IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Good Housekeeping reveals the best in toys

From cool chemistry sets to gourmet cupcake makers, Good Houseekeeping magazine lists the most exciting, creative (and safe!) presents for your little ones.
/ Source: TODAY

For Good Housekeeping’s first annual Best Toy Awards, the editors looked at hundreds of playthings for ages 3 to 14, evaluated 51 favorites, and then let dozens of kids loose to play and choose their top picks. The result: 14 safe, creative, and fun finds.

Robots, unite!The Disney Pixar U-Command Wall-E($60, ages 6+) is this year’s hottest cartoon come to life. Kids loved programming their beloved “actor” to follow a sequence of commands or just driving him around by remote control. WowWee RS Tri-bot ($100, ages 8+) is so multifunctional, you’ll wonder if he has a mind of his own. Like Wall-E, he can be steered via remote or “taught” to act out a series of commands. Tri-bot also has built-in stories, jokes, and games for seemingly endless play. And there’s good news for you if his chatter becomes less endearing: volume controls.

A need for speed
Safely indulge his inner Evel Knievel with Mattel Hot Wheels Trick Tracks Power Loop Stunt Zone Set ($30, ages 4+). A child can send Hot Wheels on the death-defying Power Loop. The cars didn’t always make it around, but our testers thought crashes were half the fun.

Cool chemistry
Combine the Scientific Explorer Magic Science Kit ($20, ages 6+) with a few household ingredients like ice cubes (plus adult supervision), and presto: potions that bubble, change color, or even glow in the dark.

All aboardFor a child who aspires to be a conductor of the locomotive or musical variety, Melody Express Musical Train by Learning Resources ($43, ages 3+) is just the ticket. The track’s tiles double as musical notes to be laid in any order. As the train rolls over, a song plays. While it has a 3+ rating, even 6-year-olds loved it.

Out of this worldThey’ve landed — on your kitchen table! With Hasbro Martian Matter Alien Maker ($18, ages 5+), kids mold extraterrestrials from slime (a gel) and putty. And not to worry — in our tests, the mess was pretty well contained in the base station.

Run(a)way hitFor the fashionista in training, Mattel’s Barbie iDesign Ultimate Stylist CD-ROM Game ($30, ages 5+, PC only) lets little ones plan fashion shows — clothes, music, lighting, and more — by scanning garment cards with the included scanner.

Construction zoneThis new entry from Lego, Creator Cargo Copter ($20, ages 7+), comes with pieces and instructions to build a boat, plane, or helicopter — all with a power winch to provide action.

Off the wallOne glimpse of Air Hogs Zero Gravity Micro car ($30, ages 8+), and kids and parents alike wondered, “How’d it do that?” The secret to the car’s Spidey-like ability to climb walls and drive on the ceiling: air suction.

Top chefThe tastiest toy of the test, Jakks Pacific Girl Gourmet Cupcake Maker ($30, ages 8+) had kids “baking” up tons of just-add-water microwaved cupcakes. Not all results were perfect, but testers didn’t mind as they gobbled down their creations.

Hot pursuitNot just another remote-controlled car, the Wild Planet Spy Video ATV-360 ($99, ages 8+) is rigged with a video camera that transmits audio and video to a separate headset in real time — and was a huge hit with all our testers.

Good clean funGirls really got into Elmer’s Totally Glamorous Spa Kit ($20, ages 9+), a chemistry set that turns everyday household ingredients, like table salt and honey, into fizzy, fragrant soaps; easy at-home facials; and soothing bath salts.

Game on
Cranium Family Edition ($20, ages 8+) is age-rated lower than the original, but it’s lost none of the fun factor. Players sketch, sculpt, solve puzzles, act, and answer questions to make their way around the board.

I spy… everything!
With the infrared Jakks Pacific Night Vision Goggles ($80, ages 8+) switched on, our testers couldn’t believe their eyes: They could see perfectly, even in our pitch-black, light-sealed room. Wow!

For more great tips and information for the holiday season, visit