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Product Type: Toys

 


2006 Award
Dora the Explorer Candy Land
(Milton Bradley $4.5 Score:) Fans of Dora will enjoy this variation of the classic color matching game that incorporates Dora and her friends. Still top rated, Duck Duck Goose ($19.99 ) a fun, easy-to-learn color concept game. PLATINUM AWARD ’05. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Egg and Spoon Race
(International Playthings $14.99 Score:)

Four big plastic spoons are loaded with bright eggs to balance as kids race for the finish line. But watch out - if you drop the egg, it cracks and a yoke falls out! A classic game with fabric yokes that are less messy, and no risk of salmonella! They say 3 & up, we'd say more like old 4s and 5-6s. Great for a party! 

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Awards
Magneatos
(Guidecraft $30 Score:)

One of our favorite open-ended construction sets. These primary colored plastic rods and balls are oversized, safe and easy to manipulate for preschoolers. Exactly right for small hands and big results! Comes in 36 pieces ($30), 72 ($50) or 144 pieces ($100). 2.5 & up. (800) 524-3555

SNAP AWARD: Children with special needs like to have toys that are like their peers and siblings. Magneatos are similar to popular magnetic rod and ball construction sets, but the upsized pieces are easier to grasp than the usual tiny scaled pieces-thus encouraging children with less dexterity an opportunity to develop their eye hand coordination with less frustration. Smaller size rods and ball sets may also be a choking hazard for kids who still mouth their toys-while these chunky pieces have no small parts-since the magnets are encased in plastic. The larger pieces also create a showier construction and their bright primary colored forms have great eye appeal. Unlike so many building sets, Magneatos provide for open-ended exploration rather than demanding a right or wrong way of building. In many ways they suit both the needs of preschoolers as well as older children with physical challenges.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Kid K'nex Crimpy Critters
(KNEX $9.99 Score:) These up-sized K’nex look related to your old Tinkertoys—our testers especially like the “crimpy pieces.” Testers liked the larger Wild Ones kit ($14.95 ). We’d pass on the new Story Book Pals ($7.99 ) with cheesy (very merchandisy) books (e.g., featuring Chicken Little made out of K’nex). Fitting the pieces together can be challenging and requires finger strength as well as visual discrimination. Marked 3 & up, but we’d say more like 4 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Woody Click Vehicles
(HaPe $4.99 Score:) Part construction, part pretend, the Woody Click line has many wooden vehicles, sold individually or as part of sets. They are ideally scaled for unit blocks, but will require adult assistance to assemble. Choose from colorful construction vehicles, fire trucks, and a helicopter with small flexible play figures. There are several pricey but handome mini-settings ($99 each) such as a hospital, fire station, and police headquarters. (800) 661-4142.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Magna Morphs
(Wild Republic $16 Score:) These dinosaurs have interchangeable heads, feet, and tails that hold together with magnets buried inside the bodies and parts. A playful way to learn the names of the most familiar dinosaurs while developing part/whole relationships, dexterity, and dramatic play. 4 & up. (800) 800-9678.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Flocked Animal Sets
(Melissa & Doug $14.95 Score:) Set of nine Barnyard Friends (or nine Prehistoric Pals, or Pasture Pals, 12 different horses), are perfect for block play. Sets come in wooden display storage boxes that make order out of preschool chaos. 3 & up. (800) 284-3948.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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Bendos
(Kid Galaxy $5 Score:) Perfect for pretend, two new playsets: King’s Court ($15) with throne, king, queen, jester, crowns, and coat of armor; and Jousting Set ($15) with two knights with horses, and plenty of armor. These will appeal to older preschoolers and early school-age kids as well. These bendable action figures are also available as multiethnic athletes, community workers, and animals. They stand up with blocks, fit into vehicles, and satisfy young collectors. 3 & up. (800) 816-1135.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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2006 Award
Double Suspension Bridge
(Brio $25 Score:) This is the longest bridge in the line—three and a half feet long! Can also be used side by side for two-way traffic. Also new, the Speaking Station ($30 1⁄2) A smart station master speaks in English, German, or French, depending on the city shown above the ticket master’s window. Our tester liked the new Stop & Go Station ($16.50 ); with a simple push button the train is locked into the station and then released to go. For the techno-minded engineer, there’s a new sleek Remote Control Express Train, but it was not ready for testing. Still one of our favorites for drama on the tracks, the Collapsing Bridge ($20 ) With a press of a button, the bridge really does collapse. Great for suspenseful train rides. PLATINUM AWARD ’05. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Thomas & Friends Tidmouth Timber Yard
(RC2/Learning Curve $49.99 Score:) For older train players this is a must-have prop! The wood splits (courtesy of a plastic saw and magnets). The crane is then used to pick up the timber and load the trains that come by. Very, very neat but will be difficult for 3s to use independently—a better choice for 4s and up. Also great fun (and easier to operate), Thomas & Friends Sodor Cement Works ($39.99 )—“cement” drops down from the mixer onto the waiting train below. Fans of castles and trains will also enjoy the new Rolf’s Castle Bridge ($44.99 ) with a castle wall that comes down and a moat below (of course!). (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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