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Product Type: Toys


2003 Award
Old Century Baseball
(Old Century Classics $129 Score:) Our testers, kids and parents, loved this retro baseball game that has no sounds or lights but plenty of action! This is like the old baseball games your grandfather and maybe your father played when they were kids. It works a bit like a pinball machine. Metal marbles are socked into field and roll down to the "flipper" bat that players use ti score singles, doubles or homers into the grandstand! This would make a nifty choice for a family room, playroom or in grandparent's den where kids may actually be surprised to discover how much fun folks had in the olden days before sound chips. Granted, grandpa's version was probably made of cardboard or cheezy wood, this is the BMW version-with a pricetag to match. Be forewarned, our testers did manage to lose the metal "balls" before the afternoon was out. Too bad this came too late for our annual book. It might have been one of the Platinum winners.8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2002 Award
Mega Sphere
(Hoberman Designs $59.99 Score:) You have probably seen smaller versions of these spheres in Science museums. When this giant Mega Sphere arrived in our office the six and nine year old kids who were testing games that day were totally enthralled with getting inside this space. You can actually lock it in the open position and it becomes a play setting. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Awards
Lets Tackle Math Game
(Learning Resources $44.95 Score:) Keep in mind that beginners need concrete materials to count before they learn the facts in rapid-fire fashion. Now in our house we did this with chocolate (which was also fun, but fattening!) Here, you get 252 total play pieces (108 bugs: grasshoppers, beetles dragonflies, bumble bees, spiders and caterpillars) plus 72 frogs and worms to sort by color, shape and size. The kit also comes with an activity book with 48 activities and a sorting tray. Kids love playing with these pieces as their working on their math skills. They'll also use them for dramatic play. Much more fun than flash cards! 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. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile
(Manhattan Toy $27.99 Score:)

Newborns will be fascinated with the black-and-white, high-contrast patterns of the ten vinyl 3" discs and squares that dance and dangle on this nonmusical mobile for the crib or changing table.  Not as cute looking as other mobiles, but babies do react to the visual stimulation of this crib toy.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on

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2003 Award
Muffy, Alice in Wonderland & Hoppy White Rabbit
(North American Bear Co. $15 Score:)

A very special Hoppy White Rabbit done up in plaid coat with pearl buttons and golden watch fob to keep him from being late for his important date in Alice's Wanderland. Also, an adorable Muffy dressed up as Alice in a white pinofore and blue tafetta dress with her key to Wonderland. (800) 682-3427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on

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2004 Award
Super Size Bubble Wand
(Little Kids $7.99 Score:) Bubbles are always a big hit with kids (and adults) of all ages. Whether you're two and chasing after them or 12 and making four foot bubbles, this is a crowd pleaser. This kit comes with a oversized foldable purple wand that has rainbow colored plastic links around a nylon rope. The company says the rope is the secret to the success of the bubbles because the fabric of the rope absorbs more bubble solution. Whatever the explanation, we found it was relatively easy to use after some experimenting. Also comes with a small bottle of concentrated bubble solution that you need to mix with warm water before you start. The bottle says you should let the solution set for 24 hours but we tested it and it really worked well right away. Concentrate will make 16 ozs. of solution. We found that the bubbles were not as juicy and as easy to make with premade solution.

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

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2003 Award
Franklin Hopping Sports Balls
(Franklin $14.99 Score:) Our testers liked the sports theme of these classic 18" ball hoppers. Comes either as a basketball, baseball or soccer ball. Parents also liked the fact that they comes with their own air pump. Activity Tip: Use these hopping balls for races across the lawn but be sure to give everyone a prize for playing.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Princess & the Pea Game
(Winning Moves Games $14.95 Score:) Four "princesses" can play this board game where the player with the most plastic mattresses at the end of the game wins. Collect mattresses by spinning the spinner and moving up the game board where you must take a nap or add, subtract or steal mattresses from other players. While reading is required, the game is pretty easy to understand. 5 & up.

Age: . Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Awards
Symphony in Motion Deluxe
(Tiny Love $49.95 Score:)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued. How do you make a good thing better? Add a remote control and new animals to this clever musical mobile with innovative motion. Small shapes slide on the arms of the mobile, making a clicking sound as the mobile turns. The sound quality is better than most and it plays several classical selections. Still top rated, Symphony in Motion with Calder-like shapes or other animals. PLATINUM AWARD '02.

SNAP This award-winning mobile now comes with a remote control so you can turn the music from a distance. Unlike most mobiles, this innovative offering has more visual interest of several kinds: it tips as it spins, causing objects to shift their positions in interesting ways. It also pauses, and the start-and-stop motion adds another kind of interest. Small shapes slide on the arms of the mobile and make small clicking sounds as the musical mobile turns. The sound quality on this mobile is better than most, and it plays several classical music selections. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Tolo First Friends Rocker
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

Just a swipe of the hand makes the beads roll and two little figures spin as it rocks. Interesting for gazing at, but even better for two-handed play. Also top rated: Twist & Turn, Play Triangle Activity Cube, or Gripper Rattle, all beautifully crafted in sturdy primary-colored plastic with interesting action for baby to manipulate.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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