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Product Type: Toys
Award: Blue Chip

 

  
2001 Awards
Lauri Alphabet Puzzle Boards
(Patch $29.99 Score:)

Crepe rubber puzzle boards.  There is one 5 piece puzzle for each letter of the alphabet. Each board has an upper and lower case letter and an object that starts with that sound. There are a lot of Alphabet puzzles around, but these have cut out letters that give kids a 'feel' for the shape and direction of the letters.

SNAP IDEAS: Kids can trace the letters or use them for spelling out their names. When kids are learning letters it's fun to put three in a bag and have child feel inside without looking. Can she pull out the letter "T" or one that says "M-m-m-m."

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Awards
Jumbo Bunnies
(International Playthings $12.99 Score:)

These colorful bunnies have been hard to find for a while. This is an old favorite toy for filling and dumping, banging together and eventually connecting in long rows or other funny stacks. They are easy to grab hold of and put together or pull apart. The nine-piece set has six bunnies in six colors and three connectors. 1 & up.
       The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.  This product has been discontinued.

 

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Awards
Quercetti Interlocking Star Shapes
(International Playthings $12 Score:)

Toddlers like toys with multiple pieces and these six colorful star shapes are challenging for little hands to put together and pull apart. There may be a short learning curve for the putting together action, but these big plastic pieces they have no right and wrong order. These not only help build motor skills, they can help knowing and naming color words and simple counting. 1 & up.
        The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.
 

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2001 Award
Tolo Activity Play Triangle
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

Happy to see this Platinum Award winner back in the market! Little hands can easily activate the spinners on this rattling activity toy that's ideal for two-handed investigations. There's a ratchet dial on one side, a reflection bead chamber on the other side, and in the center there's a small spinning mirror, big egg-shaped beads, and a barrel for developing the use of individual fingers and as a colorful rolling toy for small social games. We have not received safety verification for this product and we have not tested it in an independent lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Color Wonder Paper and Markers
(Crayola $7.99 Score:)

This innovative art material is great for travel as well as home because the chunky markers are colorless and won't stain anything. Best of all, they have a magic quality-they turn color as kids draw on the special paper. This comes with coloring books that keep color inside the lines, but we prefer the open-ended paper that kids can use any way they like. 2 & up.

SNAP INFO: There's something magical about these markers with colorless tips that turn to true colors when used on special paper. A great choice for encouraging kids to develop the eye hand skills they need for writing. Activity: Use a crayon or regular marker to make dots kids can connect with the special markers. Draw dots to form letters, numbers, or pictures.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2001. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1998 Awards
Deluxe Gymini 3-D Activity Gym
(Tiny Love $50 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

This play mat remains our favorite with two arches and dangly toys baby can gaze and eventually bat at. It gets high marks for keeping baby entertained. We prefer this design to the classic plastic activity gyms. Available in high-contrast black, white, and red version. Not for babies who are beginning to pull themselves up. Deluxe version is slightly larger.

SNAP INFO: This soft fabric playmat with dangly toys on soft arches comes in a variety of choices. For bold visual graphics select the black. white and red version. Easy to fold and carry along, the deluxe version is larger than most, a plus for bigger babies who may not be on the move, but ready to reach out and activate things. Like all playmats, this is to be used only with supervision and is not intended for babies who are pulling themselves up. Adaptation: Babies stop noticing toys that are always in their sight- just as you stop noticing a vase that's always in the same place. Change the soft danglies positions or substitute others to add visual interest.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1998.

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2000 Awards
Tolo Activity Cube
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

Glad to see this line back in the market place. We awarded the collection a Platinum Award in 2000. We're now adding them to our Blue Chip Classics award winners. What we wrote in 2000: We were really impressed with this new but classic-looking line of baby toys, crafted of sturdy primary-colored plastics. An Activity Cube for little fingers to activate has a mirror, squeaker, roller and spinning ball. The Gripper Ball has four easy-to-grab rounded handles and a see-through hourglass in the middle with beads that roll from side to side. Also highly recommended: Triangle Rings, Abacus Rings, Roller Rattle Ball ($5 each) with a jolly sound, and Reflector Rattle ($16) with colorful marbles that look almost liquid as they spin around a mirrored triangular well.

SNAP INFO: To develop two-handed play, kids need a variety of manipulatives with interesting payoffs. Tolo's Activity Cube has a mirror, squeaker, roller, and spinning ball for little fingers to activate. The Gripper Ball has four easy-to-grab rounded handles and a see-through hourglass in the middle with beads that roll from side to side. New for 2000, Play Triangle with spinning mirror and big beads.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2000. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1998 Awards
Lamaze First Mirror
(Learning Curve International $19.99 Score:)

Newly updated with bright graphics, this fabric-covered wedge with a mirror for baby to peer into is ideal for tummy time play. Covered in eye-grabbing orange with multi-colored piping. The unbreakable safety mirror in a soft fabric frame can be removed and used separately. Birst & up.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1998. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1995 Awards
Wimmer-Ferguson Car Seat Gallery
(Manhattan Toy $12 Score:) We've tried many new entries in this category for car-seat entertainment and found that this remains the best choice for back-facing car seats. Hang this four-way pattern pocket chart on the back seat of the car to entertain your little traveler. There are 20 different patterns in black/white and primary and primary colors to gaze at. Ideal for newborns.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1995.

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2000 Awards
Music Blocks
(Small world toys $69.95 Score:)

A new addition to our Blue Chip Award list. Remains one of our favorite toys, ever.  Here's what we wrote in 2000: One of the most innovative toys of the year! We were skeptical about such an expensive musical toy for kids-that was, until we played it! Imagine five colored plastic blocks each side with a geometric shape and representing a different sound. Match the shapes or play them in random order -there's no right or wrong way. Push on the blocks to play musical phrases! What sets this toy apart is the quality of the sound: woodwinds, trumpets, percussion. Comes with "Mozart's Night Music" cartridge. Bring home the "Rhythms of the World" cartridge right away. The new Disney music cartridges are not recommended since they produce a disconcerting disconnected effect so that songs do not make sense. We also found that the new Discovery Block, a big fabric block with peek-a-boo surprises was overly loud, frenetic, and too didactic. Teaching concepts such as "hexagon" to toddlers who are just learning to speak seems out of sync and not especially playful! 2 & up.

snap info: Want a rewarding tool for developing matching skills? Color concepts? Cause and effect? It's all here, plus great sound quality! Players touch blocks to activate a musical phrase or rhythm. Shapes on the blocks determine what instrument you'll hear. It's fun to mix up the shapes on the blocks for a variety of sounds. Kids with visual disabilities can "read" raised symbols on the blocks. Pricey but one of the most innovative toys we've found for kids with or without disabilities. New for 2000, update with extra cartridges ($19.99 each) of Bach, Jazz or Rhythms; a Cyber Cartridge ($49.99) downloads music from the internet.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2000. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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