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Product Type: Toys

 


2004 Award
Thomas & Friends Mr. Jolly's Chocolate Factory
(RC2 Learning Curve $50 Score:) We like the "magic" of this chocolate-making factory (even if it’s pretend)! The Quarry Mine Tunnel ($25 ) got a high rating even though some of the trains got stuck going through; they liked "the momentum as they go through the tunnel." The Clock Tower ($25) is controlled by turning the roof, which makes the drawbridge go up and down. Our two favorite accessories: the Rescue Hospital ($50 )—press Harold (the helicopter) down on the helicopter pad and the ambulance pops out; and the Carousel ($50 ) plays music as it spins the magnetic circus animals. 3 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Light & Sound Steam Engine
(Brio $15 Score:) Here’s the little engine that could! It makes that chug along sound that steam engines make. The sound changes the faster you push the train along. The "boiler" also lights up as it’s put into action. Still top rated, Brio’s Fire Station ($40 ) that comes with a battery-powered fire engine. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Tonka All-Terrain Crane
(Funrise $29.99 Score:) Our three-year old tester enjoyed making the crane go up and down while he placed different toys on the hook. It took some time to get the hang of making it work (one switch is counterintuitive) but it had lasting play value. We also recommend the Lights and Sound Dump Truck (Funrise $14.99 ) Comes with a construction hat, figure and road crew accessories. 3 & up. (800) 882-3808.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
RC Racing Team
(Mega Bloks $24.99 Score:) One racing base with three different interchangeable chassis. Remote control is easy to use and the car goes pretty fast. A good starting RC vehicle for the preschool crowd. They say 2 & up; we’d say more like 3 & up. (800) 465-6342.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Plan City Station
(Brio $70 Score:) The latest addition to the Plan City. A multi-level station with bright green curved roof gives this a modern look. Can be used with the Deluxe Road System ($40 ) with bridges and ramps for trucks and cars. Still top rated, PlanToys Airport ($75 ). Ready for take-offs, a wooden airport with soaring roof, tower, ramps, and elevator. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. Parking Garage ($60 ) is a handsome, nonelectronic garage with elevator, ramps, and heliport on top. 3 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’02. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Doll Houses Comparison Shopper
(Brio $50 Score:) Dollhouses should be kept simple for little hands. In wooden dollhouses, there are three great collections. You can’t go wrong with any of them. From Plan Toys: Choose either of their modern-looking A-frames ($90–$125 ) with open roofs for easy access, or their Classic Dollhouse (Brio $70/$50 for add-on basement ). PLATINUM AWARD ’01. New for , a grand two-story Victorian Dollhouse ($200 1?2) with two staircases (which fall down too easily) and removable partitions for small-scale remodeling. From Small World Toys: Ryan’s Room Deluxe Home Is Where the Heart Is Dollhouse, three stories high (Small World Toys $100 ) PLATINUM AWARD ’03. An add-on balcony and garage with ramp are available ($50) or consider their smaller Home Again, Home Again A-Frame ($130) that can be enlarged with an add-on basement and stairs ($70). Multicultural families and furnishings for both companies are sold separately and run between $15–$20 per room. We thought the Ryan’s Room Making Muscles exercise equipment set was a sign of the times. From Alex: My Dollhouse, Platinum Award ’01 ($169 ), has three floors done in bright colors/patterns and comes with 22 pieces of furniture. Brio (888) 274-6869/Small World Toys (800) 421-4153/Alex (800) 666-2539. Fisher-Price’s plastic Special Edition Townhouse ($99.99 ) is fully furnished and has sound effects that our testers loved; crackling fireplace, ringing phone, running water, chiming doorbell, and lights! 4 & up. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2005 Award
Happy Hands Hog and Wolf Puppets
(Mary Meyer $15 Score:) Just right for a lively telling of the Three Pigs, bring home these 13" full-body hand puppets. The pig is very cheerful and the wolf is not too scary! Made with a nubby finish, these are pleasing to use and will be enjoyed by the next age group as well. The Happy Lion and new Happy Tiger and Dino are also charming. (800) 451-4387.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2004 Awards
Dr. Seuss Hand Puppets
(Manhattan Toy $16 Score:) The Cat in the Hat, The Grinch, Max, and even Horton are some of the favorite Seuss characters that you can bring to life with these easy-to-use hand-puppets. New for , the Lorax. Also fun, Scufflies puppets ($10 each) done in wacky purple, blue, or red fabric—easy to operate for small puppeteers. Still top rated, Handy Work Heroes ($10 each ) community workers. 3 & up. (800) 541-1345.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Dogs of the Year 2
(Gund $24 Score:) Best of Show: Gibson (Gund $24.99 1?2) a two-tone, incredibly soft floppy 14" pup that will fill up your arms! Then there’s Gus (Gund $24 ), a caramel pup with a darker patch of fur on one eye. (732) 248-1500. And then there’s what we’re told is the hottest dog of the season, a pink French poodle named Penelope (Mary Meyer $15 ) for those who can’t get enough pink! Flip Flops (Mary Meyer $15 ) are the ultimate in relaxed plush! These animals flop over and are made of extremely soft fabric. Our favorites: the new Pugsley Pug, Libby Yellow Lab, and Lucky Black Lab. (800) 451-4387.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Dylan
(Gund $22 Score:) One of our Bears of the Year, Dylan is a 16" hefty honey-toned bear with lighter contrasting muzzle and paws. (737) 248 1500

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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