Browse the toy award winners

Apply for a Tillywig Toy Award

CLICK HERE for everything you need in order to submit your product to be considered for a Tillywig Toy Award.

Learn about our testing and evaluation
	process

Learn
	about our testing and evaluation process

Select a category to view our Summer 2014 winners.


Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Toys & Games

Back to top
awesomeMAT

Back to top
awesomeMAT
Price $100
By Prince Lionheart
Age
0+
Top Toy

The awesomeMAT playmat from Prince Lionheart has a uniquely comfortable, supremely squishy feel and a textured, pleasing-to-the-touch surface. One side is covered with a detailed, sprawling illustration of a day at the zoo populated with kids, grownups, animals, plants, trees, paths, ponds - a miniature world to explore. On the flip side, there is an entirely different world, one loaded with interlocking streets, roads, turnarounds, traffic signs, businesses, homes, and people. It's a whole town at your children's fingertips, and just making their way from one end of the mat to the other is packed with fun and adventure. Regardless of which side of the awesomeMAT is being explored, the scope, detail, and colorfulness of the imagery captures and stimulates the imagination while helping develop the intellect. And when not in use, it rolls up like a rug, snugly held together with a take-it-with-you strap.

BathTime Babies

Back to top
BathTime Babies
Price $34.99
By Adora Dolls
Age
1+
Sterling Fun

In the tub, at the pool, around any body of water large or small, BathTime Babies add a special dimension of fun to every kind of play. Kids love the squeezably soft bean-filled torso, which has an adorable bathing suit printed directly on it. Vinyl arms and legs are perfect for swimming and splashing. An initialed washcloth is included and makes baby-bathing extra fun, while the 'QuikDri' body means fast transitions between water-play and areas parents don't want wet. A luxurious animal themed robe and hoodie (included) fits her snugly, keeping baby warm and cozy when it's time to stay dry. BathTime Babies' eyes open and close as they shift between upright and reclining positions, so kids can share naptime with their bath and bed companions. To top it all off, BathTime Babies are lovingly handmade and come in several styles - bear, frog, shark, owl, elephant, and monkey. A variety of accessories are available separately from Adora Dolls to expand and enhance your play experience.

Bo-Po Nail Polish

Back to top
Bo-Po Nail Polish
Price $3.99
By Worx Toys (Far East) Limited
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

Worx Toys seems to have thought of everything when formulating this nail polish for children, including safety, cleanliness, ease of use, variety, and a big fun factor. Available in 10 different colors sold in 2-packs, Bo-Po brushes on and peels off in seconds. That color variety and the speed with which Bo-Po can be applied and removed makes it a perfect activity for creative exploration and experimentation. It's a form of play that encompasses both dress-up and artistic expression, inspiring kids to use imagination and creativity for hours on end. Finger and toe nails become little canvases to color and embellish, and with Bo-Po there is no reason not to mix and match a multitude of combinations. The genuinely spill-proof containers, quick-dry polish, and subtle vanilla scent make Bo-Po pleasant no-fuss, no-muss fun from both kids' and parents' point of view.

developMAT

Back to top
developMAT
Price $25
By Prince Lionheart
Age
0+
Brain Child

The first thing most people feel when they see the developMAT is an urge to get down on it, trace it with their fingers and hands, and explore its visuals up close. It has that kind of pull. And that's what you want for your baby, something that stimulates, engages, and activates the mind, precisely what the developMat was designed to do. The artwork on one side of this cushy, textured foam mat is particularly well-suited for an infant. It contains large, bold patterns in red, white and black, varied shapes and geometric figures that seem to jump out at you. So that the mat can grow with your child, the flip side contains far more detail to take in and explore. It consists of a sprawling, colorful image of a bustling farmyard teeming with life - barns, homes, vehicles, tools, people and animals engaged in a variety of activities. The developMat rolls up into a tight cylinder for easy storage and fits snugly in the handy take-it-with-you case in which it comes packaged.

Dream Team Pets

Back to top
Dream Team Pets
Price $19.99
By OIC Toys
Age
3-6 yrs.
Sterling Fun

These sweet, wide-eyed plush animals are not just toys, they're guardians-in-training! Developed with the help of a pediatrician, Dream Team Pets is a wonderful way to help kids get the restful sleep they deserve, easing away the angst and fuss that can occur at bedtime. It's your child's participation in the pets' training that soothes bedtime anxieties away. Each plush animal comes with a Certificate of Training and a small, hard-cover illustrated book subtitled 'How to Train Your Pet.' Parent and child make a ritual of reading the book at bedtime, it's rhyming verse expounding on the fearlessness with which Dream Team Pets keep monsters and bad dreams away. Your child is enlisted to empower the animals by stating aloud the book's simple declaration to believe in them in exchange for their vigilance and protection. In reality, your child is empowering himself and learning to self-soothe. After each good night's sleep your child fills in one of the stars in the illustrated badge that appears on the Certificate of Training until the training is complete. Available in Playful Puppy, Magical Cat, or Mighty Lion.

Everywhere PlayMAT

Back to top
Everywhere PlayMAT
Price $60
By Prince Lionheart
Age
0+
Brain Child

By any measure, this is a whole lot of mat. The foam material is scored in a way that makes it easy to fold and unfold to a variety of sizes, enabling the mat to fit any number of physical spaces. Fully extended, it's just under 6 - 1/2 ft. long by 5 ft. wide. At its most compact, it's 29 inches by 15 inches. It's also thick, durable, and comfy, with a patterned texture that encourages tactile adventure. Each side is covered with a sprawling, colorful illustration, the exploration of which enhances physical and cognitive development. On one side there's a zoo bustling with kids, grownups, animals, plants, trees, paths, ponds. On the flip side there's an entire town, with interlocking streets, roads, turnarounds, traffic signs, businesses, homes, and people. Not only are the illustrations thoroughly engaging to young hands and eyes, the characters and objects displayed in them are grouped in ways that promote shape and color awareness, pattern recognition, counting, and more. At each stage of your child's early development, the Everywhere playMat has something fun and valuable to offer. Zippered carrying bag included.

FlipStir Puzzle

Back to top
FlipStir Puzzle
Price $24.95
By Enlivenze LLC
Age
7+
Brain Child

FlipStir Puzzle is invigorating, maddening, simple, challenging, stimulating, and perhaps even a little diabolical. The goal - to order 10 plastic wedge-shaped pieces so that the snippets of artwork on their sides come together to form a whole - would be easy if it were possible to touch them with your hands. But those pieces are encased in a clear, sealed plastic cylinder. The only way to touch them is with a wand that extends from outside the cylinder into its interior. By manipulating the exterior end of the wand, one can use the L-shaped tip at its other end to slide, stir, and otherwise position pieces inside. The challenge is made greater by the fact that there is not a lot of space within the cylinder relative to the size of the pieces. Getting them past one another to where you want them is tricky. You're free to use gravity and motion as your allies - twist, turn, flip, and shake - in fact, there are no rules. Much of the time you'll be combining those forces, creating your own ingenious solution to an utterly ingenious puzzle.

Funnybones Game

Back to top
Funnybones Game
Price $9.99
By Funnybone Toys
Age
6+
Top Toy

Funnybones is fast, breathtaking fun, a game of skill and manual dexterity in which players' abilities quickly progress to dazzlingly competitive levels. It's all about tossing, catching, sweeping, and grabbing various combinations of five little colored playing pieces called bones. Each challenge is prefaced by a move called jockeying off. The player whose turn it is tosses all five bones in the air, flips his palm face down, and catches as many as possible on the back of the throwing hand. Only those that fall to the floor have to be dealt with during the challenge, so the jockey move is essential - the fewer you drop, the easier the challenge will be. There are 30 game challenges in all, clever variations that involve tossing one or more bones in the air and picking others up off the floor while those are airborne, then catching the ones you tossed - all with the same hand! Players decide in advance the number and order of challenges that will be played. The first to successfully complete them all wins. There's technique, strategy, lightning moves, occasional mayhem, and always, great fun.

GiggleTime Babies

Back to top
GiggleTime Babies
Price $49.99
By Adora Dolls
Age
2+
Top Toy

GiggleTime Babies come with numerous lifelike touches that enhance the make-believe experience young girls so delight in. Not the least of these is the infectious giggle that lights up the room each this baby doll gets a hug or gentle squeeze. An internal beanbag weights the doll just right (about 16 ounces) to make holding, rocking, and carrying her both easy to do and substantial enough to feel lifelike. Tilt her to a reclining pose and watch her eyes close, or have her wake up again by returning her upright. She comes dressed in a soft, snug onesie that snaps in front, with her adorable little hands and feet showing from the sleeves. A magnetic pacifier, placed to her lips, remains there until removed. The included hands-free baby carrier (sporting cheerfully colored designs) makes transportation easy and fun. These handmade dolls are created using Adora Dolls' exclusive Gentle Touch vinyl, lightly scented with a baby powder smell that makes even real moms ooh and ah. A variety of first-rate accessories are available separately to enhance the countless hours of playtime and make-believe your child will have with GiggleTime Babies.

I (Heart) Art Activity Book

Back to top
I (Heart) Art Activity Book
Price $12.99
By Mudpuppy
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

Inspired by the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this guided activity book provides exceptional creative stimulation for young minds while simultaneously exposing them to the beauty of art history. Open the book anywhere, and on the left you'll find a photograph of a historical work of art with a short paragraph providing background information on it. There are masks from around the world, an ancient Greek jar, works by Monet, Hopper, and Rodin, a dress by Christian Dior, and many others, thirty in all. Each right-hand page contains an activity relating to the work of art on the left - drawing, writing, coloring, and design. A wall fragment containing hieroglyphs inspires us to create our own language using symbols instead of letters. A mural that tells a story about a feathered serpent sparks us to write a story about magical beasts. A famous Japanese artwork serves as inspiration for our own picture displaying the power of nature. There is no 'right way' to do these activities, and the imaginative approach the book takes in using each featured artwork as an artistic launch pad serves as an exciting, liberating exercise in sheer creativity.

I (Heart) Design Activity Book

Back to top
I (Heart) Design Activity Book
Price $12.99
By Mudpuppy
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

This guided activity book has the same great format as The I (Heart) Art activity book (above), except that here the focus is on historical and contemporary design rather than fine art. Each of the thirty or so activities in this book stems from accompanying photographs of exceptional design works, the result of a collaboration with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The activities are highly varied and imaginative. Given a photograph of a beautiful vase, we draw an arrangement of flowers into the picture and write a poem inspired by the vase. Three exotic-looking radios from the 1950s inspire us to draw what we imagine radios will look like 25 years from now. Given a photograph of a beautiful Tiffany lamp, we design our own lampshade for it. There are many other equally stimulating activities and stunning photos, the breadth and variety of which spark young people to new ways of appreciating, imagining, and creating the world in which we live.

Ice Princess

Back to top
Ice Princess
Price $29.99
By Little Adventures
Age
1-9 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

Playing dress up is a staple of childhood, and for good reason. It allows children to enrich their knowledge of the world through imaginative exploration while innocently trying out some of the many possibilities life has to offer. Little Adventures makes a specialty of providing high quality, affordable dress ups for just such a purpose, and Ice Princess is a prime example. Ice Princess is a light blue one-piece outfit consisting of a beautifully designed skirt and stretch-knit bodice that provide a perfect fit for a wide variety of sizes. Glittering patterns along the sleeves and front of the bodice are matched by a more detailed and expansive silvery design on the skirt. An attached sheer blue cape hangs from the back, draping around the sides to create a royal, flowing effect. The decorative lining along the neckline leads to a sparkling gem that sits front and center. Circling the bottom of the dress along the hemline is a silver sequin detail. There are no buttons or ties to fiddle with, just a lovely, comfortable gown to slip on and enjoy in regal play.

Kickoff Countdown for Skylanders SWAP Force

Back to top
Kickoff Countdown for Skylanders SWAP Force
Price $9.99
By Activision
Age
5-14 yrs.
Top Toy

Portal Masters and sports fans will be thrilled with the arrival of Kickoff Countdown, a tech element character and new member of the SWAP Force team of heroes. His head, both on the physical toy and in-game, is a soccer ball, and a rather ferocious-looking one at that. In addition to his unique soccer-themed appearance, Kickoff Countdown is fast, fierce, and can fire in multiple directions in the blink of an eye, making him a stalwart ally when confronting Chompies and Trolls in the battlefield. Placing the figure on the Portal of Power catapults Kickoff Countdown into the game, where he brings his powers to bear running, jumping, and blasting away at the forces of Kaos. Endlessly exciting action fun for Nintendo Wii, WiiU, 3DS, Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation3 and PlayStation4.

LEGO City Prisoner Transporter

Back to top
LEGO City Prisoner Transporter
Price $24.99
By The LEGO Group
Age
5-12 yrs.
Top Toy

This entry in the LEGO City series brings high-speed cops and robbers action to the realm of imaginative build 'n play. The 196 pieces assemble into two vehicles and three minifigures, with lots of fine touches included. There's an armored prisoner transporter with POLICE emblazoned on the sides and a lawman at the wheel. There's a bad guy on a souped-up ATV rigged specially to break his buddy out of the transporter. There are bars, handcuffs, a ball and chain, helmets, gear, and other accessories. The intensity, care, and enjoyment kids display while putting this all together sets the stage for the unbridled play that is unleashed once assembly is finished. At every phase of the fun, LEGO City Prisoner Transporter stimulates creative and logical thinking while keeping kids actively engaged and thoroughly entertained.

LEGO Friends Sunshine Harvest

Back to top
LEGO Friends Sunshine Harvest
Price $19.99
By The LEGO Group
Age
6-12 yrs.
Best Creative Fun

Each LEGO Friends sets provides a little world all its own, to be assembled, treasured, and enlivened by the imaginations they so actively inspire. The Sunshine Harvest set reminds us that there's nothing quite like a day in the sun, where a balance of work and play yields many rewards. The 233 piece set assembles into a colorful, detailed, rustic setting in which the mini-doll figure Olivia, with her companion dog Charlie, harvest fruit and vegetables from her garden and apple tree. Olivia knows that it pays to be enterprising. Her tractor-trailer makes it fun and easy to haul the ripe bounty to her pretty market stall, where they can be placed on display among the myriad items for sale there. A cash register, Charlie's dog house, and many other accessories (even a little cash) flesh out the details and fuel countless hours of imaginative play.

Lollipop Bandz

Back to top
Lollipop Bandz
Price $5
By Zorbitz, Inc.
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

Given the dazzling appeal of these colorful new multipurpose silicon bands, somebody behind them must be a bit of a product design genius. They come packaged 5 to a lollipop. That is, there are 5 brightly colored bands wrapped around a lollipop-like display on a stick that looks good enough to eat. Each of the 5 is a different color and each has a different shape (teddy bears, flowers, hearts, happy faces, piggies, dinosaurs, fish, . . .) recurring along its length. The adjustable Lolli Clasp lets you affix them to just about anything - your wrist, fingers, hair, backpack, shoelaces - anywhere you want to add style and color. Just pull the Lollipop Ball at one end of the band through the Lolliloop at the other and keep pulling until it's snug. Mix, match, collect, stack, braid, trade, it's a color parade!

Make Your Own Glitter Chalk

Back to top
Make Your Own Glitter Chalk
Price $14.99
By The Orb Factory
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

One of the wonderful things about kits from the The Orb Factory is the ease with which they produce great results. That means children of all ages get to experience the thrill of making something with their hands and feeling excited and proud of the results. Make Your Own Glitter Chalk is a prime example. It comes with everything you need to make up to 16 glitter chalks. Just combine 4 scoops of water and plaster mixture, one or two drops of color, a sprinkle of glitter, and stir. Pour the mixture into one of the molds and let it sit overnight. A variety of shapes in two different mold platforms make it possible for a number of kids to get in on the fun, making up to 8 pieces of chalk at a time. Experiment with layers of mixture to make chalk with blended colors and cool patterns. The finished chalk pieces have finely detailed shapes (flowers, butterflies) and display a rich, vivid color when used to write or draw. First rate fun every step of the way.

Micro Balance G-Bike

Back to top
Micro Balance G-Bike
Price $129.99
By Micro Kickboard
Age
2-4 yrs.
Top Toy

The Micro Balance G-Bike is a fine example of why Micro Kickboard's bikes, scooters, and accessories are so popular. The G-Bike's high quality craftsmanship, durability, and strongly appealing visual style are an excellent way to get your child moving on two wheels right from the start. This ultra-lightweight (6.4 lbs.) two-wheel bike is designed for two- to four-year-olds. There are no pedals or chains. Propelling themselves forward with feet making contact with the ground (or intermittently gliding by lifting the feet), kids learn to steer, balance, and maneuver at quite a young age. Their excitement and pride are palpable. More importantly, there is a continual sense of confidence that makes the transition to a two-wheel pedal bike easier and more natural when the time comes. In the meantime there's a great deal of fun and mobility to be had. The adjustability of the seat and handlebar height make it easy to get just the right fit for your child, even as he grows, and the wheels are non-marking, perfect for indoor or outdoor use.

MimiQ

Back to top
MimiQ
Price $7.99
By GameBrotherz
Age
4+
Laugh Out Loud

MimiQ is fast, fun, easy to learn, and plays well across a broad range of ages, making it an ideal party and family game. There's some memory skill involved, but the primary pleasure lies in the array of funny faces players make in order to advance their cause. Every card in the deck displays a kooky illustration of a character making a silly face. The deck contains 3 of each, with 11 different faces in all. The goal is to collect as many 3-of-a-kinds as possible before the deck runs out. After drawing 3 cards apiece, players take turns requesting a card they need from a specific opponent by making the face shown on that card. If the player has it, he hands it over. If not, he sticks his tongue out to signal no, the asker draws another card, and play passes to the left. The skill resides in remembering who asked whom for what so that when a card previously requested lands in your hand, you'll know who has it for the asking. The result is unabashed silliness, frequent movement of cards between players, and an abundance of laughter. For 2 to 6 players.

Move Cam Wi-Fi

Back to top
Move Cam Wi-Fi
Price $149.9
By Lexibook
Age
6+
Sterling Fun

This onboard video camera, designed specifically with young users in mind, is some serious fun. Super compact and weighing a mere 2.6 ounces, it's loaded with attachments and features that let you shoot high definition video in just about any imaginable situation or location. Underwater or in the snow? No problem, it's got a nifty waterproof case for just such shoots. On a bike or playing sports? Easy, it comes with bike and helmet mounts, even adhesive mounts for tailoring to extra tricky situations. The wide angle lens helps you catch it all - photos up to 5 megapixels by interpolation, HD video up to 1080 pixels - and the built-in lithium battery provides up to 130 minutes of recording time on the go. A 1.5 inch screen lets you see immediately if you're capturing everything you need, and the USB 2.0 cable makes transferring files to long-term storage or other play media easy as pie. After downloading the Lexibook Move Cam app, you can even remote-control the camera from your device. The best thing about Move Cam just might be how easy it is to use. With simple menus, intuitive controls, ingenious attachments, and a sleek, highly appealing exterior, Move Cam enables complete novices to record brilliant video.

My Chord Friendship Bracelet Maker

Back to top
My Chord Friendship Bracelet Maker
Price $19.99
By Crorey Creations
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

With My Chord Friendship Bracelet Maker, it's easier than ever to make paracord bracelets. The unique, guitar-shaped work station has a built-in storage tray so that everything you need is right at your fingertips, whether at home or on the go. The easy-to-follow instructions make it a snap for kids of all ages to learn, and the professional-looking results are remarkable by anyone's standards. Because the process consists of a small number of looping, tucking, and pulling motions executed repeatedly from alternating directions, the mind and fingers get into grooves all their own, and a high level of manual dexterity develops. Repetition and muscle memory bring about increasing ease of execution to the point where the hands start to move, and bracelets grow, at rather dazzling speeds. Meanwhile, the brain slips into a very relaxed but alert state. The storage drawer includes 10 cords in 10 colors, and the instructions show techniques for creating two distinct types of bracelets. A bonanza of fun.

My Magical Mermaid Water Wonderland Playset

Back to top
My Magical Mermaid Water Wonderland Playset
Price $29.99
By ZURU, Inc.
Age
3+
Top Toy

Just place the mermaid in water and she comes alive. Then observe the glee on your little one's face as she watches the mesmerizing movements of her very own mermaid friend swimming gracefully. The set includes a tall, cylindrical water tank, a beautifully designed undersea environment with built-in LED lighting that illuminates the setting and changes color while the mermaid swims. With lifelike motions of her tail, she changes speed and direction, ascending and descending in her water wonderland. Changing her arm positions and adding and removing weighted tail rings alters the ways in which she moves through the water. An extendable magic wand lets you easily remove her from the tank without getting wet. The set includes one mermaid, but there are others available separately, each with a different look and name - Shelly, Marina, Corissa, and Pearl. Collect them all and have an undersea party!

Pixel Pictures

Back to top
Pixel Pictures
Price $9.99
By Mudpuppy
Age
6+
Sterling Fun

While retaining the best qualities of traditional color by number, Pixel Pictures introduces features that make it a new and different experience. For one thing, each page consists of a cleverly designed grid containing 616 little numbered squares (pixels) to be filled in according to the color key. One of the side effects of this pixelated approach is that it does not become clear to the artist what he or she is drawing until the picture is almost finished. That suspense factor adds intrigue and interest to the process, while the coloring in of many small spaces brings color sense and hand-eye coordination to a whole new level. Add to that the fact that the artist himself decides which colors go with which numbers by filling in the blank color key at the bottom of each page before starting to draw. Each Pixel Pictures book has a different theme (Retro Robots, Pretty Princess, Funny Faces, . . . ) and contains 18 sheets, including 6 'create your own' pages in which the artist also determines up front exactly what the image to be colored in will be.

Qvolution

Back to top
Qvolution
Price $318
By Valution Inc.
Age
3+
Brain Child

The creative exhilaration unleashed by playing with Qvolution is akin to the giddiness one might feel upon suddenly developing superpowers. Qvolution's colored cubes and rails contain strong imbedded magnets that allow them to freely connect to one another, resulting in the ability to assemble a wide variety of 3-dimensional structures that act as a transportation system for marbles. The walls of each cube are open, with straight or curved rails lining their interior that direct the marbles from one cube to another. Exterior rails create pathways between structures, so that marbles can alternate between riding the interior of cubes and bursting into open view. Two booklets contain easy step-by-step visuals for building structures ranging from simple to elaborate ones in which marbles criss cross multiple towers or follow circular and labyrinthine descents. The cubes (2.5 inches per side) and rails are very strongly built, visually quite appealing, and of the highest quality. Qvolution provides aural, tactile, visual, and intellectual stimulation, and the creative exploration and problem-solving kids experience while using the set are invaluable. Just as important, it's incredibly fun.

RC Robo Fish

Back to top
RC Robo Fish
Price $24.99
By ZURU, Inc.
Age
3+
Sterling Fun

Fans of Zuru Inc's Robo Fish will be thrilled with this new, remote-controlled version. Using a fully functioning radio control with two joysticks, kids can vary Robo Fish's speed, change its direction at will, even do tricks. The tail fin moves in a life-like fashion, propelling Robo Fish to swim in up to five directions, including submerging and resurfacing. Vary the speed between slow, medium, or fast. Robo Fish swims heartily in any body of water but comes with its own take-it-with-you tank so that you can enjoy fish play anywhere. The set also includes two interchangeable tail fins, one for normal swimming, one for stunt play. The radio control has multiple infrared modes so that you can play with more than one fish at a time. You can also set the device to auto mode, causing Robo Fish to engage in a variety of lifelike behaviors all on its own, even when you're not in the room. Comes in two different styles, Ocellaris Clown Fish and Venustus Chichlid.

Sparkup The Magical Book Reader

Back to top
Sparkup The Magical Book Reader
Price $59.9
By Sparkup LTD
Age
3+
Brain Child

Parents who have known the joy of reading to their children know how precious that period is, particularly in retrospect. One of the many pleasures of Sparkup is that it creates audio keepsakes of those moments, treasures that can be backed up to computer and enjoyed for years to come. Another is that it engages children in new and different ways, adding an interactive element to the magic and beauty of reading a physical book with honest-to-goodness pages. Sparkup not only records parents' and children's voices during the reading, it later recognizes books and plays back the correct words in the reader's voice as each page is turned. Easy to use, Sparkup simply clips onto a book's back cover, a position from which its tiny camera can record a view of each page and map it to the correct place in the audio file being created. Kids adore the experience. Those too young to read can listen to Mom or Dad's voice reading stories over and over again. Those already reading on their own are inspired to repeatedly pore over book after book making, and listening to, their own recordings. Burgeoning literary experiences are made all the more delightful and memorable by the added creative stimulation. Professional recordings of books can be purchased and downloaded from the company's website directly to your Sparkup.

Spot It! Freeze

Back to top
Spot It! Freeze
Price $24.99
By Blue Orange Games
Age
8+
Best Family Fun

Spot it! Freeze adds new dimensions of fun and excitement to a game that's already among the most enjoyable party and family games ever to hit the market. Each of the 55 Spot it! Freeze cards is decorated with 8 different temperature-themed symbols. There are more than 50 symbols throughout the deck, but only one matching symbol between any two cards. The goal is always to be the fastest player to spot a match and call it out. Spot It! Freeze introduces three new games, special Freeze symbols, and a unique timer to ramp up the thrills. In The Arctic Tower, players attempt to collect the most cards by spotting matches, while in The Frozen Well and Flash Freeze, the goal is to be first to rid oneself of all cards. In either of the first two games, if a player spots a match involving Freeze symbols and shouts 'Freeze,' he starts the timer and gets 10 adrenaline-filled seconds of solo play to try and collect, or rid himself of, as many cards as possible. In Flash Freeze, the timer is set to Randomizer and ticks nerve-wrackingly away as players take turns racing to spot a match. If the timer goes off during your turn, you must take 3 penalty cards from the table, a dreaded setback. Fast, wildly entertaining fun for 2 to 8 players.

Sticky Mosaics Journal & Jewel Jewelry Box

Back to top
Sticky Mosaics Journal & Jewel Jewelry Box
Price $14.99
By The Orb Factory
Age
5+
Top Toy

With Sticky Mosaics Journal & Jewel Jewelry Box, kids experience the excitement and pride of creating something beautiful with their own hands. The set includes over 280 sparkling, self-adhesive jewels of varying shapes and colors, and a three-drawer jewelry box (already assembled) covered on all sides with lovely illustrations. Tucked into a secret side pocket of the jewelry box is an equally fetching journal for writing, drawing, and further self-expression. The real fun begins when, following a numbered legend, kids begin positioning the sticky jewels on the jewelry box in just the right places, transforming it into something truly special. The depth of pleasure children display while engaging in this activity is a joy to behold. And when they're finished, the result is something lasting - an enchanting jewelry box for storing personal treasures, and a matching journal in which to record thoughts, feelings, and moments that blossom amidst the swirl of childhood.

TIC STAC TOE

Back to top
TIC STAC TOE
Price $24.99
By Pressman Toy
Age
8+
Best Family Fun

The classic game of Tic Tac Toe has been taken to another level. In TIC STAC TOE, play extends horizontally, vertically, and diagonally, and a win requires achieving 4-in-a-row in any of those 3 directions. The Xs and Os in this version stand upright and are stackable, with short pegs on their bottoms that fit snugly into holes in the board and the tops of other pieces. That means the board can be jostled heartily in the midst of a match without a single piece tumbling out of place. At the outset, the game proceeds with familiar simplicity. But as soon as the stacking starts, tracking all the possibilities while fending off an opponent's advances becomes quite a bit more challenging. When the win occurs, the loser usually didn't see it coming, either due to a lapse in concentration or an overly narrowed focus. In TIC STAC TOE, simplicity meets complexity, and those of us in search of fast, fun challenge get to have our cake and eat it, too! Includes 66 two-inch tall playing pieces.

Twiddle: Fidget Toy and Shape Maker

Back to top
Twiddle: Fidget Toy and Shape Maker
Price $10
By Zorbitz, Inc
Age
5+
Brain Child

At first glance it doesn't seem you should be able to do as many things with Twiddle as you can. But as soon as you pick it up, it becomes evident that this chain of small, identical, interconnected pieces is filled with possibilities. Your brain starts telling you to do things with it, and your fingers comply. Its pieces can be easily taken apart and put back together. The firmness with which they hold allows you to twist, turn, knot, form angles, squares, cubes, stars, flowers, crumple it into a ball. Your fingers ask the questions and Twiddle gives the answers. It's hand candy, active relaxation for the mind. It seems like the sort of thing aerospace engineers would invent to help them invent bigger and better things while they're not thinking about them. It's absorbing fun that fits in the palm of your hand. Twiddle comes in five different mix-and-match colors.

WOW Toys mini WOW

Back to top
WOW Toys mini WOW
Price $8.49
By WOW Toys, distributed by Reeves International, Inc
Age
1-5 yrs.
Top Toy

The quality of these remarkably appealing new mini vehicle characters is evident at a glance. They bristle with the kind of distinctive personality that immediately captures a young child's imagination. They're so durable they come with a 10 year satisfaction guarantee. They're brilliantly colorful, loaded with fine detail, and sized just right for little hands to pick up or wheel along any surface. There are six different vehicles in the line (sold separately), each of which comes with a removable figure that rides in the car. Each has a different name and theme, and it's a lovely touch that the themes are paired amongst the six characters. There's Ace and Izzy, two race car drivers raring to go. Jax and Clay, with a dump truck and cement mixer at their disposal, have construction work down pat. And Jojo and Blaze have the niftiest little ambulance and fire truck you've likely ever lay eyes on. The affordable pricing and high quality of these toys presents a tremendous value that makes collecting all six a very attractive proposition.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Music & Audio

Back to top
American Heroes #4

Back to top
American Heroes #4
Price $13.98
By Sprout Recordings
Age
7-11 yrs.
Brain Child

The offerings on this music CD, all of which are original, sing the praises of men and women (and one very remarkable young girl) whose deeds have had a positive impact on our lives and culture. Ten of the eleven songs highlight one hero apiece, with lyrics that capture the spirit of that individual's vision and temperament. The eleventh expresses appreciation for heroes everywhere, for the inspiration they provide and the sacrifices they make. The CD's booklet includes a brief, well-written history of each song's hero, along with dates of birth and death and a personal quote. Some of these are well-known historical figures, like Albert Einstein and Theodore Roosevelt. Others are less well-known, and their inclusion, along with the nearly equal division along gender lines, is laudable. There's a lot to be said for the earnestness of the songs on American Heroes # 4. In addition to the valuable knowledge kids glean while listening to the music, they are exposed to the positive, generous spirit Jonathan Sprout and his band bring to each and every song.

The Mighty Sky

Back to top
The Mighty Sky
Price $10.99
By BNC Records
Age
0+
Brain Child

One doesn't entirely expect an album intended to inspire and teach children about the mysteries of the universe to be drenched in the sort of high-level musicianship and first-rate songwriting found on The Mighty Sky. The lyrics alone are something to marvel at for the easy way they incorporate scientific concepts while sounding natural and catchy. The vocals and harmonies are exceptional throughout, and the songwriting encompasses a wide range of styles, from folk, bluegrass, and a cappella to full-out rock & roll and the blues. The energy and rhythms are often irresistibly danceable (try staying seated during Zodiacial Zydeco), and frequently interlaced with humor (check out the rousing Test, Re-test & Verify, a faux lofty paean to the scientific method). And therein lies one of the many keys to this album's success - taking a seemingly weighty subject and making it buoyant, playful, and wildly entertaining.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Books & Magazines

Back to top
A Little Book About Safety

Back to top
A Little Book About Safety
Price $12.95
By The Mother Company
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

There are few things as essential as impressing upon young children the knowledge, guidelines, and behaviors that can help them keep safe as they navigate the world around them. This illustrated book, which follows 6-year-old Hugo Hippo and family during a day at the community pool, does an outstanding job of conveying that information in a way that kids can easily understand. Topics such as setting physical boundaries, interacting with strange adults, and what to do if you find yourself lost are addressed gently yet clearly. The highly engaging storyline, playful characters, and appealing artwork illustrate the sorts of situations children might find themselves in while demonstrating (through Hugo) what an appropriate safety-conscious response would be. Knowing a safe adult's phone number, staying within sight of your safe adult, saying no if something doesn't feel right (paying attention to your uh-oh feeling) are among the many topics and situations covered here with a light, often humorous, touch. Children and parents both will be the grateful beneficiaries of the wisdom contained in these pages.

I (Heart) Art Activity Book

Back to top
I (Heart) Art Activity Book
Price $12.99
By Mudpuppy
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

Inspired by the collections of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this guided activity book provides exceptional creative stimulation for young minds while simultaneously exposing them to the beauty of art history. Open the book anywhere, and on the left you'll find a photograph of a historical work of art with a short paragraph providing background information on it. There are masks from around the world, an ancient Greek jar, works by Monet, Hopper, and Rodin, a dress by Christian Dior, and many others, thirty in all. Each right-hand page contains an activity relating to the work of art on the left - drawing, writing, coloring, and design. A wall fragment containing hieroglyphs inspires us to create our own language using symbols instead of letters. A mural that tells a story about a feathered serpent sparks us to write a story about magical beasts. A famous Japanese artwork serves as inspiration for our own picture displaying the power of nature. There is no 'right way' to do these activities, and the imaginative approach the book takes in using each featured artwork as an artistic launch pad serves as an exciting, liberating exercise in sheer creativity.

I (Heart) Design Activity Book

Back to top
I (Heart) Design Activity Book
Price $12.99
By Mudpuppy
Age
6+
Best Creative Fun

This guided activity book has the same great format as The I (Heart) Art activity book (above), except that here the focus is on historical and contemporary design rather than fine art. Each of the thirty or so activities in this book stems from accompanying photographs of exceptional design works, the result of a collaboration with Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. The activities are highly varied and imaginative. Given a photograph of a beautiful vase, we draw an arrangement of flowers into the picture and write a poem inspired by the vase. Three exotic-looking radios from the 1950s inspire us to draw what we imagine radios will look like 25 years from now. Given a photograph of a beautiful Tiffany lamp, we design our own lampshade for it. There are many other equally stimulating activities and stunning photos, the breadth and variety of which spark young people to new ways of appreciating, imagining, and creating the world in which we live.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Websites, Video & DVD

Back to top
The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Sweet Songs & Lullabies DVD

Back to top
The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Sweet Songs & Lullabies DVD
Price $14.98
By 3D Magic Factory
Age
2-5 yrs.
Sterling Fun

Young children sometimes have a hard time winding down, but they can rarely resist an opportunity to watch the GiggleBellies. And this time out the adventure is soothing, relaxing, and carefully designed to put kids on a gentle path towards quiet time or sleep. This mix of original and classic children's tunes is done with typically inimitable GiggleBellies style - fresh-sounding arrangements and captivating animation that features the lovable GiggleBellies characters. The colorful imagery has a magical quality perfectly suited to preschoolers, and the mesmerizing visuals project a cozy peacefulness that has a remarkably calming effect. 10 animated songs take kids into an increasingly relaxed state, with the final selection being a remarkably beautiful instrumental version of Rock A Bye Baby. All three of the GiggleBellies DVDs reviewed here (see below) include special downloads and printables on the discs - coloring pages, Illustrated lyric sheets, and, in this case, 9 MP3s so that you can create your own music CD.

The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Volume #1 DVD

Back to top
The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Volume #1 DVD
Price $14.98
By 3D Magic Factory
Age
2-5 yrs.
Brain Child

Playing this DVD has the near instantaneous effect of making children joyful. That's because each of the 9 music videos on it are filled with audiovisual details that trigger smiles and laughs, one after another. Among those magical ingredients is the GiggleBellies crew itself, a cast of happy-go-lucky, silly animated characters who sing, dance, bounce, and clap their way across the screen. Young viewers tend to either immediately follow suit - get up on their feet, wiggling and giggling - or watch, transfixed, a look of happy awe on their little faces. There's a mix of children's classics (Old MacDonald, Wheels On the Bus . . .) and several fine originals. Even the familiar songs display great originality, with twists and turns and fresh-sounding arrangements that parents will enjoy hearing as well. The videos are short and energetic, with clever animation that blends seamlessly with the music and lyrics, stimulating children's minds and bodies in the best possible way.

The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Volume #2 DVD

Back to top
The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures Volume #2 DVD
Price $14.98
By 3D Magic Factory
Age
2-5 yrs.
Brain Child

Volume #2 of The GiggleBellies Musical Adventures picks up where Volume #1 left off. This time there are even more fully animated songs (13 in all) to enjoy. A huge part of the pleasure comes from watching and listening to the wildly creative animated arrangements of songs. Some are originals, some you'll know (classics like Itsy Bitsy Spider), but even those you're familiar with have a fresh spin that will knock your socks off. And of course, the GiggleBellies crew, which consists of dozens of happy, zany characters, is featured heavily throughout. Each of them (like Kissy Moo the cow, Peanut the elephant, a duck named Kwacka . . .) , has its own loveable look and uniquely endearing qualities. What they share in common is friendship, song and dance, and a happy silliness that is utterly contagious. The level of detail with which the visuals tie into the music would be hypnotic if it weren't so enlivening. In other words, kids remain engrossed and captivated while using their bodies to feel the music - dancing, wiggling, and singing along.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Mobile Apps

Back to top
Touchtronic Letters

Back to top
Touchtronic Letters
Price $29.99
By Junior Learning
Age
4-7 yrs.
Brain Child

Touchtronic Letters employs a mix of physical and digital play as a means of teaching letter recognition, phonemic awareness, and word building to children. The set includes 26 plastic letters designed to interact with a free iPad app that contains 3 different word and letter games. In Mystery Door, placing any letter on the onscreen scanner reveals an object whose name starts with that letter. In Letter Bubbles, players pop a bubble by placing on it the letter that matches the beginning sound of the object held within. Word Machine spins letters the way a slot machine spins symbols, resulting in a word with one letter missing. Placing the correct letter triggers a new spin and a new word. The app is very easy to use. There are excellent spoken communications throughout that let you know if you've placed the wrong letter or placed one upside down, and the app verbalizes enthusiastic support with each success, speaking the word aloud and repeating its beginning sound. Touchtronic Letters provides a potent combination of tactile and digital learning that helps students absorb and retain what they learn, enjoying themselves all the while.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Health & Safety

Back to top
A Little Book About Safety

Back to top
A Little Book About Safety
Price $12.95
By The Mother Company
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

There are few things as essential as impressing upon young children the knowledge, guidelines, and behaviors that can help them keep safe as they navigate the world around them. This illustrated book, which follows 6-year-old Hugo Hippo and family during a day at the community pool, does an outstanding job of conveying that information in a way that kids can easily understand. Topics such as setting physical boundaries, interacting with strange adults, and what to do if you find yourself lost are addressed gently yet clearly. The highly engaging storyline, playful characters, and appealing artwork illustrate the sorts of situations children might find themselves in while demonstrating (through Hugo) what an appropriate safety-conscious response would be. Knowing a safe adult's phone number, staying within sight of your safe adult, saying no if something doesn't feel right (paying attention to your uh-oh feeling) are among the many topics and situations covered here with a light, often humorous, touch. Children and parents both will be the grateful beneficiaries of the wisdom contained in these pages.

DualScan Prime Thermometer

Back to top
DualScan Prime Thermometer
Price $29.95
By Mobi Technologies, Inc.
Age
0+
Brain Child

If ever there was a handy, dandy, multi-purpose thermometer, this is it. It's quick and easy to use, with a compact design that's simple, attractive, and straightforward. Press any button to turn it on. The backlit display makes it easy to read. Need to take a human being's temperature? Press the forehead button or ear button (little pictures indicate which is which) depending on whether you prefer to take the temperature from the forehead or from the ear. Both work in mere seconds, and when dealing with a sick child, options and swiftness come in handy. Need to take the temperature of food or a bottle? Press the forehead button and ear button at the same time to enter food/object mode. Want to know the temperature of the room you're in? Check the room temperature display. The device also tracks date and time and has a memory that stores the most recent nine temperature readings and when they were taken. Sleep mode causes the thermometer to turn off automatically after one to three minutes of non-use, saving the energy of the two AAA batteries on which it runs. Speed, accuracy, reliability, and ease of use, all in the palm of your hand.

Outdoor Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed w/built-in sleeping bag/air mattress

Back to top
Outdoor Tuckaire Toddler Travel Bed w/built-in sleeping bag/air mattress
Price $139.95
By The Shrunks
Age
2+
Sterling Fun

Any notion that camping out (or any other form of travel sleeping) means a rough night's sleep is dispelled by the Tuckaire Travel Bed. Its unique design is a major factor in its high level of comfort. The air mattress is really two connected mattresses. The outer air mattress (within which the inner mattress is nestled) extends an inch or two higher all around the edge, forming a soft, supportive layer surrounding the sleeping child. The luxurious, fleece-lined sleeping bag attaches to the inner mattress by tucking over its corners much the way a fitted sheet tucks snugly onto a bed. This means no slipping or sliding around, just comfort and stability. The sleeping bag's exterior is made from water-resistant nylon, and its top zippered layer is removable, adaptable to a variety of weather conditions and preferences. A powerful rapid bellows pump is included, making inflation quick and easy, as is a carrying bag for compact, portable transportation from one location to another.

Stepaire Bandit Nap Pad w/built-in pump & air pad

Back to top
Stepaire Bandit Nap Pad w/built-in pump & air pad
Price $69.95
By The Shrunks
Age
2+
Sterling Fun

The Stepaire Bandit Nap Pad seems to beckon to you. Its soft, warm-colored appearance promises comfort and coziness, its all-in-one design, simplicity. Great qualities, these, in a product parents rely on to transport their children to the land of rest and sleep. The internal air mattress inflates in under a minute using the built-in Stepaire Pump, so-named because foot and body-weight do the inflating. The one-inch nap pad protects against cold floors, and the durable, water-resistant bottom layer provides insulation suitable to a wide variety of environments. The pillow, nap pad, and soft fleece blanket form a single unit for quick, portable comfort, nothing to get lost or left behind. Deflating it is just as easy, so that it rolls up quickly and compactly for easy transportation in its own convenient carrying bag. Whether used at home or at daycare, for overnights, camping, or an extended trip, kids bond with the Stepaire Bandit as if it were their new best friend.

Summer 2014 Tillywig Award Winners

Software & Electronics

Back to top
InnoTab Disney Sofia the First

Back to top
InnoTab Disney Sofia the First
Price $24.99
By VTech Electronics
Age
3-6 yrs.
Brain Child

This interactive software for kids is as educational as it is fun. The games included employ problem-solving, logic, sequence, classification, pattern recognition, and more, yet children may notice only the great fun they are having playing them. That entertainment value is an integral part of what makes InnoTab such an effective learning tool. The fun keeps kids coming back for more. In Royal Prep, kids help Sofia find classrooms whose locations have been mixed up on Jumble Day by steering her towards clue-giving classmates and away from marching suits of armor. Each classroom unlocks a different game. Kids use colors, shapes, and logic to choose items to complete table setting patterns. Number sequence and memory help Sofia learn step patterns in Dance Class. Rhyming, creativity, and pattern recognition come into play in Magic Class, Art Class, Riding Class and others - 8 games in all. There's also an interactive Sofia the First e-book through which reading and comprehension blossom, and creative Photo Fun is included for those using InnoTab devices with cameras.

InnoTab Doc McStuffins

Back to top
InnoTab Doc McStuffins
Price $24.99
By VTech Electronics
Age
4-7 yrs.
Brain Child

One of InnoTab Doc McStuffins' greatest strengths, in addition to being chock full of educational fun, is that kids are magnetically drawn to playing with it again and again. That ongoing attraction may stem from the wide variety of fun and games or the high level of interactivity. Regardless, young players keep learning and growing every step of the way, utilizing skills such as memorization, letter and word recognition, matching, visual discrimination, manual dexterity, critical thinking, creativity, and more. The chief entry point to the educational games is through the Doc's Playtime menu icon. There are 9 marvelous games, including Hide-and-Seek, Marble Rolling, Matching Pairs, and Stack Those Blocks, to name a few. There are also games in which kids help Doc diagnose and fix toys, and in doing so unlock health tips and pages in Doc's Big Book of Boo-Boos. Kids can then use a variety of tools to draw and color those pages. There is also a Doc McStuffins e-book which kids can read at their own pace or touch words and images to hear definitions, voices, and sounds. The interface is marvelous throughout - easy-to-use, entertaining, and full of surprises.

InnoTab Monsters University

Back to top
InnoTab Monsters University
Price $24.99
By VTech Electronics
Age
4-7 yrs.
Brain Child

There's plenty of fun, action, and learning to be had with Mike and Sully on this InnoTab software cartridge. Games and activities that develop logic, observational skills, reading, memory, addition, counting, beginning letters, and much more are at your fingertips when you pop the cartridge into any InnoTab System. There are four over-arching categories on the main menu - Free Play, Adventure, E-Book, and Photo Fun (for systems with a camera). In Free Play, kids follow Mike's calendar and train in 9 different games, each of which is cleverly designed to promote fun and learning. Scary Faces, for example, lets kids view two nearly identical monster photos and tap the screen wherever differences between the two images occur, scoring points as they go. The Adventure category includes Scare Games events that test reflexes and improve motor skills. Or select E-Book, where kids can choose to read the entire Monsters University e-book, select individual pages, or visit the Story Dictionary to explore the meaning of specific words. A learning extravaganza!