WILLIMANTIC, Conn. (WTNH) — The Center for Early Childhood Education at Eastern Connecticut State University has unveiled their 2017 Toy of the Year that inspires mindful play and imagination.

The eight annual TIMPANI Toy of the Year was announced Wednesday morning. TIMPANI stands for “Toys that Inspire Mindful Play and Nurture Imagination,” and is an internationally acclaimed study conducted by Eastern faculty and undergraduate students.Web Extra: Watch the 2017 TIMPANI Toy of the Year presentation

The winner this year is the Animals Mega Pack Playset by Animal Planet. The Animals Mega Pack was scored in multiple categories, including thinking and learning, social interaction, creativity and imagination, and verbalization.

Children playing with the 2017 TIMPANI Toy of the Year, the Animals Mega Pack Playset by Animal Planet (Image: ECSU)

What makes this particular toy standout is that children playing with this playset created make-believe roles for the animals and the animal kingdom, which organizers said is a highly symbolic form of play.

A total of ten contenders for Toy of the Year were put to the test as ECSU students and faculty observed how children played with the toys, and what they did with them.