Back in November, I had my readers send me reviews of toys their kids got for Christmas last year. I made a listing, in no particular order, of their personal, honest reviews of these toys. Just to give everyone a little feedback on some of the toys you might be considering for this Christmas.
There are 28 reviews. I also entered all 28 reviewers into a drawing for a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card. I will ask my friend to pick a number (she has no idea why)... she picked 28. I will email you, Becky, to let you know you won. Congratulations!
1.Baby Einstein Alphabooks - My daughter is 17 months and has played with these books EVERY SINGLE DAY since she was about one! They are by far the most played with item in the house. Not to mention they are educational she has learned many body parts and words from "reading" these books. (by Jenn)
2. Playskool Explore and Grow Busy Ball Popper - My 15mo daughter absolutely loves the Playskool Ball Popper. It is interactive with sound and the air that disperses the balls makes her laugh! She figured out how to work this toy easily but never get's bored of it. Two pieces of advice; make sure to not lose the balls because they are a specific size and weight to have the toy work properly, and the music can be repetitive. Use the $5 coupon from coupons.com to score a good deal on this toy, your child will love it! (by Karissa)
Go here to read the other 26 reviews.
3. Aquadoodle Draw N Doodle - We got an Aquadoodle for my step-daughters and we hated it. The problem that we found with is the fact that the tip of the pen does not fully dry out and therefore, it began to turn moldy. It was really gross.
4. Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn My Busy Day Table -
Last Christmas my son was 5 months old, and I bought him the "Fisher-Price Laugh and Learn Fun with Friends Musical Table." He liked it at first because of all of the sounds and lights (it's for 18mo. to 3yrs.) but when he turned six months and started pulling himself up on furniture and wanting to cruise he really enjoyed it. It took about a month for him to learn how to push the different buttons to make certain sounds and he would spend 5 minutes just turning the pages listening to it read the short sentences. I knew at that age he didn't understand anything other than the cause/effect aspect of pushing buttons and turning the "page." He would play with it for 30-40 min. at a time on his own with it (made it easy for me to get dinner started).
He is now 16 months old and has never lost interest in it since he started playing with it on his own. Now he knows that he can push certain buttons in order to dance to the certain songs that he likes and still plays with it for about 30 min. at a time.
The only thing that I would say is a negative is the phone with the rattles in it. I have found that when I put the phone up to my ears, the rattling the phone makes is actually painful for my ears as the plastic makes the rattle a little too loud. My son doesn't usually play with the phone because the rattling is too loud when he uses it to "say hello." Otherwise, it's the best toy I have purchased thus far in the short time I've been a mom. (By Margie)
5.Stomp Rocket Jr. Glow Kit -We have this, but not the glowing one. Not like we are going to be out there in the dark...The kids LOVE it! Inexpensive, 3 year old proof, no batteries, few parts. (By Meghan)
6.Thomas Take Along Sets - Last year we began collecting the Thomas the Tank Engine Take Along Sets. We purchased these at K-Mart during there buy 2 get one free sale which they tend to have annually in November. We purchased the Take Along starter set which is the first item I will review:
The starter Set is very easy for parent to put together, it is a simple sturdy track system. It has loops, curves, a bridge and several buidlings to go with the set. One building plays the Thomas theme music and another is used for unloading/ reloading the trains. The set also includes two trains (Thomas and Duncan) and a carrying car. This set is a great buy, very durable and easy to use. My son (who is almost three) can put the tracks together himself. I prefer the Take Along sets to the Trackmaster set for a child of his age because the Take Along set trains connect magnetically and is more funtional for a two year old. The set is great quality and a good buy. We also use it easily with his train table and this set is not quite as expensive as the wooden set and offers for variety for my imaginative two year old.
There are some issues that come into this set when you begin to add to the set. We often get the track going in an elaborate design and find that we have an area with two of the same ends toward each other. They do make pieces like this, so I guess we should invest in some. It's been one year since we purchased the set and we still have just about all the pieces and we enjoy a lot of imaginative play time with our toddler and this set. (By Melissa)
7. Nilo Train Table -
We bought the Nilo Train table last Christmas for our toddler. We purchased it off of ebay. It came with the table, a train mat (life saver) and 2 storage chairs.
This table alone has the focal point of all my toddlers play. We have her wooden train set up on this at time, her play castle, she eats her snack on her table, she colors, and she plays with her cars here. It has holes on all the sides, we bought her some play wooden nails and she likes to push them in the holes. She sometimes uses the holes to hold her crayons while she colors. This year we are going to expand this table fun by buying the easel, its on sale right now. We will post a review about the easel for next Christmas for you. Apparently you can play puppets on it, draw on it with erasable markers, and its magnetic for abc letters..
The train mat has been a life saver, it is really neat looking plus durable plastic. Great for little spills and rough playing, we keep it on all the time. We just flip it over to the plain white side when were not playing trains. It has saved our table so many times. Also out tot has colored on this, spilled and played every day for almost a year now. With a simple warm wash cloth, it wipes away like new, no stains, dents or scratches, it covered with special surface so its easily wipable.. very neat.. we all love it.
We may also expand the table by buying the lego mats, but maybe for her birthday later on.
Here is the web site and specs for this table. The way cool chairs are no longer available. They hold my 9 year old and 2 year old and even us at times, very sturdy. They chair lid opens up, and we keep her train stuff, legos, cars, and wooden princess dolls in them. They have a child safety hinge so little fingers are not hurt. (By Jessica)
8.Fisher-Price Little People Busy Day Home - Pink -Last year I bought this Little People Doll House. I will tell you that we did not spend the price that it is listed for here. We paid 39.99. Hubby didn't think she would like it very much, thought she was to young for it. She was 18 months at the time. To this day she plays with this doll house everyday!!! Well worth the money. She loves the people and that she is able to put them on the potty, open and close the front door and that the phone rings.
So, if anyone has a little one that likes Little People this is must have. They also have a house in white that would be more neutral. We since have added the Little People Air Plane and Lego Wagon. This Christmas she is getting the Castle. (By Brooklyn)
9.Pixos - Last year we purchased the pixos with accessories, which was easily $25 bucks or more, don't remember for our 5 yr old. She had been asking for this toy for a while. She played with it on Christmas day and maybe 2 other times. Lets say it wasn't all it was cut out to be! It was really hard to do too. We had a hard time keeping the objects we made together. We've had it for a year and hasn't been played tih in the last 6 months for sure! We are gonna yard sale it. (By Tiphanie)
10. VTECH personal player -
Last year I bought a VTECH personal player for my 3 year old. We take this with us everwhere we go........especially when we want to go out to eat or have to wait longer than 10 minutes somewhere.
1. Easy to play. 2. Many different games for ALL ages. 3. Can be plugged into the TV.
4. Educational 5.Great option for kids too small for the DS. The only con is batteries, but we solved that by purchasing rechargable ones. (By Ashley)
11.Wii Music - My kids (9 & 13 yo girls) BEGGED for Wii Music last year...it's almost the only thing they circled in the Toys R Us Catalog...well, they have played it maybe 3 times since last Christmas! Ugh! Another flop for them was Wii Dancing With the Stars... But they LOVE the Wii Fit and Wii Play! (By Lindy)
12. Magneatos (36 Piece Set) -
When the box first arrived and I opened it up to check them out, I thought this would be a HUGE flop. It really seemed like you needed a few sets to be able to make anything interesting. My one and three year old boys have proved me wrong on that in a big way. They bring the magneatos out nearly everyday and go wild with imagination. They've been everything from microphones to icecreams cones, lightsabers to umbrellas, and the list goes on. They're very colorful and my three year old likes to "teach" his baby brother with them. It's turned out be an excellent toy that I would recommend to anyone with toddlers! The only problem I can find with this toy is that the balls do get stuck in Fisher Price toys. (drop n roar dinosaur, that musical jungle thing..?) (By Jessica)
13. American Girl - Felicity, Nellie, Samantha and Julie. We have been extremely happy with the quality of the American Girl Dolls. Our daughter is 9 and has been enjoying her dolls for several years. She got Nellie last year before she was retired. We have gotten the Target brand as well. The hair on AG is much better quality. Everything they do is done with excellence. The packaging of the dolls, clothes and accessories it lovely. They will be treasures for years to come. (By Sherri)
14. Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Kick & Crawl Aquarium Gym - My son got this for Christmas last year (he was two months old). It was great for playtime when he was tiny. It kept him very entertained on his back or his tummy. But once he started rolling over, we had to put it up because he kept rolling off and bumping into the bars that go over the mat. When he started crawling, I tried to turn it into the tunnel he could crawl through. It was very difficult to do and then he never really played with it. I tried to get him to crawl through, but all he ever really wanted to do was pick it up or push it (it's very lightweight). If the reason you're getting it is because it's a toy that will grow with your child then pass on it. If you're getting it as a play mat for a young infant (non-mobile) then I would consider it. It's $30. You can get other playmats for $20-$50 so it's definitely in the consideration range, but I was disappointed in the older infant crawl-through tunnel feature.
Personally, I wish I had gotten the Fisher Price - 1 2 3 Rainforest Musical Play Gym instead. (By Tabitha)
15. Butterscotch Fur Real Pony - The toy I want to review is the Butterscotch fur real pony. My daughter fell in love with it the moment she seen it in the store. She wanted it so bad, but it is expensive. She got it for Christmas and for a while she played with it everyday. It is very durable. Its ear broke off last week though. She doesnt play with it as much anymore, but she still loves that she has it around. She loves to show new friends that she has butterscotch. To me, it is worth the money in some ways, and its not in others. I am sort of on the fence with it, but if you have a child that LOVES horses like my daughter does, it just may be a good investment. (By Ashley)
16. Little Leaps - My kids love the Little Leaps gaming system. The Dora game is their favorite. They get board with the Thomas the train one even though they are huge fans. (By Jeanette)
17. Little Tikes EasyScore Basketball Set - My son,3, got the Little Tykes basketball goal and LOVES it. He plays with it all the time. (By Steph)
18. Mega Gears - My son got a set of Megagears for Christmas. It is a manipulative and he LOVES it. The kids love to build things, house, planes, and watch the parts turn as they turn the crank. (By Jenna)
19. Geotrax - My boys (3 and 2) love geotrax. Very easy for them to put together and they get to make different train routes each time. (By Paula)
20. Legos - Legos are always a big hit in my house. Doesn't matter what theme, as long as they are legos. My kids will play with them and build what the box says, but then build other things from their imagination throughout the year. Legos are always on their Christmas list! (by wajbabies)
21. First Act Drums - We got my son a set of First Act drums from TRU. We had read mixed reviews about durability but have been very pleased with them. They were a black friday deal at $50. The negative reviews we read said the drum heads broke after a few uses but ours have held up really well. And BELIEVE me, my son really wacks on them! I think the trick is to make sure the nuts are tightened well. (by MindyG)
22. Leapster 2 - My son (4) and daughter (2) still love to play with their Leapster 2 systems. I can't tell you how many times they have been dropped and they still work fine. I would recommend the case to keep all the games together and protect the system. (By Mark-Alycia)
23. Playmobil pirate ship - Hi the best toy my kids got last Xmas was the Playmobil pirate ship. My boys loved it. I bought one for both boys and they played and still play with it for hours. Truly worth the money for the amount of play time it gets. It teaches them pretend play and how to share. Also it teaches them responsibility, for they have to make sure to take care of all the pieces. I am planning on getting them more Playmobil sets this year! Thanks! (By Annisa)
24. Barbie and the Diamond Castle -
I have 2 little girls, who are now 7 and 5. when I purchased these dolls for last christmas, they were 6 and 4 years old. At the time, they were very interested in the movie and they wanted the dolls badly so I decided that this the best gift for Christmas.
At first, they were very excited, they played day and night with the dolls and that turned out to be a bit hard since they sing and I have to say they are loud specially when you have 2 dolls singing together. They were pretty lousy in the car when both are playing with their dolls but my little one was obsessed with the song, she was also singing it all the time by herself. Although the dolls are not exciting to them now a year after, they do play with them every once in a while, also my, now 7years old girl is having a reading fair project at her school and she decided to go with the Barbie and the diamond castle story so she built a nice castle, glittered it around and is taking the dolls for display in front of her project.
Now as far as durability, Only one of the dolls is still singing till now, the other one stopped, probably a battery problem. But in general the doll itself is durable, the dresses are still nice and turning with the push of a button. SO in general, we were pleased with the purchase of these dolls. I just looked at my old receipt at amazon.com and I bought both of them for $31.93 shipped, the price on the Alexa doll now is outrageous. (by Haidy)
25. Wii - Last year my son asked for a Wii and for a lot of the nerf guns. The nerf toys were played with for a few days, then the darts were lost about as fast as he lost interest. The Wii he is playing as I write this. Plus the Wii has so many different types of games, and they are very fun for the whole family to play together! I give the Wii an A+ (by Tanya)
26. Webkinz - webkinz.. they loved playing with the stuffed animal for a couple of months but they still are loving playing online (maybe because it is a special privilege!) (by Julie)
27. Fuzion Asphalt Ultimate Carving Machine Scooter - Our kids got Fuzion Asphalt Ultimate Carving Machine Scooter (Yellow) and we all love them. Even my husband and I can ride on them and they will grow with the kids. I would recommend to anyone that wants to have FUN! (by Renee)
28. LeapFrog Tag Reading System - My son received a Leapfrog Tag Reading System for Christmas last year. He was 4 at the time and I was a bit skeptical about how much he would really use it. He is the youngest of 3 boys and truly is mostly interested in the things his brothers like to do (ie video games, Star Wars anything etc.) My older 2 boys had the Leapfrog Leap Pad several years ago and it didn't get used ..... hardly at all. I decided to give the Tag System a try anyway and is so great!!
A year later it still gets used about once a week or more. It's great for quiet time and even in the car. We have the headphones that are sold for it but my son prefers the ear buds that I have for an old MP3 player instead. We've added more books to his collection through out the year and are doing so again for this Christmas. I love that he can have the Tag read him the whole page at once or read the story word by word. He likes the games each book has and has played them over and over again.
The selection of books continues to grow...and even includes Star Wars this year. My only complaint is that the books are fairly expensive, around $14 each. This time of year though is a great time to find deals like Buy 2 get One Free. Toys R Us has them for $9.99 and there were (maybe still are) manufacturers coupons out for $3.00 off. (By Becky)
Disclaimer: These are honest reviews by people who own these products. They were entered into a drawing for a $10 Amazon.com gift card that is being provided by me.