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Product Type: Toys

 


2006 Award
Lego Duplo Thomas Load and Carry Train Set
(Lego Systems, Inc. $74.99 Score:)

Easy-to-assemble tracks and environment including train, movable light signal, and cargo tower. 61 pieces. Our older toddler testers "looooved" this set! 2 & up. Still top rated, for Dora fans, Dora the Explorer, a 41-piece Animal Adventure Set ($29.99 ) with play figures, blocks, and a sound effects box with 8 different sounds-not that kids can't make their own sounds. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Super Spiral Play Tower
(International Playthings $32 Score:) Toddlers love this marvelous toy that they quickly take charge of. Two weighted balls and a little penguin twist down the spiral and slide into different slots. A green froggy slides down a chute and makes a funny sound that ends with a ping of a bell. Repetitive action provides the kind of predictable cause-and-effect results toddlers love. Develops eye-hand skills as well as visual tracking. 18 mos. & up. Their original PLATINUM AWARD-winning Tomy Ball Party Roll Around Tower and Ball Party Bounce remain top rated (they are very similar to the Edushape toys reviewed above). (800) 445-8347.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Learn-Around Playground
(LeapFrog $59.99 Score:) This innovative table invites kids to explore and make things happen. A great first birthday gift! Sitting down, tots can play the ball drop and tap the shape tabs and textures. On their feet they can cruise around the sturdy table and test the pop-up and spinning shapes, press the letters that say their names, and activate the keyboard. The ball drop has jazzy percussion sound effects and says the color of each ball as it falls. Has volume control and can be enjoyed with sound off. 9 mos. & up. (800) 701-5327.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
WaterWheel Table
(Step 2 $39.99 Score:) We had mixed reviews on this one. For stand-up water play this seems a great choice for the patio or terrace. It doesn’t take up a lot of room and allows for spilling, filling, splashing, and getting good and wet! But be forewarned, there seem to be problems with leaks! The plugs on the table are not water tight, so you will have to refill this and not use it indoors. That said, this is also a toy that needs total adult supervision. (800) 347-8372. See Preschool chapter for sand and water table, p. 100.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Triple Play Tunnel
(Step 2 $39.99 Score:) Knowing how toddlers love going in and out of their own spaces, this is great fun—especially for tight spaces. Our toddler tester liked using it for cruising around as well as crawling through (800) 347-8372.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Little Champs Sports Center
(Little Tikes $29.95 Score:) Toddlers like to imitate older siblings and this little sports set allows them to shoot baskets, hit a baseball, and spin a football. The basketball has a sound chip scoreboard that cheers them on and the baseball clicks as it turns on the post. 9 mos. & up. (800) 321-0183.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Rocking Wobble Whale
(Mamas and Papas $79.99 Score:) (Shopping Note: We have just been informed that both the Whale and the Duck are unfortunately sold out in the US.) Soft and easy to mount, this blue and green whale has a wooden disc base and plays “If You’re Happy and You Know It” when you press its spout. An almost instant hit with our 18-month-old tester. With its quacking moving beak, Rocking Dudley Duck ($79.99 ) seemed almost “alive” to our little tester. Once the surprise passed, the bright yellow bird with crinkle sounds in its wings became a fine un-feathered friend. Some of our testers found the duck quacking fun; others were less amused. (310) 631-2222.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Angel Fish Rocker
(Step 2 $40 Score:) Reintroduced, this all-plastic fish has been an old favorite for toddlers. The seat is narrow and pretty easy to mount. Can be used indoors or out. But a warning: supervision is needed as rapid rocking can lead to spills. This is bigger than your average rocker and has been known to tip. (800) 347-8372.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Pushing Car and Doll Pram
(Haba $159 Score:) Our test family with three under the age of 4 got right into active pretend play with both of these beautifully styled push-about toys. The Push Car ($159 ) is low to the ground and balanced enough so that a little sister or a big teddy bear could ride about as a larger child pushed. Furnished with seat cushions and pocket for treasures; made of varnished beech wood with rubber wheels, it maneuvers well, even in tight spaces. Equally well designed, a red and blue Doll Pram ($130 ) comes with a cushion seat and accommodates several dolls. You can adjust the push bar as children grow, so this will grow into the preschool years. (800) 468-6873.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Roll-a-Rounds Drop & Roar Dinosaur
(Fisher-Price $35 Score:) This is a ball run with multiple openings from which balls appear. Played with sounds and lights or in silence, it can be enjoyed by a sitting-down baby. That said, this is a large piece of green plastic and younger babies may have trouble fitting the balls into the holes on the front of the dino, rather than dropping them in—as they can in Roll-a-Rounds Swirlin’ Surprise Gumballs ($17.99 4 1⁄2). This is a much smaller ball drop with a lever that pops the gumballs out. It employs more direct cause and effect, but it does tip over easily. Either is a better choice than the Jungle Friends Treehouse (), a frenetic ball drop with over-the-top sounds and twirling bases. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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