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Good Housekeeping reveals the all-around best toys of 2016

Figuring out the absolute best toys for kids is not a job for the faint of heart. In fact, it can take a lot of blood, sweat and tears to understand what resonates with kids and is worth the investment for parents. The folks at Good Housekeeping took on the challenge of sorting out the best holiday gifts for kids of all ages by vetting 500-plus new toys for safety, quality and skill-building.

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Good Housekeeping names best toys to buy this holiday season

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Good Housekeeping names best toys to buy this holiday season

Play Video - 4:09

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How'd they do it? To start,Good Housekeeping’s mechanical and electrical engineers made sure toys met safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). Then they set up toys to evaluate assembly, construction and durability; checked for pinch points; and even drop-tested toys to ensure that they wouldn’t shatter into small pieces with sharp edges or pose a choking hazard.

RELATED: The ultimate guide to the best toys this holiday season

But they didn't stop there. Final decisions came from over 100 children, ages 3 to 13, who assessed the fun factor in the Good Housekeeping Engineering Lab and at home. They then asked the toughest critics — kids — to name the “bestest” toys of all.

Lori Bergamotto of Good Housekeeping Magazine stopped by TODAY to share these holiday toy hits. Here are just a few, and be sure to check the December issue to see them all! But get them soon — they will definitely go fast.

1. Frozen Science Kit by Be Amazing! Toys, $20, Be Amazing! Toys (4+ years)

Kids will geek out over making tiny snowmen, forts and more. The material looks like powdered sugar at first, but it shouldn’t be eaten. Adult supervision required!

2. Craftivity Kits, $20, Faber Castell (2+ years)

Budding fashionistas will love these stylish design projects. With this kit, they can make everything from oversized flowers (great for decorating rooms or lockers) to ombré tops to string lanterns and macramé bags.

3. The World of Eric Carle Little Artist Super Dough by Kids Preferred, $20, Amazon (3+ years)

Bring to life beloved figures, from the Very Hungry Caterpillar to Brown Bear. The dough hardens if left out, but we found that it didn’t crumble and easily softened again when water was added.

4. Boogie Woogie Mat by B. Toys, $30, B. Toys (3+ years)

Channel Tom Hanks in "Big" with this playtime piano mat. Kids can make music with their hands and feet and even add silly sounds, like a cat’s meow. Plus, it rolls up for easy storage!

5. Firetek Zyclone by Zing, $30, Target (6+ years)

Load a soft-foam ZingRing into the Zyclone and launch it slingshot-style. It's best for outdoor use, since the flyer can soar up to 100 feet!

6. Criss Cross Crash Track by Hot Wheels, $43, Amazon (4+ years)

Kids of all ages loved watching the cars whiz, whip and crash … every single time. And parents will love that setup is easy for the 16 feet of track.

7. Props in a Box, $60, Toys R Us (3+ years)

All the costumes are gender neutral and encourage kids to be whatever they want without any typical stereotypes. This is a unique product line that makes imaginative play fun and easy, all while fostering skills learned inside of the classroom and at home to help kids develop interpersonal skills.

8. FurReal Friends Torch My Blazin' Dragon by Hasbro, $80, Walmart (4+ years)

Press the charm on his chest, and Torch releases water-vapor “flames” that “roast” a “marshmallow.” Our engineers noticed little ones ditching other toys to play with this one.

9. Battlebots Arena, $80, Hexbug (8+ years)

In this arena, kids can challenge each other to head-to-head duels — based on the popular show Battle- Bots. They’ll want to play nonstop, so have extra batteries (they ran out quickly in our tests).

10. Thomas & Friends TrackMaster Sky-High Bridge Jump by Fisher Price, $100, Toys R Us (3+ years)

This was the top toy pick for our kid testers’ top pick! They loved seeing Thomas get serious air and stick nearly every landing.“I’d play with it all the time!” one said. To make things easier, organize all the pieces before assembly (it took us half an hour).

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