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Best Unique Toys for Kids

  • Michael Kraus

    Educational fun (yes, really) and a can-do price made the Brilliant Creations Advanced Notebook a top pick in this category. An actual mouse and touchscreen up the crucial authenticity factor. ($50; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    I need two more blocks for that high-rise! That's the kind of challenge that'll keep 'em playing City Square Off. The first to determine which shapes work—without spilling over the city limits—wins. ($20; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Who needs the Scouts? The Fab Badge Maker has all the goods (glitter stickers, gems, fabric swatches) to make ten doodads that attach to backpacks, jackets, and hats. ($22; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Sage and Willa, two of the four Fijit Friends, are in a class by themselves. They light up, dance, tell jokes, and speak dozens of phrases. ($60 each; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    The object: Line up your FlipOut cards so you have four-of-a-kind in a row. The trick: The cards are double-sided, so opponents can take them to use in their own rack. The twist: The player with the most colorful socks goes first, so dress to win. ($20; gamewright.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Just gift a white lab coat along with the GeoSafari Talking Electron Microscope and a scientist is born. He'll view 60 specimens and hear hundreds of snippets about animals, plants, the human body, and more. ($43; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    The Hot Wheels Video Racer gives the term “put you in the driver's seat” new meaning. The hot rod has a video cam built in, feeding footage back as it flies along the track. ($60; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Eww (you). Awesome! (him). The lifelike Larvae scurry and change direction when they hit an obstacle. ($13 each; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Calling all Lego maniacs to the intricate and intense Master Builder Academy Space Designer set. High-level construction secrets abound (superior stability and sideways building!). Each kit makes three different models, so the thrills have a longer life span than with other construction sets. ($30; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Beware, Nicki Minaj! Paper Jamz Pro Series Microphone lets li'l Beyoncés belt it out with harmony and backup. ($40; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    There isn't just one right way to put The Art Quadrat Puzzle together; it boosts creativity by allowing lots of options. Any which way it's done, the mod design and vivid colors make it worth displaying. ($42; momastore.org)

  • Michael Kraus

    It's a stunt vehicle like no other: The RC Spinning Lights Car careens on two wheels, does a flawless 360, and blinks a rainbow of colors. (One editor here continues to play with it under her desk.) ($25; discovery.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    He's a mysterious Remote Control Spaceman in a faceless black helmet, powered by double rotors and hovering above the couch. The cat is sure to freak. And your kid will, too, in the best possible way. ($25; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Your kid can channel his inner Bond with the Jakks Pacific Spy Net Video Watch. The built-in microphone and camera capture 20 minutes of footage—more than enough to bust little sis for taking cookies before dinner. ($50; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    The entire office was awestruck by the elegant motion of the Animal Planet Air Swimmers. The remote control flies the clownfish so realistically, you can smell the salt air. ($50; Toys“R”Us stores)

  • Michael Kraus

    Dateline: New Orleans, 1853. Cécile, the newest American Girl historical doll (joining the likes of Kit and Molly), hails from The Big Easy. In her divine teal frock and spiffy boots, she's what every girl hopes to see under the tree. ($100; americangirl.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    Half-pipe dreams come true on the totally rad Clear29 LT light-up skateboard. Dusk riding is a no-brainer, but daytime cruises are equally awesome. ($175; flexdex.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    There's no cooler rig than the S9-R Sports Sedan, which swept this category with a slick design, rockin' cobalt wheels, and interchangeable parts. Bonus: Four figurines—dead ringers for the Blue Man Group dudes!—ride inside. ($30; amazon.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    With the Crayola ColorStudio HD app and iMarker, an iPad becomes a portable easel. There are preset pages to color, blank ones for scribbling, plus cool animation. ($30; griffintechnology.com)

  • Michael Kraus

    A steel ball rolls along the curvy chutes, ramps, and trapdoors as you rotate and flip the Perplexus Genius, a mesmerizing 3-D maze. ($18; amazon.com)

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