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Product Type: Toys

 


2004 Award
Paint-A-Dino
(Pamela Drake $12 Score:) Our testers loved that they could paint this articulated dino and then have a great prop for pretend play and to mix in with their blocks. There are also fish, lizards, crocs, and snakes in this line. (800) 966-3762.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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Kettrike Happy
(Kettler $119.99 Score:) This gender-proof primary-colored line of trikes comes with a push bar you can control the trike like a stroller. This line tends to run small and fit younger, smaller preschoolers. Our recommendation with all bikes is to take your child and try them out first.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Ladybug Land
(Insect Lore $19.95 Score:) Small half-globe structure is the home for the ladybugs that you hatch. Kit comes with a certificate for mailing in. The larvae will be mailed to you, and then you can watch the process unfold. Eventually, you can release the ladybugs into your garden. 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: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Color Lab Mixer
(DaMert $10 Score:) Designed as a bath toy, the small plastic pitcher has three separate chambers and comes with special tablets that color the water. Put a blue tablet in one chamber and a yellow tablet in the other and, voilà, you will have green water in the third chamber. The tablets aren’t as clear in color as they should be, but this is a fun way to introduce color mixing and get clean at the same time! 3 & up. (800) 356-0474.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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Remote Control Bridge
(Brio $50 Score:) The 25" bridge is controlled by an infrared light. It also has lights and warning bells when the bridge goes up. Looked promising but wasn’t ready for testing. Still top rated, last year’s Remote Control Action Train (Brio $50 ), a sleek white train—very European looking, with lights at the front. (888) 274-6869.

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

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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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