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Product Type: Toys
Award: SNAP
Review Year: 2012

 

 
2012 Awards
Chicco Baby Bunny Rattle
(Chicco $5 Score:)

A bright yellow rattle has an easy to grab hollow body and a head with two ribbon "ears." Turn it over and there's a small peek-a-boo unbreakable mirror. The ring shape body has ridges and chewy parts. Also from Chicco, a Baby Mouse rattle with a turning wheel and chewy tabs.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
Hape Gourmet Kitchen
(HaPe $129.99 Score:)

A classic piece of equipment for pretend play. This has no sounds except the ones your child will make. Beautifully finished in white, with licks of yellow and natural wood, this is not the usual gender specific pink and will be enjoyed by boys as well as girls. Crafted with round edges and smooth surfaces, this wooden kitchen has red dials that turn on the stove with two pretend burners, an oven, and frig underneath. We like the sink with turning faucets and a small take-out plastic tub that can actually hold water for sudsy play. There is a rack at the top for storing plates and utensils, however the plates, etc. do not come with the kitchen. You can buy Hape wooden accessories or stock up on sturdy plastic ones for soap and water fun. Unlike so many oversized kitchens, this will not take up most of a room. It is scaled down but ideal for 3 and up.

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

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2012 Awards
Huggalo Collection
(Huggalo $19.95 Score:)

Huggalos are soft huggable dolls with a dedicated place on their chest for placing a photo of someone special. There's Doodle Dude (made of canvas and intended to be written on), Camo Joe (done in green fleece camaflouge), Huggsley (our favorite - he comes with a cape and is clearly the super hero of the line), and Camo Flo (same idea as Camo Joe but done in pink).  We think this collection will have an audience with not only the preschool set--but tweens/teens.  The line has a sense of humor and whimsy to it that will likely have wide appeal.

SNAP: Having a photo of a family member can be a comfort take-along when going out into the world. This one is less young looking than most and a little more amusing.

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

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2012 Awards
Blabla Giant Pumpkin
(blabla kids $196 Score:)

Three feet tall and ready to listen, dance, and play pretend, Pumpkin is dressed in an adorable striped dress. She has rosy cheeks, and reddish hair. Oversized dolls like this one become more than decorations in a child's room. They often become the play companion of tea parties, storytime, and bedtime, too. Blabla makes a number of giant size dolls. This is the most humanoid of the group and a smaller version of the doll is also available.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Awards
North American Baby Long Legs Puppy
(North American Bear Co. $28 Score:)

These black and white puppies, an 18-inch or 8-inch squeaker will grab the attention of newborns and continue to please for a long time ahead. Like the other Baby Long Legs from the same maker, these dolls are a lovely combination of knit and plush. The big one is totally on the mark for toddlers who like a big but light enough huggable to drag about. The photo of this soft cuddly doll with long legs and arms and floppy ears does not really convey just how cute it is. The legs are not rigid or wired, but soft and easy for little ones to grasp. The features are stitched and baby safe. There is also a grey elephant version as well as a pink mouse and a pink or blue bunny. Also adorable, Baby Long Legs Squeakers, Puppies, Bunnies, Elephants and Pink Mouse ($12.99 each) 8-inch miniatures of the bigger dolls that are good for tracking games and will be easy for baby to clutch and carry. Baby safe and machine washable.   All ages.

SNAP: We suggest the Baby Long Legs Squeaker from this collection. Use the small high contrast black and white pup for tracking games. It is eye catching and the squeaker inside will attract baby's listening as well as visual attention. Soft,safe and totally cleanable for infants and toddlers.

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

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2012 Awards
Wimmer-Ferguson Learn and Play Ball
(Manhattan Toy $20 Score:)

Amazing play value has been rolled into one fabric ball. For newborns, the high contrast images printed on the fabric ball will be interesting to gaze at. They have used faces, targets, and patterns that will attract the visual attention of infants. The panels of the ball are piped with bright satin with lots of colorful ribbon taggies. Give it a shake to hear the jingling bell. This is one of those wonderful fabric toys that plays to all the senses and invites you to play early socializing games with your sitting up baby. A terrific gift for a baby shower or first visits.  Marked for 6 months but this will be good as visual stimulation long before baby can reach out and touch.

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

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2012 Awards
Tranquil Turtle
(Cloud B $44.99 Score:)

Our parent tester aptly described this electronic turtle as a night light with spa music. It is a purple fabric turtle with a light in the clear plastic shell. Put it on a cabinet in baby's room and the wave-like light will reflect on the ceiling while two tunes of quiet spa music play. It will turn off automatically after 23 minutes. This does not go in the crib. Newborn and up.

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

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2012 Awards
Fisher Price Kid Tough Apptivity Case
(Fisher-Price $15 Score:)

If you are handing your iphone or ipod touch to your child you may want to seriously consider the Fisher Price case that protects the screen against drips and sticky hands. It has a sturdy shell that should cushion a fall, but the company does not make that claim. There is a hole for the camera and you can download free learning apps. This is available in blue or pink. We are not recommending that preschool apps are a great learning tool or that time spent playing with the small screen is time well spent. We have serious concerns and recognize that small children learn best by interacting with people and real things. But, recognizing that this is one of many ways children try on the world, we are simply suggesting this as a way of protecting your equipment.

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

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2012 Awards
Roll & Play
(Thinkfun $19.99 Score:)

Designed as a first game, this is likely to be a hit with your older toddler. It comes with a big fabric cube with different color on each face. Toss the cube and then pick a card that matches. Take turns with your toddler doing what the card shows. The cards have words and actions such as wave bye-bye, count your fingers, moo like a cow, etc. Learning to take turns and matching the colors of cards and cube all provide active playing and interacting. This is as much about playing together and having your attention as it is about the actions involved. Roll & Play is a cleverly designed toy for developing color concepts as well as other early language and pre-reading skills. Most of the actions will need modeling, but that will be part of the fun, especially if you ham it up. They say 18 months and up.  We think this is a better bet for twos and up, but a clever idea for 2 or more players.

SNAP: Introduce the cards before you play. Read through them and practice what they say to do. You might want to introduce just one of each color for the first game or two and add another set of six the next time you play. There are 48 cards, so this will be a game you can build on gradually. The cards are well designed so that no real reading is needed once they get the idea of what the card is showing. The color cube can also be used for other games. New for 2014, is Move & Groove, intended as your child's first dance game. It comes with the same cube and cards that you follow along. Our problem with this version is that "Walk Like an Egyptian" or "Sleepwalk" or "Snap Your Fingers" or "Turn to the Right" are concepts way beyond 18 month olds.  While we think older preschoolers will like this game, we find the age too low.

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

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2012 Awards
Fisher Price, Thomas The Train: Steam 'n Speed R/C Thomas
(Fisher-Price $44.99 Score:)

Imagine a train engine that sends up blue steam! Really! Kids control the motion with a child-friendly radio controller that lets them activate the steam and send Thomas rolling backwards or forward. Thomas also chugs and whistles and says a few phrases. The steam is created with cold water - like a cold-water vaporizer; so there is no danger. It needs 4 AA batteries to run.  2 & up.

SNAP: As remote vehicles go, this is less complex than most. Yet, there is a sense of power to be gained as children gradually come to master and recall the buttons to push that make this little engine go. The magic of the blue smoke make this a toy that will wow a wider age range of players...probably even the  grown ups in the room.

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

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