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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2007 Award
Thomas and Friends Load and Sort Recycling Center / Echo Tunnel /Sodor Fire Sta
(RC2/Learning Curve $49.99 Score:) Three pieces of cargo slide through the Recycling Center ($49.99 5) and magically drop down the can, paper, or glass chutes and onto a waiting truck. Clever use of technology with a built-in message! Also great fun, Echo Tunnel ($49.99 5). Our tester loved speaking into the tunnel and hearing his own words echo back! There are also a train whistle and rackety track sounds that echo as trains run through the small tunnel that fits into any track set-up. One parent noted: “The ability to record one’s voice is so much fun for this age.” Also wonderful, Sights & Sounds Deluxe Fire Station ($69.99 5). An alarm activates lights and sounds of the fire crew with their fire truck and fire train. Switches above the doorways turn on lights and sounds, and open the double doors. 3 & up. (800) 704-8697.

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

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2007 Award
Brio Double Suspension Bridge
(KNEX $25 Score:) This is the longest bridge in the line—three and a half feet long! Can also be used side by side for two-way traffic. Our tester liked the Stop & Go Station ($16.50 ); with a simple push button the train is locked into the station and then released to go. (800) 822-5639.

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

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2007 Award
Airport Action
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:) One of the most satisfying Duplo sets of the year (no matter how old you are). Your preschooler will need a lot of help putting this set together but he will love playing with it! Comes with a plane, airport with tower, and ground crew! Still top rated, last year’s PLATINUM AWARD-winning Fire Station ($29.99 5), which can be built as a tower or horizontally. Past winners include: The Big Farm Set, Bob the Builder, and Dora the Explorer sets. We also highly recommend a big bucket ($19.95) for open-ended creations. 3 & up. (800) 233-8756.

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

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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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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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2007 Award
American Girl Emily
(American Girl $87 Score:) In the American Girl collection of dolls, each comes with a book that introduces girls to a bit of history through stories. Emily is in fact not an American girl, but an English girl, an auburn-haired beauty evacuated during WWII from London, to live with Molly and her family. Still top rated, any number of historic dolls from various times in our history. Last year’s winner was also an English girl, Elizabeth, from a prominent Loyalist family (and best friend of well-known Felicity). She’s 18" tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. PLATINUM AWARD 06. Still top rated, Nellie O’Malley (Samantha’s best friend). PLATINUM AWARD ’05. 7 & up. (800) 845-0005.

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

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2007 Award
Tiptoes Touche Mediterranean Madge
(Manhattan Toy $19.99 Score:) The latest in one of our favorite lines of plush—they’re fun and funky, and come with plenty of attitude. You can select Madge the pig in her new polka dot bikini or her pink boa, or Gladys the cow with hot pink shoes. (800) 541-1345.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Elephant
(Folkmanis $36 Score:) An oversized floppy-eared grey elephant with a clever two-ring mechanism that raises and lowers the trunk, this full-bodied puppet is sure to take over the show! On a more domestic scale, there is also an adorable 13" brown Tabby Cat ($22 4), the favorite of one of our toddler testers! Still charming, a 30" honey-colored Golden Retriever ($60 4). (800) 654-8922.

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

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2007 Award
Mag XL Magformers
(Rainbow Products $16.99 Score:) Here’s the newest fun in magnetic toys! Choose a set of either 14 or 30 geometric squares and triangles that can be set down on a flat surface. Give them a lift and—abracadabra—you have a 3-D ball that clicks together! Kids will have fun exploring the countless ways to invent new connections and constructions. Safe enough to leave out on the coffee table with no small magnets to worry over. This will entice grownups as well as kids. 5 & up. (541) 826-9007.

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

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