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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2006 Awards
Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse
(Little Tikes $280 Score:) Toddlers and preschoolers love having special spaces that are designed just for them. For older toddlers going in and out of the space, playing peek a boo will be the name of the game. As they grow older the pretend play will become more elaborate and detailed. This 58” high playhouse has an innovative design that invites lots of pretend possibilities with four different themed sides to the structure (firehouse/schoolhouse, gas station with pump, grocer store/bank with ATM machine (of course) and a sports wall complete with hoop.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Candy Land DVD Game
(Milton Bradley $29.99 Score:) Put the play mats on the floor and plug this into your DVD player and kids are ready for an active but not too fast moving game that gets them up off the couch. Players move from one of 24 color play mats to another collecting tokens. This type of game is ideal for developing listening skills and color concepts in a playful manner. A grown up will need to supervise. 2-4 players.

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

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2006 Award
Changing Table Flutter Bug Musical Mobile
(Infantino $23 Score:)

Cleverly designed, this "bug" has four patterned wings with colorful ribbons that flutter as they turn to the music. It's a windup music box with old-fashioned sound, rather than the usual electronic type. This attaches to the changing table for three minutes' worth of diversion. This toy has been discontinued.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Gymini Total Playground Kick & Play
(Tiny Love $69 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

This company continues to be the leader in activity mats for young babies. We’d put this mat on the “must have” list for the baby shower. The new feature this year is a kick-and-play area that babies can activate with their feet or bat at from their tummies as they get older. The key difference between this mat and so many others we tested is that the lights and music are soothing and not over-the-top loud or jarring. Comes with a mirror that babies will enjoy. Like the original, this has two arches and dangly toys for gazing at and batting. We also recommend the less expensive version without the lights and music. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Earlyears Click & Play Triangles
(International Playthings $6.99 Score:) Ideal for two-handed play, these three-hinged triangles click as they are opened and closed. A central triangle has a small mirror and the textured triangles are fine for teething. Also new for , Busy Bead Rattle ($9.99 ); this hourglass-shaped toy has beads that drop from one cone to another. The cones turn with a quiet click and the colorful central ring has beads that turn. (800) 445-8347. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Bucket Buddies
(Infantino $20 Score:) Three fabric buckets with happy stitched faces and crinkle ears can nest or stack. There are squeakers, rattles, and jingle sounds along with three crinkly soft play pieces to put in and take out of the buckets. Beautifully crafted in colorful patterned fabrics, a good toy for parent–child games of “knock it down” or “hide and find.” .PLATINUM AWARD ’06. New for 2007, Hula Hut ($17.99 4 ) with a green roof is really much like a fabric block with an opening in the middle for an assortment of sea-inspired rattles to explore together. The new Baby Mail ($24.99 3 ) is a fabric mailbox and is chock-full of important “mail” including a postcard, a gift, and a cupcake. Unfortunately, the postcard has water/gel in it that we don’t care for. (800) 840-4916.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Peek Rattle and Teethe
(Infantino $13.75 Score:)

Four easy-to-grasp hollow fabric blocks, each has a teether attached and interesting textures and patterns to explore. Best of all, one side of each block has a soft see-through vinyl "window" so baby can see and hear the bright plastic rings that are locked inside. Stack them, roll them, toss or taste them, these are a good choice for sitting-up babies.

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

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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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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 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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