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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

D REX Interactive Dinosaur
(Mattel $149.99 Score:)

D REX is the most ferocious of the new dinos on the market. He walks, charges, chomps, roars and will respond to your voice and commands. He is covered with a reptile-ish skin to make him more life like than the recent crop of robotic dinos. When we first saw D REX at toy fair, it was clear this was the dino that you would scare your little sister with. He also promises to have a room guard mode. We look forward to testing him. For a slightly less scary dino, look at Fisher-Price's Spike and for the preschool set, Playkool's Kota My Tricertaops.

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

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2009 Award
Maru Doll
(Maru and Friends $99 Score:)

Maru is a very beautiful Hispanic doll with dark eyes, dark hair and fine features. She looks like a collector's doll with a face that looks like a bisque doll from another time. Her clothes are colorful, a pleated cordoroy skirt, orange blouse and hat and a cute vest with orange bows. She wears fleece topped boots and tights. She's about the same size as an American Girl doll. But her body is not soft. Her arms and legs move, but she is less flexible than some of the play dolls that look like American Girl wanna-be's. The book that comes with Maru is not really of the same quality as the doll. The book is a totally forgettable. We also question the age on the box. They say 3 & up. This is a doll for 5's and up, up, up. It wold be a total waste for 3's who would not be able to handle her clothes. So this is a mixed bag. Available on their site, maru.com, where you will find two other dolls, a blonde and a doll with wavy hair.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2008 Award
HexBug Micro Robotic Creatures
(Innovation First $14.99 Score:)

A late arrival--but well worth the wait! These very small robotic creatures delighted our testers both young and old. Available in several colors (our favorite, red!) The Crab has light and sound sensors and will change direction based on both. The Inchworm comes with a small remote control and moves back and forth and in circles...lots of fun to play with. We LOVE that they come loaded and ready to play with right from the start. A great gift for older kids, teens and even grown ups. They make great office toys!

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

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
HearthSong Connectagons
(HearthSong $24.98 Score:)

Connectagons is an old-fashion kind of construction toy. The set comes in a wooden box with a slide opening--and inside there are 240 wooden discs. Each disc has eight notches-and there are five different colors. All in all, making this a very open-ended and pleasing building toy. Much like the magnetic toy sets of recent years, Connectagons is a set you'll enjoy having on your coffee table. There's no right or wrong way to build with this set -- appealing to both boys and girls (and their parents).

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

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

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2009 Award
Villa Paletti
(Wiggles 3D Inc. $24.99 Score:)

Subtitled the Game of Construction Chaos, this is a lot like other stacking games...with the object being not to be the one who knocks the pieces over first. Players begin with all the playing pieces standing on the first floor. Now they put a layer of wood on top of the pieces and take turns moving the pieces to the next level. You can play random style taking any piece you like or play with a color-coded die. Players agree on when no more pieces can be moved above and put another layer on top. The first person to knock down the construction gets one point. Agree on how many rounds you are going to play and then the winner is the one with the least number of points. There is some skill involved but still a lot of luck of the draw. A good game for beginning readers with plenty of rounds and chances for winning and losing. 6 and up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Backseat Drawing Junior
(Out of the Box Publishing $19.99 Score:)

A "director" looks at a secret card with image and word in a special viewing box. The "director" tells the “listener’ to follow directions for making a drawing without saying the name of what the picture must be. Both parties have an important role in the game. The drawer has to be a good listener AND the director has to give very clear directions. So this is challenging to all players. The game comes with a drawing board, marker and dry eraser. Can be played with 3-8 players ages 7 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Maxi Kick Scooter
(Kickboard USA $149 Score:)

The Maxi Scooter is designed for kids ages 6-10. Based on the 3-wheel design of the Mini Scooter, the Maxi is the Mini's big sister and big brother, designed for bigger kids. It is - bigger, cooler, tougher, stronger for the action it is sure to get. Our testers like the convertible handle that can be used upright, like a joy stick or sideways in the traditional style. Available in black or purple. 6 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Ring-o Flamingo
(Gamewright $20 Score:)

Our testers thought this was was "fun" and really "different". Parent testers thought the directions were clear and the start up time was very quick. The game design is, in fact, unique. You take the pink flamingoes and alligator play pieces and lock them into the board. Each player is given a life boat with color coded lifesavers on them. The idea is to save the flamingoes from the alligators--and you do this by flinging your life savers off your boat and onto the game board. The more flamingoes you save, the more points you get. This is a fast-paced game that will be enjoyed by kids and grown ups. We found the best place to play this game was on the floor. You need to move your boats back from the board in order to capture the flamingoes. It's like a board game edition of ring toss--but here everyone is tossing at the same time.

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

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

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2009 Award
Money Monster Banks
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:)

Two ceramic monster banks come with acrylic and puff paint, paint and sponge brushes, adhesive dots, wiggly eyes, fun fur hair and ideas for decorating. The big bank has a big enough mouth to "eat" bills while the smaller one has an opening for coins. Both have removable plugs that allow kids to get to their savings without breaking the bank. You'll find the acrylic paint needs two coats for good coverage. 8 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
Collectible Tin Puzzles Pirates
(Mudpuppy Press $14 Score:)

This 100-piece puzzle creates a handsome three mast pirate ship with challenging sails to un-jumble. Like all 100 piece puzzles, this is for older and more experienced puzzle builders. Marked 5 & up, we think this will require help if a 5 tries this solo. More like a 7 & up choice. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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