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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 

 
2015 Awards
Fisher Price Hippo
(Fisher-Price $14.99 Score:)

There are extras for the Little People's Big Animal Zoo. Our testers like the Hippo with snorting sounds and moving mouth. Too bad more of them do not come with the zoo! Also see the tall giraffe with a neck that bends and makes a funny sound plus a zoo keeper with food. Wait! You say a giraffe doesn't make sounds? You are right. When this giraffe is loaded with batteries what you hear are a giraffe making drinking sounds. Marked 1-5, we think this is a better choice for 2-4.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Fisher Price Little People Big Animal Zoo
(Fisher-Price $39.90 Score:)

A new zoo setting with a big elephant that trumpets when you pull its tail, has a tiny mouse on its back and a trunk that moves and makes music. The setting itself has a swing and slide for the monkey and a teeter totter in the treetops. There are balls that can be used as a run and it comes with two Little People, and a zookeeper. This is a large plastic setting for pretend play. Our test family has three under the age of 5 and they reportedly go back to this toy daily. They especially like making the elephant do its tricks and they like the extra animals as much as the big setting. Unlike earlier Little People zoo, farm, and house settings, the structure here is minimalistic, though it has some mechanical novelty. The elephant is the star here. See the noise making Giraffe and the Hippo, each sold separately. Marked 1-5 years; we think 2-4 is more on the mark.

SNAP: A fun setting for making things happen. Learning how to activate the various parts of the action will be rewarding while honing fine motor skills. Also a good choice for action words, knowing and naming animals and pretend play.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Fisher-Price Bright Beats Smart Touch Play Space
(Fisher-Price $60 Score:)

Designed for infants and toddlers, this touch-sensitive light bar responds with music, lights, and songs. Talk about making things happen, the play space also includes a ball run, a spinner, and roller ball that provide lots of lessons in cause and effect. As baby grows from sitting to standing to toddling, the play space also has age appropriate games that invite exploration. We could have done without the alphabet and counting games for toddlers who are barely talking. That said, we know babies are going to like the making-things-happen aspect of this toy.  This was tested with a range of ages and as we expected, it did well with older toddlers. One of our families felt that the toy did not always respond to the touch which made it less than smart - but they still enjoyed the toy. Another tester with a 22-month old tester tried using it for a climbing toy. She was beyond the game play of the toy as it was designed.  Marked for 6-36 months; we think the truth is between that time; more like 6-18 months.

 

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Janod Circus Puzzle
(Janod $19.99 Score:)

A big top wooden circus puzzle board with six pegged pieces for easy gripping. It is just the right scale for puzzle beginners. Lift out the monkey, the blue elephant, a seal with a ball on its nose, a tiger, a girl on the flying trapeze and the ringmaster. There is a lot to talk about here; the colors, the names of the puzzle pieces, the one on the top, the one in the middle, the one with the ball. It's easy to see how you can stretch language as you work on this together. Beginners will need patience and help in turning the pieces to fit and that is part of the challenge for getting little hands and eyes to work together. All in all a nice choice, especially after a trip to the circus. Marked 18 months and up, but more like a 2 year old toy.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Sassy Zoomin' Zoo Train Set
(Sassy $29.99 Score:)

We liked the simplicity and play-ability of this little plastic train. An engine and two flatcars can be joined together and tots can load and unload the colorful blocks that can be stacked on the cars. The sensory blocks have rattle sounds that will interest young players. Each block comes with a small tray to hold the blocks and holds it in place. Of course, putting the small tray in place calls for more dexterity and maybe some help for the first however many times. 

SNAP: A good choice for encouaging eye-hand skills and dexterity along with dramatic play.Use color words as you handle the blocks to reinforce language and concepts. Use them for stacking and a singing game to the tune of Skip to My Lou:

"Mommy found the yellow block, the yellow block, the yellow block, Mommy found the yellow block...now let's find the blue."

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
North American Bear Sleepyhead Jumbo Cozy Set Blue or Pink
(North American Bear Co. $25 Score:)

An unstuffed 15" snuggle bunny plus a smaller baby bunny that has a crinkle sound when touched; both in velvety soft velour complete with stitched eyes and stripe jersey knit stocking cap. The oversized big cozy bunny can be embroidered with baby's name on the floppy long ears or flat body. Available in pink or baby blue with safe all-stitched features and ears that are white on one side. A likely lovable kids will grow attached to as that special comfort huggable. 

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
Step 2 Wonder Ball Fun House
(Step 2 $149.99 Score:)

Toddlers love settings that are built to their scale. Step 2's new Wonder House comes with a red half door to enter the small playspace. What's unique about this house is the ball drop design. The game play is to toss the balls onto the green roof of the house. They then trickle down the upright tubes on the corners and then down into the base.  We wish it went together with greater ease (the holes for the screws are not pre-punched so you really need a drill to do this properly).  Our families also commented that this is small and scale so better for smaller toddlers and preschoolers.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
North American Bear Unicorn 11
(North American Bear Co. $25 Score:)

All done up with a bright pink body, red hooves, a big twisted orange unicorn, a multicolored mane, and ears lined with yellow this Sleepy Unicorn 11 is one of a series of huggables with a very long flat tail that will surely appeal as a cozy to hold on the way to dreamland. The overstuffed body is soft to the touch and light to carry, yet makes a perfect armful for older toddlers who like dolls that fill up their arms. There is a smaller five and a half variation of this doll, but we preferred the larger doll of this pair. 2 & up

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Manhattan Toy Groovy Boy Asher
(Manhattan Toy $15 Score:)

We are always on the lookout for boy dolls and this a great example. Asher is wearing khaki shorts and a blue and white striped shirt with a skull and bones. He has brownish yarn hair and his clothes are removable. With stitch features, he's totally safe for younger players.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Awards
Manhattan Toy Baby Stella Sweet Sounds Doll
(Manhattan Toy $45 Score:)

All soft and huggable, Baby Stella makes a great first doll. This is a new twist with some relatively quiet sounds. We think you do not need a talking doll for toddlers, but this one doesn’t talk much. Squeeze her hand and she simply says Mama or giggles; or put her pacifier near her mouth and she makes a sucking sound. This year's Sweet Sounds Doll comes in a polka dotted pale pink and green dress and her pacifier matches. With stitched features and a tuft of brown fabric hair, she is just the tight size armful for toddlers. 12 months and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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