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Product Type: Toys

 


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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2004 Award
Bebe Do Doll
(Corolle $74 Score:)

Bebe Do is a 14" drink-and-wet, all-vinyl bath doll with potty, bottle, and diaper. Still top rated, Les Minis Calins BLUE CHIP , sweet 8" soft-bodied dolls which also come in Asian and African American versions. Also, still great for preschoolers, Poupette. This collection of six multicultural dolls is right on target for threes and fours. Each has a reversible dress with Velcro fasteners. These would have been PLATINUM winners, but they're marked 18 mos. (800)

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Cookie Baby Doll
(Gotz, Goetz $40 Score:) A life size (19") baldheaded, blue-eyed baby doll with soft body and vinyl face, hands, and feet. Comes in powder blue or pink clothes with small toy and pacifier (which should be removed if your child is still mouthing toys). We also recommend 13" Muffin ($25 ) with a soft beanbag body. Both will fit in PLATINUM AWARD-winning Jogging Stroller ($50 ). 3 & up. (800) 959-3655.

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

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2004 Awards
Doctor's & Vet's Kits
(Learning Resources $25 Score:) Doctors no longer make house calls, and even the traditional black bag from Fisher-Price is gone. Most of the medical kits do not come with cases large enough for easy re-packing. The roomiest is Pretend & Play Doctor Set 2004 PLATINUM AWARD (Learning Resources $24.95 ). Comes in a large plastic case with 19 pieces including a stethoscope with heartbeat and cough, a beeper, a cellphone, a blood pressure cuff, and other chunky tools. (888) 800-7893. Fisher-Price’s Medical Kit (Fisher-Price $15.99 ) comes in a smaller plastic case with almost the same basic gear as the original "black bag." (800) 432-5437. For playing Veterinarian, Small Miracles’ Let’s Pretend (Small Miracles $29.99 1?2) has a child-sized jacket, puppy, and stethoscope and other medical tools. (888) 281-1798.

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

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Award
Garden-to-Go
(Alex $19.99 Score:) Preschoolers love the magic of seeing things grow. Apartment dwellers can garden on a windowsill. For the backyard set, more elaborate child-sized tools are available. New for 2004, Garden-to-Go (Alex $19.99 ) is an organizer for the young gardener. Bucket has a plastic container inside for wet "stuff," plus outside pockets for the small trowel, rake, and shovel that come with the set. Also comes with a pack of seeds and gardening glove. Our tester, thrilled with the results brought her plants in for show and tell. (888) 666-2539. Plastic Garden Tools (Little Tikes $2 each for small tools/$13 for a set of three larger tools ) are safer for preschoolers than metal. An accidental swing in the wrong direction will not mean a trip to the ER. They also don’t have splintery handles as some metal tools do, and won’t rust when they are inevitably left outside. Also recommended, Little Tikes’ Little Landscaper Lawn & Garden Cart ($17 ). Unlike a tippy wheelbarrow, it has two front wheels for stable pushing action. (800) 321-0183.

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

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Awards
eeBoo Children of the World Lacing Cards
(eeBoo $4.95 Score:)

Kids dive right into lacing activities without knowing they’re a great way to develop the fine-motor skills they’ll need for writing. While stringing beads, they can also sort by color and make patterns, learning to see likenesses and differences. Our favorites: Children of the World and Fairies of the Field (eeBoo $14.95 each ) Beautifully illustrated sturdy cards that kids will love to work on. 4 & up.  Lacing & Tracing Tools (Lauri $6.99 ) is made of sturdy chipboard punched with holes that kids "sew" with colorful laces. Also recommended, Lace & Link Numbers ($14.99 ),  crepe 4" rubber numerals that reinforce shapes in a tactile way. 4 & 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: . Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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