PIKI PIKI BIKE $69.95 | 18 months and up | 70 pounds max Honestly we were skeptical of this trike’s cheap-looking plastic construction. But reviewers online loved it — and so did our test kids. It’s ready to ride the second you get it out of the box (after you put on a few stickers) and it handles and corners surprisingly well, far better than other models we’ve tested. And it looks like a motorcycle, which our test kids loved, too. Downside: Appearance Where to buy: amazon.com or gallospencetoys.com
FOREST FRIENDS PLAYSET $19.99 | 18 months and up Ages 1 to adult couldn’t resist the sheer cuteness of this sturdy toy, which is designed to help kids learn about animals, counting and colors while practicing fine motor skills. Each squeezable character fits perfectly into the tree, which is quaint and stable enough to sit out as a kid-room decoration when not in use.
STACK AND ROLL WOODEN RACE CARS $19.99 | 18 months and up If your kids are too young to play with Hot Wheels, Matchbox or other big-kid cars, this well-made set of five racers would make a good substitute. Our test kids enjoyed how easily these zoomed across the floor. We parents liked their vintage toy appearance.
Downside: None Where to buy: Lakeshore Learning
Downside: They’re stackable in only one order (largest to smallest) and the stack is wobbly. Where to buy: Lakeshore Learning
SAGO MINI JINJA’S HOUSE
$19.95 | ages 3 to 8
$25 | ages 3 and up
This compact game takes the fun of blocks and turns it into a pattern-matching game that requires spatial reasoning and problem solving. Each player receives a set of cubes and a small wooden tray. When someone turns over a pattern card, players must quickly recreate the pattern with their cubes.
This playhouse isn’t just cute, it’s portable, thanks to a cool fold-up design. Our testers couldn’t resist little attachable slide and staircase and the little pieces used to act out dining, sleeping and even getting the mail.
Downside: It’s made of cardboard, so it won’t last forever, unless you leave it at Grandma’s house.
Where to buy: mindware.com
Where to buy: Kiddywampus mnparent.com • November 2016