Toy Report 2014 – Toys by category, from 2+

A description of the categories will be coming soon.
 
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Active Play

★★★ Best Bet
Birthday
Little Tikes Clearly Sports Baseball ( 630675M)
Little Tikes
2 +

Come out swinging with this colourful toy that is a great introduction to t-ball and baseball. Set includes a base,a ball tee,a baseball bat,and 3 colourful balls. Our testers had a ball playing with this toy,and they developed coordination and gross motor skills too. It’s an attractive way to encourage kids in active outdoor play,and the plastic balls won’t get soggy or heavy if they get wet. Parents liked the quick setup and how everything fits neatly together for easy storage. “We loved this toy from the start”, said one testing family.

★★★
Birthday
Little Tikes Clearly Sports Bowling (630408M)
Little Tikes
2 +

Create your own bowling alley at home with this engaging plastic playset that includes 6 clear bowling pins and a ball with 3 little finger holes. The pins can easily be knocked down by the ball,and when they fall,the colourful balls inside them produce real bowling-alley sounds. Our little testers easily understood the game and took to it quickly. They especially loved knocking over the pins to hear the noise,and they even used the pins as noise makers. Parents liked how playing helped develop hand–eye coordination. Since a lot of space is needed for play,some families used this as an outdoor toy.
Arts & Crafts

★★★
Birthday
Imagine I Can Create-A-Puppet Lion
Manhattan Toy
2 – 6 yrs

If you see a lion,don’t forget to roar! This craft comes with everything kids need to create a cute paper lion puppet. Our young testers were attracted to this craft and enjoyed playing with it after it was built,but it required a lot of adult help to do the craft. Families found the instructions difficult to understand,the folds complicated to master,and the double-sided tape tricky to remove. Most lions were also forced to go whisker-less,since there was not enough tape to attach the whiskers.

★★★
Take It Easel (BX1096)
B. toys by Battat
2 – 8 yrs

This practical chalkboard/whiteboard combo comes in an easel format that can be folded down and snapped shut for storage and car trips. Easel comes with easy-grip,brightly coloured markers,chalk and erasers. The sturdy design ensures that the board will stay up while in use. The double surfaces also allow two kids to use it the same time. Our testers played teacher and student,incorporated magnetic letters and numbers,and made a lot of freestyle drawings. Younger testers may need help erasing the surfaces and setting up,but they still enjoy this creative outlet. Parents like the fact that the colours from markers and chalk easily wash out of clothing.
Developmental Toys

★★
Robot Bi (2962)
Playgo Toys Manufacturing Ltd.
2 +

This colourful plastic robot can move his arms and legs and hold things with rounded pincers. Press his buttons and he’ll make various robotic noises. Our testers thought this durable toy was a good size (25 cm) and weight for carrying around,and they intuitively understood how to make it work. While it did not hold the attention of children over the age of 3,it was quite interesting to toddlers and babies.
Dolls,Houses,& Accessories

★★★
Little Mommy Bubbly Bathtime Doll (X8690)
Mattel
2 +

Time to give baby a bath! With this attractive toy,children can give the baby doll a “real” bath in a pink tub. After she is clean,she can be dried off with a cuddly bird-themed towel. Like a real baby,this doll does not sit on her own in the tub and needs a supporting hand. She also likes the water to be warm so her dirt spots come clean (spots fade in warm water). Testers enjoyed using the bird-shaped pouring cup,foaming soap,and warm water to wash away dirt. Both doll and tub are light,and testers found them easy to carry.

★★
Mooshka Girls Doll (526056)
MGA Entertainment
2 +

The cute fabric Mooshka dolls come with finger puppets and paper doll chains. Our testers were attracted to the pretty Nessa doll they tested and engaged with her in imaginative play. Two young testers created whole histories for the doll and her puppet,and she became a regular guest in their games of house. However,other testers wished there were more to her and were disappointed at being unable to access her on-line storybooks. Parents appreciated that this soft doll is machine washable.

★★
Mooshka Tots Doll (526216)
MGA Entertainment
2 +

This soft and snuggly toy is a perfect size for toddlers. Young testers were attracted to her pretty face and colourful outfit and liked the shoebox package she came in,which they used for storage and as a doll bed. Each of the 8 dolls in the Mooshka line has its own little finger puppet,which testers thought was a neat addition,and for some testers it was the part they played with most. Dolls also have Velcro on their hands so they can “hold hands” with other Mooshka dolls. However,young testers had trouble with the Velcro,as well as with dressing and undressing the doll.
Games

★★★
Birthday
Barnyard Bingo Game (6552)
Fisher-Price
2 +

This cute and colourful matching game comes with a stand-up barn,4 bingo cards,and a dozen brightly coloured chips. Kids pull the lever on the barn door and—boing!—out pops a coloured chip with an animal on it. Three levels of play let kids practise their matching skills. Our young testers easily understood the objectives of play. They greatly enjoyed pulling the barn door to make the chips pop out,and then they had fun reloading the chips through the barn roof. Testers would pretend the animals were escaping from the barn and would often make those animals “talk”. Games for 2–4 players take just a few minutes,so many young testers enjoyed playing multiple games in a row or would happily play by themselves.

★★
Corn Popper Game (30574)
Fisher-Price
2 +

The classic Corn Popper push toy gets an additional twist with this new game. The attractive,sturdy toy comes with 8 reversible game boards,24 game tokens, 4 token stands,a storage box,and a parent guide with learning and play ideas. The toy has 2 easy-to-play games: Bingo Pop and Race ’n Chase,both of which teach shapes and colours. Our testers loved the Popper with its brightly coloured balls. Families also appreciated that that are two games,one of which is a little more challenging than the other. Up to 4 players can play.

★★★
Birthday
Little Cooperation Game (DJ08555)
Djeco
30 mos – 5 yrs

These little polar animals need your help! Can you get the polar bear,arctic fox,penguin,and arctic hare to safety before the ice bridge melts away? Our young testers delighted in the cute little animal figures that must be moved from one cardboard ice flow to another with the roll of an illustrated die. It’s a cooperative game,so everyone works together toward the common goal. The rules are straightforward and playing is easy,though that doesn’t mean you’ll always win. Testers enjoyed setting up the figures for the game or simply playing with them separately in imaginative play.

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
See 'n Say Talking Game (6061)
Fisher-Price
2 +

This colourful game has kids matching animals to the sounds they make. Our testers loved pulling the lever to hear the animal sound. They could then use their cards to make a match. For some of the testers,though,most of the enjoyment came from simply pulling the lever and listening to the sounds. Families liked how play helps kids learn animal sounds. They also liked the different levels of play that will increase the challenge as the children grow. They appreciated the game’s self-contained storage for the 20 game cards. Requires 3 AAA batteries.
Imaginative Play

★★★ Children's Choice
Birthday
Critter Clinic (BX1111)
B. toys by Battat
2 – 6 yrs

Our testers delighted in pretending to be vets with this cute and colourful animal hospital. The roof of the well-made,upright clinic holds 5 plastic vet tools (stethoscope,mirror,syringe,tweezers,and thermometer) that are nicely sized for little hands. Colour-matched keys open 6 little doors of the hospital’s animal cages,where sick pets can rest. The clinic comes with 2 cute stuffed animals (puppy and kitten) that our testers enjoyed nurturing back to health. Parents liked how imaginative play with this toy fostered caring and compassion.

★★★
Batteries
Mike the Knight Glendragon Castle (Y8370)
Mattel
2 – 6 yrs

Get ready for some magical fun with Mike the Knight and his horse Galahad. This attractive playset includes a castle and figurines,as well as catapult and rock,zipline,treasure,flag and horse feeding station. Testers liked how the characters look like those on TV,and they enjoyed interactive,imaginative play with the castle. They found the “magical” elements of this toy especially engaging: a bed flips up to reveal a secret getaway on a slide,the treasure chest empties and fills,and the library door revolves. One testing parent said her children “never tired of it and always found ways to have new adventures.” Requires 3 AAA batteries for the castle’s phrases and sound effects.

★★★
New Sprouts Picnic Set (LER 9266)
Learning Resources
2 +

It’s a perfect day for a picnic. This realistic picnic basket comes with everything your little ones needs for a picnic: 2 plates,2 hamburgers,2 watermelon slices,2 cupcakes,and little mustard and ketchup squirt bottles. Our testers enjoyed the variety of pieces,made from soft,durable plastic,and they liked that everything was sized just right for their little hands. Families appreciated that siblings could play together and create imaginative scenarios. Testers also enjoyed how the basket easily holds everything,which is handy for storage and for playtime.
Interactive Electronics

★★★
Travel
Birthday
Batteries
My First Crayola Mess-Free Touch Lights (80-6889)
Crayola
2 – 3 yrs

This innovative tablet allows kids to fingerpaint without getting paint on their fingers! The hard plastic tablet has a drawing surface with fingerpaint “gel” under a soft plastic cover. Kids can use their fingers or the plastic stylus to create pictures. A yellow toggle button lets them cycle through colours and music. Our testers enjoyed the sounds and lights and had fun doodling. They could easily use it independently and especially enjoyed the mode where colours change on their own. Families deemed it a great activity for the car and found it was most enjoyed by kids under the age of 4. Requires 3 AA batteries.

★★★
Batteries
Read with Me Scout (19232)
LeapFrog
2 – 5 yrs

Scout,the friendly green dog,loves to read! This plush puppy has 5 board books he will read with children. He will ask questions during story time and has several interactive buttons on his collar. Scout will also play lullabies and give clearly worded directions like “Pat my head.” Our testers were very attracted to this cute,cuddly toy and liked his gentle,encouraging voice. While the younger testers (ages 2–3) didn’t fully understand how to use the books with Scout,older children could follow his instructions and enjoyed looking at the colourful,nicely illustrated books with him. Parents appreciated how the toy helps develop early literacy skills. Requires 3 AAA batteries.
Listening,Playing & Viewing

★★★
Batteries
Meowsic (BX1025)
B. toys by Battat
2 – 6 yrs

Our testers had a purr-fectly grand time with this cute and colourful miniature keyboard,which is shaped like a grinning cat. It has several play options,such as prerecorded songs or free piano play,and it comes with a sing-along mic. The keys make the sounds of 5 instruments,and kids can choose from 5 rhythms,too. Our testers found the keyboard easy to carry around and simple to use. Parents liked the volume control. “I would buy this toy in a heartbeat”, said one testing parent. Requires 4 AA batteries.

★★★
Birthday
Batteries
Woofer (BX1166)
B. toys by Battat
2 – 6 yrs

This cute and brightly coloured dog-shaped guitar plays chord progressions and pre-recorded sing-along songs. Kids can learn to strum by following the included music booklet or playing their own tunes. They can also make music simply by pressing buttons. Our testers loved the quality sounds this toy makes and would often dance around or sing along. They also appreciated the variety of settings and the many options for easy-to-use play. Parents appreciated the volume control and auto shut-off. Requires 3 AA batteries.