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Product Type: Toys

 


2003 Award
Crayola Window FX
(Crayola $3.99 Score:) Remember using glass wax with stencils for holiday decorations? Here's a much more colorful and easy-to-use update! These window paint markers allow kids to draw directly on windows and glass doors, AND it comes right off with water. An open-ended product for all seasons. 4 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Le Most Cute Objects & Hand Painted Shakers
(Creativity for Kids $14 Score:) Three charming ceramic boxes, shaped like an over-stuffed chair, a tiny birdhouse, and a stack of luggage. These come glazed in white with metal rims, hinges and clasps. Kids can paint and either bake them or simply leave them for a week to lock the colors. Since these have more details to paint than most, they are a better choice for older painters with the dexterity for fine details. Also new for 2003, Hand Painted Shakers ($12 12) Two hefty white ceramic shakers for salt or pepper. Still top rated, Paint Your Own Ceramic Tea Set ($15 ) or a Dog Dish ($18 ). Adult supervision required for baking. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Paint-Your-Own Chair
(Action Products $34.99 Score:) A '50s-styled 36" folding canvas sling chair that kids paint with their own design. However, the company's Bubble Chair ($16 ) received poor marks from our testers for being too small and hard to paint.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Griffin puppet
(Folkmanis $50 Score:) All of this company's oversized puppets double as big huggables that older kids enjoy. The mythical Griffin had great appeal to older kid testers and adults. 5 & up. We fell in love with the company's 30" honey-colored Retriever. Also special, a furry 23" Giant Panda puppet ($56 ) with velvety paws and leathery claws. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lace-a-Saurus
(Lauri $11.99 Score:) These precut felt puppets with a dino theme are just right for your dinosaur fan with six pre-cut dinosaur hand puppets and one finger puppet. Kids lace them up and use them for storytelling. Kits come with yarn and big plastic needle for sewing (which develops fine-motor skills kids need for writing). 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Super Gymnast Barbie
(Mattel $19.99 Score:) No great unusual Barbies this year. Our top pick: Super Gymnast or, of the straight "pink" variety, the Ballet Star Barbie-comes complete with long and short tutus and two crowns. At least they're all active! Also Barbie Rapunzel with hair that grows (with extensions).

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

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2003 Award
Kart Maniax Stunt Pit
(Mattel $19.99 Score:) Of all the new track sets from Hot Wheels our testers gave the highest marks to the Kart Maniax Stunt Pit. However, they all thought the set should come with two karts ($9.99 for each additional kart). We agree! Our testers also liked the Octoblast ($39.99 ) - the marquee racing set of the year. The cars travel quickly and it is more stable than most of its predecessors. Like most of these closed sets it will likely have short-term appeal.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
K'NEX Electronic Arcade
(KNEX $89.99 Score:) You can build this as either a one-person pinball or a two-person speedball machine. Very challenging to build but satisfying to our advanced K'nex testers. Even our teen testers needed adult assistance. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Leap Pad
(LeapFrog $34.99 Score:) We really wanted to love this electronic reading aid, but found the content disappointing and beyond the targeted 4-7 crowd. Labeled 4 & up, it introduces skills way beyond preschoolers' ability. Leap Pad Pro, aimed at second-fifth graders, has so much text on a page, it's frustrating to young readers and limits older ones. The company should hook up with a solid beginning-readers series to match their innovative technology.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: .

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GeoSafari Challenge Globe
(Educational Insights $59 Score:) We had trouble knowing how to "buzz in" on the quiz-styled globe with 7,500 questions for up to four players. Like all the new talking globes, you can't answer many of the questions by simply using the globe-better have an atlas! 8 & up. The GeoSafari World ($59) has 5,000 questions, but again you'd need an atlas, since many questions cannot be answered by looking at the globe.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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