An Independent Guide to the "Bestest" Kid-Tested Toys

Great Gifts for Any Budget

Looking for a great toy with a small price tags. Here are a few tester favourites this year - all under $25. It's a great list to save for birthday gift ideas next year, too.

2016 Barbie® Fashionistas™ Line

Mattel, Inc. (3+)

Our testers loved the more real life play scenarios they imagine when dolls with a variety of body shapes and sizes inhabit Barbie's world. If your child particularly enjoys dressing play and swapping outfits, we also recommend the 'Doll & Fashions' sets ($25 CAD), which include two extra outfits.
"They look like sisters for my other Barbies. I like the small Barbie [petite] best because she fits in smaller places in the house and there is more room in the elevator. Clothes fit better, too and they are stretchy and so easy to take off." Siobhan (F5)
"I like that the dolls look like real people I know. I got one that looks like me, so I can pretend that Zahra lives in Barbie land. It's really fun that she is smaller than regular Barbie." Zahra (F8)

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Once Upon a Craft™ The Elves and the Shoemaker

Educational Insights, Inc. (4-6)

Our testing families loved these story books with simple crafts to extend the reading experience. Available in a variety of classic stories like The Ugly Duckling, The Gingerbread Man and The Elves and the Shoemaker. "I like that we read the story and I got to make the gingerbread man myself - I put bows on it to make a gingerbread girl and hung it up after. It was easy to make and it looks so nice." Rainia (F5)

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Disney Princess Little Kingdom Royal Sparkle Collection

Hasbro, Inc (4+)

Our testers made up stories about the dolls and liked being able to switch their dresses. The tiny accessory pieces were a big hit for adding extra detail to the outfits, but did require a bit of adult help. "The princess' share clothes and they have bows and flowers that you can put on them, and crowns, too. The princesses are small and they have little legs.” Siobhan (F5) "Mia (F5) loved dressing them all up and pretending they were going to a party. She liked the variety of the different characters and changing their outfits by mixing and matching all the options." Sophie Lafleur

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Charm U

Cepia (4+)

A charming blast from the past - collect these fun-looking charms to display on your bracelet. Well-designed to let kids move the charms from link to link, and even vary the size of the bracelet, although kids did need some help with the clasps. "Best toy ever! They are small pieces, but it's a lot of fun. I like to put the stickers onto the chart that shows if you have the charm." Maja (F8) "My girls (5 & 8) like trading charms, and have made up stories about each charm. And they really like the little backpack that comes with it. I like that the bracelet can be adjusted to fit different size wrists, depending on where you clasp it onto the bracelet." Sandra Wong

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Gas Out™ Game

Mattel, Inc. (5+)

Our testers enjoyed the gurgling, ever-building anticipation in this fun card game. Quick, easy game play and the sheer silliness of farting sounds made this game a real favourite. "I like that you don't know when it's going to fart, so it's a little bit scary, but funny at the same time." Carleigh (F5)

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Yoga Spinner® Game

ThinkFun Inc. (5+)

Inspires wholesome physical activity, which is especially great during less active winter months. It's also a wonderful introduction to yoga - so kids know first hand what this popular fitness activity is all about. "I like stretches and being strong. The partner poses were the best because it was fun and we were laughing." Miriam (F7)

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DC Super Hero Girls - Action Dolls

Mattel, Inc. (6+)

Great play appeal for these dolls that are taller and more muscular, and wear boots that allow them to stand on their own. Our testers love all the articulating joints that make them ultra-poseable. Parents liked that these awesome girl power toys encourage a strong sense of self and body image. "They have big muscles and superpowers and they are learning how to use them. It's cool that they can stand up on their own and can move around when I play adventures. I like that there are a few dolls and that they also have a show to give ideas for adventures." Zahra (F8)

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Make Your Own Light-Up Water Globe

Creativity for Kids/Faber-Castell (7+)

Our testers loved watching their coloured creations shrink in the oven. And they really liked that this light-up globe also makes a great night light, especially with all the exciting, kid-pleasing details like a big dose of glitter/sequins and the illuminated gem in the centre. Note: works best if you substitute a ring of glue for the Plasticine seal. "It includes all my favourite activities: art, baking, clay and it's beautiful! The different shapes of shrink material are so cute and watching it shrink is really cool. The light inside looks like a jewel or a moon, and it's beautiful like a night sky." Rachel (F8)

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Bounce Off Rock 'N Rollz

Mattel, Inc. (7+)

The twist in this newest version of the classic Bounce Off game is a tilting board and sliding ball spots. The see-saw dynamic amps up the skill and strategy required to a whole new level, as players adapt to sliding weight distributions that shift the balls into ever-changing patterns. "I like that it all depends on the weight of where the balls are, so even if it looks like you're about to win, the balls might roll to the other side." Shalom (M11)

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Cardventures

Gamewright (8+)

Like a pumped up choose your own adventure book, but with so many more adventure paths. Designing it as a game adds even more fun. “You can play with friends and it's still cool and you get to read. I like that there are different colours and objects you can find, and there are some really cool action cards that lead your adventure to different places.” Tiago (M8)

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Klutz Coloring Crush

Klutz/Scholastic (8+)

Great designs with lots of intricate detailing and extra thick paper make this a very popular way to spent a bit of relaxing time. Our slightly younger 6+ testers enjoyed Klutz Coloring Cute “It's just like my mom's colouring book. It takes a really long time to colour but I like it because it's so full of colour and it's for older kids who still like to colour.” Ava (F8)

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Dr. Eureka

Blue Orange Games (8+)

A game of quick thinking and nimble fingers. Players race simultaneously to transfer coloured marbles between test tubes without spilling them, but fast enough to beat your opponents. "I like that it's a brainteaser, but a race at the same time - trying beat the others to get the balls in the right way. The balls are sometimes hard to pour, so we played that you could still keep playing even if it falls." Shalom (M11

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THE NOISE ON TOYS

The Noise on Toys play testing program is unique, both in giving voice to the kids' perspective on the toys as well as offering readers easy access to the original feedback posted by each family - parent and child comments. TNOT is privately funded to ensure complete editorial independence: manufacturers pay neither an administration fee to participate, nor licensing fees to use earned award logos.

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