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Product Type: Toys

 


2004 Award
Wide Tracker Activity Walker
(Little Tikes $19.99 Score:) Testers gave high marks to Little Tikesí Wide Tracker Activity Walker has a wider opening in the back so kids are less likely to trip themselves on the wheels! This isn't weighted, the way walkers used to be made, so it's not for tots to pull up on.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Naturally Playful Woodland Climber
(Step 2 $179.99 Score:) New this year is Step 2ís Naturally Playful Woodland Climber, done in muted tones (really a matter of personal preference); it comes with a small ladder up to the 27" high platform with a slide on the other side. 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Read to Me Tot Tower
(eeBoo $19 Score:) The Read to Me Tot Tower has sturdy cardboard blocks with handsome illustrations of images to know and name. 1 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Border Collie Puppy
(Folkmanis $36 Score:) Black and white with long silky fur on underside, jowls, and tail, this is a huggable full-body puppet with sweet face and mouth that moves. Still charming, a 30" honey-colored Golden Retriever ($60 ) Also new for , an amazing Great Horned Owl ($50 ) with moving head and eyes that close.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Costumals
(Manhattan Toy $10 Score:) It's hard not to play with these animals dressed up in costumes. There's Beesly Bear, Daisy Dog, and Cleo Cat. Still top rated, Knightingtales Puppets ($10 each). You need all five fingers to make the most of these velour royals-a king, queen, and knight. Perfect for fairy tales.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Olivia Saves the Circus Set
(Madame Alexander $99 Score:) This collection is as scrumptious as Olivia herself. The Circus Set comes in a big hatbox with ringmaster, clown, tight rope-walker, and dog and lion trainer outfits. Lion, dog, and pop-up tent also included. Olivia's Trunk Set ($85) also is very special with Olivia plus ball gown, bathing suit, tutu, two dresses, and lots of jewelry. You can buy Olivia in her red sailor dress with her red purse, striped tights-with articulated ears. 3 & up.

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

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2004 Award
Quercetti Skyrail Suspension Marble Run Sets
(International Playthings $69.99 Score:) You need a lot of space and a good dose of patience to put this together (an adult is needed) but once you're done, you have a truly amazing structure. It takes some finessing to keep the marbles on the track, "but that's part of the fun." Not for the "it's got to work right out of the box" crowd. Marked 6 & up, but really, a grown up will be needed from beginning to end. For a simpler wooden marble run, consider the original BLUE CHIP Blocks & Marbles (Tedco $30 & up).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Lego Inventors Series
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:) (Lego Systems $14.99 & up ) These are more challenging sets that come with a motor. Once built, models can travel on ropes across your room. 9 & up. For beginning builders we still recommend a Lego System Classic Building Set BLUE CHIP (Lego Systems $3.99-$29.99) for more open-ended creations. 5-7.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Mgears
(Learning Resources $36.95 Score:) From the folks that brought you the open-ended Gearbotic sets (BLUE CHIP), here's a more advanced 350-piece set that comes with gears and a motorized wheelbase. We thought this was going to be a huge hit but our testers found the set difficult to do independently and then they didn't think the vehicles went fast enough. We still highly recommend the original nonmotorized BLUE CHIP Gears! Gears! Gears! sets because they are more open-ended and develop problem-solving skills as kids make their own moving machines. ($20/$40). Also new this year, Dizzy Fun Land ($36.95), a gear set with an amusement park theme that our five-year-old tester enjoyed. 5 & up.

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

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Groovy Girls Best Friends Sleepover Game
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:) Our die-hard Groovy Girls fans were very disappointed with this game because the directions were "too complicated, unclear, and way too long!" Testers used the play pieces in their dollhouse instead. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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