 batteries (stethoscope).

★★★
Birthday
Dragon Toddler Cape (53062)
Creative Education Of Canada
18 mos +

You don’t have to go off to the magical land of Honah Lee to find a dragon. Toddlers can transform themselves into this magical creature by simply donning this shimmering green cape with brilliant yellow details. Our young testers were thrilled to wear this lightweight, high-quality cape and had fun creating imaginative adventures. One little tester pretended to fly around breathing fire as he chased the princess and evil queen (a.k.a. older sisters). Parents appreciated how easy it is for tots to wear this cape and that it is machine-washable—little dragons can frolic in the autumn mist (and summer dirt) without a care.

★★★ Children's Choice
Batteries
Little People Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable (Y3682)
Mattel
18 mos +

Horses, princesses and a castle! This pretty-in-pink playset is sure to please. Our testers delighted in the two little horses that “klip klop” down the ramps between castle towers, ride through doorways, and dance on the spinning dance floor. They also enjoyed the Rapunzel and Aurora princess figures, which become part of imaginative play. This well-constructed playset has cheerful sound effects, and the multiple play areas (towers, stables, library) make this a great toy for play dates with other princess-loving friends.

★★
Mini Bots (Betty/Bobby Bot) (131057)
Early Learning Centre
12 mos +

These cute, bright little robots have articulated arms and legs, happy faces, and eyes that move from side to side when their antennae wobble. At 13 cm, the durable plastic toy is a nice size for little hands to hold and carry. Our testers liked the little clicking sounds the robots make when their limbs are moved and incorporated them into play with other toys, like Mega Bloks. Families used these colourful toys to distract babies during diaper changes or keep them occupied during car trips, but they found the robots had little sustained play value.
Interactive Electronics

★★
Batteries
Playskool Big Hugs Elmo (A4256)
Hasbro
18 mos – 3 yrs

Elmo loves hugs! This large plush interactive Elmo toy is eager to talk, sing and give hugs to young tykes. Our testers were attracted to Elmo’s friendly, familiar face and found it easy to interact with him. They loved the clarity of his voice, even though his power switch often had to be reset. However, he was a little too large for the tots most interested in him (those 3 and under), and he did not have the same appeal for kids big and strong enough to carry and support him. Parents wished there were volume control and auto shut-off. Requires 4 AA batteries.
Listening, Playing & Viewing

Not Recommended
12 Musical Blocks (ZH0412)
Boikido


These colourful wooden musical blocks have features such as a mirror, a bell, rattles and beads. The pieces come in a variety of shapes and are intended to be both building blocks and musical toys. However, this toy is not recommended for purchase and has been sent to Health Canada for review. The paint chips easily, and a small mirror (potential choking hazard) came off one sample before it was played with.

★★
Batteries
Brobo Shine 13" (BSB130011)
Keji Toys
18 mos +

This nighttime buddy will shine away any fears of the dark. The cute plush figure has a light in its stomach that is activated by swiping it with the toy’s right hand. Our boy testers were attracted to this toy and could easily activate the light. It became a favourite bedtime companion in several homes. Parents appreciated the toy’s durable materials and quality construction, and they liked that it turns off after 5 minutes. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★
Giant Xylophone (CB0612)
Boikido
18 mos +

This colourful wooden xylophone is an engaging way for young children to discover music and rhythm. The 30 cm long instrument comes with 2 mallets that can be stored inside to look like a pair of eyes. The base is curved for a unique rocking twist. Our testers enjoyed the toy’s cute design and vibrant colours. It was easy for them to use, and they loved the music it makes. In one testing family, the 4- and 5-year-olds would help their baby sister bang out notes, so it became a toy the whole family enjoyed.

★★★
Batteries
Little Tikes Activity Garden Plant & Play (632006M)
Little Tikes
12 mos – 3 yrs

Baby’s got a green thumb! This cute play area is a colourful garden wall with several engaging and interactive accessories. Our testers enjoyed “planting” the veggies in the shape-sorting garden, picking fruits and flowers off the trellis, and listening to the bee’s buzzing sound. They also liked pulling the hanging spider and watching it scurry back up the wall. Sounds can be activated in various ways, such as by “watering” the garden or pressing on worms. Families loved how the various aspects (light, sound, motion, texture) engage tots in different ways and how the toy can accommodate shared play with multiple children. Requires 3 AA batteries.
Ride-on Toys & Wagons

★★★
Easy Turn Coupe (832800)
Step 2 Corporation
18 mos – 5 yrs

Baby, you can drive my car! This cute green ride-in car comes with lots of features to engage young children, such as side door, cup holders, ignition key, horn, and gas cap. A floorboard insert can be removed for those ready to self-propel, and the front castor wheel provides 360E manoeuvrability. Our testers liked how easy it was to move around. They had fun pretending to go on errands and gas up, and they challenged other kids to have a race. Parents appreciated the handle on top for easy pushing and the clear roof that allowed them to see their child inside (but they didn’t appreciate the 1–3 hour assembly process).

★★★
PlasmaBug (PBUG001/ PBUG002)
Plasmart
18 – 30 mos

This plastic ride-on toy has a friendly face, a sturdy handle, and a raised back. A swivel wheel at the front allows for easy turns, both indoors and out. Our testers enjoyed scooting around on this smooth ride and found it light enough for them to carry easily. They also liked the little compartments at either end, in which they would store toys. Families found it to be durable and fairly sturdy, and parents appreciated that it helped tots develop balance, coordination and leg strength.
Wheel Toys

★★
Batteries
Go! Go! Smart Wheels 2 in 1 Race Track Playset (80-136700)
Vtech
12 mos – 5 yrs

This brightly coloured, plastic playset gets kids racing 2 cars around a circular track or on a straight jump track. Cars can be lifted in an elevator and launched into the race. Our testers enjoyed the music and sound effects and liked how intuitive it was to play with this interactive toy. Yet, while the testers found the toy engaging, it would sometimes fall apart during play, or the moving parts would jam. However, parents liked how well this toy engaged their children, and they also appreciated the auto shut-off and volume control. Requires 2 AA batteries.

★★
Batteries
Go! Go! Smart Wheels Airport Playset (80-144100)
Vtech
12 mos – 5 yrs

This colourful airport playset comes with a little airplane that our testers loved using in imaginative play. The track can be assembled in various ways, and when moved over different points along it, the airplane will play phrases or music and make other sound effects. Several of our little testers incorporated this set into play with their other toys, and the track is also compatible with other Go! Go! Smart Wheels sets and vehicles. Families noted that it appealed to a remarkably large age range. One-year-old children loved flying and rolling the airplane, while older children enjoyed completing the track and testing its play features. Requires 2 AAA batteries.

★★★ Best Bet
Batteries
Toy Nation Fire Engine (26108)
Realtoy International Limited
18 mos +

Fire! Fire! Have no fear, this bright red firetruck is ready to respond. Our testers loved the 7 interactive noises the truck makes (such as siren, backing up beeps, and engine starting). They also liked the truck’s multiple functioning features, such as sliding panels that reveal tools, a spinning fire hose, and a ladder that pivots and extends. The truck comes with a friendly looking fireman figure that can fit into the cab and the ladder bucket. “Used daily and loved by all”, was one family’s comment. Requires 2 AA batteries.