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Product Type: Toys
Age: Toddlers

 

 
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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2008 Award
Tonka Scoot N Scoop 3 in 1 Ride On
(Hasbro $39.99 Score:)

Here's a "convertible" that switches from a push toy for the littlest ones to a first ride-on for toddlers. It has a magic picker upper that scoops up plastic blocks that also fit in a shape sorter seat. Our tester really enjoyed this aspect of the toy--he could make the blocks "disappear". Has a "revving wheel" with a horn, clicking direction signals, and child-pleasing motor sounds. Best of all they can take the wheel off and play with it off the truck. Our tester loves taking the wheel off and into his parents car so he can help drive. He also takes his cat and stuff animals for rides. Our parent tester loved this toy along with the new companion Tonak Li'l Gas Pump (sold separately for $19.99).

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 Award
Tonka Li l Gas Pump
(Hasbro $19.99 Score:)

This gas pump just proves how fast things move in Toyland…with a pump that now offers regular gasoline or ethanol! Yes, there are flip down symbols and one has an image of corn as a choice. Despite the green message, it might be interesting to see if any dramatic play reflects the kind of heated reactions parents are having these days at the gas pump. Just what will kids be saying as they pretend to fill up their Tonka trucks? Comes with shape sorting blocks, buttons to push, and some up to date choices as to fuel choices.

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
Munchkin Caterpillar Spillers
(Munchkin $6.95 Score:)

A well designed set of seven cups that are perfect for little hands to explore. Each is brightly colored and comes with a variety of openings for pouring fun in the bathtub. This is the perfect kind of take along toy in the diaper bag for a sitting up baby/toddler. Our one year old tester sat quietly while she enjoyed being about to pick up each cup by the easy to grasp handles. The caterpillar's green face has big eyes and the smallest cup has an fun spinner to activate. You can stack them up and let your baby enjoy knocking them down. A good example of a great toy that doesn't have any bells and whistle or an expensive price tag.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITIES: Stacking and nesting are the least of what kids can do with these colorful cups that each have different cut outs that allow them to be used in the sand or tub…for watching water or sand slip through. These are also fun for children to knock down after they are stacked up tall. Use color words to refer to the cup the child is picking up and refer to them by size…that one is the smallest…or this one is the biggest.

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

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2009 Award
Beleduc Dinosaur Hand Puppets
(HaPe $7.50 Score:)

These Velour hand puppets are sure to make a hit with dinosaur lovers. They fit like a glove. Uncomplicated and ready for dramatic play of the prehistoric kind. Inexpensive enough for good stocking stuffer gifts for the science minded. Tuck in a book on the same subject.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2009 Award
Spot Large Plush
(Kids Preferred $30 Score:)

An adorable armful of a 16" yellow pup with brown spot on its side and on the tip of its tail. This looks like it jumped out of the ever popular Eric Hill Spot books. Big enough to satisfy toddlers who will love cuddling and lugging their very own Spot about. Also adorable, a handful of fun, a 6" Velour Spot Beanie ($9) that will fit into little hands. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
My Natural Tiny Love Collection
(Hosung NY $9.99 Score:)

If you're looking for soft sweet huggables that are made from 100% non-toxic cotton--and will appeal to both boys and girls--look no further than this new collection from Hosung NY. They are just right (and safe) for infants and toddlers - made with velour bodies and stitched features. We really loved their three collections - all produced a round of oohs. There is the Long Leg Collection (sans clothes) - they retail for $14.99, the Tiny Love Collection are a very reasonable $9.99. The Tiny Tots Collections are smaller animals that have a sense of humor and joy about them. Unlike many “natural” collections we’ve seen, they are very vivid and don’t have that “ok, it doesn’t look great, but it’s very green and pc”. Each are something you’d be happy sharing with the toddlers in your life….hooray!

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
BoiKido Marine Maze
(BoiKido $34.99 Score:)

Toddlers will like sliding the shapes around on this attractive bead maze toy. This is a fun toy for developing fine motor skills. Toddlers enjoy the little pieces without the danger of mouthing them, since they are locked into the maze. These kinds of toys are often used for imaginary play as well as counting. 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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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