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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Pretend Play

 

 
2007 Awards
Hokey Pokey Musical Skirt
(Acting Out $32 Score:)

Following the success of last year’s Platinum winning Swan Lake Musical Dress ($32 5) and Nutcracker Sugar Plum Musical Skirt ($26 5) that gave little ballerinas an orchestra they could activate as they danced, this season dancers can turn themselves around as they do the Hokey Pokey in a polka-dotted skirt with motion-activated music. All make magical gifts to stir active imaginative performances. 3 & up. (877) 727-0222.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
My Picnic Basket
(Alex $20 Score:)

We liked the sturdiness of this 18-piece set that comes with blue enamelware including plates, cups, spoons, forks, and tablecloth. Great for real picnics or pretend tea parties.   All stored in a lovely wicker basket that closes- just like the real thing.  5 & up.


Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Smoby Star Party Duo Mix Set
(International Playthings $59.99 Score:)

A set of mikes perfect for American Idol wannabes and host. Unfortunately, very gender specific in pink and lavender. For a solo mike there's Star Party Micro Star ($39.99 4). Both have applause sound effects. 5 & up. For the full disco effect, check out Smoby Star Party Disco Bubble and Light ($64.99). You might just need this faceted-mirrored disco ball that turns on a platform with an automatic bubble maker and spotlight. Not exactly a toy, this is more like a piece of equipment to add a twinkle to parties. 5 & up. (800) 445-8347. These products have been DISCONTINUED.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Tin Tea Set
(Alex $24.99 Score:)

The problem with so many tea sets is that they are too delicate for preschoolers. In fact by law those beautiful porcelain sets must be marked 8 & up. Yet it's really the preschool crowd that loves a tea party! So here's a great (and safe) alternative. Done in pinks and greens with a splash of yellow, this set is all tin. Comes with 16 pieces including the tea pot, four cups, plates and a tray (for proper serving!). Better yet, the whole set comes in an attractive case (with a sturdy handle) for on the go tea parties.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl
(Small Miracles $29.99 Score:) Perhaps it's our own bias, but we were delighted that Small Miracle remembered that girls often like to dress up as pirates too! Their new Caribbean Seas Pirate Girl costume comes with a Jolly Roger head wrap (braids included), vest, sewn-on belt and buckle, and a skirt. They also have Pirate costumes for boys. Also special their Pirate's Treasure Kit ($29) that comes with 23 pieces, designed for two players, including two pirate's vests, eye-patches, pirate coins, and a treasure map.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Woodland Adventures Pirate Ship
(Step 2 $49.99 Score:) A handsome pirate ship that makes a perfect centerpiece for a pirate themed party and a great birthday gift! The ship is 29"l x 22.5"h with a painted black hull, red and white sails (complete with crossbones and skull), and comes with five pirates. Our testers loved the secret aft door, the ship's wheel, crow's nest and other small details such as a treasure chest, cannon, lantern and flags. "Looks like it came from an expensive specialty store" wrote one tester.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2008 Award
Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage
(Step 2 $79.99 Score:) There is great competition this year in wooden castles. It's rare to see a mass-market toy maker compete to the same level as a specialty supplier, but that's exactly what's happening this year. Step 2's Woodland Adventures Castle of Courage is equal in every way to Ryan’s Room Majestic Castle & Mighty Knights PLATINUM AWARD 2007 ($100), a truly majestic wooden castle, 20" ✕ 20". Both have working drawbridges and towers, and come with knights ready to defend their kingdom. You can’t go wrong with either. 4 & up. Also noteworthy: Tower of Doom (Step 2 $99.99) This painted grey castle is 45" tall and has several levels and hideouts. Has a working drawbridge, secret magnetic castle door, dungeon gate. Comes with three-piece set of monsters (we could have done without) which you may want to replace. This one looks older, more sinister than either of the two above and would be enjoyed by 5–8 year olds. Not to be left out, there is the Woodland Adventures Pink Princess Palace (Step 2 $79.90), a very pink palace that is home to a Princess, Fairy Godmother, King, Prince, and Queen. A perfect setting for Cinderella's ball, Rapunzel's rescue, and other such events. Two pink towers with fabric flags, this is almost 30" tall with many walkways and gates. Our testers loved it but their parents suggested that you keep the instructions on how to put it back together nearby! The company has signed verification forms that these products contain no lead or phthalates.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Ryan's Room Home Sweet Home Dollhouse
(Small World Toys $139 Score:)

Painted pink with yellow trim, this three-stories-high house has two staircases and lots of room for pretend play. It has a more traditional look of a colonial house with shutters and front door. Access is only from the rear. It comes furnished with bedroom, kitchen and bathroom furniture. For a less expensive house on a smaller scale, testers liked the A-frame Ryan's Room Home Again, Home Again that comes without furniture.  Also special, a three story unfurnished dollhouse Home Is Where the Heart Is ($130) that is opened front, back and from the top for easy side by side play by several children.  This company makes multicultural families and interesting furniture collections, including Livin'It Up ($15), a 9-piece set with chairs, lamp, and a flatscreen TV, of course. Also an unusual, the Fluff'n'Fold Laundry Room.

Age: 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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2009 Award
Acting Out Musical Can Can Skirt
(Acting Out $37 Score:)

The latest in the line of play skirts that have motion activated music. The black and white shirt with black and pink ruffles is very grown up. Your child will most likely love the skirt and the can-can music. Be forewarned, if you have a headache, this is not the skirt for small spaces! We can't stop activating the music in our office--and now we keep singing the song too! Just like being at the Folies Bergère! Ooo,la la!

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

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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