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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers
Categories: Pretend Play

 

 
2007 Awards
Hokey Pokey Musical Skirt
(Acting Out $32 Score:)

Following the success of last year’s Platinum winning Swan Lake Musical Dress ($32 5) and Nutcracker Sugar Plum Musical Skirt ($26 5) that gave little ballerinas an orchestra they could activate as they danced, this season dancers can turn themselves around as they do the Hokey Pokey in a polka-dotted skirt with motion-activated music. All make magical gifts to stir active imaginative performances. 3 & up. (877) 727-0222.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Awards
Cooking Essentials
(Step 2 $17.99 Score:) A handsome 7-piece set of enameled blue pans includes a large and small saucepan with lids and a sauté pan with wooden handle plus two pot holders. Their stainless steel set ($24.99 3) with tea kettle, colander, sauce pots, sauté pan, and pot holders would have been a top winner but for the tea kettle’s handle, which is roughly finished. We pass on the bake set ($17.99 3) because the measuring cup, marked as a cup, is short of a true cup. It seems silly to be inaccurate. 3 & up. (800) 347-8372. 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: 2007.

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2007 Award
Tin Tea Set
(Alex $24.99 Score:)

The problem with so many tea sets is that they are too delicate for preschoolers. In fact by law those beautiful porcelain sets must be marked 8 & up. Yet it's really the preschool crowd that loves a tea party! So here's a great (and safe) alternative. Done in pinks and greens with a splash of yellow, this set is all tin. Comes with 16 pieces including the tea pot, four cups, plates and a tray (for proper serving!). Better yet, the whole set comes in an attractive case (with a sturdy handle) for on the go tea parties.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Grand Walk In Kitchen
(Step 2 $259.99 Score:) This kitchen is so big it can double as a playhouse for several kids together. There’s a place to cook, wash dishes, sit down for a snack-whatever! It has “granite” countertops, a sink with swivel faucet and push buttons, “stainless steel” appliances, a phone, and a huge accessory set. It has a “hardwood” floor, just like the most up to date luxury kitchens. Throw a sheet over the top and it will be a tent. Editor's Note: Please note that this toy comes with lots of small plastic food. While it may stick out of a choke tube, many of the pieces are still very small. We recommend putting most of the food away if your child is under three or if your child still mouths his toys. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl
(Small Miracles $29.99 Score:) Perhaps it's our own bias, but we were delighted that Small Miracle remembered that girls often like to dress up as pirates too! Their new Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl costume comes with a Jolly Roger head wrap (braids included), vest, sewn-on belt and buckle, and a skirt. They also have Pirate costumes for boys. Also special their Pirate's Treasure Kit ($29) that comes with 23 pieces, designed for two players, including two pirate's vests, eye-patches, pirate coins, and a treasure map.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Woodland Adventures Pirate Ship
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) A handsome pirate ship that makes a perfect centerpiece for a pirate themed party and a great birthday gift! The ship is 29"l x 22.5"h with a painted black hull, red and white sails (complete with crossbones and skull), and comes with five pirates. Our testers loved the secret aft door, the ship's wheel, crow's nest and other small details such as a treasure chest, cannon, lantern and flags. "Looks like it came from an expensive specialty store" wrote one tester.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2008 Award
Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage
(Step 2 $79.99 Score:) There is great competition this year in wooden castles. It's rare to see a mass-market toy maker compete to the same level as a specialty supplier, but that's exactly what's happening this year. Step 2's Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage is equal in every way to Ryan’s Room Majestic Castle & Mighty Knights PLATINUM AWARD 2007 ($100), a truly majestic wooden castle, 20" ✕ 20". Both have working drawbridges and towers, and come with knights ready to defend their kingdom. You can’t go wrong with either. 4 & up. Also noteworthy: Tower of Doom (Step 2 $99.99) This painted grey castle is 45" tall and has several levels and hideouts. Has a working drawbridge, secret magnetic castle door, dungeon gate. Comes with three-piece set of monsters (we could have done without) which you may want to replace. This one looks older, more sinister than either of the two above and would be enjoyed by 5–8 year olds. Not to be left out, there is the Woodland Adventures Pink Princess Palace (Step 2 $79.90), a very pink palace that is home to a Princess, Fairy Godmother, King, Prince, and Queen. A perfect setting for Cinderella's ball, Rapunzel's rescue, and other such events. Two pink towers with fabric flags, this is almost 30" tall with many walkways and gates. Our testers loved it but their parents suggested that you keep the instructions on how to put it back together nearby! The company has signed verification forms that these products contain no lead or phthalates.

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

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2008 Award
Ryan's Room Home Sweet Home Dollhouse
(Small World Toys $139 Score:)

Painted pink with yellow trim, this three-stories-high house has two staircases and lots of room for pretend play. It has a more traditional look of a colonial house with shutters and front door. Access is only from the rear. It comes furnished with bedroom, kitchen and bathroom furniture. For a less expensive house on a smaller scale, testers liked the A-frame Ryan's Room Home Again, Home Again that comes without furniture.  Also special, a three story unfurnished dollhouse Home Is Where the Heart Is ($130) that is opened front, back and from the top for easy side by side play by several children.  This company makes multicultural families and interesting furniture collections, including Livin'It Up ($15), a 9-piece set with chairs, lamp, and a flatscreen TV, of course. Also an unusual, the Fluff'n'Fold Laundry Room.

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

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2009 Awards
Kid Galaxy My First RC Dinos
(Kid Galaxy $23 Score:)

If you have a preschooler who has caught the dino bug, these small remote dinos will be a hit. New this year, is a very friendly Brontosaurus.  He joins last year's award winning T REX and the Triceratops-- all are easy to control (both with one button). They're friendly, not scary. A great first remote control vehicle for the three and up crowd.

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: 2009. 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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