The Best of 2014 from Toys Bulletin

Toys Award Logo lists its favorite toys and games of the year.

As has been the case in past years, we continue to see so many quality and exciting new products during the year that it is especially difficult to single out just a few standouts. Plus, we also know that we cannot possibly test and review every toy and game released by every manufacturer in the past 12 months, so there is no doubt that we may have missed some good ones.

Here are the guidelines we follow in making our selections. “The Best of 2014” is based solely on the toys and games that we have reviewed on our website from November 2013 through October 2014. We have purposely excluded some older items, which may have been reviewed during that period, because that toy or game has been around for a number of years. However, in some circumstances, we have also included an item that was new to us at Toys Bulletin, even though it may have been available for purchase prior to November 2013.


Posted in Best of the Year

Linko!: A Quick Clever Card Game

Linko! reviews a new game from Ravensburger.

“Linko!” is the US version of the German game called “Abluxxen.” It is a card game that includes 104 numbered cards (8 each of the numbers 1-13) plus 5 joker cards and 1 Linko card used to keep track of player turns. The object of the game is to lay down more cards than any of the other players, while trying to avoid having those same cards be suddenly snatched up by one of your opponents.

“Linko!” can be played by 2-5 players (ages 10 years old and up), and we played multiple games with 3, 4 and 5 players. To begin play, all cards are shuffled with 13 cards being dealt to each player. 6 cards are then turned face up to form a row in the center of the table and the remaining cards form a draw pile. Discards which take place during the game are placed next to the draw pile. On every turn, a player can lay down either a single card from their hand, or multiple cards as long as the number matches on each of the cards (i.e. three cards each with the number 8).


Posted in Card Games

Travel Friends: International Play Dolls

Travel Friends looks at a new line of dolls from Madame Alexander.

Madame Alexander has created a collection of international “Travel Friends Play Dolls” intended for ages 3 years old and up. There are currently a total of nine dolls to choose from, each representing a different country and each measuring 7″ tall. The word for “hello” in that country’s native language is featured on the packaging and all of the dolls are dressed in clothing which highlight their country’s traditions. The countries represented by this collection include Ireland, China, Germany, India, France, Kenya, Mexico, Russia and Italy. We took a closer look at the dolls from India and Kenya.


Posted in Doll

Snapgammon: Herd those Cows onto the Train

Snapgammon reviews a clever variation on the game of Backgammon from Victory Point Games.

The Toys Bulletin staff has long considered Backgammon one of those games that has truly stood the test of time. And, it will likely continue to be one of our favorites for years to come. Recently and much to our delight, we read about a new game release entitled “Snapgammon,” and we immediately were a bit more than curious. After all, it featured a race with another cowboy trying to be the first to load all of their cows onto a waiting train.


Posted in Board Games

Sushi Go! – Game Card Drafting at its Best

Sushi Go! reviews a new Sushi themed card game from Gamewright.

We hope we got your attention by mentioning “card drafting” in the main title of this review. For those unfamiliar with the concept, “card drafting” simply means that players are allowed to choose certain cards during a game that meet their goals, while passing on other cards in which they have no interest. In “Sushi Go!,” players must accumulate points over three rounds of play based on careful card selection during the game. The game is recommended for ages 8 years old and up.


Posted in Card Games

Modarri: A New Type of Toy Car

Modarri gets its hands on an exciting new toy car entry created by Thoughtfull Toys Inc.

We actually got our first glimpse at the Modarri line of cars at the New York Toy Fair this past February, and we left nodding our heads with approval. But, we also were thinking that a product such as that would likely be difficult to get to market by Christmas 2014 and also be way too expensive for U.S. consumers. Well, we were happily wrong on both counts as the Modarri car is now here and guess what, the price is extremely affordable.


Posted in Building, Vehicles

Gravity Maze: Move a Marble and Hit the Target

Gravity Maze reviews a new single player game from ThinkFun Inc.

We did not think it was possible to create a game to rival “Laser Maze,” a ThinkFun release from 2013, that was chosen as one of Toys Bulletin’s “Best of 2013.” But somehow, ThinkFun has done it once again, with its newest game, “Gravity Maze.” Although it has some strong similarities to “Laser Maze,” it easily stands on its own as an exciting new challenge for ages 8 years old and up.


Posted in Games

Santa’s Bag: Be an Elf and Build Some Toys

Santa's Bag looks at a Christmas themed game from Griggling Games, Inc.

Everyone loves Christmas and it only seemed appropriate to review a new game entitled “Santa’s Bag” as the holiday shopping season approaches. The game is aimed at youngsters ages 7 years old and up, but there will be plenty of adults who will want to get in on the fun. “Santa’s Bag” is designed for 2-8 players and a typical game can generally be completed in less than 30 minutes. Each player takes on the role of a competing elf. Each elf builds various toys for as many children as possible.


Posted in Christmas, Games

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