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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2008 Award
Crayola Digital Camcorder
(Sakar $59.99 Score:)

This little camcorder is pretty remarkable for what it is. It has a built-in microphone and includes a 1.5"preview screen, a memory expansion slot and comes with a lot of engaging activity centers that kids will love exploring: a story maker, puppet show, jig-saw puzzles and photo editing center. The hardware is compatible on a MAC -- BUT the included software can only be used on PC - a definite drawback for MAC users. Kids can record their show and see them on the TV screen. For the youngest video maker, this is a magical tool that will save wear and tear on your regular equipment.

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

Age: Early School Years, Later 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
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
Playmobil Circus Collection
(Playmobil $15 Score:)

When we first saw this amazing set at Toy Fair, we both scribbled in our notebooks looks great! When the toy went out to our testers the response was as we suspected: "Easy to follow instructions and attention to detail that is astounding" "Loved the flickering lights in the tent. Love the high wire!" If you're already a Playmobil fan, you know that these make great parent child projects. There are lots of pieces so adult assistance is a must but then your child will enjoy hours of pretend play. The backdrop to this collection is of course the Big Top that comes with a red and white tent, seating, and of course the ring leader. You can then add additional sets including the band (that has sound effects in their platform), the animal trailer, the horse circus act, animal trainer, tightrope artists, and dog circus act. Really very special! The additional sets make perfect presents for aunts and uncles.

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

Age: 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
EyeClops Bionic Eye Multizoom
(Jakks Pacific $44.99 Score:)

We originally raved about the original EyeClops that allows you to blow up images that you can view on your television screen. Ever look at your carpet or your skin up close? Really gross and cool -- all at the same time. This year they improved the product by making the magnification even better (you can set it at 1o0, 200 or 400X). You can move around with it rather than having to be tethered to your tv. One of the best hands-on science toys we've ever seen for the home market.

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

Age: Early School Years, Later 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
Fun Fly Stick Magic Levitation Wand
(Unitech Toys $26.95 Score:)

Want to see kids up and moving? Here's a fun novelty toy that seems to work by magic. In fact the magic is electrostatic! Remember how you used to make a balloon float after rubbing it with your hair…or how you gave your little sister a shock by dragging your feet on the carpet? Same idea…only more fun! Press the button on the magic wand, toss one of the three flying toys up, touch it once with the wand and get ready for magic! Your wand will keep the silvery iridescent toy levitating as you chase it around the room. A word of caution, this is not to be used within 3 feet of any electronic devices such as a computer or TV. Therefore, this is a toy that will need supervision…and please, let the kids play with it.

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

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

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2008 Award
Double Shutter
(Blue Orange Games $18 Score:)

This is a variation on the old Shut the Box addition game, but instead of one row of numbers to add and flip down, this game has two sets of tiles to flip down. The advanced game comes with numerals from one to nine in a handsome red tin with a curved front where the dice are thrown. Match them or add them. Your object is to be the player with the lowest score at the end of your round. 10-20 minutes a round. Good for 8 to adult. For younger players, consider Double Shutter Jr. with numerals from 1-6. Again, there is a double set of tiles.

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

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

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