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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 


2009 Award
Kid Galaxy My First RC Go Go Train
(Kid Galaxy $22 Score:)

What could be better than a bright red locomotive engine that kids can control with ease? Newest of the My First remote control vehicles with simple controller that are easy enough for young preschoolers to operate. Push the top button and the Red Engine goes forward. Push the bottom button and it goes left. This has a whistle sound and plenty of play that involves locomotion of toy and child! A developmental match for on-the-go tots and their love of transportation toys, active play, and early pretend. 2 ½ & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2009.

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2008 Awards
Playskool Clipo Creativity Table
(Hasbro $29.99 Score:)

Twenty-five pieces of bristle like plastic blocks can be stacked on the clever storage table or used for stand-alone construction play. The neat little table has non-specific shape sorter style slots for dropping blocks into the hollow leg buckets on either side of the table. Best of all, a small turntable can be switched on with a push of a big orange button to set some of the blocks in motion. There are also smaller sets of Clipo that make nice additions: There are two buckets: Figure Set ($19.99) and Vehicle Bucket ($19.99) and still smaller basic sets ($5.99 to 14.99). 18 months & up.

We have not yet received a signed verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITIES:There are no right or wrong ways to build with these bristle like blocks that fit into the little table top desk. There a small turntable that is easy to turn on with a push of a big orange button that will send the blocks turning round and round. How many blocks can they put on the turntable before the blocks fall off? You can use the playing pieces for simple counting. Are there more yellow or blue? More red than green? All of these comparisons are fun ways to engage them with color concepts and simple counting. This is an excellent open ended toy that will help develop dexterity as well as visual discrimination.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Step 2 Fun Flow Sink
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) The first review we got on this product was glowing! Our 2 and 3 year old testers loved the pump feature and pleasure of turning the water on and off. Our parent noted that the funnels and cups that came with the sink were just the right size for the kids to use and enjoy. The reservations at first were about the fact that the sink did not have a drain hole- making cleaning the sink a bit complicated. The assembly of the housing around the pump and batteries got low marks from this parent as well (an architect) but her child loved the table so much that she was willing to forgive the design flaws. A week later, we got a follow up review which told a very different story. The on-off button on the pump jammed after after a few days and the water leaks between the layers-- her concern is possible mildew. So as much as we think the concept of the toy is fantastic, it does need some tweaking to be a full fledged winner. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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2008 Awards
Little Tikes 6 in 1 Town Center Playhouse
(Little Tikes $399.99 Score:)

One of our preschool testers thought this was absolutely perfect-- they had thought of everything but a porta potty! (His dad's an architect). What's really innovative about this playcenter is that it literally opens all the way up to reveal many different pretend settings. There is a cafe (with a chalkboard for specials, a bistro table, two chairs, and a sink), a gas station (here you can make the price as low as you want!), a town center with a retail store, and a sports center (complete with a basketball hoop, soccer net, and a place for toss games. Center is wheelchair accessible. Note: The only negative we heard back on this product is that it took over two hours to put together. If you're not particularly handy- this may be a problem. As with all of these plastic playsets, we pass on the recommendation we received years ago from Little Tikes to use liquid soap. It sometimes makes the pieces go together faster!

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Step2 50s Diner
(Step 2 $149.99 Score:)

Kudos to Step2 for coming up with a really fun, gender-free play setting. Our preschool and toddler siblings enjoyed playing diner (the older sister was running the place, of course!). On one side you have all the kitchen equipment of a traditional toy kitchen (sink, frig and oven) with the bonus of a grill top! The other side has a place for two customers to sit at the “booth”, complete with tabletop jukebox that plays a few tunes from the era, and a bell when you need service (our testers thought the bell could be louder). Diner also comes with coffee pot, dishes, silverware, and play food (our testers were big fans of the ice cream cones).

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Schylling Color Roller
(Schylling $19.99 Score:)

Finding a great toddler toy can be really tough going- they're done with baby toys and not quite ready for more complicated preschool toys (they tend to sit on them!). So we're really always excited when we find a great new toy right on the mark for this age group. This color roller has a big color wheel built into the enclosed base. At rest, you can see blue, yellow and red...but start pushing and those colors combine to create the colors of the rainbow. Very neat. One parent found the clicky noise annoying, but other testers really thought it was fun. We loved the elegance of the design. No batteries required.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP AWARD:Holding on while letting go is not so simple for kids who are just getting up and about on their wobbly feet. Letting go of your hand or the furniture can be encouraged with this kind of push toy that makes sounds and spinning colors.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Haba Discovery Wagon
(Haba $230 Score:)

Beautifully designed for the get-about-toddler, this smooth handsome (pricey) wooden cart is less tippy than most push toys for beginners. There’s a seat in the front for Teddy Bears to ride on, a mirror and gem stones set into the back of the seat. There are spinners and a maze to move a little toy car about, as well as a fabric side pocket for storing a small grey fabric mouse passenger. Finished in natural wood and colorful panels, this is a toy that will go the distance. For toddlers there are few toys that get as much use as this sort of combo cart. Just right for that stage when kids are ready to walk but still like the security of holding on. This is weighted and the center of gravity is solid enough, even for tots who are just getting their land legs. This age varies, so you need to know the individual child. Some are ready at 12 months—more are not ready till 14-16 months.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Mega Bloks Smart Builders Piano
(Mega Bloks $34.99 Score:)

We are always on the look out for a beginning musical toy. Most are over the top in terms of frenetic lights/motion and or the sound quality is so poor you don't want that to be your child's introduction to musical exploration. So we were really delighted when this new piano arrived. There is a keyboard that you can set to play note for note or you can use the music bloks that sit on top on the piano to add layers of music/sounds/beats to what you're playing. Our testers noted that the bloks stay on well - a plus. Other comments included: "This is a fantastic toy"; "Interesting & fun now & will grow with him for a quite a while I suspect." "You can play the songs automatically or by pressing the keys, or you can use it as a straight piano (with several sounds) that has surprisingly good sound quality."

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITY:Playing a tune is not so easy except with this clever toy. It comes with preprogrammed songs that play a familiar tune as the child hits the same or different keys…so the child has a sense of control. It can also be played with color-coding, but it is the non-coded format that is most child friendly and empowering.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Karen Katz Peek and Play Cubes
(Small World Toys $40 Score:)

You probably know Karen Katz's wonderful books for babies. Now she’s designing toys. At first this set looks like a counting/color matching toy, but hold on! Before they are ready for counting and matching, this is going to be fun for filling and dumping games and where is the chick? Babies like toys with multiple pieces that can be passed from hand to hand. Each little fabric cube comes with one to five shapes that match the number on the outside. They are also color coded for playing color-naming games. The green cube has one ball, orange cube has two checkered hearts, blue has three fish, red has four strawberries and yellow has five little chicks. Chances are the pieces will go lost before you are ready for serious counting/color games. But go ahead and talk about them by color and count them from time to time. Just avoid turning this or any toy into a drill and practice work time. Playtime doesn’t need to be a lesson at every turn. All the pieces are washable.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
Corolle Naima Calin
(Corolle $39.99 Score:)

We're always on the look out for dolls that reflect our diversity. Among the most adorable African American dolls is a huggable, soft-bodied 12-inch baby doll named Naima from their Calin collection. Her beanbag body makes her easy to pose. Dressed in a red and white cotton knit outfit with red headband, she is a bald headed baby with big brown eyes that open and close. She does not come with the usual extras such as a pacifier or bottle or toy that would be risky with toddlers who tend to mouth their toys. This one is an adorable armful for beginning pretend play.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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