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Product Type: Toys


Lil' Snoopy
(Fisher-Price $8.99 Score:) Too bad they added so much sound to good old Snoopy. This little black and white pup now barks and sort of sings the melody of B-I-N-G-O with incessant barking as his “leash” is pulled. This is an example of how less was more. Too bad, Snoopy! 1 & up. (800) 432-5437. We suggest instead Ambi’s Max Pull Along Dog (Brio $17.50 ), an adorable yellow, black, and red pooch. 11/2 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
I Spy Bingo
(Briarpatch $15.99 Score:) Fans of the I Spy series will enjoy revisiting the graphics that are used in this straightfoward Bingo game. Players get Bingo by finding either the letter or one of the objects pn the draw card. There are two sides of the Bingo boards(one is in alphabetical order, making it easier ro find matches). They say 4 & up,we'd say more like 5. (800)232-7427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Crayon Sticks
(Elmer's $2.99 Score:) These oversized crayons are softer than most and will be easier to grasp. These are fine for encouraging big sweeping arm motion and tracing or free-form drawing. (888) 435-6377. SNAP AWARD: ACTIVITY: Use these on big shhets of paper on the floor, a table or easel. For developing eye hand these give juicy results- something like thick colored markers, but greasy. They may smudge some so, a shirt to cover up clothes may save some trouble.

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

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Opposites Puzzle
(Mudpuppy Press $ Score:) An innovative 9-piece cardboard puzzle that is 2 sided. Put together a city scene on one side and a country scene on the other. The pieces are big and chunky and the boarder design on each pice cues which scene you are working on. There's a city scene with a taxi on one-side and farm animals on the other. Too bad they labeled this for 2 & up. This would have been an award winner for preschoolers, but not 2 year olds! A fine choice for experienced puzzle players of 3 and 4. Ditto the new Dinosaur puzzle with a play scene and dinosaurs that can be put together and used as actioon figures for dramatic play. Ahain the age label is off...says 4 & up...we don't think 4's can do this and the information on the flip side of the puzzle is worthy of 5's and 6's...not a preschool choice.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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LittleTouch Leap Pad
(LeapFrog $34.99 Score:) As electronic readers go this one is a breakthrough product that actually uses real picture books on their talking platform-granted so far there are just a few titles but the manufacturer promises more. “Guess How Much I Love You” ($14.99) one of our award winners has been adapted to the talking machine with add-on activities that will entertain and delight young listeners. Many of the other titles are “knowing & naming” books, All this would be fun for toddlers and parent to explore together. However, our testers noted, as we did that you need a BIG touch to activate the story. One needs to use a fair amount of pressure, so this may require more parental involvement. We think that’s a plus when you are dealing with toddlers- but probably needs some fine tuning by the manufacturer. Others have also complained about the on off switch being too easy for tots to find and use! We think all these problems will be reworked soon. Will this replace a book for tots to taste, toss, and explore without sounds? Not at all. Nor will it replace a warm lap and a book in hand. But as a first electronic reader- it’s a brave new world choice. They say 6 months & up--we’d say more like 18 months.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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Learn Through Music System
(Fisher-Price $29.97 Score:) We had great hopes for this interactive toy that features learning familiar concepts with well known characters (Blue, Barney, Dora, Elmo), a moving screen and touch screen technology. Sounds like everything you'd want in an electronic toy for older tots and preschoolers - not 18 mos., though. But it's not just the age label that is off. While our testers liked pushing the buttons, we found the content confusing.  On the Blue's Clue color concept game, the "blue" page had way too much purple on it.  The "red" page has more orange than red to add to the confusion. The lights that go off whenever a new color is announced are always "yellowish/orange".  If your child already knows his concepts, this might be a fun interactive toy but it will be likely to confuse kids still working on gaining an understanding of these concepts. Using paints would work a lot better and especially in the mixing color department-hands on experience with food coloring or paint will make the whole concept a lot clearer than words can do!

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2004.

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2003 Award
Timely Reader Booklights
(Capstone Industries $14.95 Score:) Better than the old flashlight under the covers trick for avid readers! The light plastic booklight attaches easily to your book and even comes with a timer. A great choice for inspiring reluctant readers and true readers will appreciate the added light! You can set the timer for up to 90 minutes. Comes in red, neon colors, and animal prints.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Soccer Guys
(Kaskey Kids $14.99 Score:) If you're looking for non-violent action figures that your child will love, look no further! Here's a truly satisfying kit that comes with 24 players, one referee, two soccer goals and a generous green felt 24" x 36" playmat. The carrying case (with a handle) makes this a great take along. The company also makes a Football Guys set. Both sets are great for dramatic play. We like the fact that there are no directions--leaving the play up to your child's imagination. Hooray! (or should we say Score!)

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

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2004 Award
ETX 90AT Telescope
(Meade $595 Score:) Our reviewers gave high marks to the ETX-90AT because it comes with the Autostar computer controller (usually only found on much more expensive models). The Autostar computer allows the viewer to find celestial objects by using the hand-held automated controller. (This technology was recently featured on the West Wing.) The AT model also comes with a tripod. We would recommend this model for tweens and up. A worthy investment for a family of star gazers!

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Magz-x 106
(Progressive Trading Inc. $34.95 Score:) We’ve seen a lot of these magnetic building kits. Thanks to the X shaped pieces in this set it’s possible to build curved structures by making a cube and adding a triangular connection. Our builders were delighted to find more steel ball connectors in this kit, as well as the new shape. Kit comes with 28 bars, 53 steel balls and 25 “X” bars. 5 & up.

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

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