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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2008 Award
Acting Out Musical Waltz Dress
(Acting Out $40 Score:)

Like so many of their wonderful musical costumes, this charming tutu is done in layers of pink and blue tulle with shimmering sequins on the top of the stretchy top and edges of the gossamer skirt. Best of all it is motion activated. It will play the Beautiful Blue Danube waltz when your young ballerina begins to twirl. This company makes simpler tutus--just the skirt loaded with music from the Nutcracker or Swan Lake. They come in many sizes and colors. A dreamy gift for the sugar plum fairy in your life! 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Playskool Kota My Triceratops Dinosaur
(Hasbro $300 Score:)

The ultimate fantasy toy for the youngest dino-lover. This fabric covered huge, life size baby dino comes loaded with animatronics. No, it does not walk, but kids can sit on is back, hold onto the handle hiding behind its head and by touching one of 11 areas on its body make Kota moves its head, tail, and horn. 40” long this gentle monster makes some not-too-scary dino sounds. Kota, a plant-eater, “munches” when fed “leaves” and plays a little music as well as making jungle noises and laughing sounds. Looks like a gift that will not be forgotten—for better or worse. (Editor’s note: Don’t be upset if some children find Kota a little over the top scary, despite his smiling face and gentle sounds.) Maximum weight of child is 60 pounds.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Corolle Naima Calin
(Corolle $39.99 Score:)

We're always on the look out for dolls that reflect our diversity. Among the most adorable African American dolls is a huggable, soft-bodied 12-inch baby doll named Naima from their Calin collection. Her beanbag body makes her easy to pose. Dressed in a red and white cotton knit outfit with red headband, she is a bald headed baby with big brown eyes that open and close. She does not come with the usual extras such as a pacifier or bottle or toy that would be risky with toddlers who tend to mouth their toys. This one is an adorable armful for beginning pretend play.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Big Ben Bear
(Mary Meyer $9 Score:)

Big Ben is part of the new Bennett Bear family from Mary Meyer. Big Ben is available in a 12" and 15" size. There's also a Baby version (9"). The Bennett family is alone as our Bears of the Year. Most of the other entries weren't huggable enough for our testers. Still a huge hit with every child that visits our office- the over-sized, extremely cuddly Creamy Bear from Mary Meyer.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Miss Corolle Collection
(Corolle $54.95 Score:)

We are always delighted to find a multicultural collection of beautiful dolls and every one of these 14" girl dolls is adorable. The three Caucasian dolls are named for their hair and skin tones: Vanilla Blonde, Redhead and Brunette. Of the three, the redhead with freckles is the cutest. Our personal favorite is Coralie, a very pretty girl of color. Each are dressed in contemporary clothes and look like girls of today. They have soft bodies and long hair to style. They cannot sit independently without a pillow or something supporting their backs. That may be frustrating for some younger children. These are play dolls marked for girls from 3 & up. Frankly, we’d save these for a little later, say the 4’s and 5’s on your list.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Plan Toys Road and Rail Play Set Railway Station
(Plan Toys $169.99 Score:)

We have always been huge fans of wooden train sets. Last year's safety scare with many of the wooden trains had to understandably put a chill on this category. Which is why we were really excited when we first saw this new set at toy fair. The container is the railway station-- it opens up (your child will need some help here) and then you have an amazing play setting complete with track, trains, and station. Will work with other train tracks you may have from Thomas the Tank or Brio. A memorable holiday gift for any preschoolers.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Imaginext Spike the Ultra Dinosaur
(Fisher-Price $129.99 Score:)

This is the clearly the year of the dinosaur! Spike, a green remote control dino that really roars, lights up and moves (his neck also moves independently) is a leading part of this trend. Spike's controls are easy to learn. He's marked for kids 3-10. It really depends on your child- we had mixed reactions. He's not nearly as scary as Wowwee's dinos of the past, but not as warm and fuzzy as the larger Kota from Playskool. If you have a five or six year old in the "dino-zone" this will be a hit.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Gotz Aquini Drink and Wet Dolls
(International Playthings $30 Score:)

Finding an anatomically correct doll is not easy; finding one that can go in the tub is even harder. Select either the boy or girl 13" versions with painted features. Each comes with potty seat and bottle along with snap off and on romper and towel for drying off. New outfits are slightly different than photo. A perfect choice for the potty training set.  We were just informed that the BOY is being discontinued.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
American Girl Bitty Twins Multicultural Collection
(American Girl $95 Score:)

One of best collections of multicultural dolls ever. We are also thrilled that there are boy dolls (often very hard to find) included in this updated collection of twin dolls that include Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, Asian sets of twins. The attention to detail for these contemporary twins is nothing less than you would expect from American Girl. You can select your own twins on line- also very clever. New for this season, new clothes for the dolls and matching clothes for kids.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2008 Award
Eric Carle Brown Bear Floor Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $16 Score:)

A really over-sized (2' x 3') floor puzzle that features the animals in Eric Carle's classic book. The 24 jumbo pieces are pleasingly large and will be enjoyed by preschoolers after they have read the book. As you're working on the puzzle with your preschooler, you can enjoy making the sounds each animal makes. Other award winning puzzles in this line: Eric Carle 1,2,3 to the Zoo, Good Night Moon and Our World.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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