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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Toddlers
Review Year: 2012

 

 
2012 Awards
LOL Elmo
(Playskool $39.99 Score:)

Happy-go-lucky Elmo is bubbling over with laughs again. Press his foot and his laughing begins, squeeze the remote control fishbowl and he laughs and wiggles even more. Tickle his tummy and Elmo not only laughs, he tells little jokes, too. Guaranteed to bring on a case of the giggles, this season's Elmo is smaller than he used to be and not too cuddly. You can feel the mechanism through his plush body. That said, this is a novelty toy that will be a sure fire favorite of kids and grown-ups alike. 18 months and up.

SNAP: Activating Elmo just might interest kids who need to work on strengthening hands and fingers. Elmo certainly will motivate them and there are three different ways to discover and remember how he moves. Squeeze his foot, tickle his tummy and press the remote. That's a lot of ways to make things happen. Is it a long term toy? Probably not. This is one of those novelty items that has some redeeming features.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Corolle Babicorolle Lili Cherry
(Corolle $39.99 Score:)

With all fabric features (including her eyes) and soft plush body, the Babicorolle makes an ideal first huggable. We loved the bright, cheerful colors of Cherry's outfit.  As you would expect from a little French doll, she is very stylish.  For older babies and toddlers, this vanilla-scented armful will be a favorite.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Wonderworld Red Buggy Car
(Wonderworld $99 Score:)

Toddlers can't wait to climb on board this wooden red ride-on with four-wheel drive for stability and a steering wheel for maneuvering. Low to the ground this pedal free ride on is powered by foot to the floor action. It has rubber tires for better traction indoors or out. This is one of those basic toys that older toddlers, with their new-won mobility are going to enjoy for a short but important stage when they are not ready for pedals or complicated ride-ons. This has a small beep-beep horn in the steering wheel and will be good for early pretend play as well as satisfying the need for using those big leg muscles. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

Finding toys that are just right for sitting up babies and toddlers can be difficult. The Cruise and Groove Ballapalooza fills the bill.  You'll need space for this large "making something happen" toy that both older babies and toddlers will enjoy exploring.  There are two different ways for the big balls to go from the top of the structure to the base. Of course at first, you'll be making it happen--but soon enough your toddler will enjoy making the balls drop again and again.  The small green "gate" will be another aspect of the toy your child will enjoy pushing back and forth.  There is also an arch for babies to go under.  There is music that happily you can turn off and still enjoy the toy. A definite plus in our book. The tripod design of the base makes the toy steady but of course a cruising baby will still need a watchful hand. Our older toddler twin testers loved how the ball could be placed at the top so that it bounces off a platform onto the ramp: "high marks for innovative design." Comes with 8 oversized balls so if two end up under the sofa, you're not out of business. 

SNAP: This is big enough to satisfy slightly older kids who may not have the dexterity for more complex ball runs and tracks. Though our testers found this pretty steady, you may want to stabilize it with some tape to the floor. This is not just a good social toy that two or more can use, it is a great hands on setting for dexterity, tracking, color concepts and language.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Rattle Rumble Push Toy
(Melissa & Doug $69.99 Score:)

One of the first weighted push toys we've seen in years. The wooden frame is smooth and finished in bright primary colors. Three see-though rollers turn as it is pushed forward. The primary colored balls and blocks inside rumble as they tumble. We can picture a toddler racing this from room to room delighting in the action and sound. This is a great choice for toddlers who like using their new found locomotion to make things happen. They also like holding on as they get used to walking on their own. You may need to tighten the screws on the side of this from time to time or at least heck them to be sure they are staying secure. We usually prefer hardware not to be exposed, but these are nicely encased, but we are simply suggesting you check them as the toy gets used. For beginning walkers.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
ELC Music Garden
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:)

Talk about making things happen, this is it! Touch the flowers and set off the music and lights and sounds. There is no right or wrong way to make this work. We really like the musical selections, not because they ar classic melodies, but the quality of the sound is excellent! That alone sets this toy apart from all too many of the so-called musical toys for tots. There are several modes of play to explore: the scale, animal sounds, silly ones and pure music. The tote handle will please toddlers who like carrying their favorite toys as they move from one room to another.  This does have a volume control and teaches kids about cause and effect as well as empowering them to make music.  6 months & up.

SNAP: For all the reasons above, this is a pleasing and interesting toy for learning about cause and effect and giveing children a sense of power, by making things happen. It has a lot of sensory play value.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Awards
Mega Bloks First Builders Build'n Learn Table
(Mega Bloks $44 Score:)

From toddlers to preschoolers, this 25-piece set will work flat on the floor or standing on stout legs. The surface has a roll around roadway for the vehicle and figure. Blocks can be stored under the four pieces of the tabletop that lift out. This has chunky pieces that are safe for toddlers and fit little hands. The figure is upsized as well for safe play. Set includes stickers that can be added. Marked 1-5.   Probably optimal use is 1-3.

SNAP: Big chunky pieces make this a useful first building set. As you play with your child, use the playing pieces for building dexterity as well as language and hands-on understanding of size and color concepts.Ideal for use on the floor or on tabletop. To adapt, you can velcro the flat table to a surface that is the right height for your child.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Blabla Luigi Frog
(blabla kids $48 Score:)

Soft and huggable, Luigi is a green frog with big eyes and a pencil thin curled mustachio. He wears long brown pants with suspenders and a white shirt. Every detail of this adorable frog is knitted. Like other dolls in the line it is also available in a 12-inch size. If you fancy a girl frog, consider Lilipop, in a paler shade of green ith ballet slippers and a pink yarn tutu.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Flying Super Grover 2.0
(Hasbro $32.99 Score:)

Hands down our favorite novelty doll of 2012. Grover playfully engages your child in his ability to fly like a super hero.  He comes with a bright red cape (hey, he's a super hero) and a big "G" on his chest.  The best part -- his arms move as you "fly" him up and down.  All the while Grover provides the narrative of him going up, up, up or down, down, down.  Truth be told, he doesn't always know which way he's going. Cute sound effects that propel him as he soars.  He has a sense of humor-- something we really appreciate.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Blabla Coral Mermaid
(blabla kids $42 Score:)

Soft and huggable, Coral, an 18"long mermaid is created with cotton yarn. Her multicolored braids are as bright as the coral reef and her tail has scalloped embroidery. An unusual huggable, she has no nose, but they did not forget her bellybutton.   Like other dolls in the line it is also available in a 12-inch size.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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