November 2019

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$99.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: Yes, it’s another build-yourown robot. But this one relies on an AR (augmented reality) app to do the controlling. We liked the DUPLO-style building blocks (130 pieces) and the USB charging option, too. Our 11-year-old tester liked the app’s 30 interactive AR challenges involving sequencing, looping and conditional coding. Where to buy: Target


$49.99 • 4 and up Why we love it: Our home tester, age 11, spent over an hour with this remote-control buddy. First he assembled it with a variety of working gears, then when it didn’t work quite right, he did some troubleshooting. Finally, he drove it around and found it to be sturdy and responsive. Parents said: “So cool! It’s extremely easy to drive because you can see which side’s wheels are moving — because that side’s gears spin. When both wheels are rolling, all the gears spin at the same time. Endlessly creative, organically instructive. Good for multiple ages for sure.” Where to buy: Lakeshore Learning

SHIMMER STARS $19.99 • 4 and up

Why we love it: It’s hard to innovate in the realm of plush toys, but these creatures were winners — and lots of kids wanted to take them home — thanks to special wands that allow kids to attach sparkly “shimmers” to the animals’ fur as well as their own hair. Shimmers, which stayed in place best in hair that was tied back, attached easily and combed right out. Where to buy: Target

WONDERHOOD GRAND HOTEL $49.95 • 4 and up

Why we love it: Three of our home testers, ages 4 to 6, kept coming back to this creative building set, which includes 24 glossy plastic building panels (5 inches square, washable and double-sided), plus a three-story elevator, two figurines and design challenges. Parents said: “There are different types of panels — walls, floors/ceilings and doorways/ windows. Kids get to decide where everything should go, so the conversations about where to put the bathroom or the hotel pool, for example, were pretty interesting.” Good to know: Operating the elevator is a bit a clunky and can shake whole hotel. On the other hand, the structure is lightweight and therefore easy to disassemble. Where to buy: Legacy Toys (Galleria Edina Only)

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November 2019 •