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2012 Award
Mini Corolline
(Corolle $17.99 Score:)

This collection is now celebrating its tenth anniversary and is still a huge hit with our testers. You won't know which to pick from this group of 8" blond, brunette, Asian, and African American dolls. Each comes with a stylish outfit and with plenty of long hair for brushing. New for 2012, an adorable brunette with a pink hair band and floral dress.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Award
Harold and the Purple Crayon
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:)

A fun memory and language game where players take turns drawing the object on the card they pick on the wipe-off gameboard (with a purple marker, of course). Players make up an adventure for Harold incorporating each new object. Players can change the story but the trick is to recall all the objects in the same order they were introduced. They say 4-7, but we found that many 4s were frustrated. This game has been discontinued.


Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Little People Rumblin' Grumblin' Dump Truck
(Fisher-Price $19.95 Score:) Active toddlers will love the start and stop action of this motorized truck with headlights, moving eyes, and rumbling' sounds. 18 months and up. Still top-rated, Little People Adventure Airlines ($14.99), a jumbo plane with handle to lift it off the ground.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Tolo Shape Sorter Play Bench
(Reeves International $15 Score:)

Each of the pieces in this plastic hammer board is a distinctive shape and loaded with rattle sounds. Unlike pegs, the shapes can only fit in the matching slot, so this is a sort of a shape-sorter and hammer-toy combo. They say 12 months, we'd say more like 18-24 months.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2002 Award
Tomy Ball Party Bounce
(International Playthings $29.99 Score:) Newest in what has been, hands down, one of the best toddler toys on the market. This year's entry is a tower with a platform from which balls bounce, land, and spin into another chute. Still wonderful: Roll Around Tower ($24.99) with colorful plastic balls that make a satisfying clacking sound as they roll. Toddlers love the repetitive action of these uncomplicated fill and spill toys. Also new and great fun, an electronic Playhouse & Buggy Ball Party ($29.99), a chunky house with chimney chute for balls, a pop-open door, and a little car that spins one ball. Sound effects are not overly loud and can be turned off entirely. An electronic version from Fisher-Price, Pull-Up Ball Blast ($19.99) does not work as well as Tomy's.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Tolo Musical Surprise Bear
(Reeves International $15 Score:)

Push the white button on the blue cube and it opens to reveal a yellow teddy bear spinning to the tune of "Old MacDonald." For extra visual interest, teddy is reflected in a curved mirror in the lid. Adults will need to wind it up, but this is a non-scary pop-up with music box rather than electronic sounds. 1 and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Lamaze Octotunes
(Learning Curve International $29 Score:) A big velour octopus with stitched features and lug-along handle has eight colorful legs that squeak when they are squeezed. You can play a simple tune on them, but this is more a make-something-happen toy than a musical instrument. They say birth and up, we day better for 1 and up.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Tolo Play Triangle
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

A spinning mirror and large beads invite baby to use two hands and individual fingers to activate this handsome rolling rattle. Also top rated: Tolo Acitvity cube, Roller Ball or Gripper Rattle, all beautifully crafted in sturdy primary-colored plastic with interesting action for baby to manipulate.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2002.

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Awards
Play-Doh
(Hasbro $2 Score:) Classic Play-Doh is still a favorite. Doh should be used with supervision in a place established for messy play. We prefer the dough without the doodads, since most of the kits are less open-ended, and tough to do. This self-hardening dough dries out if left uncovered.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: .

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Children's Furniture
(Various $ Score:) Table and chairs are basic pieces of gear that will be used for years of snacks, art projects, and tea parties. Best bets are going to have steady legs and a washable table surface. After that, it's a matter of budget and style to fit your tast. Check the undersides of tables and chairs for smooth finishes that won't snag little fingers. Twos and threes also enjoy rocking or arm chairs scaled to their size. Some basic safety and design questions you may want to ask: Can your child get on and off chairs/bench easily? Is this a set that will work when your child gets a little bigger? If you're looking at a wooden set, are there exposed screws or nuts (check the underside) that can cut your child? Is the table surface washable and ready for abuse? (A beautiful painted piece will be destroyed by paint, play dough, crayons, etc.)

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

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