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Product Type: Toys

 


2008 Award
KNEX Double Ferris Wheel
(KNEX $29.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if youíre talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after itís built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The KNEX Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
I Spy 3D
(Briarpatch $24.95 Score:) Put the playing cards out, put on the 3-D glasses, and you are ready to play I Spy. A reader reads one of the riddle cards and players search for the objects in the riddles. The images are really small (you kids wonít have a problem, but you might!) They say 3 & up. We think given the size and number of the objects, this will be a better choice for 5s & up. Of course we really recommend bringing home Jean Marzollo's wonderful I Spy books!

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Digital Arts and Crafts Studio
(Fisher-Price $50 Score:) This tablet allows kids to do lots of different arts and crafts projects. The layout of the board eliminates the complicated menus that past craft software had. The stylus makes it easy to draw and color. Kids can make arts and crafts projects like paper flowers, jumping frogs, and greeting cards. Kids can also color in pictures and fill in dot to dots. As with other computer plug-ins by Fisher-Price, kids cannot exit the software without a password, which the parent sets, so the kids canít access any part of the computer that they shouldn't.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Circus Tent
(Bazoongi Kids $129 Score:) There's something very pleasing about this old-fashioned colorful tent (61" tall, 54" diameter) done in vivid circus colors. Our testers found the frame easy to put together and the kids loved the window and opening. "At first we thought it was going to be shaky but once we put the fabric cover over the frame it was sturdy."

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Go Baby Go Stride to Ride Lion
(Fisher-Price $34.99 Score:) None of the plastic push toys are weighted the way they used to be made, so they are not for tots to pull up on. Go Baby Go Stride to Ride Lion is the latest in this line of push walkers from Fisher-Price that converts to a ride-on. This bright yellow push toy has a big lionís face on the front. Parents liked the convertibility factor, the design and the ability to turn the sound off. Our toddler testers were more interested in making the lion roar than pushing the toy.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
ESPN Better Batter Baseball
(Fisher-Price $69.95 Score:) We had mixed reviews about this batting toy. All of our testers loved that the each time the ball is loaded, it plays music from ESPN and says encouraging baseball phrases. We agree, that part is really fun. In order to start the ball loading, you push (with your bat) or step on the red target on the "plate". That was also fun and easy to do. Here's where there was a source of disagreement. The ball is suspended (in the zone) by an arm that has Velcro on it. The ball sticks to the Velcro. For some of our testers hitting it off the Velcro was not a problem. Even some of our hard swinging 3 year olds could do. Others (including some grown ups) had great difficulty getting the ball off the Velcro. For this group, it was necessary to pull the ball of and then re-attach it. Once reattached (but not on as tightly) this group could now also hit the ball. We also found that if you hit out and down, it is easier to get the ball off the suspended arm. For some, a simple t-ball will do the trick. If your child is not a slugger, this may be the way to go. Our best advice, try your neighbor's before you invest in this one. It is much more expensive than a simple t-ball.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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Give Me Five Sports Station
(Fisher-Price $119.99 Score:) The upside of this all in one center, is that you can quickly change sports! There is an adjustable basketball hoop (from 4 to 6 feet), a soccer net and ball, hockey stick, football and baseball. Set comes with five different balls. The hole in the center is designed for working on your throwing accuracy (both football and baseball). Of course the first thing we thought of -- it would be perfect for a party and throwing pies! We can always find a way to bring it back to food. A good combo sports center that will cut down on having to have multiple pieces of plastic sporting equipment. The company indicates that the assembly time will be about an hour. Note: This product has not be tested yet - and will not be available until this summer. As a result we have not given it a rating yet.

Age: . Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Crayola 3D Underwater Chalk Kit
(Crayola $12.99 Score:) No need to go under water. Kids can use stencils with fish or draw freehand on blacktop with eight colors of sidewalk chalks or paint with sidewalk chalk paint. But, wait! Here's the topper! Put on the 3-D glasses that come with the kit and see drawings that seem to "float" above the ground. Works best if you make the lines thick. Our favorite, draw the suggested thick circles with a solid circle in the middle--it really works! We found for best results, use on darker blacktop.

Age: . Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Flip-a Face-Baby Animals Nesting Blocks
(Blue Apple $19.99 Score:) Sturdy, cardboard stacking blocks with bold animal face graphics that can be abracadabra changed! Cut outs on the face of several blocks change the look of the face below. An extra surprise to the usual size order stacking and nesting opportunities. Develops language as well as dexterity and spatial visual skills. 18 months & up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Alex Jr. Grab a Little
(Alex $8.99 Score:) Soft ring shaped velour rattles that are easy for baby to grab and explore. They have bright patterns, stitched features, quiet rattle and come as Pinky Pig, Max the Dog, Limon Lion and Freckles Frog. This is a classic soft rattle shape that wonít hurt even with jerky hand movements.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2008.

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