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Product Type: Toys


2004 Award
Super Size Bubble Wand
(Little Kids $7.99 Score:) Bubbles are always a big hit with kids (and adults) of all ages. Whether you're two and chasing after them or 12 and making four foot bubbles, this is a crowd pleaser. This kit comes with a oversized foldable purple wand that has rainbow colored plastic links around a nylon rope. The company says the rope is the secret to the success of the bubbles because the fabric of the rope absorbs more bubble solution. Whatever the explanation, we found it was relatively easy to use after some experimenting. Also comes with a small bottle of concentrated bubble solution that you need to mix with warm water before you start. The bottle says you should let the solution set for 24 hours but we tested it and it really worked well right away. Concentrate will make 16 ozs. of solution. We found that the bubbles were not as juicy and as easy to make with premade solution.

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

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2003 Award
Thomas & Friends Quarry Mine Tunnel
(RC2 Learning Curve $24.99 Score:) The trains gain great momentum as they pass through the Quarry Mine Tunnel that has a trap door that the trains emerge from as they exit down the steep ramp of the tunnel. Comes with one piece of ascending train track for getting trains into the tunnel.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Muffy, Alice in Wonderland & Hoppy White Rabbit
(North American Bear Co. $15 Score:)

A very special Hoppy White Rabbit done up in plaid coat with pearl buttons and golden watch fob to keep him from being late for his important date in Alice's Wanderland. Also, an adorable Muffy dressed up as Alice in a white pinofore and blue tafetta dress with her key to Wonderland. (800) 682-3427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on

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2003 Awards
Wimmer-Ferguson Infant Stim-Mobile
(Manhattan Toy $27.99 Score:)

Newborns will be fascinated with the black-and-white, high-contrast patterns of the ten vinyl 3" discs and squares that dance and dangle on this nonmusical mobile for the crib or changing table.  Not as cute looking as other mobiles, but babies do react to the visual stimulation of this crib toy.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on

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2003 Award
Ice Cream Science
(Scientific Explorer $20 Score:) We wish all chemistry experiments were this tasty! Kids fill out their own lab sheets as they formulate their own "secret" formula. Comes with different flavorings and can be used with different types of milk. The fun part comes when you put your mixture in a series of plastic bags and then put it in a t-shirt and start shaking! After vigorous shaking for five minutes, you'll have ice cream. The kit is full of interesting information about why this works. We found that you really had to shake hard for five minutes. If the ice cream is too runny, you can put your mixture in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. Kit designed in conjunction with the UC Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Lets Tackle Math Game
(Learning Resources $44.95 Score:) Keep in mind that beginners need concrete materials to count before they learn the facts in rapid-fire fashion. Now in our house we did this with chocolate (which was also fun, but fattening!) Here, you get 252 total play pieces (108 bugs: grasshoppers, beetles dragonflies, bumble bees, spiders and caterpillars) plus 72 frogs and worms to sort by color, shape and size. The kit also comes with an activity book with 48 activities and a sorting tray. Kids love playing with these pieces as their working on their math skills. They'll also use them for dramatic play. Much more fun than flash cards! 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: 2003.

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2002 Award
Mega Sphere
(Hoberman Designs $59.99 Score:) You have probably seen smaller versions of these spheres in Science museums. When this giant Mega Sphere arrived in our office the six and nine year old kids who were testing games that day were totally enthralled with getting inside this space. You can actually lock it in the open position and it becomes a play setting. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Award
Old Century Baseball
(Old Century Classics $129 Score:) Our testers, kids and parents, loved this retro baseball game that has no sounds or lights but plenty of action! This is like the old baseball games your grandfather and maybe your father played when they were kids. It works a bit like a pinball machine. Metal marbles are socked into field and roll down to the "flipper" bat that players use ti score singles, doubles or homers into the grandstand! This would make a nifty choice for a family room, playroom or in grandparent's den where kids may actually be surprised to discover how much fun folks had in the olden days before sound chips. Granted, grandpa's version was probably made of cardboard or cheezy wood, this is the BMW version-with a pricetag to match. Be forewarned, our testers did manage to lose the metal "balls" before the afternoon was out. Too bad this came too late for our annual book. It might have been one of the Platinum winners.8 & up.

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

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ALEX Funky Brushes
(Alex $8.99 Score:) These extra-large brushes with interesting cloth/rope "brushes" are fun to use and the large bulb handles fit the fist shape grip of young painters. SNAP:These fat handled brushes help kids with fine-motor difficulties to grasp the brush handle and paint. Also, see this company's Sponge Painters that now come with color-changing wands. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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Jumbo GRIP Colour Pencils
(Creativity for Kids $10 Score:) 12 color pencils have built-in finger grips. Color and then apply water with brush for watercolor effects. Comes with its own sharpener. (800) 311-8684. SNAP: These are thinner than the Alex colored pencils and lend themselves to older kids who would still benefit from finger grips built-in to the pencils. These are very special since after they draw they can turn lines into paint with a bit of water on a brush.

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

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