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Product Type: Toys

 


2008 Award
Fur Real Friends Biscuit My Lovin Pup
(Hasbro $199 Score:) We love Biscuit. It's really that simple. He's a 24" tall pup with golden hair. We know he's not real but his facial expression are amazingly cute and dog like (in that perfect animatronic kind of way). As gushy as this review is sounding, we should note that Biscuit also does several tricks (via voice recognition). He can sit, lie down, shake your hand, wag his tag, bark-- of course he doesn't always do it right, which is also very puppy like. We suppose a stricter toy reviewer would give low marks for functionality--but it just made us all love him more. We do wish that Biscuit wasn't so pricey and that he did not run on 6 D batteries (you do have to turn him off or you'll be spending a small fortune on batteries)- but he's really very special in the novelty dog category. He doesn't walk, but he is very huggable and may do the trick if a real dog is not a possibility. The smaller Fur Real Tumbles (he rolls over) is just not as good. The internal mechanism that makes it possible for him to roll over takes away from his huggability-his fur is also not as nice as Biscuit's. For a smaller dog, at a lower price- look at last year's Lucky, the Incredible Wonder Dog from Zizzle.

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. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Playmobil Horse Farm Pony Set
(Playmobil $99.99 Score:)

If all things ponies and horses are big in your house, here's the perfect gift to bring home! A new horse farm that comes with a red roofed stable (with room for three ponies). Set includes three ponies, food, fence, grooming gear, wheel barrel, hay, ladder, three people and the all important shovel. As with all Playmobil sets, for a younger child you'll have to help with the set up - making this a great parent/child project. Your child will then have a wonderful pretend setting to enjoy with you or independently. Other add on that are fun and will extend the pretend possibilities: Horse Washing Station ($24.99), Horse Trailer ($42.99), and Trotting Racer ($8.99).

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. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Cheekeyes Wooden Dinosaur Animal Set
(Cheekeyes $29.99 Score:)

You know that we're big on wooden blocks as basic gear for the preschool set. Adding props to blocks can spark new directions for dramatic play. We love this new line of handsomely crafted wooden dinosaurs. The company also offers a set of farm animals, trees, a cave and a mountain. The dinos and the animals are outstanding in this category. They are very smooth (as all wooden toys should be) and they have paint only on the sides. Available only on line at oompa.com.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Pengoloo
(Blue Orange Games $29.95 Score:)

This is a concentration game played with a group of wooden penguins that you line up with colored eggs hidden inside. Players take turns lifting two penguins and trying to make a match with the colored dice they throw. Object is to collect six penguins on your iceberg. It’s not easy! 2-4 players. Game time is 10-15 minutes. 4 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Playskool Tonka Bounce Back Racer
(Hasbro $34.99 Score:)

Finding a remote control vehicle for the preschool set can be challenging. The controls can be too confusing and the vehicle can have too much power--which is why we were really happy when we tried out this new Tonka remote control vehicle. Much like the old Tyco remotes, this vehicle flips (once you get the hang of it, it's really fun to make happen). What's different? It's covered in squishy, soft plastic and comes with big soft rubber tires. In other words, no sharp edges or parts to hurt small hands. You do need to be close by for the remote to work. There are also three battery compartments (we'll admit it, we only saw two for awhile!). Other great remotes for this age group come from Kid Galaxy.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Beleduc Dinosaur Hand Puppets
(HaPe $7.50 Score:)

These Velour hand puppets are sure to make a hit with dinosaur lovers. They fit like a glove. Uncomplicated and ready for dramatic play of the prehistoric kind. Inexpensive enough for good stocking stuffer gifts for the science minded. Tuck in a book on the same subject.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Award
Playmobil Dinosaur Collection
(Playmobil $14.99 Score:)

There's a favorite dino for every one in this wonderful new line of prehistoric creatures. There's the Pteranodon ($14.99), a really impressive Brachiosaurus ($44.99), a fun Triceratops ($39.99) that comes with a baby, a green T-Rex with Velociraptors ($24.99) (that is sufficiently ferocious) and a Spinosaurus that comes with a dino next and two babies ($24.99). Each come with a variety of play pieces (caves/mountains, smaller dinos). We took off points for the people included in the sets. While the people are clearly of the "Jurassic Park" variety, it still seems unnecessarily to confusing to us to include them. Our testers also loved the smaller Dino Transporter Explorer Quad ($9.99).

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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D REX Interactive Dinosaur
(Mattel $149.99 Score:)

D REX is the most ferocious of the new dinos on the market. He walks, charges, chomps, roars and will respond to your voice and commands. He is covered with a reptile-ish skin to make him more life like than the recent crop of robotic dinos. When we first saw D REX at toy fair, it was clear this was the dino that you would scare your little sister with. He also promises to have a room guard mode. We look forward to testing him. For a slightly less scary dino, look at Fisher-Price's Spike and for the preschool set, Playkool's Kota My Tricertaops.

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

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2009 Award
Playhut Build a Dino Honeycomb Hut
(Playhut $49.99 Score:) You need plenty of room for this playful dino play setting (164"L x 51" H x 82"D). Comes with individual panels that you connect in order to make your own giantic green dino that has lots of different crawl spaces. Great for play dates, rainy days and countless dramatic play scenarios. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2008 Awards
eeboo Thoughtful Girl Paper Dolls
(eeBoo $14.95 Score:)

An old fashioned favorite minus the frustration of having to cut around those tiny tabs or tricky edges! This is not to say old paper cutouts are out. But these paper dolls are for a younger player. The precut clothes and dolls allow girls of 4 and 5 to develop the dexterity of placing the stick-on clothes onto a pair of multicultural paper dolls. Made of sturdy cardboard they are almost 8” tall and come with two sheets of clothes that stick-on like your old Colorforms. To add to their dramatic play value, each set includes a two-sided setting that stands up like a stage set. There’s an inside scene and an outside setting. Sasha, a redhead and “Botanist” and Jasmine, an African American girl, who is an “explorer.” They are just one of several available sets. Others include Elodie and Naomi, a musician and artist or Phoebe and Iris, a poet and astronomer. An ideal choice for quiet time, travel, or waiting room wiggles. 4-7.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP Award An excellent toy for developing language, naming parts of the body, clothing, colors, as well as story telling skills. Unlike the usual paper doll cut-outs these dolls demand a different kind of dexterity. Children may find lifting the plastic pieces up challenging. One way to make that easier is to place them on a less shiny surface. Put the pieces on construction paper or a wooden table. Game: Play a color game, giving a riddle and asking child to find a piece of clothing that is the color of a green turtle. Or make the riddle about something you can wear on your feet that is the color of a truck tire. With older kids switch roles and have them give you a riddle about something they see.

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

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