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Product Type: Toys

 


2008 Award
Madeline Cloth Doll
(Alexander Doll Company $69.00 Score:)

Here she is in her blue coat, plaid dress and yellow hat on her red yarn hair, an oversized 29” tall, all fabric, with stitched features. Her coat and dress come off, but the rest of her clothing is not. This is safe enough for toddlers but appealing to preschoolers who will know Madeline’s stories from books and videos.

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

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2007 Award
Three of a Crime
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

This is a game of deduction that calls for critical thinking skills and visual memory. “It” picks a card that shows the faces of the three guilty thieves, but keeps their identities a secret. Players select cards with a trio of crooks pictured and “It” indicates if there are 1-2 or 3 thieves on each played card. Players must deduce which of the three are the guilty parties from the clues given by “It.” Fun for 2-6 players; about 15 mins.  8 & up.

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: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
The Curse of the Ruby Rhino
(Gamewright $11.99 Score:)

Players vie to get the Ruby Rhino, a treasure that is next to impossible to win. To do so they need to get rid of all their gold coins by rolling the right combinations to break the curse and be victorious. There’s a “legend” card with many rules about taking or putting coins into the treasure chest, so this is a game that involves some reading skills of symbols that call for looking at fine differences, a skill beginning readers often need to work on. Only this is a lot more fun than a workbook. For 2-5 players; about 10 mins. 6 & up.

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: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Sticky Foam Garden
(Alex $8.99 Score:)

Some of our readers may be surprised that we really liked this product that comes with outlined artwork (butterflies and flowers). It's not particularly open-ended since the idea is to follow the instructions and add the appropriate layers of brightly colored foam pieces. The pieces come with self-adhesive backing. Here's the appeal from our point of view--it's really much more like a puzzle in terms of putting the pieces together in an ordered fashion. Kids can certainly ignore the instructions and flow their own sense of color, but many will find this a satisfying project. We'd recommend this kit for quiet time on an airplane or for an office visit (when you still need to get some work done!). A Dinosaur themed set is also available.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Tin Tea Set
(Alex $24.99 Score:)

The problem with so many tea sets is that they are too delicate for preschoolers. In fact by law those beautiful porcelain sets must be marked 8 & up. Yet it's really the preschool crowd that loves a tea party! So here's a great (and safe) alternative. Done in pinks and greens with a splash of yellow, this set is all tin. Comes with 16 pieces including the tea pot, four cups, plates and a tray (for proper serving!). Better yet, the whole set comes in an attractive case (with a sturdy handle) for on the go tea parties.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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My Collage Farm
(Alex $14.95 Score:)

The twist to this collage kit is that it comes with four farm friends (done in pleasing graphics)that kids can then add their own embellishments to in order to make their own unique designs. The big eyes were especially pleasing to add. Comes with an assortment of papers, pom poms, flowers, feathers, buttons and an oversized glue stick. Marked 2 & up, we'd say more like 3. If you wanted to do this kit with 2s, we'd recommend using white glue. Most 2s will have difficulty using a glue stick.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Wedgits Building Blocks Imagination Set
(ImagAbility $20 Score:)

There's something extremely elegant about Wedgits. The plastic shapes stack and combine together without effort, which makes playing with them so appealing. They have an open-ended quality to them that invites exploration. This isn't the type of building set that you make once - it's easy to take the pieces apart and try something new. A new 15 piece set is $20 and a good starting place. You can add to this set with more pieces, a base for building on, and patterns for older kids to follow. They have gender specific pink set, but we prefer the primary colors. Unlike many building sets, this does not have any themed pieces. The geometric shapes invite experiments with symmetry, balance and exploration with nesting, stacking, linking and wedging together the shapes to create designs. We gave the 60 piece Wedgits on Wheels an award back in 2006. But it was very pricey and really more appropriate for older builders. New this year are the Mini Wedgits, smaller sets for building a Mini Wedgit Frog, Dog or, Owl. The mini-sets can also be mixed in with the larger expandman sets. In such a high tech world, this may seem too old fashioned for some--there are no motors or lights, but it is still a very interesting toy.

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, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Walker to Wagon
(Fisher-Price $24.99 Score:) A step past the cruising stage, toddlers often like to hold on to some thing as they become independent walkers. This is not a weighted wagon, so it is not for tots who are still unsteady on their feet. It has some spinning beads, a clicking dial, and other activity toys to manipulate, including a shape sorter, for sit-down fun. This colorful get-about toy converts to a pull wagon, but will probably have the most use as a pusher. They say 9 months, we'd say more like 12-16 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Grand Walk In Kitchen
(Step 2 $259.99 Score:) This kitchen is so big it can double as a playhouse for several kids together. There’s a place to cook, wash dishes, sit down for a snack-whatever! It has “granite” countertops, a sink with swivel faucet and push buttons, “stainless steel” appliances, a phone, and a huge accessory set. It has a “hardwood” floor, just like the most up to date luxury kitchens. Throw a sheet over the top and it will be a tent. Editor's Note: Please note that this toy comes with lots of small plastic food. While it may stick out of a choke tube, many of the pieces are still very small. We recommend putting most of the food away if your child is under three or if your child still mouths his toys. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Sand and Sea Play Table
(Little Tikes $79.99 Score:) Cleverly designed for separate sand and water play, this is nevertheless, likely to lead to some muddy exploration. These two tables are side by side and ideal for digging, spilling and messing around. This comes equipped with an umbrella, sand and water wheels, tools, boats and bridge. It comes with lids to protect the sand (which is not included) from the elements. 2-6 The company has signed a verification form that this product contains no lead or phthalates.

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

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