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Product Type: Toys

 


2006 Award
Rugged Riggz
(Little Tikes $9.99 Score:) Were big fans of this updated collection of basic trucks. Among our favorites are a Helicopter Hauler, a Sports Car Hauler with two cars, and a Garbage Truck. Still top rated, Motorcycle Hauler, and the classics (cement, dump, and hauler). New for 2007 are Haulers, Ford or Chevy trucks that haul racing cars. Also neat, Spark Racerz Hummers ($5 4), smaller-scaled, pull-back vehicles. All are just right for the 3 & up crowd. (800) 321-0183.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
GeoTrax Workin' Town Railway
(Fisher-Price $39.99 Score:) This 30-piece set comes with a bridge, station, and windmill. Our testers did notice that it is possible for the train to get caught in a loop. Fitting the tracks together is more challenging than wooden tracks, since these only fit right side up. That said, they liked the many features of this set and the flexibility of extending the system with other settings, such as the GeoTrax Coastal Winds Airport ($24.99 1⁄2) with a plane that zooms around the control tower. Marked 21⁄2wed say its a true preschool set. (800) 432-5437.

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
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
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
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 Award
eeBoo Baby Animals
(eeBoo $14.95 Score:)

Twenty puzzle sets of mother and baby animals done with charming illustrations that have a storybook quality. Ideal for working with your child on knowing and naming familiar animals such as bear/bear cub, cow/calf, and kangaroo/joey. We recommend starting out with five at a time. 3 & up. (212) 222-0823.

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

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2006 Award
Aquadoodle
(Spinmaster $24.99 Score:)

Our four-year-old tester looked up and said, "Even if I get it on the floor, it won't show, will it?" Indeed, this is a mess-free and semi-magical oversized mat for drawing with water! Using the 'water pen," blue drawings appear on the surface and disappear once they are dry. Great for developing hand and arm movements needed for writing without restrictive lines. Our testers did not like the Sing 'n' Doodle Mat ($34.99) that plays Old MacDonald and silly sound effects as you draw. Our testers found it confusing and distracting. Stay with the original-less is more! (800) 622-8339.

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

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2006 Award
Nature Barrel of Beads
(Bead Bazaar $19.99 Score:) A huge bucket of wooden beads that are big enough for small hands to string. Includes natural and colored strings, ten wooden charms, and rings for keychains. There are enough packets of colored beads for ten or more kids to use as an activity for a party. They say 3 & up; wed say more like 47. (800) 838-1769.

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

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2006 Award
Grande Mansion
(Playmobil $170 Score:) Part construction set/mostly pretend setting, Grande Mansion has two stories and a usable attic; this yellow house has an old world charm that will be a memorable gift. Younger kids will need help with assembly. This is a fun parent child project if you're so inclined!

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

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