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Product Type: Toys

 

Bella Dancerella
(Spinmaster $29.99 Score:) This dancing DVD with props did not impress our testers or their moms. One word: “Boring,” said our 8-year-old testers who felt the intro took way too long. The references to using your left and right foot are going to be well beyond most 4, 5 and 6s. One tester liked the new Tap Dance DVD but the adjustable tap dance shoes did not stay on—no matter what they tried. (800) 622-8339.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Woody Click Firehouse
(HaPe $99 Score:) This firehouse with mini firetrucks, firefighters and other pretend props is part of a new line of wooden pretend settings that are ideal as props for block building and pretend play. Also notable in the line is a police station and hospital, the latter with heliports and their own vehicles and figures. They can be taken apart and rebuilt, but this takes some dexterity and adult help. That said, these are handsome. Look for the construction trucks, too in bright yellow. All of these came too late for separate review in the annual book, but they are all Platinum winners. Choosing the right one will be your pleasure.

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

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2006 Award
Teddy the Teaching Bear
(Educational Insights $19.99 Score:) Colors, shapes, counting and other matching games are built into this clever little no-batteries needed quiz machine. More fun than a workbook, but the content is similar. There are 24 two sided cards that fit into a grid. Look at item on the left and find the matching item in the grid. Place the Teddy on the right match and its arm goes up. SO this is a self-correcting toy that reinforces reading symbols from left to right. No reading is required, but the mechanics of reading line-by-line and left to write and seeing details, as well as matching and language are all built into the play. They say 3 & up. We’d say more like 4-5. (800) 995-4436.

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

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2006 Award
Wild Adventure Mini Golf
(Milton Bradley $49.99 Score:) This is a plug-in-and-putt game for multigenerational fun! Better than a trip to the miniature golf course, it has six different settings that players can swing through with the plastic putter and a tee that you turn to change the direction of the ball. Can be played solo or with others. Another good choice for getting kids up on their feet and playing actively. 6 & up. (888) 836-7025.

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

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2006 Award
Great Big Creamy Bear
(Mary Meyer $130 Score:)

As always, we find selecting one winner totally unbearable! Here are our top picks: a big bear, two medium-sized bears, and a wee little baby bear: Great Big Creamy Bear (Mary Meyer $130/36" ) Remem-ber the oversized bear you always dreamed of winning at the fair? This one is much better, because he’s totally huggable, soft and delicious! 36" big, this memorable bear will be great to talk to and lean on. Also comes Kinda Big ($30/20" ). (800) 451-4387. Or consider some of our other best bears of the year: Smushy Bear (North American Bear $40 ) is a floppy tan 25" bear of huggability with a smushy body, floppy head, and velvety nose. (800) 682-3427. Cuddly Pals Big Pokey (Gund $20 ) A pudgy 16" soft bear with stitched features and honey-colored fur, all dressed up with an organdy bow. (800) 448-4863.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Cuddly Pals Big Pokey
(Gund $20 Score:) As always, we find selecting one winner totally unbearable! Here are our top picks: One of our winners is Cuddly Pals Big Pokey (Gund $20 ) A pudgy 16" soft bear with stitched features and honey-colored fur, all dressed up with an organdy bow. (800) 448-4863. Also consider: a big bear, two medium-sized bears, and a wee little baby bear: Great Big Creamy Bear (Mary Meyer $130/36" ) Remem-ber the oversized bear you always dreamed of winning at the fair? This one is much better, because he’s totally huggable, soft and delicious! 36" big, this memorable bear will be great to talk to and lean on. Also comes Kinda Big ($30/20" ). (800) 451-4387. Smushy Bear (North American Bear $40 ) is a floppy tan 25" bear of huggability with a smushy body, floppy head, and velvety nose. (800) 682-3427.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Smushy Bear
(North American Bear Co. $40 Score:)

As always, we find selecting one winner totally unbearable! Here are our top picks: Smushy Bear (North American Bear $40 ) is a floppy tan 25" bear of huggability with a smushy body, floppy head, and velvety nose. (800) 682-3427. Or consider some of our other best bears of the year: A big bear, two medium-sized bears, and a wee little baby bear: Great Big Creamy Bear (Mary Meyer $130/36" ) Remem-ber the oversized bear you always dreamed of winning at the fair? This one is much better, because he’s totally huggable, soft and delicious! 36" big, this memorable bear will be great to talk to and lean on. Also comes Kinda Big ($30/20" ). (800) 451-4387. Cuddly Pals Big Pokey (Gund $20 ) A pudgy 16" soft bear with stitched features and honey-colored fur, all dressed up with an organdy bow. (800) 448-4863.

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

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2006 Award
Harry Potter LUMOS Book Light
(Lightwedge $34.95 Score:) Better than a flashlight under the covers, the Harry Potter LUMOS Book Light PLATINUM AWARD (Lightwedge $34.95 ) comes with an acrylic lens that you place over the book page and it lights the page evenly. Truly amazing! Also comes sans Harry Potter motif and in smaller versions. You’ll want your own. (877) 777-9334.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Power Brain YoYo
(Hasbro $10.99 Score:) We wish we had had this yo-yo when we were kids! While some purists may think of it as the yo-yo for dummies, we love the fact that it knows how to come back up with its "auto-return technology." It also makes doing tricks such as "walk the dog" that much easier! One of our testers did warn that "you have you watch out not to hit yourself in the face--it comes up really fast!" That said, this was one of the favorite toys of our older testers.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
ETX 105PE Telescope
(Meade $699 Score:) Our reviewers gave high marks to this model because it comes with the Autostar computer controller (usually found only on much more expensive models). The Autostar allows the viewer to find celestial objects by using the handheld automated controller. The model also comes with a tripod. We would recommend this model for tweens and up. A worthy investment for a family of stargazers! Still top rated, ETX 90AT ($595). 10 & up.

Age: . Award Year: 2006.

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