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Product Type: Toys

 


2008 Award
Ryan's Room Home Sweet Home Dollhouse
(Small World Toys $139 Score:)

Painted pink with yellow trim, this three-stories-high house has two staircases and lots of room for pretend play. It has a more traditional look of a colonial house with shutters and front door. Access is only from the rear. It comes furnished with bedroom, kitchen and bathroom furniture. For a less expensive house on a smaller scale, testers liked the A-frame Ryan's Room Home Again, Home Again that comes without furniture.  Also special, a three story unfurnished dollhouse Home Is Where the Heart Is ($130) that is opened front, back and from the top for easy side by side play by several children.  This company makes multicultural families and interesting furniture collections, including Livin'It Up ($15), a 9-piece set with chairs, lamp, and a flatscreen TV, of course. Also an unusual, the Fluff'n'Fold Laundry Room.

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

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2008 Award
Toss Your Cookies
(Gamewright $11.99 Score:)

Players must gather five of the same cookie card and the only glass of milk pictured on the circular cards. Players get the right combination (or not) by following the actions on the dice and passing cards left or right. This is a good game for matching skills, directionality, and turn taking. Aside from all that, each round is quick and fun. 3–8 players; 15 mins. 8 & 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: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Air Hogs Havoc Heli
(Spinmaster $39.99 Score:)

The Air Hogs Havoc Heli is our favorite novelty toy of the season. Amazingly lightweight and small, these less-than-6 1⁄2" helicopters hover, flit, and speed about a room operated by a hand held transmitter that "pilots" can operate with ease indoors. Infrared remote control maneuvers the copters up and down, and right or left (and look really really cool with the lights off). They fly for about 5-7 minutes before needing a recharge (takes 15 minutes). OK, they are not for a room with serious art treasures, but they are fun! Buy them singly or, better yet, as a pair for racing and piloting games. Comes with spare tail propellers (smart). 8 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Cat In the Hat I Can Do That Game
(I Can Do That Games $19.99 Score:)

The Cat in the Hat wants to see what players can do. Players flip three cards over and then try to do what the cards say, using the playing pieces provided? For example, can you jump up and down while holding a fish under your chin? There's reading, memory, action, and lots of fun built into this entertaining game for kids 4–8. Also fun, You to the Rescue! Game ($19.99). As in a scavenger hunt, you hide tiny Who cards around the house. Players race against a timer, wearing a Horton hat with Velcro trunk, to find missing Whos. The one who rescues the most Whos wins. 4–8.

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

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2008 Award
Arena
(Playmobil $89.99 Score:) Playmobil meets the Gladiator, with this ancient arena that includes audience seating, trap doors to the lion cages, a wide gate, and a large battle area. Comes with eight figures, two lions, a double harness chariot, and more. One of the most unusual pretend settings we've seen in a long time! They say 5 & up, but will be of more interest to older kids.

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

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2008 Award
Lego Creator Ferris Wheel
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if you’re talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after it’s built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The K’nex Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower
(Crayola $14.99 Score:)

We think everyone needs this tower. It makes everyone smile. Remember the really big box of crayons that smelled just like the beginning of the school year? This is better, but you don't have to do third grade again. Comes with 150 crayons in a round plastic tray; pull up the center, and now you have a tower of colors and a sharpener. Also special, Telescoping Mini Marker Tower with 50 washable mini-markers stored in a holder that lifts into a tower. 5 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Decoupage Diva Tray
(Creativity for Kids $22.95 Score:)

Learning the technique of decoupage is made simple with this kit, which includes a white wooden 17" ✕ 12" tray, with fold-out legs, a precut hole that holds a cup, two sheets of pastel-related art to cut out and paste, glaze, scissors, a foam brush, glitter glue, and gem stones. Older kids like to work on projects that give them a finished product they can use. There is no right or wrong way, yet kids end up with a breakfast tray or writing desk that will be all the more fun to use, since they designed it. May need adult assistance to get started. 7 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Me By Me
(Alex $29.99 Score:)

A really wonderful parent-child activity kit that will result in a memory box you will all enjoy now and even more down the road. The colorful memory box comes with an attractive 15-page book that you fill with photos, drawings, and information about your child’s favorite things. There is also air-hardening clay for making a hand cast, a growth chart, stickers, markers, and glue. 5 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Eye Clops
(Jakks Pacific (Child Guidance) $49.99 Score:)

There's no way of knowing how long this will hold their interest, but it is one amazing "bionic eye" that magnifies objects 200✕ their size! Plug it into the TV screen and look at your skin, a bug, a coin, your sweater. We hope a future model will plug into the computer so you can save slides of your finds. Unlike a classic microscope that is hard for kids to use, this projects images on the TV screen so that they really can marvel at the crystal shapes in table salt and examine the details of a fly or rug fiber. 6 & up.

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

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