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The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Awards

The Oppenheim Toy Portfolio was founded in 1989 as the only independent consumer review of children's media by child development experts Joanne Oppenheim and her daughter Stephanie Oppenheim. Oppenheim Toy Portfolio awards have become a benchmark of excellence with consumers, toy makers and the media.

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Automoblox X9 Fire SUV

Much bigger than the original Automoblox, this has an extended center block, snazzy big wheels with red treds, and has bold rescue graphics. The roof holds a light bar that appears to be illuminated. Take it apart and rebuild it, this is part puzzle/construction toy, part vehicle for pretend play. The wooden parts are smooth and beautifully finished and the wheels have rubbery treads. Combine parts with other automoblox for creative designers. 3 & up

Babicorolle Elf Pink Cotton Flower Doll

A first delicious huggable that has a soft easy to grasp body. The painted eyes also makes this a safe choice for older babies and toddlers. The ever soft velour body and pink elf hat are pleasing to touch. The doll makes a jingle sound that's also just right for this age group and has the signature Vanilla scent of this doll line. Very sweet! Also top-rated, Corolle Babe Elf Grenadine Heart Doll.

Baby Abuelita Rosa

First let us say, this looks like no Grandma of the past fifty years that we have known. Even Great Grandmas of today do not look like this steroptyical granny. That said, this is a cuddly fabric doll that sings six charming folk songs in Spanish, with a squeeze of her hand. She is not too photogenic, so don't be put off. She is much sweeter in person and her huggability factor is a 10! Her singing is perfect!

Baby Abuelito Pancho

First let us say, this looks like few Grandpas of the past fifty years that we have known. Even Great Grandpas of today do not look like this steroptyical. That said, this is a cuddly fabric doll that sings four charming folk songs in Spanish with a squeeze of his hand. He is more photogenic, than the matching Abuelita doll, so don't be put off. He's adorable in person, has a great singing voice, and his huggability factor is a 10! 2 & up.

Baby and Me

With tabs to pull and textures to touch and feel, this is a sturdy book for new big sisters who like to play at being Mommy. Baby and Me would make a good big sister gift, along with a new baby doll to care for and love. 2 & up.

Baby Long Legs Bunny

A lovely combination of knit and plush that is totally on the mark for toddlers who like a big but light enough huggable to drag about. These huggables are 18-inches long. The photo of this soft cuddly doll with long legs and arms and floppy ears does not really convey just how cute this doll is. The legs are not rigid or wired, but soft and easy for little ones to grasp. The features are stitched and baby safe. There is a grey elephant version as well as a pink mouse. We happen to love the bunny and see the new black and white Puppy in the same line. Also adorable, Baby Long Legs Squeakers, Bunnies, Elephants, Puppy and Pink Mouse ($12.99 each) in this line that are 8-inch miniatures of the bigger dolls. Baby safe and machine washable. All ages.

Baby Long Legs Mouse Squeaker

Very sweet soft 8-inch squeaker toys that match the bigger 18-inch Baby Long Legs dolls. These fit nicely in little hands and are also ideal for encouraging baby's tracking skills. Choose a Pink Mouse, or blue or pink trimmed white bunnies and grey elephants ($12.99 each). Baby safe and machine washable. All ages.

Baby Wants Mama

PartNumber: colour illustrations
In this fun, family-themed picture book, another busy day has come to an end. Everyone in the family wants something--Baby wants Mama. Cat wants fish. Daddy wants supper. Pup wants dish. But what do they ALL want? Dinner! This bright, simple rhyming text, great for reading aloud, is paired with adorable watercolor, colored pencil, and digital artwork.

A Look Inside Baby Wants Mama on the Kindle Fire

Baby Wants Mama
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Baby Wants Mama
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Baby Wants Mama
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Backyard Safari Critter Shack

Kids can collect and observe their live finds in this clearview housing that works with wet or dry conditions. The clear view container is water-tight and has a mesh lid so critters can breathe. There is a sturdy carrying handle. 5 & up.

Backyard Safari Mini Scoop Net

Our testers fought over taking turns over who would use this sturdy net to catch moving things in their backyard. We don't usually recommend toys that involve fighting, but in this instance we simply suggest buying two. Great for catching pollywogs, butterflies, lizards or whatever. The lightweight net is perfect for wet or dry tasks and like your old Ivory floats!

Bailey at the Museum

Bailey is very excited about the school trip to the Museum of Natural History. After all, he loves to dig up bones even more than an archeologist!

And besides bones, there's lots of fun to be had with tepees, totem poles, and dinosaur skeletons. Bailey's classmates never know what will happen next: maybe that's why the museum guard becomes Bailey's special partner.

Bailey is a character that every picture-book age kid wants to read about and his humor and charm will keep everyone giggling.


Just one word and a plaintive playful dog carry this otherwise wordless book on a delightful romp. From the moment he wakes, dog interacts with family and his own lively imagination seeking someone who will play ball! Reading the pictures and telling what's happening is an excellent way to develop comprehension as well as storytelling skills. 4-8

Bananagrams 2012 London Edition

To celebrate the upcoming Summer Olympics this version of Banangrams has five extra colorful joker tiles with pictograms of various Olympic sports. It is otherwise the same game in a convenient banana shaped zip up pouch. Players divvy up the tiles and play side by side creating their own connected words. It's different from Scrabble since you do not take turns, although you must take extra tiles when your opponent uses up her tiles and is ready to take more. A great take along for vacation time. Quick and easy to learn. 7 & up.

Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror

Model: Y2748
PartNumber: Y2748
Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror Barbie Digital Makeover Mirror: Enjoy a fabulous, makeup-free makeover with the Barbie Makeover Mirror. Transform an iPad into a digital mirror by sliding it into the vanity frame. Girls can then look into the mirror and select options like eye shadow, lipstick, color, and glitter. Use the included applicator to apply virtual makeup to the girl's live image on the iPad screen!? Facial tracking technology keeps the digital makeup in place as the girl moves, just like she's really wearing it!? Girls can make a digital scrapbook of their favorite makeover looks. Product Features Enjoy a make-up free makeover with the Barbie Digital Makeover! Transform an iPad into a digital mirror by sliding it into the vanity frame Simply look into the mirror and select options like eye shadow, lipstick, color, and glitter Facial tracking technology keeps the digital makeup in place as the girl moves, just like she's really wearing it Girls can make a digital scrapbook of their favorite makeover looks Product Measures: 12" x 2.38" x 12.75" Recommended Ages: 3-8 years

Barbie Dolls of the World, Australia

Collecting dolls of other lands is a passion that frequently begins in the later school years. Girls may feel "too old" to play with dolls but still like having them in their rooms. The current Australian and Irish dolls are fairly reasonably priced for entry level collectors. For this age group they may also spark an interest in finding out more about their doll's country and customs. Mattel has a website with map and games and information dedicated to this collection. Each doll comes with a passport and display stand and is dressed in clothes or costumes that reflect the traditional or modern dress. Each doll also has a related animal. The Australian doll wears a safari outfit and has a koala bear.

Barbie I Can Be President

Model: X2930
PartNumber: X2930
This MATTEL Barbie President doll is ready to give her speech. She comes in a pink suit and can stand alone.

Barbie Mars Explorer, Career of the Year 2013

She's out of this world! That's what our tester said about the striking new Mars Explorer Barbie. Created in collaboration with NASA, she comes dressed in a sleek white space suit with hot pink bands. Her pink helmet is removable, as are her space boots and oxygen tank. As you would expect, Barbie is bringing her signature pink to the red planet. Winner of the Career of the Year, 2013, Barbie is once again showing girls that they can reach for the stars with jobs that involve science and exploration. Barbie Mars Explorer is available both as African American or Caucasian versions and commemorates the First anniversary of NASA's Curiosity Rover landing on Mars. We like the science factoids on the box and the image of the Curiosity Rover behind Barbie.

Barbie Photo Fashion Doll Camera

Camera meets Barbie again! This time instead of a video camera, she's sporting a point and shoot 5- megapixel camera. The camera's eye is on Barbie's back, but the images are displayed on her torso and can be shown in a slideshow, too. Dressed in dark stretch denim skinny jeans, pink platform shoes and a semi-glitzy top, this Barbie camera doll stores up to 200 photos she has 4 MB of memory and comes with her own USB cable, so photos can be downloaded. Added to all that, she has a fun feature that allows kids to use extra design features from Barbie's website. 6 & up.

Barbie Splash 'n Spin

A fun novelty Barbie for the bath or pool. She comes with Dolphins that spin around her middle. Esther Williams would be proud. Take a look at the video.

Bear in Love

Every morning Bear wakes from his cave to find a surprise waiting for him. First it is one carrot, then two - eventually a bunch. Somewhere along they way bear decides to start leaving gifts for his unknown gift giver. Try as he may, he cannot seem to stay awake and find out who is leaving these gifts. It's rare to find a quiet little story that is filled with so much suspense! The payoff is also surprising, but a gentle and amusingly tale about blossoming friendship. 3-7

Becoming Babe Ruth

PartNumber: 9780763656461
Matt Tavaress striking homage to one of baseballs legends offers a rare view into Babe Ruths formative years in "the House that built Ruth."

Before he is known as the Babe, George Herman Ruth is just a boy who lives in Baltimore and gets into a lot of trouble. But when he turns seven, his father brings him to the gates of Saint Marys Industrial School for Boys, and his life is changed forever. At Saint Marys, hes expected to study hard and follow a lot of rules. But there is one good thing about Saint Marys: almost every day, George gets to play baseball. Here, under the watchful eye of Brother Matthias, George evolves as a player and as a man, and when he sets off into the wild world of big-league baseball, the school, the boys, and Brother Matthias are never far from his heart. With vivid illustrations and clear affection for his subject, Matt Tavares sheds light on an icon who learned early that life is what you make of it and sends home a message about honoring the place from which you came.

Big Boggle

Model: 1147
PartNumber: 1147
Boggle, the world-famous 3-minute word game is now available as "Big Boggle. The new "Double Letter" cube makes it easier to form longer words. This game contains a bigger grid, more cubes and allows for higher scores. For 2 or more players.

Big Fat Baby

Designed as a first baby doll, this 10-inch fabric huggable has stitched features and is dressed in non removable hat and polka-dotted romper. Her bib does come off with a Velcro closing. Soft and cuddly, this is an armful that a toddler will enjoy. A few tufts of hair come either in brunette or blonde yarn. Made of short, non-shedding plush it feels like velour to the touch. Infants and toddlers.

Big Hugs Elmo

Elmo is back this year and ready to give your child a big hug. This oversized version asks for hugs, tighter hugs and then says "too tight." Preschoolers will love the hugs. He encourages kids to pretend. Some of the choices seem off..."let's pretend to be rabbits...let's pretend to be astronauts"...not two things that jump to mind as the most interesting. Do toddlers/preschoolers even know what an astronaut is anymore? The body is a blend of soft red fur and a hard core (where the batteries are stored). The arms do bend so that they can be placed around a neck for a proper hug. You will feel the mechanism in the arms - the equivalent of doll bones? Elmo says over 50 phrases, sings songs and best of all, he goes to sleep after a pretty cute bedtime routine. Not clear whether Elmo will be as popular this year given the scandal, but as a straight forward novelty doll, he is pretty cute.

Bill Betty Bricks

PartNumber: HTD70544EA2
Buy Bill & Betty Bricks - Head up in the clouds and feet on the ground Don't get dizzy working the heights! Build your way up with the wooden blocks, but make sure your builders always keep their feet on the building so they can supervise the work. You have done a good job when the building is completed and your little builder stands on top of it. Challenging for the whole family. Develops your spatial perception as well as your fine motor skills.

Bitty Baby Doll and book

15" soft-bodied Bitty Baby dolls with vinyl heads, arms and legs have been updated to allow for more options to customize. You have a choice of 11 dolls with differnt hair, skin and eye color combintions. Each doll arrives in a signature sleeper and a Bitty Baby & Me picture book. The updated doll now has a hairline brought forward and eyebrows for a more realistic look. The upper body was also redesigned with arms brought forward -- for better huggability. Beautiful clothes and furniture accessories available. We also recommend the Bitty Baby Twins (boy and girl toddler dolls $115). As always there are extra outfits for the baby and matching clothes for the child.

Blabla Bunny Rattle

A seven inch crocheted bunny with a jingle rattle locked inside. Fits into little hands and soft enough for baby to use with safety, even little babies who typically have jerky hand movements until they gain greater control. Use this with new babies for tracking games. The sound is not startling. There is also a black and white cow, a pink and white piggy and others that are pretty adorable. This is one of a line of stylish products done in Peru at a workshop for women. They are made of 100% cotton and filled with poly and machine washable.

Blabla Coral Mermaid

Soft and huggable, Coral, an 18"long mermaid is created with cotton yarn. Her multicolored braids are as bright as the coral reef and her tail has scalloped embroidery. An unusual huggable, she has no nose, but they did not forget her bellybutton. Like other dolls in the line it is also available in a 12-inch size.

Blabla Giant Charles Lion

Three feet tall, Charles is truly a giant in Toyland. Knitted of cotton yarn he is soft and huggable and will make a decorative centerpiece of any child's room. But more than that, he is apt to play a big role in a child's pretend play. With his orange whiskers, happy grin, long green tail with orange tufts, and brown shaggy yarn mane, Charles is a friendly sort of lion with big blue eyes and striped trousers. This is the kind of memorable plaything that listens well and says only what a child imagines it can say. The smaller doll pictured does not come with Charles. Blabla makes many smaller and less pricey dolls that are equally charming. Handmade in Peru, these dolls capture the affection and imagination at first glance. All ages.

Blabla Giant Pumpkin

Three feet tall and ready to listen, dance, and play pretend, Pumpkin is dressed in an adorable striped dress. She has rosy cheeks, and reddish hair. Oversized dolls like this one become more than decorations in a child's room. They often become the play companion of tea parties, storytime, and bedtime, too. Blabla makes a number of giant size dolls. This is the most humanoid of the group and a smaller version of the doll is also available.

Blabla Luigi Frog

Soft and huggable, Luigi is a green frog with big eyes and a pencil thin curled mustachio. He wears long brown pants with suspenders and a white shirt. Every detail of this adorable frog is knitted. Like other dolls in the line it is also available in a 12-inch size. If you fancy a girl frog, consider Lilipop, in a paler shade of green ith ballet slippers and a pink yarn tutu.

Blabla Mini London Dog

We like this black and white pooch with high contrast eye appeal for babies. This will be more of a gazing toy for little ones at the start. Part of the BlaBla collection of handmade toys that are washable and have no hidden chocking hazards. All ages.

Blabla Pig Rattle

A seven-inch crocheted pig with a jingle rattle locked inside. Fits into little hands and soft enough for baby to use with safety, even little babies who typically have jerky hand movements until they gain greater control. The sound is not startling. Use this with new babies for tracking games. There is also a black and white cow, a blue and white bunny and others that are pretty adorable. This is one of a line of stylish products done in Peru at a workshop for women. They are made of 100% cotton and filled with poly and machine washable.

BlaBla Pom the Apple Dolls

Newest of the BlaBla huggables, 12-inch Pom the Apple comes wrapped up in a scarf, big sweater, and leggings for chilly days ahead. Or for a bigger 18-inch version ($55) choose her look-alike big sister. If you prefer green apples, check out their Apple the Apple doll. Totally safe with no hidden snags, this is one of a charming collection of knit dolls that are washable. All ages

Blossom Cottage

A relatively small painted wooden doll house with lift up roof that makes getting into the house easy. It has a carry handle feature, but would be a tad heavy for young children to handle on their own. That said, this is a good scale for a small space or as a good toy for Grandma's little visitors. It comes furnished with a family of four and 18 pieces of furniture. You fold the front down to reveal a painted garden, as well. Marked 3 & up.

Blossom's Cherry Bye Bye Buddy

Babies love the satin lining of this pink and white 11" buddy blanket. She's a plush floppy-eared bunny attached to a snuggly small pink velour blanket, lined and edged in white silky satin. A good take-along travel toy, she has a strap at the back to attach to stroller so she doesn't get lost along the way. Washes beautifully, machine wash and tumble dry. Available in many other colors. Newborns & up.

Blue Clouds

Number of discs: 1
Model: 25729665
PartNumber: 093074506523
In the land of Blue Clouds, anything can happen. The clear and beautiful voice of children's music favorite Elizabeth Mitchell weaves musical landscapes that "seem like a patchwork of memories we've always shared," writes Caldecott Award-winning author Brian Selznick. The dreamlike illustrations of legendary artist Remy Charlip illuminate the magical narratives of these timeless songs. Mitchell's extended family band, You Are My Flower, including daughter Storey and husband Daniel Littleton, embrace us with sound in a celebration of family, imagination and love. 16 tracks, 39 minutes.
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