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Product Type: Toys

 

Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone
(Fisher-Price $14.99 Score:) The new Baby Smartronics Speak & Teach Phone (Fisher-Price $14.99 ) did not test well. Cord is too short (our tot had to lean all the way over!) and the receiver is too hard to get back into the cradle.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2003 Award
Little People Cement Mixer Truck
(Fisher-Price $9.95 Score:) Push on the driver's head and the cement mixer tips as the vehicle beeps (not too loudly) with a back-up sound. We also note that the driver is not just female, but she's blond! What next? They say 1 & up. We found this was most enjoyed by 18 mos. & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Mega Bloks Little Builders
(Ritvik (Mega Bloks) $10.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed playing with this 16-piece set that includes three bases and interchangeable tops, including ambulance, firetruck, and police car. Chunky enough for early road play. There is also a construction set for "road work." They say 1 & up, we'd say more like 2 & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2005 Award
Pastel Pancake Bears
(North American Bear Co. $14 Score:)

These scrumptious flat bears in pastel colors. Soft, lovies. Just right for quiet moments. Also available as bunnies, cats and other flat lovables.


Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2005. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Tomy Ball Party Symphony Tower
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Our favorite collection of toddler toys has taken a wrong turn. The newest is a tower with balls rolling down, hitting sound sensors as they go. Unfortunately, the cartoonish sounds are extremely irritating.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2003 Awards
Marble Train
(Kidstation $44 Score:) Testers couldn't keep their fingers off this old-fashioned looking wooden 24" x 11" maze that is loaded with giant marbles that roll, but can't come out. The object is to move them through the gates, curves, and swirls. This calls for individuating the pointer finger from others. Toddlers will return to this one again and again. SNAP Activity: This is safe enough even for tots who are still mouthing their toys. Yet the opportunity to make something happen while using individual fingers was very satisfying. You may want to sing a little tune as you introduce this game. Try "Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush" or any other tune that suits your fancy. Instead of "Row Row, Row Your Boat" - how about push, push push the marble push it round and round......:

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Earlyears Sweet Baby Blocks
(International Playthings $13 Score:) Six soft, squeezable vinyl blocks, easy to grasp, with a colorful single image on each face of the cubes. Fun for stacking, knocking down, and tossing. These have been updated with new graphics on every side of the cubes. They have added graphic patterns that can also be matched by older children. These are a bit large for little hands to grasps easily, but the raised edge may help. Fun for stacking and knocking down. Images are a bit cartoonish so may be harder for kids to identify than more realistic images would be. Also, the Earlyears Soft Busy Blocks ($10) are soft stackable blocks which have soft sides and corded piping. Colorful graphics and patterns and quiet sounds make these good floor toys for beginners. 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: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Earlyears Soft Busy Blocks
(International Playthings $15 Score:) Four soft stackable blocks have soft sides and corded piping that makes them easy for baby to grasp. Colorful graphics and patterns and quiet sounds make these good floor toys for beginners. Also, Earlyears Sweet Baby Blocks ($13 ). Six soft, squeezable vinyl blocks, easy to grasp, with a colorful single image on each face of the cubes. Fun for stacking, knocking down, and tossing. SNAP:These have been scaled down in size and are easier to grab than the originals. The set of four fabric blocks has interesting texture and patterns and a quiet sound in each block. Activity: Sit on the floor and put one or more blocks on your head or shoulder and encourage your tot to knock 'em off! (800) 445-8347. 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: 2003.

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2003 Award
Ello
(Mattel $19.95 Score:) Designed to attract girls to construction toys, this is an innovative building system with panels and Matisse-inspired cutout disks that can be joined with square and circular connectors, string and slender sticks for adding extra flair. Research has indicated that playing with blocks and building sets help to develop important spatial relations and math skills needed for later achievement in math, engineering and science. Unfortunately too many sets on the market are geared only for boys. We particularly liked the look of the Ello-opolis set, which has a modern art feel, or the underwater Ello Aquaria set. (Imagine Matisse or Calder designing a construction set!) They have an engaging color palette (refreshingly not all pink!) and have interesting building pieces that lend themselves for open-ended play.

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

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FurReal Friends Kitten
(Hasbro $35 Score:) If you have a child who is allergic to cats but wants one madly, this might do the trick! Our tester loved the way this big white furry angora type cat responded with motion and sounds to the touch. Looks a lot like Snowbell in the Stuart Little movie. With sensors in its cheeks, head, back, shoulder and tail this is the most life-like cat we've ever tested. But it doesn't always do what's expected. It purrs, meows, moves its head and tail. The problem is it also seems to roar with some very un-cat like sounds! Comes with a brush for grooming and an adoption certificate. 6 & up. (800) 752-9755.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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