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Best Toys of the Year

Playskool Rocktivity Rollin' Tunes Piano
Playskool Rocktivity Rollin' Tunes Piano

Playskool's little piano teaches numbers and colors in English and Spanish, and plays '80s tunes like "We Didn't Start the Fire." 9 months+, $30; hasbrotoyshop.com

 
Lamaze Franky the Hanky Whale
Lamaze Franky the Hanky Whale

Entice your tot away from the tissue box and let him pull silky handkerchiefs out of the back of this fellow from Lamaze Toys. 9 months+, $20; babiesrus.com

 
B. Kids Shake 'n Dance Puppy
B. Kids Shake 'n Dance Puppy

B. Kids' wiggly pet follows the bone, shakes his bottom, and barks--to the amusement of your mover and shaker. 6 months+, $35; shop.bkidsfun.com

 
Skip-Hop Puppet Activity Book
Skip-Hop Puppet Activity Book

This safari tale comes to life when you make the giraffe and turtle finger puppets peek through each soft page as you go. 0 months+, $15; skiphop.com

 
Fisher-Price Disney Baby Drop 'n Roar Simba
Fisher-Price Disney Baby Drop 'n Roar Simba

Rolling balls around and through this Disney Baby toy sets off sounds and songs, keeping your own cub fascinated. 6 to 36 months, $40; fisher-price.com

 
GiggleBaby Jungle Plush Animals
GiggleBaby Jungle Plush Animals

If your baby has a soft spot for squishy pals, GiggleBaby's striped loveys are lovely. 0 months+, $16 each; jcp.com

 
Infantino Go Gaga! Soft Zoo Puzzle
Infantino Go Gaga! Soft Zoo Puzzle

Help your munchkin match each critter to its shape on Infantino's board. The pals are also small enough to fit in the diaper bag for on-the-go distraction. 6 months+, $15; target.com

 
Seeking the Best Toys of 2013
Seeking the Best Toys of 2013
Haba Play-Tent Tepee
Haba Play-Tent Tepee

The trendy toy this season: a tent for hide-and-seek, quiet moments, or playtime. Haba's version goes up in minutes and is big enough to fit a friend inside. 18 months+, $80; habausa.com

 
Chicco Sit 'n' Ride Train
Chicco Sit 'n' Ride Train

Your new walker can push Chicco's train or sit on it and scoot himself around. The seat opens up to reveal a secret compartment for stashing toys. 12 months+, $55; amazon.com

 
Melissa & Doug Slide & Seek Egg
Melissa & Doug Slide & Seek Egg

When your curious kid pulls this egg apart, he'll delight in finding the birdie inside and then want to do it again! 12 months+, $6; melissaanddoug.com

 
Alex Toys Collage by Color
Alex Toys Collage by Color

Is your toddler ready for her first big art project? This set by Alex, a mini study in primary colors, makes it easy and fun with precut, ready-to-stick pieces. 18 months+, $15; alextoys.com

 
Playskool Big Hugs Elmo
Playskool Big Hugs Elmo

This newest endearing version of the now-classic Sesame Street plush toy encourages and responds to hugs, suggests games, and snores while sleeping. 18 months to 4 years, $60; toysrus.com

 
Playskool Pop 'n Pick Up Elefun
Playskool Pop 'n Pick Up Elefun

It's hard not to laugh while pushing this Playskool toy as it spits out balls. Roll over each one and the elephant picks them up again. 18 months+, $30; hasbrotoyshop.com

 
Skip-Hop Fold and Play Book
Skip-Hop Fold and Play Book

The origami-like design of this wooden toy will fascinate your tot, who can use her newly nimble fingers to change the scene just by folding corners. 12 months+, $10; skiphop.com

 
Vtech Shop & Cook Playset
Vtech Shop & Cook Playset

Be wowed by this shopping-cart toy from VTech that morphs into a kitchen with 20 pieces of pretend utensils and food. Play activates mini lessons on numbers, colors, and more. 2 to 5 years, $50; vtechkids.com

 
Leapfrog Read With Me Scout
Leapfrog Read With Me Scout

Leapfrog's interactive plush pup comes with five board books. Scout can tell the stories, answer questions, and respond to your toddler?s touch. 2 to 5 years, $35; leapfrog.com

 
Janod Xylo Roller
Janod Xylo Roller

Janod's lovely roll toy, designed in France, has rubber rings on the wheels to protect your floors. 18 months+, $40; oompa.com

 
Alex Toys Musical Owl
Alex Toys Musical Owl

Not just a xylophone, this hoot of a toy has a little cymbal, drum pad, and wooden washboard. 18 months+, $36; alextoys.com

 
Mirari Zig-Zag Xylo Train
Mirari Zig-Zag Xylo Train

Your kid can pull Mirari's clever combo of a train and a musical toy behind him. 18 months+, $19; patchproducts.com

 
Green Toys Ferryboat
Green Toys Ferryboat

Green Toys' latest eco-friendly creation, made from recycled milk jugs, makes a great bath toy but is equally fun on dry land. 3 years+, $25; greentoys.com

 
B. Toys Magnetic Alphabetic
B. Toys Magnetic Alphabetic

This pretty set from B. Toys reinforces the letters as your child matches them to the board and uses the pictures as clues to each letter's sound. 3 to 5 years, $19; target.com

 
Wild Republic Dino Express
Wild Republic Dino Express

Give your kid two things he likely loves--dinosaurs and trains!--in Wild Republic's zippy and affordable little toy. 3 years+, $15; amazon.com

 
Hasbro Chasin' Cheeky
Hasbro Chasin' Cheeky

The monkey is a moving target in this ring-toss game from Hasbro; the kid who gets all of his rings on first pulls out the banana and joins Cheeky in a bottom-shaking dance. 3 years+, $25; toysrus.com

 
Plan Toys Gone Fishing
Plan Toys Gone Fishing

This set from eco-friendly Plan Toys is easy to travel with; take turns with your child catching six colorful fish on the soft "pond." 3 years+, $20; usa.plantoys.com

 
Hasbro Cuddles, My Giggly Monkey
Hasbro Cuddles, My Giggly Monkey

This FurReal Friend has the appeal of both a baby doll and a pet monkey. She loves to "drink" from the banana bottle and get swung around. 4 years+, $80; hasbrotoyshop.com

 
Wonder Forge Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt
Wonder Forge Shipwreck Beach Treasure Hunt

Based on Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Wonder Forge's game exercises your tot's memory and his body as he searches the house for treasure. 3 years+, $20; walmart.com

 
Radio Flyer Ziggle
Radio Flyer Ziggle

Wiggling her hips and moving the handlebar helps your child power Radio Flyer's super-fun new ride-on. 3 to 8 years; $50; radioflyer.com

 
IKEA Huset Doll Furniture
IKEA Huset Doll Furniture

Barbie-size dolls can live like the rest of us, with IKEA furniture! The box this living-room set comes in has cutouts to make the clock and accessories. 3 to 7 years, $13; IKEA stores

 
Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle
Disney Princess Ultimate Dream Castle

Buy the $4 Magic Mirror app for iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Hot spots unlock games onscreen. 3 years+, $190; shop.mattel.com

 
PopAR Construction Machines 3D Book
PopAR Construction Machines 3D Book

Watch vehicles come alive with the free Popar View app; just point your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, or Android device at the pages. 4 to 14 years, $20; popartoys.com

 
DC Super Friends Batcave
DC Super Friends Batcave

With the free Imaginext DC Super Friends Batcave app on your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch, you can reveal fun games and videos. 3 to 8 years, $40; amazon.com

 
Learning Resources Mental Blox
Learning Resources Mental Blox

One person describes a setup and the other builds; it takes cooperation and critical thinking, but it's all fun! 5 to 13 years, $30; learningresources.com

 
Spin Master Zoomer
Spin Master Zoomer

The robo-dog from Spin Master will sit, roll over, and play dead on command. He responds to petting and, left to wander, may pretend to mark his territory. 5 years+, $100; target.com

 
Bendastix
Bendastix

No glue needed: Bend the shapes around each other to easily create funny hats and glasses, little people, jewelry, and more. 6 years+, $7 to $20 plus $7 shipping; getbendastix.com

 
Spin Master Flutterbye
Spin Master Flutterbye

Spin Master's fairy doll levitates off her base. With practice, your child will be able to fly her by guiding her with a hand. 5 years+, $35; toysrus.com

 
Lego Treehouse
Lego Treehouse

Lego's innovative Creator series includes three different designs in one box; this has instructions for a treehouse with a trapdoor, a lakeside hut, and a barn. 7 to 12 years, $30; legostore.com

 
Monster High Justice Fighters
Monster High Justice Fighters

Adding Power Ghouls to your child's lineup of dolls lets her play at keeping things fair at Monster High. 6 years+, $20; target.com

 
Hasbro Magic Jinn
Hasbro Magic Jinn

Hasbro's hilariously voiced little robot plays Twenty Questions; your child thinks of an animal, and then Jinn does the guessing. Trying to stump him is irresistible! 6 years+, $20; hasbrotoyshop.com

 
Activision Skylanders Swap Force
Activision Skylanders Swap Force

Now Skylanders split in half and can be mixed and matched for power combos. The new portal is needed for swapability, but old figures work on it. 6 years+, $75 for starter pack; gamestop.com

 
Cra-Z-Art Lite Brix
Cra-Z-Art Lite Brix

This brick-building set from Cra-Z-Art has a battery, so when your child is done, you can literally light up the place. 6 years+, $40; toysrus.com

 
Leapfrog Leappad Ultra
Leapfrog Leappad Ultra

Download more than 800 apps and games to boost your child's understanding of virtually any subject in a fun, engaging way. 4 to 9 years, $150; leapfrog.com

 
Vtech InnoTab 3S
Vtech InnoTab 3S

VTech's newest version has games, Wi-Fi, and a kid-safe Web browser. It even allows your child to send messages to your phone. 3 years+, $100; target.com

 
Polaroid Kids Tablet
Polaroid Kids Tablet

It has a stellar photo studio, and the high-res screen makes this an ideal e-reader. Comes with ten books; use a Nook app to buy more. 3 years+, $150; toysrus.com

 
Jakks Pacific EZ Pro DJ
Jakks Pacific EZ Pro DJ

Use the free EZ Pro DJ app to import songs from your iPad, iPhone, or iPod touch. Slow tunes down, speed them up, and mix two together, like a real DJ! 8 years+, $50; walmart.com

 
Hot Wheels Car Maker
Hot Wheels Car Maker

The name says it all: You make cars with this! There are two molds and enough materials to create and detail ten vehicles. 8 years+, $50; toysrus.com

 
Lego Cragger's Command Ship
Lego Cragger's Command Ship

Lego's Chima world includes Cragger, the Croc prince, who steers this ship that has a giant snapping mouth. 8 to 14 years, $80; legostore.com

 
Zing Sky Ripperz
Zing Sky Ripperz

Zing's lightweight rockets can be shot surprisingly high and far with the springy slingshot. 8 years+, $18 for three; toysrus.com

 
American Girl Saige Copeland
American Girl Saige Copeland

Out through December, Saige's backstory is that she's a sweet 10-year-old in Albuquerque who yearns to be an artist like Grandma. 8 years+, $110 for doll and book; americangirl.com

 
Nancy B's Science Club Moonscope & Journal
Nancy B's Science Club Moonscope & Journal

Real-life scientist Nancy Balter is out to convert young girls to astronomy with this powerful tool. It comes with a book detailing how to locate stars and a journal for writing observations. 8 years+, $50; toysrus.com

 
Marbles the Brain Store Catchoo
Marbles the Brain Store Catchoo

Your child wraps the blue band around his wrist and works to use the red ball to snag the orange balls as fast as he can. 8 years+, $30; marblesthebrainstore.com