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Product Type: Toys

 


2009 Award
Money Monster Banks
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

Two ceramic monster banks come with acrylic and puff paint, paint and sponge brushes, adhesive dots, wiggly eyes, fun fur hair and ideas for decorating. The big bank has a big enough mouth to "eat" bills while the smaller one has an opening for coins. Both have removable plugs that allow kids to get to their savings without breaking the bank. You'll find the acrylic paint needs two coats for good coverage. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Kid Galaxy Movin' Motors
(Kid Galaxy $35 Score:)

Our testers love the clever motorized “robot” that you plug into the body of these construction trucks to make them go forward. Turn the motor around and it powers the dump bed of the Dump ‘N’ Drive Dump Truck or the Pick ‘N’ Plow Backhoe with a digger and claw on the back. These two work better than the Lift ‘N’ Load Bulldozer. These have a whimsical look as the motors have see-through sides that allow you to see the working fans and pistons. Easy enough for pre-schoolers to operate. One tester needed some help learning to load the motor into the right slots. These take 4 AA batteries. 3 & up. 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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2009 Awards
Discovery Deglingos Cat
(All New materials $35 Score:)

A whimsical looking cat with blue eyes and red snout is made of wide wale orange corduroy head and calico legs with squeakers inside. This is an unusual toy with crinkle sound and see-through teething ring and best of all, give the knotted tail a pull and it vibrates. Like other toys in the line, this has the look of a folk art toy. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Awards
Discovery Deglingos Cow Rattle
(All New materials $18 Score:)

A quiet rattle made of soft wide wale corduroy with pink udders along the bottom of the ring and a cow's head at the top. Like other toys in this companies line, it looks like a witty toy from a folk art line. 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: 2009.

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2009 Awards
Playskool Wheel Pals Train Station
(Hasbro $24.95 Score:)

Like a ball roll, this uncomplicated purple and blue upright “railway” has a twisting orange track that is similar to the ramp on a toy garage. Put the red and blue train engines on top, push the engine or the red railroad crossing sign blinks its light as down, down, down, the little engines roll with a “toot toot!” There’s a “chugga chugga” sound of a train-on-tracks as it comes through the green gate. Repetitive action will appeal to toddlers. Preschoolers may use this setting with their building blocks. Takes 2 “AA” batteries. 18 months & up.

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

SNAP IDEAS: Although this is labeled for toddlers, there is nothing babyish looking about this toy. It lends itself to lots of cause and effect action as well as repetition. Watching the little vehicles race down the track also involves visual tracking.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Go! Go! Sports Girls
(Dream Big Toy Co. $22.99 Score:)

These sports minded dolls are all done up in outfits for such active play as softball, swimming, dancing, soccer, and tennis. Each has its own accessory that goes with the sport. The soft fabric dolls have yarn hair, stitched features and come in multi-cultural skin tones. They are a little bigger than the Groovy Girls—sort of like older cousins. We applaud the concept of promoting athletics for girls in their dramatic play. They are cuter in person than their photos on line. 3 & up. 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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Crayola TaDoodles Drop & See
(Crayola $19.99 Score:) Unlike most ball drop toys that run from top to bottom, the ball in this run travels one level at a time. This is a good idea in designing toys for babies. Too many are frenetic and go so fast it is hard for babies to see any cause and effect. Here there are three levels and baby needs to activate the ball to move along at each level with a push of a lever. In a sense, this should make it easier to track visually and puts baby in charge of making the action happen. Each lever activates a sound and motion. Unfortunately, the idea and design did not work as we hoped it would. Several testers reported that the levers were just too hard for even 18 month old babies to activate and that the toy fell over a lot, making it more frustrating than fun for younger kids. The question is--will it hold the interest of older kids. We don’t think so. We really liked the idea of this toy and that it has a volume control and the tower on the side that stores the three balls. The color walls effect color changes, but we doubt babies will see these or understand anything about color mixing. Take 3AA batteries. 9 months & up.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2009 Award
Groovy Girl Mermaids
(Manhattan Toy $25 Score:)

 All three of these new adorable Groovy Girl Mermaids are done in fabric with glitzy velvety mermaid tails with sparkling or satin trims. Open the tail and abracadabra! Two legs! Fold the tail into itself. Choose Macy with Caucasian skin tone and orange pigtails, Maddie with tan skin tone with iridescent trims and lavender and blue hair, or MacKenna, also Caucasian with pink hair and polka-dots. Hard to choose a favorite, they are all so special. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Kinder-Ready Alphabet Clue Cards
(Elmer's $10 Score:)

Two piece puzzles fit together when kids match the two parts of a butterfly or caterpillar, etc. This alphabet set is done with art by renowned illustrator, Eric Carle. The matching halves show upper and lower case images of the letter illustrated. The reverse side of the puzzle shows the name of the picture with upper and lower case. These may be useful for building sight vocabulary for beginning readers.

We were less happy with the Rhyming and Opposite Clue Cards because the two concepts are not the same, though the playing pieces will be mixed up in one box. We also found the opposite concepts a bit confusing. For example, one set shows a peanut in a shell and another with the shell cracked—the concept here is suppose to be open and closed; we think a window or door would have done this more clearly. This is just one example of several pairs that are easily misunderstood. If you decide to buy these, we suggest you put the two sets into separate ‘baggies’ for less confusion and talk about the opposite concepts. 3 & up.

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

This toy is only available at Barnes & Noble until 2010

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Award
Kinder-Ready Sizes & Shapes
(Elmer's $10 Score:)

Two piece puzzles with parent and child pairs to match as well as set of objects to match to geometric shapes. Unless they are in training for Jeopardy there’s no need to make a fuss over learning the proper names for animal young such as the cat fish type fish with its “fingerlings” or the Swan with its “cygnets”, or the seahorse with its “fry.” The art by illustrator Eric Carle is charming and the concept of big and small as well as shapes are key here. Some of the vocabulary feels like SAT’s for tots…way over the top. That said, this is a nice set of puzzles for telling stories, matching and even color and counting concepts. 3 & up.

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

This toy is only available at Barnes & Noble until 2010

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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