When it comes to holiday shopping for the perfect toys, everybody loves a winner. This season, as we determine how to make the most of our gift budget, leading toy experts have highlighted the best of the bunch with awards and honors designed to shine a spotlight on serious fun.
After months of road testing and evaluating hundreds of new and updated toys and games, the toy-ologists at Oppenheim Toy Portfolio, the Tillywig Awards, Dr. Toy, Disney's Family Fun Magazine, the Parent's Choice Awards and the esteemed members of the Toy Industry Association came up with their recommendations for the best of 2010.
After reviewing the award lists, WalletPop selected 10 winners priced at a budget-friendly $10 or less.
With the holidays still weeks away, there's time to make a list, check it twice, and keep an eye out for additional sales and coupons that might drop these prices even further. Happy hunting, and remember it's all in the name of fun.
Air Hogs Titan, $9.99
Winner of a 2010 Dr.Toy Award
New from Air Hogs, the Titan is a massive glider with a four-foot wingspan that can fly up to 200 feet. Kid-powered and easy to assemble. Ages 5 and up. The sky's the limit.
Bendaroos, $5.99 to $9.99.
Winner of a 2010 Parenting Magazine Toy of the Year Award, National Parenting Center Seal of Approval and a 2010 Oppenheim Gold Seal Winner
Perfect for fidgety fingers and cultivating creativity, these flexible building sticks are made of string coated with a special wax. Themed packs range from 100 piece sets ($5.99) to 200 piece sets (9.99) in categories such as Royal Fantasy, Tropical lsland, Sports and Play, and Enchanted Forest. The pieces can be used over and over again, with endless possibilities.
Winner of a 2010 Dr.Toy Award
One ringy-dingy. A cell phone you won't mind kids playing with. According to Dr. Toy, it, allows parents to, "record and lock messages for kids to discover." Phone holds up to 3 pre-recorded messages, sounds and songs. The packaging also doubles as gift wrap. Saving both time and money! 3 AAA batteries included. Ages 18 months to 5 years.
Hologram Chamber, $8.99
Winner of a 2010 Tillywig Sterling Fun Award
Winner of an Autumn 2010 Tillywig Sterling Fun Award for "distinctive children's products notable for their exception quality and bold originality" the Hologram Chamber is a clever optical illusion. Place a small object inside the disc-like chamber and it will appear to "hover" on top. Don't try to pick it up, however, it's not really there. Ages 7 and up.
Krazy Kars Light Up Marble Racers, $7.99
Winner of a 2010 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Best Toy Award
A see-through race car that comes with stick-on decals for personalization. A marble in the center of the car lights up when shaken. How cool is that? Ages 3 and up.
4M's Plastic Bag Monsters, $9
Winner of Disney's 2010 Family Fun T.O.Y Award
Family Fun Magazine called this toy, "The Creature From The Recycling Bin in 3-D!" A recycling kit designed to help kids create "two marionnette monsters by combining old plastic bags and bottle caps from home with the included card stock, punch-outs, beads, pipe cleaners, string and more." Fun and eco-friendly. Ages 8 and up.
Sassy Discovery Loops, $5.99
Double winner of the 2010 Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Toy Award, and the 2010 Oppenheim Snap Award
Featuring three interlocking oblong loops designed with bumpy textures, bright colors and stimulating black and white stripes, this rattle is described as a good choice for "two handed play" as well as teething infants. Not to mention it's just plain cute. Score!
Superstructs Sets starting at $9.95, winner of the Fall 2010 Parent's Choice Recommended Award, Dr. Toy 100 Best Children's Products for 2010 and Dr. Toy 10 Best Creative Products for 2010:
Superstructs kits feature connector-style construction kits with plastic rods and durable EVA foam panels that "pop" between the rods and joints. This year it's possible to custom order your kit (motorcycle, $9.95, 33 pieces;jet, $9.95, 32 pieces) in a personalized box ("For Jake!") when ordering on the Superstructs website. When the 3-step personalized order process is completed, an image of the customized package is visible online. Shipping and handling not included. Ages 3 and up.
WordShout, $6.99, 2010 winner Parent's Choice Award,
Praised for its small size and portability, this game features ten lettered dice that are thrown to reveal a mix up of letters. Players shout out the words they find and grab the letters for the words before others can pick them up. Rowdy and fun factor: high. Players score by counting the number of dice captured after each turn. First person to score 50, wins. Ages 8 and up.
Zhu Zhu Pets , and Zhu Zhu Pets Wild Bunch, $9.99
Winner of the Toy industry's 2010 Overall Toy of the Year Award, Innovative Toy, and Best Girl Toy, as well as a 2010 Dr.Toy Award
The newest addition to the Zhu Zhu pet family, four mischievous forest friends (skunk, bunny, raccoon, hedgehog) chatter, "scoot-n-scurry while making hilarious, unique sounds depending upon the environment they're placed in." Two AAA batteries included. Ages 4 -12. Also check out,Kung Zhu, $9.99, a fierce and furry band of Battle Hamsters, or, "special forces" version of their Zhu Zhu Pet cousins. According to Dr. Toy, it's what happens when martial arts and hamsters collide. Hi-Yah!
10 Award-Winning Toys for $10 and Under