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Product Type: Toys
Award: Blue Chip

 

 
1995 Awards
Babys First Blocks
(Fisher-Price $12.99 Score:)

Technically this is a shape-sorter, but the 10 blocks will be used to fill, spill and throw long before the baby can fit them into the three-place shape-sorter lid of the container. Put the lid away for now. A no gimmick classic that is neither complicated nor expensive. We much preferred this toy when it only had three shapes (circle, square and triangle)--the addition of the other shapes and more openings makes this less elegant and user friendly...but still a good basic toy.

Age: Infants, Toddlers. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Awards
Gertie Balls
(Small World Toys $8 Score:)

Preschoolers need soft, lightweight, easy-to-catch balls that will not bend back a finger or hurt when they hit. Gertie Balls are gummy and soft enough for kids who may be scared of big heavy balls coming toward them. Also fun, Supersized Gertie Balls ($13), really oversized and great fun for this age group and next.  There's also a super cool Magic Gertie Ball that changes color with hot and cold water. 3 & up. 

SNAP INFO: These colorful balls are soft and slightly sticky to the touch, making them easier to catch and hold onto. They come in a variety of sizes and with different textures. Testers especially liked the knobby one which gave kids an extra way to grip and hold. These are not for toddlers because the air tube can come out and could pose a choking hazard. ACTIVITY: Getting control takes practice. Hang a big hoopla hoop from a tree branch and try to get the ball through the hoop.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Awards
Maisy Game
(Briarpatch $20 Score:)

Happily this former Platinum and SNAP Award (1995) winning game has been brought back this year!  It now has the designation of Blue Chip Award winner.  One of the most beautifully designed color concept games we've ever reviewed. Players spin and pick up sturdy cardboard cutouts to match color, pattern and objects on their picture board of Maisy. Develops language and matching skills with a favorite character. 

SNAP INFO: Use this matching game to reinforce color words, patterns and knowing and naming the objects on the "lotto" style playing boards. ACTIVITY: Give each player a card and give riddles for finding the object that is the answer, for example, "I'm thinking of something that is round that you can bounce." The child who picks up ball gets to put it on her card.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1997 Awards
Hot Potato Game
(Parker Brothers $14.99 Score:) Squeeze this soft electronic musical talking spud to turn on his sound. Pass him around fast! If you are holding him when he yells "Yahoo!" you take a hot card. Three cards and you're out. A fast, fun game for two or more players. May be hard for preschoolers to deal with-especially the hot cards. SNAP INFO: Squeeze this soft electronic musical talking spud to turn on his sound. Pass him around fast! If you're holding him when he yells "Yahoo!" you take a hot card. Three cards and you're out. A fast, fun game for two or more players. May be hard for preschoolers to deal with-especially the hot cards.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1997.

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2011 Awards
Tolo Gripper Rattle
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

We're delighted that this previous Platinum Award winning toy is back in the market. What we wrote in 2000: This rollable rattle has four easy to grip handles and an hour glass shape inside with tiny balls that roll from side to side with a sound that is interesting without a jarring startle. This is a good one for two handed play as well as crawling go get it games.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2011.

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1998 Awards
Rainbow Play Systems
(Rainbow Play Systems $1100 Score:) Steel parts are vinyl dipped, the wood is chemical free, built of redwood and cedar. This is the Cadillac of gym sets. You'll need to buy a toddler swing for the under three set. Also, avoid tall climber attachments with toddlers and young preschoolers who may climb higher without understanding how to get down. Also, avoid frames with climbers that run across the top of the swings.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1998.

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Awards
Tuggy Sandbox & Splasher
(Step 2 $100 Score:)

There's room for several kids to play side by side and together in this tugboat shaped sandbox. Of course, this takes lots of sand but there's built-in pretend power with a captain's wheel for steering the jolly boat anywhere! They say this converts to a wading pool, but hardly something you can fill and dump with ease. 2 & up.

THIS PRODUCT HAS BEEN DISCONTINUED AND PARTS ARE NO LONGER AVAILABLE!

TOO BAD.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: .

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1995 Awards
Littlel Tikes Shopping Cart
(Little Tikes $30 Score:)

This bright yellow cart with baby seat is more gender free than most doll carriers. Lends itself to more open-ended pretend shopping and simply carting treasures about games. Room for a doll or teddy bear simply makes it more like the real thing.

SNAP INFO: Solidly built for lots of pretend, this shopping cart has a seat for doll or teddy when kids need a shopping spree play time.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1995 Awards
Lego Duplo
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

You can't go wrong with chunky plastic Lego Duplo building blocks to fill and dump, snap together, and take apart are basic gear for older toddlers and preschoolers. Small sets are good for add-ons, but be sure to start with a large enough set. 1 & up. There are also themed licensed sets that can be fun additions-but are not as open ended as a basic bucket.

SNAP INFO: Open ended Duplo blocks are ideal for stacking and building, but they are also fun for classifying games. ACTIVITY: Play a sorting game by putting all the red pieces together, then the yellow pieces and so on. These are ideal for developing fine motor skills as well as language, counting and color concepts.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool. Award Year: 1995. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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1997 Awards
Tinkle, Crinkle, Rattle, & Squeak
(Gund $10 Score:) A classic velour caterpillar-shaped toy with multiple sounds in each section of the bug's body and bright primary colors for eye-grabbing attention. For the youngest, you'll need to squeeze the toy to get baby's attention. In time baby will be finding ways to activate and investigate this toy. Available in black, red and white as well as in primary colors. SNAP INFO: Each section of the brightly colored worm has a different sound. An ideal toy that matches your infant's sensory learning style.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 1997.

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