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Product Type: Toys

 


2005 Award
Hogwarts Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) Our testers wrote: "smaller than the original, but neat the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99 ), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Castle of Morcia
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) If all things medieval intrigue your builder, bring home this satisfying new castle from the new Knights' Kingdom series. Each component fits onto a plastic base, there are lots of moving pieces, and as our tester commented: "just a lot of pieces—but it wasn’t hard!" There’s also a new Hogwarts Castle ($89.99/928 pieces), "smaller than the original." "Neat, the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99/242 pieces), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Crane
(Playmobil $69.99 Score:) For construction-minded kids, you have to check out the incredible large working crane that moves up, down, and around! One of the coolest toys of the year. Also new and noteworthy from Playmobil this year, their Zoo ($66.99) with lots of animals, play areas. Be forewarned-there's a lot of parental construction time here but our playmobil fans couldn't wait to get started. Also new Noah's Ark ($66.99). Previous award-winning Airport ($49.99) and Fire Station ($64.99) have been scaled down in price and size. Add-ons include Fire Chief’s Car and, as a sign of the times, a HAZMAT Crew. 5 & up. (800) 752-9662.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Play-Doh Fuzzy Friends Farm
(Hasbro $9.99 Score:) Play-Doh is one of those products you either love or hate as a parent. We are long-time fans—the product can be used to build hand strength, and small pretend settings like this new farm are fun for pretend play as well. Classic Play-Doh ($2 & up ) without the doodads is still our favorite since it is the most open-ended. Remember, this self-hardening dough dries out if left uncovered. 3 & up. (800) 327-8264.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Kiddo Supertrike
(Kettler $80 Score:) This gender-proof primary-colored trike has a stroller bar and high back bucket seat (seat belt available), storage bin, and air-filled tires. Well built, this has an adjustable four-position frame for growth. Kettler trikes tend to run small and fit younger preschoolers only. (757) 427-2400.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Scrambler Pedal Coupe
(Step 2 $70 Score:) Our testers really enjoyed this innovative little front-wheel-drive pedal car that has “center-pivot” steering in the handles on either side of the gender-free red vehicle. Kids use both arm and leg power. 21⁄2 & up. New for 2006, Zip & Zoom Pedal Car ($70), has a similar mechanism but with a more open design and will fit bigger kids. But first reports indicate the wheels did not have as much grip-or maybe the bigger passenger was too heavy. Test ride this one! (800) 347-8372.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2005 Award
Rocking Horses
(Mamas and Papas $99 Score:) Talk about classics, this is the year of the rocking horse! Whatever the size of your preschooler, there’s a rocking horse that will fit. These are plush ponies with furry manes, tails, and leather saddles. For younger preschoolers, there’s Topaz ($99/seat height 16") or Acorn ($169.99/seat height 19"). For the biggest rider, consider the gliding Patches ($299/seat height 26"). (310) 631-2222.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Super Sounds Soccer
(Fisher-Price $29.99 Score:) Young soccer players will enjoy hitting the inflatable ball into the goal (approximately 2' tall x 31?2' wide). You can adjust the target that yells "goal" when hit! Our experienced builder parent said this was a little tricky to put together. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
2 in 1 Hitting Trainer Hit-a-Way Jr.
(Coop Kids $29.99 Score:) Our baseball players-in-training can work on their swing with the well-designed low-tech hitting machine. The ball is tethered so that you don’t have to run after every hit. Be sure to load the base with water for added stability. (760) 931-5733. For a T-ball that also converts into a battery-operated hitting machine, our testers gave high marks to the new Triple Hit Baseball (Fisher-Price $25). (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Hook, Line & Sprinkler
(Little Tikes $13 Score:) Nemo-esque fish spin around a little starfish. Can be used in a stationary position for younger children. Turn the starfish, and now the sprinkler will spin and shoot water in different directions. Also new but disappointing, the Ultimate Beach Ball Sprinkler ($13 ). Once you hook the ball up to the hose, you can’t really kick it around. Testers gave this a thumbs down. (800) 321-0183.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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