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Product Type: Toys

 


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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2008 Award
Lia Interactive Baby Doll
(Corolle $89.95 Score:) A high-tech doll from an unexpected source. The French doll Lia speaks four languages by placing one of three bracelets on her wrist (her default language is French, of course). Lia will tell you when she's hungry, needs to potty (just pretend), and most endearing, she asks for a kiss; but she’s not intrusive and demanding. You can also turn off the high-tech function and you have a classic vanilla-smelling baby doll. She’s a big armful, a 17" bald baby who comes with bib, spoon, feeding dish, and potty.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Classique Nursery Twin Stroller
(Corolle $80 Score:) This blue 30" double stroller evoked a chorus of oohs and aaahs in our office and with our testers. Looks like the current double strollers in design, with three wheels and stacked seats. We especially loved the adjustable push bar. For a smaller on-the-go stroller, consider American Girl’s yellow and blue Collapsible Stroller ($34), designed for their 15" Bitty Baby Dolls. The Bitty Twins Double Stroller ($48) doesn’t compare to the quality of Corolle's.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage
(Step 2 $79.99 Score:) There is great competition this year in wooden castles. It's rare to see a mass-market toy maker compete to the same level as a specialty supplier, but that's exactly what's happening this year. Step 2's Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage is equal in every way to Ryan’s Room Majestic Castle & Mighty Knights PLATINUM AWARD 2007 ($100), a truly majestic wooden castle, 20" ✕ 20". Both have working drawbridges and towers, and come with knights ready to defend their kingdom. You can’t go wrong with either. 4 & up. Also noteworthy: Tower of Doom (Step 2 $99.99) This painted grey castle is 45" tall and has several levels and hideouts. Has a working drawbridge, secret magnetic castle door, dungeon gate. Comes with three-piece set of monsters (we could have done without) which you may want to replace. This one looks older, more sinister than either of the two above and would be enjoyed by 5–8 year olds. Not to be left out, there is the Woodland Adventures Pink Princess Palace (Step 2 $79.90), a very pink palace that is home to a Princess, Fairy Godmother, King, Prince, and Queen. A perfect setting for Cinderella's ball, Rapunzel's rescue, and other such events. Two pink towers with fabric flags, this is almost 30" tall with many walkways and gates. Our testers loved it but their parents suggested that you keep the instructions on how to put it back together nearby! The company has signed verification forms that these products contain no lead or phthalates.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2009 Award
Mini Automoblox Three Pack Sets
(Manhattan Toy $25 Score:)

For parents looking for "cool design" for the playroom, look no further. A set of three smaller versions of the PLATINUM AWARD-winning sleekly designed wooden cars. Part puzzle, part vehicle, these also got high marks from our testers who enjoyed taking the cars apart and putting them back together. The vehicles fronts and backs are interchangabel so kids can create original vehicles. 4 & up. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Goodnight Moon Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $15 Score:)

A very satisfying oversized floor puzzle (24" ✕ 36") with 24 jumbo pieces featuring the iconic illustration of Clement Hurd. 3 & up. Still top rated, last year’s PLATINUM AWARD-winning collection of Eric Carle puzzles, including The Very Books Block Puzzle ($13)—nine cubes can be turned to create six different images from several beloved Eric Carle books, including The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Quiet Cricket, and The Very Lonely Firefly. Also 1, 2, 3 to the Zoo Great Big Puzzle ($15), a 24" ✕ 36" floor puzzle with Carle’s picture-book animals on their way to the zoo; count the creatures from 1 to 10 and don’t forget to find the mouse that is hiding on every train car. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008.

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