Good Housekeeping’s 2011 Best Toy Award winners are:
- Little Tikes 2-in-1 Garden Cart & Wheelbarrow ($40, littletikes.com; ages 2+): One of Good Housekeeping’s youngest testers’ top picks, this toy appealed to little landscapers, who loved pretend-planting the plastic flowers.
- Imperial Toys’ Little Tikes Garden Bubble Leaf & Lawn Bubble Blower ($20,imperialtoy.com; ages 2+): This was another favorite among Good Housekeeping’s young testers—and really, what kid can resist a blast of bubbles?
- Battat’s B. Critter Clinic ($25, justb-byou.com; ages 2+): Future veterinarians can examine and treat ailing plush pets with a toy stethoscope, syringe and more. The pup and kitty can convalesce in colorful kennel cubbies, and the corresponding door keys let a child practice fine motor skills.
- Little Kids’ Toobers & Zots ($25, littlekidsinc.com; ages 3+): With flexible foam pieces, kids can design all sorts of “foamstructions.” Good Housekeeping’s kid testers tended to make wearable art—elaborate crowns and silly hats—but options are as limitless as a child’s imagination.
- Shure’s Daisy Girls Dollhouse ($50, yoyo.com; ages 3+): The fun of paper dolls (here, made of durable wood) is combined with the pleasures of playing house, with a toy that includes four girls named after flowers and a fashionable wardrobe that attaches magnetically.
- Educational Insights’ Playfoam ($5 for a four-pack, other sets available,educationalinsights.com; ages 3+): Endlessly squishable, it captivated young testers with its sculptability. Kids created colorful creatures, decorated walls with the beady dough (it peels right off and won’t stain), and discovered that it even sort of bounces!
- Mattel’s Hot Wheels Wall Tracks ($30 for the starter set, mattelshop.com; ages 4+): Toy cars climb to new heights and tracks attach to a wall via removable brackets, allowing kids to enjoy sending them through straightaways and loops, without getting scattered across the floor.
- Manhattan Toy Quadrilla Melody Basic Set ($64, manhattantoy.com; ages 4+): A musical toy and a building challenge in one, this toy involves assembling a wood track, and as the marble rolls through the course, elegant chimes ring out.
- Little Kids’ Crunch Art ($5 and up, littlekidsinc.com; ages 4+): Kids can make mess-free, fantastic fabrications, just pressing little bits of cloth into boards using a stylus. Good Housekeeping’s school-age testers found the results worthy of display and praise.
- Silverlit’s 3D Twister ($50, get3Dtwister.com; ages 5+): This remote-controlled car zipped its way to the top of Good Housekeeping’s testers’ lists. Whether careening at dizzying speed down the hall or flipping end-over-end (it’s two-sided, so the car just keeps going), it doesn’t disappoint.
- Jakks Pacific B.I.G. Power Hand ($30, becomebig.com; ages 6+): This fulfills every child’s sci-fi dream of having a bionic body part. It fits like a glove (literally); by moving each finger, the wearer can cause the oversize digits to bend, reach, and grasp.
- K’Nex Mario Kart Wii Mario and Luigi Starting Line ($60, knex.com; ages 6+): Part construction set, part racetrack, it lets kids build an obstacle course and then set motorized Mario and Luigi cars loose. The crazy brothers bounce off each other and the track’s roadblocks—live, but just like in the video game.
- Waboba Tosy AFO ($20, waboba.com; ages 7+): This high-flying toy really soars and (usually) returns, boomerang-like, to its starting spot. Light and flexible, it won’t cause damage or injury in a crash landing. LED lights illuminate nighttime takeoffs.
- Ravensburger’s Xoomy ($25, ravensburger.com; ages 7+): With 20 whimsical image patterns to project and trace, plus paper and pen, illustrators-in-training loved customizing these renderings with their own pencils, crayons, and markers
- Wild Planet’s Denkosekka Battle Set ($20, shopwildplanet.com; ages 7+): Players fling a yo-yo-like magnetic catcher toward a mat strewn with tokens to see who’s the best picker-upper, and tokens have different point values; whoever nabs the most points wins.
- Lego Creator Rescue Robot ($17, lego.com; ages 7+): The famed plastic-brick maker adds bling with a light-up block. The set has instructions for building three characters (the namesake robot, plus Laserbot and Robocat). Of course, as with all Legos, kids can also improvise.
- Scientific Explorer’s Disgusting Special Effects Make-Up Kit ($20, poof-slinky.com; ages 8+): This kit comes with everyday ingredients to teach kids how to easily fake horror movie make-up, such as bloody gashes, dramatic bruises, and more.
- SmartLab Weird & Wacky Contraption Lab ($40, smartlabtoys.com; ages 8+): Kids assemble a course of ramps that relies on the science of levers, gears, and gravity. A rolling marble triggers a chain reaction to launch a plastic pig from a cannon. (There’s a reason it’s called “wacky.”)
- Jakks Pacific Spy Net Bionic Ear ($20, spynethq.com; ages 8+): This sound magnifier can be stuck to a wall or door and it connects to the included earbuds for a covert operation.
- Klutz Guide to the Galaxy ($20, klutz.com; ages 8+): Wannabe astronomers can build their own telescope; the constellation and moon maps help pinpoint galactic bodies, and the book details a slew of otherworldly activities to explore.
The six winning board games are:
- Hasbro Connect 4 Launchers Game ($20, hasbrotoysho.com; ages 5+): Reimagining the classic, it heightens the four-in-a-row fun by having opponents fling their checkers onto the board. The goal: to land them consecutively and block the competition from doing the same.
- MindWare Pix Mix Game ($20, mindware.com; ages 8+): Got an eye for detail? Each transparent card has a line drawing of a common object, and cards are piled six high; players have 30 seconds to discern each image within the squiggly jumble.
- Techno Source Tetris Link Game ($25, technosourceusa.com; ages 6+): Sometimes the best innovation takes you back to basics. Here, the popular video game goes low-tech: players take turns sliding in the “Tetrimino” pieces and score by linking consecutive colored squares.
- Learning Resources Double Duel Game ($28, learningresources.com; ages 7+): To win this game, it helps to have good ears, fast fingers and a love of language. Cards define pairs of words with the same pronunciation but different meanings. Buzz first and ID the soundalikes to rack up points.
- Super Duper Publications Jeepers Peepers Game ($40, superduperinc.com; ages 5+):Curiosity is key here, with competitors clipping photos of different items onto their game glasses, facing out, then taking turns posing yes-or-no questions to figure out what’s on their display.
- Educational Insights Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game! ($20, educationalinsights.com; 3+):Participants aim to be the first to stock a log with acorns using the tweezerlike “squirrel squeezers.” A bad spin could mean losing one piece—or your entire stash.
For more on Good Housekeeping’s top-rated toys, visit www.goodhousekeeping.com/