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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 


2005 Award
Fire Truck and My Little Puppy Playsets
(Gund $19.95 Score:) If you're in the back seat with your toddler and you need to go five more exits, these playsets make great choices! The all-fabric fire truck zips open to reveal a firefighter, Dalmatian, hydrant, and water bucket. My Little Puppy comes in his own dog house, with a ball, bone, and bowl, and barks quietly when squeezed. Also top rated: My First Sports Bag with three fabric balls.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Awards
Dance Baby Dance Classical Stacker
(Fisher-Price $22.99 Score:) This prior award-winning stacker is reintroduced in new colors. Star rings fit on the post in any order (a plus). Post has magical lights that wink and play music when top is pressed. Sound quality is not excellent, but it is a long-term favorite. The sounds and lights make this a multi-sensory toy with great appeal. Encourages eye hand and dexterity as well as playful problem solving.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Babipouce
(Corolle $29 Score:) Older babies are fascinated by dolls that look like real babies. The trick is to find dolls that are washable and safe enough for them to handle. Corolle has an assortment of dolls with all-fabric velour rompers in various colors and soft vinyl painted faces. Our favorites this season: Puppet Blue, with a tri-knottie hat, or Puppet Raspberry, that is easy to grap with an un-stuffed body, or Miss Grenadine with a bright red romper.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Awards
Smart Splash Shape Shell Turtles & Number Fun Ducks
(Learning Resources $14.99 Score:) Two sets of tub toys that are fun as well as good teaching tools. A set of eight floating turtles have shells with shape cut outs that tots match and fit on and off the turtles backs. Also cute, A set of ten yellow ducks with dots on their backs and matching numeral underneath. These are marked 2 & up. There are no small parts, but we think the skills involved are more realistically for preschoolers. (800) 222-3909.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Awards
Endless Adventures Tikes Town Playhouse
(Little Tikes $280 Score:) Toddlers and preschoolers love having special spaces that are designed just for them. For older toddlers going in and out of the space, playing peek a boo will be the name of the game. As they grow older the pretend play will become more elaborate and detailed. This 58” high playhouse has an innovative design that invites lots of pretend possibilities with four different themed sides to the structure (firehouse/schoolhouse, gas station with pump, grocer store/bank with ATM machine (of course) and a sports wall complete with hoop.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Roll-a-Rounds Drop & Roar Dinosaur
(Fisher-Price $35 Score:) This is a ball run with multiple openings from which balls appear. Played with sounds and lights or in silence, it can be enjoyed by a sitting-down baby. That said, this is a large piece of green plastic and younger babies may have trouble fitting the balls into the holes on the front of the dino, rather than dropping them in—as they can in Roll-a-Rounds Swirlin’ Surprise Gumballs ($17.99 4 1⁄2). This is a much smaller ball drop with a lever that pops the gumballs out. It employs more direct cause and effect, but it does tip over easily. Either is a better choice than the Jungle Friends Treehouse (), a frenetic ball drop with over-the-top sounds and twirling bases. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Infants,Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Pushing Car and Doll Pram
(Haba $159 Score:) Our test family with three under the age of 4 got right into active pretend play with both of these beautifully styled push-about toys. The Push Car ($159 ) is low to the ground and balanced enough so that a little sister or a big teddy bear could ride about as a larger child pushed. Furnished with seat cushions and pocket for treasures; made of varnished beech wood with rubber wheels, it maneuvers well, even in tight spaces. Equally well designed, a red and blue Doll Pram ($130 ) comes with a cushion seat and accommodates several dolls. You can adjust the push bar as children grow, so this will grow into the preschool years. (800) 468-6873.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Rocking Wobble Whale
(Mamas and Papas $79.99 Score:) (Shopping Note: We have just been informed that both the Whale and the Duck are unfortunately sold out in the US.) Soft and easy to mount, this blue and green whale has a wooden disc base and plays “If You’re Happy and You Know It” when you press its spout. An almost instant hit with our 18-month-old tester. With its quacking moving beak, Rocking Dudley Duck ($79.99 ) seemed almost “alive” to our little tester. Once the surprise passed, the bright yellow bird with crinkle sounds in its wings became a fine un-feathered friend. Some of our testers found the duck quacking fun; others were less amused. (310) 631-2222.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Learn-Around Playground
(LeapFrog $59.99 Score:) This innovative table invites kids to explore and make things happen. A great first birthday gift! Sitting down, tots can play the ball drop and tap the shape tabs and textures. On their feet they can cruise around the sturdy table and test the pop-up and spinning shapes, press the letters that say their names, and activate the keyboard. The ball drop has jazzy percussion sound effects and says the color of each ball as it falls. Has volume control and can be enjoyed with sound off. 9 mos. & up. (800) 701-5327.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Super Spiral Play Tower
(International Playthings $32 Score:) Toddlers love this marvelous toy that they quickly take charge of. Two weighted balls and a little penguin twist down the spiral and slide into different slots. A green froggy slides down a chute and makes a funny sound that ends with a ping of a bell. Repetitive action provides the kind of predictable cause-and-effect results toddlers love. Develops eye-hand skills as well as visual tracking. 18 mos. & up. Their original PLATINUM AWARD-winning Tomy Ball Party Roll Around Tower and Ball Party Bounce remain top rated (they are very similar to the Edushape toys reviewed above). (800) 445-8347.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2006.

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