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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2009 Awards
Poingo Set
(Publications International $34.95 Score:)

Although the oversized books are all based on licensed characters, this is an entertaining electronic book collection with a sensor that is chunky and easy for beginners to grasp. The two books that come with the set are based on Finding Nemo and The World of Cars. Touch the big sensor to the text and it reads the page or touch the images on the page and it gives you bits of info, sound effects or things to find. Unlike Leap Frog's TAG, this does not include a library of real books by gifted writers and illustrators. It also does offer the option of hearing the words read out loud with the sensor's guidance one word at a time. That means it is not establishing the understanding of how books work from left to right and word to word. If this option and some real books were added to the mix this would also be a Platiunm winner. That said, this is a pretty good choice with more complex text that slightly older kids might find inviting. We think the 3 & up age label is not correct. This is more like a good choice for 5-8.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP: The easy to operate sensor can be fitted with Velcro and placed in a mitt with Velcro so that it can be grasped with greater ease. The subject matter in these two books may appeal to older kids and still give them the independence of "reading" alone!

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

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2008 Awards
Acting Out Jingle Bell Rock Skirt
(Acting Out $40 Score:)

Totally in tune with the holiday season! This red and white net skirt has a peppermint striped bow with a bell and plays Jingle Bell Rock music when your little dancer begins to move. Action activated, this is good fun for getting up off the couch and moving. Also see Acting Out's Musical Waltz Dress. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

SNAP: Finding ways to encourage kids to play actively comes built into this motion activated skirt. For children who may not be able to dance, this is still a fun skirt to wear and use the music maker for stop and start games. Have child hold the toy and when they shake it you do the dancing...freeze when the music stops. This is an empowering game that puts them in charge of the action.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Shake n Go Flyers
(Fisher-Price $14.95 Score:)

We loved the original Shake n Go Cars and these Flyers are the airborne version for active fun. The hand held launcher does look a little like a gun, but it is really a docking place for the lightweight plane. YOu click it into place and then shake the launcher until the lights and plane sounds begin. Press the trigger and va, va, va, voom! It takes off! They say 3-7. We'd say more like 5-8 would be able to make this happen and enjoy it! Comes in four different designs. Players will love the orange and silver Hawk, the green Show Plane, the silver and blue Ghost Jet and the green Fighter Plane. It is soft enough to use indoors, but not anywhere near your delicate treasures. Has great sound effects! A good buy for the money.

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: 2008.

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2008 Award
HearthSong Connectagons
(HearthSong $24.98 Score:)

Connectagons is an old-fashion kind of construction toy. The set comes in a wooden box with a slide opening--and inside there are 240 wooden discs. Each disc has eight notches-and there are five different colors. All in all, making this a very open-ended and pleasing building toy. Much like the magnetic toy sets of recent years, Connectagons is a set you'll enjoy having on your coffee table. There's no right or wrong way to build with this set -- appealing to both boys and girls (and their parents).

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Spot Large Plush
(Kids Preferred $30 Score:)

An adorable armful of a 16" yellow pup with brown spot on its side and on the tip of its tail. This looks like it jumped out of the ever popular Eric Hill Spot books. Big enough to satisfy toddlers who will love cuddling and lugging their very own Spot about. Also adorable, a handful of fun, a 6" Velour Spot Beanie ($9) that will fit into little hands. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Villa Paletti
(Wiggles 3D Inc. $24.99 Score:)

Subtitled the Game of Construction Chaos, this is a lot like other stacking games...with the object being not to be the one who knocks the pieces over first. Players begin with all the playing pieces standing on the first floor. Now they put a layer of wood on top of the pieces and take turns moving the pieces to the next level. You can play random style taking any piece you like or play with a color-coded die. Players agree on when no more pieces can be moved above and put another layer on top. The first person to knock down the construction gets one point. Agree on how many rounds you are going to play and then the winner is the one with the least number of points. There is some skill involved but still a lot of luck of the draw. A good game for beginning readers with plenty of rounds and chances for winning and losing. 6 and up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Curious George Discovery Beach Game
(I Can Do That Games $16.99 Score:)

This is a memory game with a new format. Small objects are buried in “sand” under the playing board. Shake the box and they move around some. Puzzle like pieces cover over the “windows” to the beach. Players draw a card and put it face up for everyone to see. Spin the spinner and lift the puzzle cover and see if you can find the treasures on the cards. If you spin a “wave” you get to shake the box and move the treasures. Object is to collect the largest number of cards. A fun way to build matching skills, color concepts, as well as memory. 3 & 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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2009 Award
Backseat Drawing Junior
(Out of the Box Publishing $19.99 Score:)

A "director" looks at a secret card with image and word in a special viewing box. The "director" tells the “listener’ to follow directions for making a drawing without saying the name of what the picture must be. Both parties have an important role in the game. The drawer has to be a good listener AND the director has to give very clear directions. So this is challenging to all players. The game comes with a drawing board, marker and dry eraser. Can be played with 3-8 players ages 7 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
My Natural Tiny Love Collection
(Hosung NY $9.99 Score:)

If you're looking for soft sweet huggables that are made from 100% non-toxic cotton--and will appeal to both boys and girls--look no further than this new collection from Hosung NY. They are just right (and safe) for infants and toddlers - made with velour bodies and stitched features. We really loved their three collections - all produced a round of oohs. There is the Long Leg Collection (sans clothes) - they retail for $14.99, the Tiny Love Collection are a very reasonable $9.99. The Tiny Tots Collections are smaller animals that have a sense of humor and joy about them. Unlike many “natural” collections we’ve seen, they are very vivid and don’t have that “ok, it doesn’t look great, but it’s very green and pc”. Each are something you’d be happy sharing with the toddlers in your life….hooray!

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Guidecraft Block Mates
(Guidecraft $25 Score:) Choose from a set of dinosaurs, farm animals or safari animals. These are part puzzle, part construction toy and finally a toy for creative play. Four pieces fit onto five wooden unit blocks (not included in the kit) to build a set of creatures that will fit into block structures. We have to say that we found the pieces fit tightly onto the blocks. Kids without hand power will find them hard to put together, though they will still like playing with them. We do think older pre- schoolers and kindergarteners will learn how to make these pieces into a whole. Although each animal is color coded, kids will also like mixing up the head of a stegosaurus with the back end of the brontosaurus. It’s also nice that there are so many critters in a set, making them a good choice for cooperative play and play dates. One reviewer felt that pre-made animals suited her block builders better than having to assemble them.So, we've had mixed comments on this concept. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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