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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 

 
2008 Awards
Playskool Gator Golf
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

Use the stout putting “iron” to get the golf ball into the gator’s mouth and surprise! it will pop out and right back to you. Four points and you win! A fun active toy for indoors or out! Unlike the original game, this one has a spring action so no batteries are required to make the gator send the ball back. Marked 3 & up but bound to be used by anyone who wants the fun of making the gator pop! The company has not signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008.

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Step 2 Fun Flow Sink
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) The first review we got on this product was glowing! Our 2 and 3 year old testers loved the pump feature and pleasure of turning the water on and off. Our parent noted that the funnels and cups that came with the sink were just the right size for the kids to use and enjoy. The reservations at first were about the fact that the sink did not have a drain hole- making cleaning the sink a bit complicated. The assembly of the housing around the pump and batteries got low marks from this parent as well (an architect) but her child loved the table so much that she was willing to forgive the design flaws. A week later, we got a follow up review which told a very different story. The on-off button on the pump jammed after after a few days and the water leaks between the layers-- her concern is possible mildew. So as much as we think the concept of the toy is fantastic, it does need some tweaking to be a full fledged winner. 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: .

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2008 Award
Pottery Barn Kids Jumbo Inflatable Bowling Ball and Pins
(Pottery Barn Kids $89 Score:) When we first heard about these super-sized bowling pins we wondered if they would really go over when hit with the really large bowling ball - oddly enough a common problem with toy bowling sets. You probably don't worry about that as an issue--but it is one of our pet peeves--along with boats that don't float. The good news here is that they do go over when hit. The pins are 42" high and the ball is 25" in diameter. Note: each set comes only with three pins. The "big" size is really fun for preschoolers who will enjoy moving them about!

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

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2008 Awards
Little Tikes 6 in 1 Town Center Playhouse
(Little Tikes $399.99 Score:)

One of our preschool testers thought this was absolutely perfect-- they had thought of everything but a porta potty! (His dad's an architect). What's really innovative about this playcenter is that it literally opens all the way up to reveal many different pretend settings. There is a cafe (with a chalkboard for specials, a bistro table, two chairs, and a sink), a gas station (here you can make the price as low as you want!), a town center with a retail store, and a sports center (complete with a basketball hoop, soccer net, and a place for toss games. Center is wheelchair accessible. Note: The only negative we heard back on this product is that it took over two hours to put together. If you're not particularly handy- this may be a problem. As with all of these plastic playsets, we pass on the recommendation we received years ago from Little Tikes to use liquid soap. It sometimes makes the pieces go together faster!

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

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2008 Awards
Step2 50s Diner
(Step 2 $149.99 Score:)

Kudos to Step2 for coming up with a really fun, gender-free play setting. Our preschool and toddler siblings enjoyed playing diner (the older sister was running the place, of course!). On one side you have all the kitchen equipment of a traditional toy kitchen (sink, frig and oven) with the bonus of a grill top! The other side has a place for two customers to sit at the “booth”, complete with tabletop jukebox that plays a few tunes from the era, and a bell when you need service (our testers thought the bell could be louder). Diner also comes with coffee pot, dishes, silverware, and play food (our testers were big fans of the ice cream cones).

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

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2009 Award
Acting Out Musical Can Can Skirt
(Acting Out $37 Score:)

The latest in the line of play skirts that have motion activated music. The black and white shirt with black and pink ruffles is very grown up. Your child will most likely love the skirt and the can-can music. Be forewarned, if you have a headache, this is not the skirt for small spaces! We can't stop activating the music in our office--and now we keep singing the song too! Just like being at the Folies Bergère! Ooo,la la!

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
LeapFrog Tag Reading System
(LeapFrog $49.99 Score:)

Touch the pages of the Tag books with a chunky pen shaped infrared sensor. It reads the words, letters, numbers, and even sings! Unlike so many so-called reading systems, this one has real books such as Olivia, Chicka, Chicka Boom, Boom, I Spy, Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, and The Little Engine That Could among others in the library of choices. There are activity books as well as some popular licensed characters. We're hoping they will add even more real books to the list. A fun tool that beginning readers can use independently, the way you probably listened to recordings. Only Tag improves on that. It's not just listening, kids are actually seeing the words, moving the sensor from left to right and turning the pages from front to back. In other words it reinforces how a book "works" in a child friendly and playful way. Parents will need to download the audio onto the sensor from their MAC or PC. The toy comes loaded with just one program, but there are 16 titles available to add on. ($13.99 each)  4-8.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ADAPTATION: The chunky sensor will be easier than most to grasp. If it needs to be futher adapted, a glove with velcro in the mitt and a strip of velcro on the sensor may do the trick. Unlike simply reading along with a recording, this learning tool enables beginning readers to follow along and get the sense of how the text moves from left to right. It encourages readers to learn the mechanics of how a book works from front to back, from left page to right. Add to this the fun of exploring the pages and art to make things happen and this goes a few steps beyond any other read aloud story system with real books!

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

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2009 Award
Disney Pix Jr Digital Camera
(Disney $59.99 Score:)

Testers loved being able to add Disney characters to the photos they can take with this easy to use digital camera with all sorts of special effects. A great way to give you beginners hands on without getting their hands on your camera! This 1.3 Megapixel kid-friendly camera has easy-to-grab rubber grips, icon-labeled function buttons (no reading required), and a large display screen for easy viewing! Thanks to the memory (32MB), the kids can click rapidly. They only need two seconds between pictures! It has 1.3 Megapixel Resolution, holds up to 150 photos, USB enabled, built-in Auto Flash, 1.5" Color LCD Screen, long battery life - up to 15 hours of continuous use (requires 4 AA batteries - not included.) WARNING: Not compatible with a MAC. They say 3 & up - we'd say 4-7's would be more like it.

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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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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