Each year, we test more than 300 toys to find the very best. With the help of families and 1,000+ hours of play, we narrowed the list down to our 20 favorites.
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1. Yeti In My Spaghetti
This Yeti In My Spaghetti snowman is in a serious pasta fix: remove the wrong noodle and he’ll fall into the bowl! “Truly adorable,” reported one kid-tester’s mom, who described it as a modern-day version of pick-up sticks, $18
2. Minion Singing Sound Pad
Kids commuicate Minion-style with three sound modes-singing, laughing, and speaking! Or should we say: Baa! Bop! Bleep! Bye! Boo! Beep!, $15
3. Shrink & Link Jewelry
Shrinky Dinks flashback! This Shrink & Link Jewelry Kit uses the same pop-it-in-the-oven process to create glam pendants and rings, $22
4. Drop Zone Cargo-Release Glider
This tester fave proces that pigs really can fly. Kids set up flag targets, load the stunt pigs into the cargo hold, set the release timer, then launch the glider. If the calculations are correct, the porcine projectiles will hit the target, $40.
5. Tag the Art Game
Budding artists spin a wheel, flip cards, and roll dice to determine what they’ll add to a group piece of art. The set includes pastels, paints, glitter, tissue paper, and more. Who wins? Everyone, when the group declares the masterpiece ready for the fridge door, $40.
6. Unbored Disguises
As if two beards, five mustaches, four pairs of glasses, tattoos, sideburns, and eyebrows weren’t enough, this fantastic box of disguises also includes an old-fashioned monocle. And your kids won’t be the only ones trying on new identities: “Mom and Dad got goofy, too!” said one young tester, $30.
7. Star Wars Pictopia
Which Star Wars character called Chewbacca a “walking carpet”? Which Jedi is a Twi’lek? Fans of the intergalactic franchise will be happier than a Wookiee in a wroshyr tree to take on 1,000 trivia questions like these in Star Wars Pictopia, $20
8. Lego City Demolition Site
This 776-piece Lego City Demolition Site set was a hit with our Lego-loving testers. Kids will spend hours building the condemned construction site, bringing it down with the wrecking-ball crane, clearing away the rubble, then doing it all again, $90
9. Geometrics House
Ikea meets Frank Lloyd Wright in a modernist wooden dollhouse. Renovate in seconds by turning its three sturdy pieces, then rearrange the chic furnishings, $60.
10. Wooden Rotisserie & Grill
Your aspiring pitmasters will love to skewer and sear some tasty BBQ on this tabletop grill set. The 24 pieces include a chicken, assorted vegetables, sauce for basting, and even a few shrimp to throw on the barbie, $50.
11. Cheese Dip
Using the hooked tail of a mouse, players compete to snare Swiss cheese letters and spell simple words in this Cheese Dip game, $18
12. Little People Big Animal Zoo
The big draw of this Little People Big Animal Zoo game: a lifelike elephant with movable ears, legs, and trunk who loves a good shower. Pull his tail to hear him trumpet and play a jazzy tune, $40
13. Disney Descendants
Based on the characters from the hit TV movie, these appealing Disney Descendants dolls are the teenage offspring of iconic Disney heroes and villains, including the Fairy Godmother, Jafar, Cruella de Vil, and Mulan. “My daughter loved that her doll was the child of a villain,” said one tester, $20
14. Bite to Eat Diner
This doll-size diner leaves out no detail, from tiny condiment bottles to a mini order pad to a jukebox that plays music. One mom couldn’t get over the removable hamburger toppings. “If a doll doesn’t want pickles, she doesn’t have to have them!” she said, $110.
Fanciful creatures combine the beauty of origami with the durability of a toy in this AmiGami game. Each animal—more than a dozen in all—comes with 30 reusable paper parts that kids can cut and curl into wings, ears, manes, and tails, $10
16. Anteater Antics
Players put on anteater visitors with Velcro snouts and race the clock to pick up stuffed ants with their noses. No hands allowed! $30.
17. LightUp Edison Kit
This sleek science kit illuminates the world of circuits and code. Kids can create an LED light, buzzer, light sensor, and more. Coolest feature: a troubleshooting app for iPad and iPhone that allows junior inventors to have their own “Eureka!” moments, $50.
18. Card ‘N’ Go Seek
Players dash to retrieve an item that fits the description on one of 150 cards in this Card ‘N’ Go Seek game. But with broad descriptions like “A Dog Would Like It,” “Fuzzy” and “Has Over 100 Pieces,” the cards are open to hilarious interpretation, $12
Get your groove and your move on with this versatile musical mat. Different modes of play allow dancers to make silly sound effects, tap out nursery songs, and follow lights to compose tunes with their feet, $30.
Make a clay alien walk (or run or jump) on the moon with this introduction to stop-motion animation. The free app works with any smartphone or tablet, Marbles The Brain Store, $18.
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Toys for Kids With Special Needs
The writer of the Parents.com blog To the Max asked parents which toys… more Begin Slideshow