Perfect toys for tweens

Giant doll house, laser maze

Published Aug 15, 2014 at 12:06AM

Kid Culture features fun and educational books and toys for children. Toy recommendations are based on independent research conducted by The Toy Research Institute.

My Girls Dollhouse

By Wicked Cool Toys, $299.99

Ages 8 and older

Toy Tips: B+

Fun: A

Movement: B

Thinking: B+

Personality: B+

Social interaction: B+

This wood doll house is customized for 18-inch-tall dolls, furniture, clothing and accessories and anything else used for imaginative doll house play.

Measuring at 6 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep, this is a piece of furniture that can also be reused as a bookshelf or to house board games. However, it is large enough to be used as a decorative piece of furniture for display. There are two styles — one with a sophisticated look (Country French style) and the other with a whimsical look (bungalow style).

Both exterior and interior styles can be selected, allowing for personal style. Doll play encourages intellectual thinking, social interaction and positive character skills.

Tester’s tip: We assembled with a three-person team, and it was easy to put together.

We suggest you build it in the room where you plan to display it to avoid having to move it, because it is quite heavy.

Laser Maze Beam-Bending Logic Game

By ThinkFun, Inc., $29.99

Ages 8 and older

Toy Tips: B+

Fun: A

Movement: A

Thinking: A

Personality: B+

Social interaction: A

This game uses a mind-challenging maze to stimulate intellectual thinking skills, concentration, patience, visual perception and strategy.

Using lights and mirrors and brain power, players direct the laser beam through a series of challenging mazes. Included are the Game Grid, 60 Challenge Cards and 11 Game Tokens.

Tester’s tip: This video can give players a visual explanation of what to expect: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=heSvU7lC744

— Recommendations from Marianne M. Szymanski, publisher of www.toytips.com, Toy Tips Magazine and co-author of “Toy Tips: A Parent’s Essential Guide to Smart Toy Choices.”