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Product Type: Toys

 


2008 Award
Scrabble Me
(Winning Moves Games $19.99 Score:) Two to four players, each with a small individual Scrabble board is the way you play this new and faster paced version of a classic. Players put their words down at the same time on their own little boards and score each round. Game play goes on until all 100 tiles are gone. But watch out! When you play a wild tile (a blank tile) you swap boards with another player. High scorer is the winner. 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.

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Step 2 Fun Flow Sink
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) The first review we got on this product was glowing! Our 2 and 3 year old testers loved the pump feature and pleasure of turning the water on and off. Our parent noted that the funnels and cups that came with the sink were just the right size for the kids to use and enjoy. The reservations at first were about the fact that the sink did not have a drain hole- making cleaning the sink a bit complicated. The assembly of the housing around the pump and batteries got low marks from this parent as well (an architect) but her child loved the table so much that she was willing to forgive the design flaws. A week later, we got a follow up review which told a very different story. The on-off button on the pump jammed after after a few days and the water leaks between the layers-- her concern is possible mildew. So as much as we think the concept of the toy is fantastic, it does need some tweaking to be a full fledged winner. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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2008 Awards
Infantino Monkeys Jungle Retreat Activity Gym
(Infantino $59.99 Score:)

We like the textured and clear graphics on this  36” x 28 ˝ “ play mat with a warm orange, teal, brown and green palate. Patterned cross bars allow for dangly toys for baby to gaze at and eventually reach out and touch. It has a polka-dotted tummy time pillow and peek-a-boo surprises. We can do without some of the electronic sounds and lights on the Tiki Hut, but baby cannot turn them on, so you don’t need to, either. The safety mirror on the same hut is somewhat distorted, but that said, this is a more attractive mat than most. Newborn and up.

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

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2008 Award
Pottery Barn Kids Jumbo Inflatable Bowling Ball and Pins
(Pottery Barn Kids $89 Score:) When we first heard about these super-sized bowling pins we wondered if they would really go over when hit with the really large bowling ball - oddly enough a common problem with toy bowling sets. You probably don't worry about that as an issue--but it is one of our pet peeves--along with boats that don't float. The good news here is that they do go over when hit. The pins are 42" high and the ball is 25" in diameter. Note: each set comes only with three pins. The "big" size is really fun for preschoolers who will enjoy moving them about!

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

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2008 Awards
Little Tikes 6 in 1 Town Center Playhouse
(Little Tikes $399.99 Score:)

One of our preschool testers thought this was absolutely perfect-- they had thought of everything but a porta potty! (His dad's an architect). What's really innovative about this playcenter is that it literally opens all the way up to reveal many different pretend settings. There is a cafe (with a chalkboard for specials, a bistro table, two chairs, and a sink), a gas station (here you can make the price as low as you want!), a town center with a retail store, and a sports center (complete with a basketball hoop, soccer net, and a place for toss games. Center is wheelchair accessible. Note: The only negative we heard back on this product is that it took over two hours to put together. If you're not particularly handy- this may be a problem. As with all of these plastic playsets, we pass on the recommendation we received years ago from Little Tikes to use liquid soap. It sometimes makes the pieces go together faster!

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

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

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Swingball Tetherball Set
(Spinmaster $49.99 Score:) We took this out to the beach and watched as both kids and adults took a turn. The idea here is very much like the original tetherball, except the ball is a tennis ball and you're hitting it with a plastic racket rather than your hands. You start by placing the rope in the middle of the corkscrew like track on the top of the pole. One person wants to get the rope to the top of the pole and the other wants to go the bottom. Our only concern was that someone would get hit with the tennis ball and that it would sting. During the course of the day, that only happened once with teens who were playing pretty intensely. For younger kids this is a really fun way to work on hand eye coordination. Adults enjoyed taking a turn as well. Note: We have not received our safety verification form back from this company and we have not tested it in an independent lab for lead or phthalates.

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

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2008 Awards
Step2 50s Diner
(Step 2 $149.99 Score:)

Kudos to Step2 for coming up with a really fun, gender-free play setting. Our preschool and toddler siblings enjoyed playing diner (the older sister was running the place, of course!). On one side you have all the kitchen equipment of a traditional toy kitchen (sink, frig and oven) with the bonus of a grill top! The other side has a place for two customers to sit at the “booth”, complete with tabletop jukebox that plays a few tunes from the era, and a bell when you need service (our testers thought the bell could be louder). Diner also comes with coffee pot, dishes, silverware, and play food (our testers were big fans of the ice cream cones).

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

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

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2008 Award
Schylling Color Roller
(Schylling $19.99 Score:)

Finding a great toddler toy can be really tough going- they're done with baby toys and not quite ready for more complicated preschool toys (they tend to sit on them!). So we're really always excited when we find a great new toy right on the mark for this age group. This color roller has a big color wheel built into the enclosed base. At rest, you can see blue, yellow and red...but start pushing and those colors combine to create the colors of the rainbow. Very neat. One parent found the clicky noise annoying, but other testers really thought it was fun. We loved the elegance of the design. No batteries required.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP AWARD:Holding on while letting go is not so simple for kids who are just getting up and about on their wobbly feet. Letting go of your hand or the furniture can be encouraged with this kind of push toy that makes sounds and spinning colors.

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

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2008 Awards
Tiny Love Sweet Island Dreams Mobile
(Tiny Love $44.99 Score:)

One of our pet peeves is that most mobiles don't have objects that point down towards the baby. Most are just bland room decorations that go round and round with no focus on the intended user- your baby! In contrast, this new mobile from Tiny Love (as with their other entries in this category) get the point. Here, there's a monkey, giraffe and bird that all are tilted towards your baby. They move slowly so that they provide great tracking opportunities. Also a plus there is a remote control so that you can turn on the music (Mozart or Bach) or two nature sounds. They each play for twenty minutes. Remember mobiles need to be removed as soon as your baby can reach them (usually by 5 months).

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

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2009 Award
Acting Out Musical Can Can Skirt
(Acting Out $37 Score:)

The latest in the line of play skirts that have motion activated music. The black and white shirt with black and pink ruffles is very grown up. Your child will most likely love the skirt and the can-can music. Be forewarned, if you have a headache, this is not the skirt for small spaces! We can't stop activating the music in our office--and now we keep singing the song too! Just like being at the Folies Bergère! Ooo,la la!

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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