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Product Type: Toys

 

Vidster Digital Video Camera
(Mattel $69.99 Score:) Our testers were looking forward to putting the Vidster and Hasbro's VCamNow to the test. The idea of a video camera for kids under $100 is very appealing. Rather than hand off your own expensive video camera and hoping for the best, these small kid friendly options seemed like a great breakthrough. Both cameras got initial high marks for design. "Kids this age want gadgets that look like the real thing" noted one parent. However, both products did not test well with our tech savvy kids and their parents. The Vidster view finder was blurry and the output was too dark even when the testers added lots of light. The VideoCamNow had a clear view finder image, but the output was very blurry. "I would have taken both products back" noted one parent.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Swan Lake Musical Dress
(Acting Out $30 Score:)

Push the button in this pink dream dress and your little ballerina has her own orchestra that plays as she dances!Musical chip is hidden in a pocket inside the dress. Once she starts dancing, the music is magically motion activated. One size fits most 3-6 year olds. Or if you prefer, just a multilayered Swan Lake Musical Skirt($24) with elastic waist and sparkle dots. Great for active dramatic play!

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

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2006 Award
Tchaikovsky Musical Dress
(Acting Out $30 Score:)

Push the button in this red tulle and satin dress and your little ballerina has her own orchestra that plays Nutcracker music as she dances! Musical chip is hidden in a pocket inside the dress. Once she starts dancing, the music is magically motion activated. One size fits most 3-6 year olds. Or if you prefer, just a multilayered Nutcracker Musical Skirt($24) with elastic waist and sparkle dots. Great for active dramatic play!

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

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2007 Award
Cranium Hullabaloo DVD Game
(Cranium $24.95 Score:) Plug this DVD in, put the playing mats on the floor, and let the fun begin! Fun for a party or play date, this is an active game that involves kids in wiggling like an octopus, crawling like a lizard, hopping like a kangaroo. As they move to different colored and shaped playmates, kids may find themselves on the same square as a friend. No problem. It’s not a competitive game. Winning is completely by chance as the caller announces the “Lucky Pad” that three kids may be standing on. With live action video of animals and how they move, this game offers lots of opportunities for active play as well as quick rounds for multiple winners. A delightful adaptation of the original Hullabaloo game.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
LONPOS 303 Pyramid and Rectangle Game
(Mic O Mic Americas, Inc. $24.99 Score:) Wow! This is a quiet toy with a huge appeal. Comes in a rectangular case with different colored balls that are connected in different shapes. You're then challenged to fit the pieces into patterns that match the puzzles in the manual. The beginning level is satisifyingly challenging. As the puzzles become more complicated, you'll find yourself addicted to this toy. The company says that there are a total of 363,566 combinations! The box is just 3 x 5.5 so it's very portable --but you'll need a zip lock bag for the pieces if you can't get them all in according to the puzzles! It's the type of toy where our testers said "just one more minute, I almost have it!" Note: we gave the earlier LONPOS 101 an Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Gold Seal Award in 2006.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Symphony Light and Motion Mobile
(Tiny Love $49.95 Score:)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

A monkey, a lion, and a kangaroo are all positioned properly so that baby can focus in on their bright faces. Plays 15 minutes of classical music and nature sounds. This is the newest in our favorite line of mobiles. We still prefer the original Symphony in Motion Deluxe ($49.95 ), which is brightly colored with small shapes that slide on the arms of the mobile, making a pleasing clicking sound as the mobile turns. Comes with a handy remote control. In our opinion this is the best in the category, followed by the Calderesque Symphony-in-Motion Shapes ($39.99 ), the most attractive, but with no remote control. PLATINUM AWARD ’02.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Let's Play Puppets
(Gund $12.99 Score:) Choose a blue elephant, Tootie, lavender hippo, Tibs, or mint green frog, Pippy, for early tracking games and heart-to-heart talks. These soft hand puppets come with a baby puppet for parent and child to use together later. For now, these are fun to share with an older sibling as you play with baby together. Also a good take-along toy for distractions on small trips.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
ActiviTot Developmental Gym
(Tiny Love $83 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

We’ve seen a lot of so-called tummy-time products for infants. This one is a gem. An oversized, pear-shaped mat that pops open, has bright graphics, and is fitted out with disks that toys and arches clamp into. There are toys to hang on the arches for baby to bat at, and a mat that inflates for baby to lie on, tummy-side down. A mirror with music box can also be placed for baby to enjoy her own smiling face. Bigger than anything this company has done before, and our parent testers loved it. Not as portable as the original but still got high marks. Select either Tropic Isle or Sun Garden motif. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
Gymini Duet
(Tiny Love $67 Score:) Sadly, this product has been discontinued.

A clever twist on the original Gymini design with a mat that flips from simple patterns for newborn to gaze at, to an activity mat with sounds and lights to activate on the flip side. Like the original, this has crossing fabric arches that hold dangly toys and a mirror for tummy time. One parent preferred the less expensive versions “without the lights.” We’d pass on the new Gymini Melody Maker ($67 )—we found the music uncharacteristically loud and jarring. Still top rated, Gymini Total Playground Kick & Play ($69 ) PLATINUM AWARD ’06. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Amazing Baby Teether Mirror Rattles
(Kids Preferred $7 Score:) Choose from a puppy-, kitten-, or bear-faced teether rattle. Each of the velour faces with stitched features is surrounded by petals of bold patterned fabrics with crinkle sound and textured teethers. Hang them in the stroller or car seat, or hand off for baby to explore for two-handed play. 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: 2007.

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