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Product Type: Toys

 


2003 Award
Dread Pirate Game
(Old Century Classics $99.95 Score:) Think of this game as Monopoly for Pirates. The object is to collect all the treasure and make sure that none of your fellow pirates have any left! You win by moving your pirate ship around the play mat and collecting "gems" and "coins" from your opponents. Moving around the play mat and how many treasures you collect is determined by rolling the dice. Be forewarned, this game can take a long time to play and will appeal to older kids (9s & up). As with most of the games made by this company, the playing pieces are handsome (and pricey). The directions for this game are pretty lengthy and will probably need clarification, negotiation and the adoption of "house rules".

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Lil' Creatures Rattles
(Mary Meyer $5 Score:) A delightfully cheery new collection of soft rattles with fabric animals (duck, elephant, turtle, or dino), each attached to a clear easy-to-grasp ring with colorful beads inside. At first you can use these for tracking games, but soon enough your baby will enjoy exploring with two hands. Unlike many rattles, these have a quiet rattle sound that won't startle your baby.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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Discovery Ball
(LeapFrog $19.99 Score:) Our testers did love spinning the ball and hearing the music while the ball was in its cradle. It is really a cause-and-effect toy. However, this heavy plastic ball should not replace having a soft fabric ball for games of roly poly. While the music is pleasant, we take issue with the focus on teaching babies the ABCs.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Wide Tracker Activity Walker
(Little Tikes $19.99 Score:) Testers gave high marks to Little Tikesí Wide Tracker Activity Walker has a wider opening in the back so kids are less likely to trip themselves on the wheels! This isn't weighted, the way walkers used to be made, so it's not for tots to pull up on.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Naturally Playful Woodland Climber
(Step 2 $179.99 Score:) New this year is Step 2ís Naturally Playful Woodland Climber, done in muted tones (really a matter of personal preference); it comes with a small ladder up to the 27" high platform with a slide on the other side. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Read to Me Tot Tower
(eeBoo $19 Score:) The Read to Me Tot Tower has sturdy cardboard blocks with handsome illustrations of images to know and name. 1 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Border Collie Puppy
(Folkmanis $36 Score:) Black and white with long silky fur on underside, jowls, and tail, this is a huggable full-body puppet with sweet face and mouth that moves. Still charming, a 30" honey-colored Golden Retriever ($60 ) Also new for , an amazing Great Horned Owl ($50 ) with moving head and eyes that close.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Costumals
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:) It's hard not to play with these animals dressed up in costumes. There's Beesly Bear, Daisy Dog, and Cleo Cat. Still top rated, Knightingtales Puppets ($10 each). You need all five fingers to make the most of these velour royals-a king, queen, and knight. Perfect for fairy tales.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Olivia Saves the Circus Set
(Madame Alexander $99 Score:) This collection is as scrumptious as Olivia herself. The Circus Set comes in a big hatbox with ringmaster, clown, tight rope-walker, and dog and lion trainer outfits. Lion, dog, and pop-up tent also included. Olivia's Trunk Set ($85) also is very special with Olivia plus ball gown, bathing suit, tutu, two dresses, and lots of jewelry. You can buy Olivia in her red sailor dress with her red purse, striped tights-with articulated ears. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Quercetti Skyrail Suspension Marble Run Sets
(International Playthings $69.99 Score:) You need a lot of space and a good dose of patience to put this together (an adult is needed) but once you're done, you have a truly amazing structure. It takes some finessing to keep the marbles on the track, "but that's part of the fun." Not for the "it's got to work right out of the box" crowd. Marked 6 & up, but really, a grown up will be needed from beginning to end. For a simpler wooden marble run, consider the original BLUE CHIP Blocks & Marbles (Tedco $30 & up).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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