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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 

 
2007 Awards
Magneatos Intermediate
(Guidecraft $15 Score:) This year we heard tragic news about toddlers who swallowed the small round magnets from sets designed for older children. If you have mixed aged children, this kind of toy will need super supervision! The good news is that there are larger rod and magnet sets designed for younger kids who still mouth their toys. Last year’s Jumbo Magneatos (Guidecraft $30 & up 5) are still a great choice for younger children because they are oversized primary-colored plastic rods and balls, safe and easy to manipulate. Comes in 36 ($30), 72 ($50), or 144 pieces ($100). 2 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’06. New for 2007, Magneatos Intermediate PLATINUM AWARD (Guidecraft $15–$100 5). Smaller in scale than the jumbo set, these colorful magnetic rods and balls can be mixed with the Jumbos and are the right size for kids from 4–7. They are big and chunky compared to sets for older kids, but the short rods do fit in a choke tube and are not appropriate for kids who still mouth their toys. An open-ended building toy that develops dexterity and problem solving skills. 4–7. (800) 524-3555. Also worth a look, Magtastik (Mega Bloks $29.99 4)—oversized magnetic balls and rods that are less pricey than Jumbo Magneatos, but set includes some smaller pieces that fit in a choke tube. Not for kids under 3 or those who still mouth their toys. (800) 524-3555.

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

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2007 Awards
Superstructs Big Builder
(Waba Fun $35.95 Score:) Looks a lot like your old Tinkertoys, but brighter. Made of bright-colored plastic rods and connectors, this is an open-ended building set. Comes with directions for making many kinds of vehicles, but allows for kids’ original creations, as well. The Big Builder set has 126 pieces; or consider the 230-piece set. (303) 926-0848.

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

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200 Award
Counting Bugs Dominoes
(Mudpuppy Press $14 Score:) 28 jumbo reversible dominoes with bug pictures on one side and dots on the back

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 200.

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2007 Award
The Very Books Block Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $13 Score:) Nine cubes can be turned to create six different images from several beloved Eric Carle books such as The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, The Very Lonely Firefly, and others. These images are painterly. Also noteworthy and PLATINUM AWARD-winning in Carle’s exuberant style, 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo Great Big Puzzle ($15 5). A 24" x 36" floor puzzle with 24 big pieces. Carle’s picture book animals are on their way to the zoo by train. Count the creatures from 1 to 10 and don’t forget to find the mouse that is hiding on every train car. 3 & up. Still top rated in this line, Our World ($15 4), an oversized 24-piece floor puzzle (24" x 36") with each of the continents, is illustrated with animals, people, and landmarks. Mudpuppy’s storybook puzzles are objects of beauty, celebrating the best in picture book art! They say 3; we’d say more like 4 & up. (800) 670-7441.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
Where's My Tail
(Infantino $12.99 Score:) Twenty-two-piece puzzles that develop matching skills as well as language. Front and back ends of 20 animals to fit together. 3 & up. Still top rated, Alphabet Boat Puzzle ($12.99 4): each boat has a letter in upper- and lowercase painted on the side and an object that starts with the sound of the letter; and I Spy My House Puzzle ($12.99 4), with objects in the frame to “spy” in the puzzle. This is more challenging. (800) 840-4916.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Jungle Toss Bean Bag Game
(Alex $23.99 Score:) Our three- and five-year-old testers like this so much their mom had to put it against a wall so they wouldn’t break anything. It’s great for getting little ones up and moving. Throw the five bean bags to get them into the lion’s, hippo’s, or gator’s mouth and score your shots. A little math, a lot of motion! (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
Dive, Dodge 'n Slide Bouncer
(Little Tikes $299 Score:) The neighborhood that tested this 16' x 7' x 7' bouncer raved. It requires lots of space but delivers a great deal of play value. “Larger kids were able to enjoy it too,” “easy to blow up with built in pump.” Kids have to make their way through the obstacle course and then down one of two red slides. As with any inflatable toy, lots of parental supervision is a must. There are larger inflatables in this line (notably a rock wall that looks like fun, but we are concerned about smaller children climbing and potentially falling awkwardly). Still top rated, last year’s Jump ’n Slide ($200 41⁄2). 3 & up. (800) 321-0183.

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

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SparkArt Creativity System
(Fisher-Price $99.99 Score:) Imagine an easel that tells you what to do! Its so-called “magical technology” “gets kids’ creative juices going with audio prompts, inspiring them to use colors, sounds, objects, and the alphabet.” In other words, it tells your child what to draw. Where’s the creativity in following audio prompts? While the technology may be amazing (it has over 600 word combinations and sound effects), we don’t believe that kids should be standing at an easel waiting for instructions. From a developmental point of view, we want kids to be able to explore their own imagination and make their own sounds. Was not ready for testing, but the concept is misguided. 3 & up. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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Dance Along MP3
(Playskool $14.99 Score:) The LCD screen on this machine looks crude with only black graphics. Comes loaded with 100 songs to “download,” making their own play lists but the music quality is very tinny and unpleasant. (800) 327-8267.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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Star Station On-the-Go Player
(Fisher-Price $19.99 Score:) Player comes equipped with headphones and cartridge with three Kidz Bop songs (not our favorite, but we know they’re popular). Here’s the problem: the on/off dial is also the volume control. If you go the wrong way you can really get blasted. The top volume level is just way too loud. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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