The reports are in from dozens of homes across the country, where more than 300 toys were put to the test. Kids rolled trucks through mud, took dolls camping, transformed yarn into cute crafts, and challenged each other to board games. The results? The Top Ten Toys of the Year, as well as 20 other winners. Play on!

October 01, 2014
Dave Bradley

The Top 10 Toys of the Year

#1 Zoomer

He sits. He stays. He barks, rolls over, and plays dead. He even (ahem) lifts his leg. This lovable robotic pup got top honors from our testers for doing just about everything a real dog does, right down to requiring a bit of training to follow commands. Expressive LED eyes and realistic body movements -- Zoomer puts his whole back end into wagging his tail -- make this spotted wonder nothing short of fetching., $99.99, Ages 5 and up

#2 John Deere Monster Treads Radio Control Tractor

This revved-up tractor careens over anything in its path, when it's not backing up, popping wheelies, or spinning in circles, all on supersized, bouncy wheels. According to one tester, the vehicle takes on "carpet, grass, mud, and water and still runs like new!", $99.99, Ages 6 and up

#3 Hot Wheels Carcade

Testers adored this fast and furious game, where players send race cars around a pinball machine-like speedway. The goal (and the fun): crashing vehicles through lit-up targets, up a ramp and into a hoop, all while trying to score major points in 60 seconds. Drivers, start your engines ... 1 or 2 players,, $79.99, Ages 5 and up

#4 FurReal Friends Cuddles

Meet Cuddles, an animatronic plush playmate who won lots of hugs from testers. Programmed with more than 100 different responses, she squeals and blinks, swivels and sighs, and drinks from a banana bottle. Even her burps and snores are adorable. But to really hear her "hoo-hoo-ha-ha!," tickle her belly or swing her fast by the arms or legs., $79.99, Ages 4 to 10

#5 Battroborg

Remember the You-Knocked-My-Block-Off boxing robots? This modern take on that idea battled its way to the top of our testers' picks. Using the handheld, Wii remote-style controllers, players punch their arms in the air and see the same movement played out by the mini 'bots. As players try to get the robots to land punches, the LOL action can get so frenetic that the fighters end up on the ropes. But with practice, our testers learned to master the moves., $79.99, Ages 6 and up

#6 Air-Stream Machines

Science and play intersect in this "Wow!"-packed kit, themed around the power of air. Learn about mass, airflow, and pressure through the construction of ten air-powered gadgets, including a hovercraft (pictured), basketball launcher, and batting machine., $69.95, Ages 8 and up

#7 R.V. Seeing You Camper

Featuring a comfy, foldaway bed and cozy kitchenette, the easy-rolling, 20-inch-tall camper for the Our Generation line of dolls is a real trip. One tester mom marveled that the camper was big enough for all four of her kids (under the age of 6!) to play with at the same time., $59.99, Ages 3 to 10

#8 B-Daman Crossfire Break Bomber Battlefield

In this rapid-fire game, a companion to the anime TV series, opponents face off with humanoid launchers and send marbles flying, trying to be the first to blast three red bricks into enemy territory. 2 players,, $29.99, Ages 6 and up

#9 Pom-Pom Puppies

It doesn't get much cuter than a Chihuahua made out of pom-poms. That is, until you see the dozen other poufy canines kids can fashion from this DIY yarn kit., $19.99, Ages 8 and up

#10 2-in-1 Shop & Cook

Kids can go from shopper to chef with this clever combo. Fill up the grocery cart with play food, then flip down the sides to cook the feast. Both incarnations make dinner prep deliciously entertaining with sing-along music and interactive learning prompts., $49.99, Ages 3 to 5

20 More Fun Picks

B. Teepee

This richly hued, 57-inch-tall hideaway gives kids enough room to curl up with a book or hang out with a friend. Switch on its light-show lantern to bring the stars inside. And no worries about sturdiness. One tester reports that her preschooler played in the tent "like a cat in a bag.", $39.99, Ages 3 To 8

My Tape Town

Our testers literally tore through this activity kit's six bright rolls of tape to create a bustling card stock landscape of roads, buildings, trees, lakes, and cars., $18.95, Ages 3 to 6

Dino Construction Company

These hardworking trucks run on their own fossil fuels! Equipped with jaws for digging and tails for bashing, they rule backyard excavations -- and some even have treads that leave telltale dino tracks., $36.99 to $39.99, Ages 3 to 8

Raccoon Rumpus

In this rowdy card game, raccoons start out in their undies (cue the sound of preschoolers giggling), and players compete to get them dressed. But be warned: one roll of the dice can send the mischievous critters back to their briefs! 2 to 4 players,, $14.99, Ages 3 to 6

Dolly Pockets The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

No matter where the winds may take her, this plush Dorothy always travels with her Oz friends the Scarecrow, Tin Woodman, and Cowardly Lion. In this case, the trio are Munchkin-size finger puppets that fit in the pockets of Dorothy's dress., $25, Ages 3 to 6

Animal Parade A-Z Wood Puzzle

Technically, the 26 colorful pieces of this boxed set, made of ecofriendly rubber wood, are a puzzle. Yet the animals are so appealing, they swam, hopped, and slithered their way into our testers' imaginative play as well., $40, Ages 5 to 8


This two-in-one digital camera and projector is a snap to use, and it stores up to 1,000 photos. Push the smiley-face button to add funny animations or goofy sound effects to any shot or selfie. One young shutterbug particularly enjoyed heading into a darkened room to watch a slide show of her family as cats, complete with meows., $59.99, Ages 3 to 7

Museum Break-In

Now on exhibit: some major intrigue! After constructing the set, kids can stage a heist involving greedy crooks, an elite police squad, and the Lego version of Vermeer's "Girl With a Pearl Earring.", $69.99, Ages 6 and up

Creative Color Sticker Clings

A twist on stained-glass crafts, these cheerful decorations get their gleam from special jewel-toned paint. When dry, they stick to windows, walls, lockers, and the fridge., $11, Ages 6 And up

Illumivor Mecha-Pede

As if its glowing legs and eyes weren't creepy enough, this remote- controlled bug scuttles and weaves just like the real thing. Our testers gave it a resounding "eww" -- high praise indeed!, $39.99, Ages 6 and up

Duct-Tape Doggie Fashions

A plain stuffed pooch and its pup get gussied up with kid-made outfits. The materials? Pretty paper, stickers, and colorful strips of the world's most versatile tape. The pets' favorite pattern? Houndstooth, of course., $22, Ages 6 and up

Dolphin Cruiser

Set a course for high seas adventure with this posh, whimsically detailed two-story Lego Friends vessel. It's outfitted with a detachable deck, waterslide, Jet Ski, and -- tester fave -- its very own dolphins., $69.99, Ages 7 and up

Sew Cute!

Stitch up a half dozen yummy- looking stuffed doughnuts with this super-easy sewing kit. Our testers tell us that the decorative glitter glue is truly the icing on these cakes. Toys"R"Us and Hobby Lobby stores, $12.99, Ages 8 and up

Bejeweled Frenzy

The bling's the thing in this frenetic card-game version of the addictive app. Players race to match gems, compile card sets, and rack up points. Our testers were bedazzled: "This has become one of our favorite games to play as a family," reports an enthusiastic mom. 2 to 4 players., $14.99, Ages 8 and up

Nancy B. Microscope

Madame Curies-to-be can zoom in on the world within our world with the help of this 400x microscope. The superbly written activity journal outlines experiments, from scrutinizing the cells of an onion skin to comparing salt and sugar crystals, that demonstrate the instrument's dual nature: it's a light scope (for seeing through materials) and a dissecting scope (for viewing the surface of objects)., $39.99, Ages 8 and up

Marker Maker

Bye-bye, basic blues and same-old greens. Using this kit's three inks, kids can blend their favorite shades from a mixing chart or dream up a personalized palette of concoctions, for 16 custom markers. Refills sold separately., $24.99, Ages 8 and up

Make Clay Charms

This quirky jewelry kit includes materials for making dozens of tiny bracelet charms, including animals and sweet treats. Kids mold the trinkets from nine colors of clay, bake them, add facial features, coat them with a fast-drying glaze, then show them off on a silver chain. Dare we say charm-ing?, $21.99, Ages 8 and up

Snap Circuits Sound

With a whopping 188 projects, this electronics set opens up kids' minds -- and ears -- to the wonders of sound science. From easy-to-assemble circuit boards, aspiring engineers can build a haunting optical theremin (a musical instrument), distort recorded voices, and control echos with light. One thing parents didn't hear: "I'm bored.", $84.95, Ages 8 and up

Fluxx: The Board Game

Change is the name of this strategic game, an adaptation of the popular card sets. The basics are simple: move playing pieces around the tiled board per instructions on your cards, trying to collect goal cards. But since each player's turn can shift the rules, dramatic twists are frequent (and fun!). 2 to 4 players,, $30, Ages 8 and up

St. Malo

A game where the goal is to be the best city planner? Yup, trust us -- and our testers. Players roll the dice and choose elements to add to their dry-erase city-board, such as merchants, churches, walls to keep out the pirates, and more. "It's like a computer strategy game without the computer!" raved one family. 2 to 5 players,, $34.99, Ages 9 and up

Originally published in the November 2013 issue of FamilyFun magazine

The Top 10 Toys of the Year 2012

#1 Symphony in B

Young maestros place up to six tiny plastic instruments (each with an electronic sensor) in the orchestra pit to hear them play together. The real fun comes in switching them around. Replace a violin and a piano with, say, an accordion and a tuba, and the whole tenor of a tune changes -- oom-pah-pah Brahms, anyone? With 13 instruments and 15 songs, combinations are endless. Battat Toys, $49.99, Ages 3 and up

#2 Digital Light Designer

Kids can see their name -- and much more -- in lights with this way-cool glowing art gizmo. Use the stylus to draw pictures and play games on the outside of the dome, then turn on the animation mode and watch the drawings spin like a top. Crayola, $49.99, Ages 6 and up

#3 YBike Explorer

With its side-mounted steering handles and quick-swivel rear wheel, this lean, mean, kid-powered machine just screams for a driveway slalom course. YBike, $199.99, Ages 5 to 10

#4 Monster Fighters Vampyre Castle

With 949 pieces, Lego's monster of a building set has more moving parts than a bat-infested clock tower. "The greatest Lego set ever," raves one mom. "It glows in the dark! It flings spiders! It comes with a car!" LEGO, $99.99, Ages 8 and up

#5 Servin' Surprises Kitchen & Table

Little Chopped champions will find everything they need in this compact kitchen: 26 pieces of play food and dinnerware, a griddle, a burner, an oven, and sound effects (boiling water, sizzling grill). The best parent-friendly feature: the cooking area turns into a smooth- topped play table, with room to store most of the accoutrements neatly inside. Fisher-Price, $79.99, Ages 3 to 6

#6 Marker Airbrush

Our testers got, well, pumped up by this no-batteries- required airbrush set. Simply put a washable or fabric marker in the spray gun, give the unit a few pumps, and decorate away! Big bonus: when the set's markers run out, just replace them with standard Crayola markers. Crayola, $24.99, Ages 5 and up

#7 Monopoly Zapped

How do you improve on a classic? Add 21st-century tech by downloading a special app to your iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch to boost the fun. Testers loved the app mini-games, such as Get Out of Jail, where players fling Mr. Monopoly, Angry Birds- style, into his waiting car. Hasbro, $29.99, Ages 8 and up

#8 Take Along Soccer Match (4725)

Sports-loving Playmobil fans will give its 22- by 33-inch soccer set a big cheer. Kids move their players into position to set up for the perfect kick or header. For all-important road matches, the game folds into its own carrying case. Playmobil, $59.99, Ages 5 to 10

#9 Micro Chargers Time Track

Don't let their 1-inch stature fool you: these cute-as-a-bug mini racers flash serious speed as they whiz around the twisting track. Scaled up to lifesize, they'd top out at 600 mph. Eat rubber, Jimmie Johnson! Moose Toys, $34.99, Ages 6 to 10

#10 Go-Go-Pogo

Our testers were leaping around like kangaroos at a sock hop on this electronic pogo. Five built-in challenges, such as speed trials and a freeze-tag version of Musical Statues, kept the fun going for hours. Diggin Active, $49.99, Ages 5 to 10

20 More Fun Picks

3D Cityscape

When assembled, this 41-piece set, a satisfying mash-up of building toy and jigsaw puzzle, forms a display-worthy model city just waiting to be explored by toy cars. Alex Toys, $21.95, Ages 3 To 7

Blingles Bling Studio

Wholly self-contained (less mess!), this studio is a big improvement over the as-seen-on-TV sets. More than 300 sticker jewels can be placed on the adhesive strips to create cute designs, then kids can stick those decorations on just about anything and, according to our testers, everything. Moose Toys, $19.99, Ages 6 And Up

Cloud Matchmaker

This rainy-day game is a little like Pictionary for nonreaders. While one player uses a white plastic chain to copy a cloud shape, others scan a set of cards to find the lookalike swirl. Hape/Beleduc, $19.99, Ages 4 To 9

Color-In Metallic Tattoos

Temporary tattoos just got a little cooler (and a little less temporary) with this creative kit. Ink artists use the six colored markers to customize 38 long-lasting transfers. One 8-year-old tester thought he was hot stuff heading off to camp with his shoulder and leg art, and his mom says she'll never buy ordinary press-on tattoos again. Creativity For Kids, $15, Ages 6 And Up

Expedition Dino

A cardboard dinosaur is embedded in a stack of boulder blocks in this clever excavation game. There's a hammer and chisel to knock out a block bone side up -- just don't knock over the dino! Haba, $36, Ages 5 To 8

Fashion Forms

Tweens don't have to be fans of Project Runway to appreciate this paper fashion kit. Use the pattern pieces (boatneck bodice, A-line skirt, ball gown) to create designs from the 20 sheets of patterned paper, then add ribbons and spangles for make-it-work looks. Klutz, $24.99, Ages 8 And Up

Feather Fashions

Fancy feathers are all the rage for stylish hair, and this kit comes with everything needed to make at least 12 chic accessories, including hair clips, headbands, ponytail holders, feathers, fabric flowers, and jewels. Creativity For Kids, $20, Ages 7 And Up

Flying Super Grover 2.0

Super-cute, super-furry Super Grover doesn't miss a thing as he zips overhead, powered by little hands. Special sensors help him add sound effects: whooshing wind, birdsong, truck horns. It all makes for a fantastic flight of fancy for Sesame Street fans. Playskool, $29.99, Ages 3 To 6

Friends Heartlake Stables 3189

Equine enthusiasts and building buffs alike adored this 416-piece playset. Testers saddled the two horses to take on the jumping rails, then awarded tiny ribbons to each. After feeding and grooming the mares, the Lego ladies retreated to the hayloft hangout. Lego, $49.99, Ages 7 And Up

Henry Haba-Strong's Armor

A knight is only as good as his armor, and our brave testers judged this padded fabric breastplate far superior to knavish plastic costumes. It's handsomely detailed and comfortable even during battles with dragons. The top add-on accessory was the mace, a plush spiked ball and chain. "My son slept with his," reports one sire. Additional pieces, including helmet, shield, sword, and lance, sold separately. Haba, $33, Ages 3 To 6

Imaginext Eagle Talon Castle

This fortress features every medieval must-have: clanking gates, catapults that really shoot, and a secret treasure stash. At the turn of a switch, shutters slam shut, a disk-spitting eagle cranks into position, and a Scottish voice cries out, "Protect the castle!" Fisher-Price, $59.99, Ages 3 To 8

Magician's Kitchen

In this bewitching balancing act, sorcerer's apprentices carry marbles across a game board and toss them into color-coded cauldrons. Hidden magnetic stumbling spots make it easier said than done -- you may really start to lose your marbles. Playroom Entertainment, $30, Ages 5 And Up

Monster High Create-a-Monster Design Lab

Testers loved the whole Frankenstein-ish process of this lab. Lower the lid of the coffinlike device onto the doll and ink her with washable tattoos, one detachable body part at a time. With 100-plus tattoos, kids can play mad scientist over and over. Mattel, $39.99, Ages 6 And Up

Master Kitz

Based on works by van Gogh, Monet, and other artists, these stencil projects give kids the tools to make art that's too good for the refrigerator. Beautifully presented, clearly explained, and, according to one enthusiastic mom, "less challenging than paint by numbers," the kit may have you measuring that space over the sofa. Kidzaw, $29.99, Ages 5 And Up

Play-Doh Diggin' Rigs Buster the Power Crane

This tough truck boasts tools for building objects from play-doh ... and a bruising wrecking-ball to pulverize finished projects. Hasbro, $19.99, Ages 3 To 8

Stone Age Cave With Mammoth (5100)

Playmobil always rocks the details, and its prehistoric playset is no exception. Tester favorite features include a spear that can be used to catch fish from the pond and stick-on cave paintings. Playmobil, $69.99, Ages 4 To 10

Super Heroine Role Play Set

A 4-year-old we know donned this silky shirt, cape, and mask and proceeded to rescue everything in sight: dolls, stuffed animals, younger siblings, even her mom. Phone booth not required. Melissa & Doug, $29.99, Ages 3 To 6

Undersea Friends Building Set

This 48-piece set made a big splash with our young judges. They found it a snap to create a slew of colorful corals and crustaceans. K'nex, $20.99, Ages 3 To 6

Whittle World Plane and Luggage Carrier Set

Imagination takes wing with these sturdy, simple airport vehicles. Testers loved coupling and uncoupling the caravan, loading luggage, boarding passengers, and clearing the plane for takeoff. The best part? No bag-checking fees. Melissa & Doug, $24.99, Ages 3 To 7

Word Snag

A fast-paced word association game, Word Snag has players flip a card to reveal a category, such as "On the Farm," then roll a set of lettered dice. To score, kids shout out objects whose first letters match the category and the dice: Barn! Broccoli! Baby goat! Pressman Toy, $12, Ages 8 And Up

Originally published in the November 2012 issue of FamilyFun magazine

Family Fun


Be the first to comment!