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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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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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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
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
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
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 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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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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2004 Award
Musini Preschool
(Small world toys $39.99 Score:) When your kids move, they activate the lights and music on the Musini console. A fun stomping-around lesson in cause and effect. This new smaller version has a clever listening game where kids have to respond when they hear particular instruments. Also new but not ready for testing, Musini Magic Wand. (800) 220-3669.

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

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2004 Award
Car Valet
(Alex $25 Score:) A handy zipped small case that you hang off the back of your front seat. Has a hard surface for coloring, two net pockets for supplies and two smaller zipped containers that can be taken out so you can take the crayons into the restaurant! (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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