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Product Type: Toys

 


2009 Award
BeeBoo Big Bubble Mix Kit and Dip Stix
(Extreme Bubbles, Inc. $10 & up Score:)

Hands down one of our new favorite products of the year! The unique bubble wand consists of two long wooden handles connected by soft rope. Dip the wand into the bucket with the handles closed. Take the wand out of the solution and open the handles slowly and amazingly, extremely large bubbles that will impress even the most "I'm so over bubbles"  teenager. Great fun for the backyard with mixed ages.  New for 2010, Dip Stix.  The big handles on the wands are now painted (they look less homemade)--and you can mix your own bubble solution in the built in container.  For the Tang generation, the mix your own mixture will seem like fun. Some of our parents (with younger kids) prefer the "it's good to go from the start" approach.  You can still buy the original bubble mixture.  While we found that younger children were delighted with running after these super big bubbles (and their parents had fun making them), this is truly one of the few outdoor toys that will capture the attention of teens and adults.   If you're having a family reunion--this is fun to have around!

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

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Bocce Ball Set
(Restoration Hardware $119 Score:)

What we love about bocce is that it really can be enjoyed by a multi-generation team of players. The pace is just right for a lazy summer afternoon. Perhaps because we are not a very coordinated family, bocce has always had a special place in our summer rituals (you really don't need to have too much athletic ability to play!)  This set comes with a brown canvas bag for storage.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2007 Award
Quick and Easy Tie Dye Deluxe
(Creativity for Kids $19.95 Score:)

We're big fans of this type of tie-dye kit, which comes with pre-dyed strings that you wrap around your own clothing (or the included pillowcase and doll shirt). You tie up the garment and then use warm tap water. Take your garment out of the water, let it dry, and voila!--you have your own tie-dyed creation. A fun outdoor project.

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

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2007 Award
Pirate Ship Kit
(Creativity for Kids $5.99 Score:) This is just the right activity for a party full of crafty pirates. The kits require gluing the wooden parts together (always fun, but will need some adult supervision) and then they are ready to be painted. A nice take away craft for a pirate themed party.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Par 3 Mini Golf Set
(Step 2 $39.99 Score:) Arrange the 21 piece set into a custom made 3 hole course. Pieces snap together easily and each “green” has a hole in one. Can be used indoors and out. Comes with two putter, two balls, three flags, a clown's mouth, windmill, and spinner. They say 2 & up, we'd say more like 3 & up. Our testers found that the first hole was very easy to do (and satisfying). The next two holes take more practice (and more shots)...which is fine with most kids and frustrating to those who feel that they should golf like Tiger already!

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

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2007 Award
Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl
(Small Miracles $29.99 Score:) Perhaps it's our own bias, but we were delighted that Small Miracle remembered that girls often like to dress up as pirates too! Their new Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl costume comes with a Jolly Roger head wrap (braids included), vest, sewn-on belt and buckle, and a skirt. They also have Pirate costumes for boys. Also special their Pirate's Treasure Kit ($29) that comes with 23 pieces, designed for two players, including two pirate's vests, eye-patches, pirate coins, and a treasure map.

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

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2007 Award
Woodland Adventures Pirate Ship
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) A handsome pirate ship that makes a perfect centerpiece for a pirate themed party and a great birthday gift! The ship is 29"l x 22.5"h with a painted black hull, red and white sails (complete with crossbones and skull), and comes with five pirates. Our testers loved the secret aft door, the ship's wheel, crow's nest and other small details such as a treasure chest, cannon, lantern and flags. "Looks like it came from an expensive specialty store" wrote one tester.

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

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2008 Award
Mommy and Me Musicals
(Rich Frog $21 Score:)

One of our favorite collections of the season! These mother/child animal pairs (duck, rabbit, lamb and frog) play music when you pull on the baby animal. What's so special? They each play a different Beatles song ("Yellow Submarine", "Imagine", "And I Love Her" and "Here Comes the Sun") with a lovely music box quality. Charming!

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Shop and Grow Walker
(Little Tikes $19.95 Score:) The Shop and Grow Walker tied for the overall highest marks this year in this category (with Fisher-Price's Go Baby Go Stride to Ride Lion). Our testers loved that this walker had a wide opening in the back, a big roller in front, and popping beads inside. The shopping cart aspect of this toy also was a plus, and parent testers also liked that the music could be turned off. The push bar on this walker lifts up so that an adult can push along with their toddler (there is also a lower bar). This aspect was not that important to any of the families that tested the product, but they all commented favorably on the clean, uncomplicated design. The company has signed a verification form that this product contains no lead or phthalates.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Laugh and Learn Learning Kitchen
(Fisher-Price $64.99 Score:) Really more of an activity center for toddlers, this plastic kitchen has a small refrigerator on one side (with shape-sorter function) and a sink/stove/oven combo on the other side. They are connected with an arch that has "educational" songs and music. Older babies and young toddlers will enjoy going through the archway, playing with the ball drop, and cooking up something special. While we could do without the lessons about the alphabet and opposites, our testers enjoyed making things happen. Still top rated, Laugh and Learn Learning Home ($70). This "little house" is just the right size for active play and making things happen. It has a door that opens and shuts and is big enough to crawl through, lights that turn off and on, doorbell that rings, ball drop, and shape sorter, among other interesting features. A great first birthday gift to enjoy throughout this year and probably the next. They say 6 months to 3. We’d say one and up would be a better bet. RECALL INFO: This toy was voluntarily recalled in 2007 due to a small parts problem from the faucet or the clock hands can detach and pose a choking hazard. The CPSC reports that "consumers should immediately take the recalled toys away from children and contact Fisher-Price for a free repair kit." Call Fisher Price at (888) 812-7187 or visit www.service.mattel.com.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008.

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