FamilyFun Toy of the Year Awards

What's the formula for finding this year's most fabulous toys? Start with 50 discerning families, then give them 425 of the newest playthings to evaluate. The results? Our Top Ten Award Winners and 15 additional picks -- 25 holiday worthy toys, each for under $100!

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#1: Crayola Virtual Design Pro

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

#1: Crayola Virtual Design Pro

  • Crayola, $29.99 each set
  • Ages 6 and up
  • iOS and Android

Hand-drawn artwork goes high-tech in two fully loaded activity sets. With the Fashion Collection, our testers delighted in designing clothes using the kit's stencils, pencils, and markers. But the real thrill came in bringing those designs to life in a virtual world. Kids use the free app to scan their creations into a tablet or smartphone (not included), then customize each model's look and accessories before sending them down the runway. With the Car Collection, kids use the art materials to design autos that they can then race on a digital stunt track. crayola.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#2: Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk

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#2: Hot Wheels RC Street Hawk

  • Mattel, $59.99
  • Ages 8 and up

Two words say it all: flying car. This remote-controlled dragster kisses land good-bye and soars up to 200 feet in the air. Light yet resilient, it goes from doughnuts on the driveway to aerial loop-the-loops -- and back again. amazon.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#3: DigiBirds

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#3: DigiBirds

  • Spin Master, $29.99
  • Ages 5 and up

These three interactive birds with cheerful songs are a pick worth tweeting about. Controlled by a whistle ring that doubles as a perch, the chirpers come programmed with 20 melodies and can be set to sing solo or as a choir. "I've heard my girls humming the tunes the birds play," reported one mom. digibirds.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#4: Gyrobot

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#4: Gyrobot

  • Thames & Kosmos, $49.95
  • Ages 8 and up

Put a spin on the science of gyroscopes by constructing this kit's seven cool motorized models. Tester favorite: a robot who rolls across a tightrope. thamesandkosmos.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#5: Paper Style: Hairdos

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#5: Paper Style: Hairdos

  • Chronicle Books, $16.99
  • Ages 8 and up

This quirky craft book introduces 15 characters, including a mermaid, clown, vampire, and pirate, all in need of a haircut. Each comes with a paper sheet of hair that kids can cut, curl, braid, and crimp into mod makeovers. chroniclebooks.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#6: Max Tow Truck

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#6: Max Tow Truck

  • Jakks Pacific, $59.99
  • Ages 6 and up

When monster-wheeled bad boy Max exclaims, "Load me up!" he's not kidding. Equipped with a powerful electric motor and sturdy plastic chain, Max hauls up to 200 pounds. As to what this feat might look like, a 5-year-old tester offered, "I love that Max can tow me and my dad on a skateboard!" toysrus.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#7: Lego Juniors

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#7: Lego Juniors

    • Lego, $9.99 to $49.99
    • Ages 4 to 8
  • You might call this line of new Legos the missing link -- or brick -- between little-kid Duplos and more advanced sets. Each themed pack, such as Construction (shown here), contains regular-size bricks alongside larger preassembled pieces, meaning easier and faster builds. Next on the tester wish list for Lego: "Pairing the sets with a small handheld broom and dustpan!" shop.lego.com
  • Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.
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#8: Splish Splash Sink & Stove

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#8: Splish Splash Sink & Stove

  • Little Tikes, $19.99
  • Ages 3 to 8

After cooking a tasty pretend meal on the stove top, kids wash the included dishes and utensils in the sink with a working pump faucet. We won't tell if you try to slip in a few of your family's actual dirty dishes. littletikes.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#9: Creature Clash! Card Game

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#9: Creature Clash! Card Game

  • Chronicle Books, $14.99
  • Ages 6 and up
  • 2 to 6 players

This wildly clever card game battled its way to the top of our tester picks. Players take turns creating fantastical animals by picking three cards: a front, middle, and back. Next, they choose a player to attack, who then makes her own critter (a CROC-ma-bee, say, or a VUL-qui-ster). The winner is determined by adding up the numerical strengths of the various creature parts. Translation? Math is fun! chroniclebooks.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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#10: Record & Learn KidiStudio

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#10: Record & Learn KidiStudio

  • VTech, $39.99
  • Ages 3 to 10

Imagine a hip-hop "Three Little Kittens" or a techno "The Wheels on the Bus." Now throw in a record for scratching, a whammy bar, a pop-up mic with voice-changer, and you'll see why this interactive music studio was a tester favorite. Aspiring DJs can compose and record their own songs in free-play mode, or choose from 20 melodies and a variety of sound effects -- including cheers. vtechkids.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Spy Tag

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Winner: Spy Tag

  • Ravensburger, $16.99
  • Ages 5 and up
  • 2 to 4 players

To start this fast-paced game, players gather a crew of animal agents. From there, it's a card-matching, card-slapping duel as each spy ring tries not to be "It" when the timer goes off. amazon.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Grunting Pig Puppet

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Winner: Grunting Pig Puppet

  • Folkmanis, $29.99
  • Ages 4 to 10

Squeeze his belly and this velvety-soft puppet lets out a hearty "Grrrnt!" A movable mouth, snout, and trotters enhance his expressiveness. As the mom of a 5-year-old tester said, "It just makes you smile." folkmanis.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Cinderella's Romantic Castle

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Winner: Cinderella's Romantic Castle

  • Lego, $69.99
  • Ages 6 to 10

Had the Fairy Godmother dabbled in real estate, this might be the result. Constructed from 646 Lego pieces, the castle is truly the belle of the ball's dream palace, featuring such posh details as a working swing, a revolving bookcase, and a cupola for her cat. "My daughter was proud to complete this mostly by herself," said the mom of a 6-year-old. shop.lego.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Pirate Pursuit

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Winner: Pirate Pursuit

  • Galt Toys, $25.50
  • Ages 3 to 8
  • 2 to 4 players

Thar she goes! A windup galleon sails along this game's bright board, affecting the fates of the pirates racing to bag six doubloons. "The game fosters a good level of competition without any meanness," said a tester mom. amazon.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Pediatric Nurse Role Play Set

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Winner: Pediatric Nurse Role Play Set

  • Melissa & Doug, $29.99
  • Ages 3 to 7

Time for baby's checkup! This pretend-play set has everything little RNs need to give a smiling doll a routine exam: scrubs with name tag, stethoscope, ear scope, thermometer, syringe, and last but not least (according to our testers), a removable diaper. melissaanddoug.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Moxie Girlz Ice Cream Bike

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Winner: Moxie Girlz Ice Cream Bike

  • MGA Entertainment, $34.99
  • Ages 3 to 8

Sophina doesn't just peddle her stackable treats -- she pedals, too. Roll her along and a sweet tune plays (a tester favorite feature) as the bike's wheels spin. One scoop or four? amazon.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Hop & Squeak Unicorn Pogo Jumper

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Winner: Hop & Squeak Unicorn Pogo Jumper

  • International Playthings, $19.95
  • Ages 3 to 8

This cross between a pogo stick and a hobbyhorse squeaks with every jump on its foam base. Bonus: The weight limit is 250 pounds, making this active toy both mythical and mighty. intplay.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Alpine Cable Car

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Winner: Alpine Cable Car

  • Playmobil, $76.99
  • Ages 6 and up

With a turn of the crank on this working tram, riders begin their ascent from station to station. The included cable spans more than six feet, allowing for lots of up-and-across-the-room travel. Tester mom tip: Ten Playmobil figures, two geese, a dog, and a cow may exceed optimal tram capacity. playmobil.us

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: The Amazing Wubble Bubble Ball

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Winner: The Amazing Wubble Bubble Ball

  • NSI International, $25
  • Ages 6 and up

It's got the bounce of a ball and the sheen of a bubble. The 3-foot-diameter Wubble also has surprising durability. Once it's inflated (battery-powered pump included), kids can bop it, grab it, and squish it, indoors and out. "The girls and their cousins had a blast tossing it around!" reported a tester. "There were lots of giggles." wubbleball.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: DohVinci Deluxe Styler

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Winner: DohVinci Deluxe Styler

  • Hasbro, $7.99
  • Ages 6 and up

Imagine a cross between a cake decorating set and a caulk gun, and you have DohVinci. Fit a tube of the soft compound (from the makers of Play-Doh) into the styler, then squeeze to make 3-D dots, swirls, and lines on paper, cardboard, even wood. Leave the creation to dry overnight for a permanent design. hasbrotoyshop.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: MiP

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Winner: MiP

  • WowWee, $99.99
  • Ages 8 and up

This blue-eyed, self-balancing 'bot is at your kid's service. In one mode, he responds to hand gestures and roams the room. In another, he instinctively maneuvers around obstacles. MiP can even carry items on a tray while moving -- a trick testers employed to have him deliver cans of soda! wowwee.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Make Your Own Washi Tape Stickers

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Winner: Make Your Own Washi Tape Stickers

  • Klutz, $16.99
  • Ages 8 and up

The hot crafting supply from Japan gets applied to a domestic favorite: stickers. This kit packs six rolls of pretty tape, plus an instruction book, templates, and backing paper, for the cutest DIY decals. klutz.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Kanoodle Genius

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Winner: Kanoodle Genius

  • Educational Insights, $12.99
  • Ages 8 and up

Watch your back, Candy Crush. This sneakily addictive puzzle game revs up spatial reasoning skills with more than 200 2-D and 3-D challenges. "This is a great game for everyone in the family, and one that gets used daily," enthused a tester. educationalinsights.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: The Wimpy Kid 10-Second Challenge

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Winner: The Wimpy Kid 10-Second Challenge

  • Pressman Toy, $19.95
  • Ages 8 and up
  • 2 to 6 players

Like the best-selling books it's based on, this game goes right for the funny bone. Players round the board as Greg, Rodrick, and the rest of the gang, vying to complete hilarious, and sometimes hilariously hard, challenges within the time limit. For instance: "Say this three times without stumbling: 'Thirty-three thieves sneezed cheddar cheese.'" amazon.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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Winner: Rhinestone Wrap Bracelets

Photograph by Adam Voorhes

Winner: Rhinestone Wrap Bracelets

  • Creativity for Kids, $20
  • Ages 7 and up

Fashion-crazy tweens weren't the only ones whipping up faux suede and sparkly rhinestone bracelets from this kit: "Mom made one, too," revealed a tester. creativityforkids.com

Originally published in the November 2014 issue of FamilyFun magazine.

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