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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2008 Award
Arnold the Snoring Pig
(Gund $30 Score:) Pure novelty! Arnold is a cuddly pink plush pig that snores and moves its ear, mouth, and body when you press its hoof. It’s hard not to smile. Your preschooler will enjoy Arnold--you will too!

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

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2008 Award
Grover
(Gund $70 Score:) Close to three feet tall, this 30" full body puppet has an easy-to-activate mouth and openings in the hands so Grover can gesture and talk, with a little help from a friend. Big and cuddly, this will do double duty as a huggable and puppet. Elmo, Ernie, and Cookie Monster are also available. Pricey but special for puppet lovers.

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

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2008 Award
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Butterfly
(Kids Preferred $15 Score:) Bring the magic of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar to life with a plush 11" green caterpillar, a multi-colored hand puppet butterfly, or a caterpillar plush puppet. This is a well-executed collection of plush and puppets that are true to the spirit of Carle's work. Makes an ideal present with the book!

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

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2008 Award
Diggity Dog
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:) Players must listen to the number of times the big electronic dog barks and then move their little dog that many spaces. When you land on that space, your magnetized dog picks up a bone. If it matches your dog, you keep the bone in your dog house. Winner is the one with the most bones, of course. A game of chance with listening and simple counting. 3 & up. 2–4 players. 4 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Once Upon a Time Matching Game
(eeBoo $12.95 Score:) The matching cards are all fairy-tale related but not tied to a license (a plus to our testing family). The cards "are substantial" and will hold up to more wear and tear. I Never Forget A Face Memory Game ($12.95)—same idea (less pink). Our almost-five-year-old tester proclaimed, "this is the best memory game ever" (after he repeatedly beat his grandmother). Our testers were split on the new Tea Party Game ($15). One family loved the big playing pieces and the tablecloth that add to the pretend part of this simple luck-of-the draw game. Another family preferred the game play of the Once Upon a Time game above. Graphics are beautiful. For a less pink version, the Picnic Game ($15) uses the same idea with a few ants thrown into the mix!

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

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2008 Award
Groovy Girls Poseable Dolls
(Manhattan Toy $15.95 Score:) This continues to be a BLUE CHIP collection of soft 13" multi-ethnic dolls with stitched features, yarn hair, and groovy clothes. The big addition this year is a collection of dolls with bendable limbs. Happily, there is a boy doll in this line. Still the superlative gift, consider a Supersized Groovy Girl ($50), a 40" child-sized fabric doll that’s like a pretend play pal.

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

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2008 Award
Mars Mission
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) "This is so different" was the consensus of our builders. The command base includes three different tubes for the figures (both mining specialists and glow-in-the-dark aliens) to travel through (an air pump propels the characters). While we usually don't recommend toys with projectiles, these are very soft rockets for shooting at the alien craft. Set also comes with its own space shuttle that would get high marks on its own. This is the type of set that has lots of play possibilities once the building is done. For underwater adventure our testers enjoyed building Aqua Raiders Aquabase Invasion ($69.99/840 pieces) complete with giant squid!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
American Girls Julie and Ivy
(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. Julie is a nine-year-old of the '70s, meaning she is caught up in the women’s rights movement, Title IX, the Bicentennial and oh, yes, her parents' divorce. Talk about hitting all bases—this does it. Julie is about to move from her house in San Francisco, near Chinatown and her best friend Ivy ($87). Both dolls are being launched simultaneously with six books about them, authored by two well known writers, Megan McDonald and Lisa Yee. 7 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Bendomino
(Blue Orange Games $15.95 Score:) Truly a classic with a new twist. These curved dominoes are played as a traditional matching game, but the curves make it just a little trickier. Our kid testers thought the play pieces were fun to play with! We discovered that some adults use the "blank" tile as a wild card, while others require the blank to be placed against another blank. Who knew there could be such controversy in domino land? 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Bump n Chuck R/C Bumper Cars
(Kid Galaxy $35 Score:) Despite the dubious name, we all stopped and played with these fun vehicles. Your set comes with two radio controllers and two bumper cars with figures. Drive your vehicle defensively or go for it. If you bump your opponent his play figure pops out! The vehicles are easy to manipulate and drive forward, reverse, left and right. 5 & up. Also good fun, Scoop 'n' Shoot R/C Basketball ($40), two basketball shoe vehicles that scoop up small basketballs in the front end of the shoes and shoot a ball into the two backboards with nets. A bit harder to manipulate successfully than the Bumper cars. 7 & up.

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

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