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Product Type: Toys

 


2006 Award
Taf Toys Smart Mat
(Edushape $59.95 Score:) Our family with triplets raved about this amazing oversized playmat (39" x 59"). “There’s enough room for all our girls.” Another family wrote: “it was perfect for our den that has bare floors. It’s very cushy and I find it attractive to have out in the room.” It has bright graphics and interesting textures and sounds. Comes with several attached toys as well as three separate toys that have interesting textures to explore. This is an unusually attractive and versatile mat that will get miles of use until baby takes off as a crawler. (800) 404-4744.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Gymini Total Playground Kick & Play
(Tiny Love $69 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

This company continues to be the leader in activity mats for young babies. We’d put this mat on the “must have” list for the baby shower. The new feature this year is a kick-and-play area that babies can activate with their feet or bat at from their tummies as they get older. The key difference between this mat and so many others we tested is that the lights and music are soothing and not over-the-top loud or jarring. Comes with a mirror that babies will enjoy. Like the original, this has two arches and dangly toys for gazing at and batting. We also recommend the less expensive version without the lights and music. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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Flutterbye Dreams
(Fisher-Price $24.95 Score:) The concept of this toy is well intentioned: the tweet-tweet of birdies—think the opening of a Bugs Bunny nature scene and you get the picture. Our problem is that the tweet-tweet is very high pitched, making us wince instead of relax. So we’d pass on this one. The Ocean Wonders () mobile has three fish that spin around (not particularly eye-catching), but we didn’t like the gel-like “fishbowl” intended for baby to push on. There’s a disconnect with the packaging since no mobile should be left in a crib when a baby is sitting up. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2006 Award
Changing Table Flutter Bug Musical Mobile
(Infantino $23 Score:)

Cleverly designed, this "bug" has four patterned wings with colorful ribbons that flutter as they turn to the music. It's a windup music box with old-fashioned sound, rather than the usual electronic type. This attaches to the changing table for three minutes' worth of diversion. This toy has been discontinued.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Candy Land DVD Game
(Milton Bradley $29.99 Score:) Put the play mats on the floor and plug this into your DVD player and kids are ready for an active but not too fast moving game that gets them up off the couch. Players move from one of 24 color play mats to another collecting tokens. This type of game is ideal for developing listening skills and color concepts in a playful manner. A grown up will need to supervise. 2-4 players.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2005 Award
9 x 12 Jump n Slide
(Little Tikes $200 Score:) The neighborhood of kids that tested this for us gave this jumping toy high marks. The 3-5 year old crowd found the toy sufficiently bouncy! Note: Our older testers (7 and up) felt the toy did not give them enough bounce. We liked the protective walls on the sides and the kids loved the wide slide. Great fun for a birthday party and everyday play but does require parental supervision. We also recommend placing the toy a soft surface. Parents liked the fact that it inflated easily and quickly with the included pump. Grass stakes help keep the playset from moving around.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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Long Distance Hand Powered Glider
(Discovery Kids $24.95 Score:) This has an impressive 50" wing span. Ideal to use on a field or at the beach where you have lots of room. It has a graphite frame and big rubber tip—which makes it less likely to fall apart when it crashes! With this non-motorized flying machine you don't need to worry about fingers getting caught on propellers! Kids just need some arm strength to send it flying...and then be prepared to go after it! 10 & up.

Age: . Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Awards
Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse
(Little Tikes $280 Score:) Toddlers and preschoolers love having special spaces that are designed just for them. For older toddlers going in and out of the space, playing peek a boo will be the name of the game. As they grow older the pretend play will become more elaborate and detailed. This 58” high playhouse has an innovative design that invites lots of pretend possibilities with four different themed sides to the structure (firehouse/schoolhouse, gas station with pump, grocer store/bank with ATM machine (of course) and a sports wall complete with hoop.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2005 Awards
Peg-gy Back Game
(Lauri $14.99 Score:) It’s often hard to find a true beginners game that is not too complex for preschoolers. This simple color cube game involves moving pegs on the pegboard forward to the color thrown. If you land on the same space as your opponent, you get a Peggy back ride! Nothing hard here. The graphics are not great, but the game is a good place to start with one concept instead of three. 3 & up. (800) 451-0520.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Awards
Seven Pets to Lace and Trace
(Lauri $6.99 Score:) New for ’06, Seven Pets to Lace and Trace (Lauri $6.99 ) are made of sturdy chipboard punched with holes that kids “sew” with colorful laces. These activities develop eye hand skills and develop small muscles in hand needed for writing. Also recommended, Lace & Link Numbers ($14.99 ), crepe 4" rubber numerals that reinforce shapes in a tactile way. 4 & up. (800) 451-0520.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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