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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2007 Award
American Girl Jess
(American Girl $87 Score:) Jess, is this year's Girl of the Year from American Girl's contemporary collection of dolls. She's an Amerasian, 18" tall with dark brown eyes and her hair comes in loose braids. Her dad is Irish American and her mom is Japanese American. While the book points out that they come from different backgrounds, they both love archeology. Her family goes to Belize so the accessories that you can also add include a passport, a camera and a kayak.

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

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2007 Award
Scrabble Premier Edition
(Restoration Hardware $149 Score:) If Scrabble is a family favorite, you may want to bring home this deluxe set that comes in a handsome mahogany-finished case with storage below the board and a lazy-Susan platform for easy viewing. The board is approximately 17" x 16" wide and comes with a timer, rulebook, scoreboard and pencil. We'd also recommend the Scrabble Electronic Dictionary ($55) for those heated word challenges!

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Xbox 360 Wireless Racing Wheel
(Microsoft $149.99 Score:) Our testers were really thrilled with the force feedback and rumble motor sensation while using this racing wheel. Parent testers also gave high marks to the "wireless" aspect --"less wires for us to trip on!" (There are wires from the steering wheel to the footpedal, but none to the platform). Comes with Project Gotham Racing 3 and a table mount so that you can secure the wheel to your desk. What we really liked about the xbox experience is that kids can interact with friends and family members by racing them via the internet.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
FurReal Friends Newborn Piglet and Lamb
(Hasbro $12.99 Score:) Two plush barnyard animals, a piglet and a lamb, that oink and baa and wiggle their heads and bodies when stroked. They come with a small feeding bottle, as well. These are novelty items, but fun little 9” critters for a fistful of fun. They would also be enjoyed on an office desk too (we speak from personal experience). 4 & up.

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

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2007 Award
Fashion Angels Living Dolls
(Fashion Angels Enterprises $20 Score:) A funky collection of multicultural dolls that have eclectic clothing, e.g., printed canvas sneakers paired with embroidered denim jackets with lacy skirts. There’s Lulu, Debo, Bebe and Izzy – all are poseable dolls and can exchange both clothes and wigs (a new twist in toyland). We wonder if the wigs were inspired by all those home shopping network wig segments (ok, sometimes we do watch way too much television.)

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

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Works of Ahhh Animals
(Balitono $7.99 Score:) Kit comes with a single wooden animal (triceratops, dolphin, horse, penguin), paints and a brush. These are charming kits that will be enjoyed in different ways depending on the age of the artist. Younger painters will paint quickly and then have a great animal to add to their block play. Older painters will take pleasure in taking their time and then having something to display. One tester also thought the penguin was great for a school project.

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

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2007 Award
Three of a Crime
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

This is a game of deduction that calls for critical thinking skills and visual memory. “It” picks a card that shows the faces of the three guilty thieves, but keeps their identities a secret. Players select cards with a trio of crooks pictured and “It” indicates if there are 1-2 or 3 thieves on each played card. Players must deduce which of the three are the guilty parties from the clues given by “It.” Fun for 2-6 players; about 15 mins.  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: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2009 Award
Wedgits Building Blocks Imagination Set
(ImagAbility $20 Score:)

There's something extremely elegant about Wedgits. The plastic shapes stack and combine together without effort, which makes playing with them so appealing. They have an open-ended quality to them that invites exploration. This isn't the type of building set that you make once - it's easy to take the pieces apart and try something new. A new 15 piece set is $20 and a good starting place. You can add to this set with more pieces, a base for building on, and patterns for older kids to follow. They have gender specific pink set, but we prefer the primary colors. Unlike many building sets, this does not have any themed pieces. The geometric shapes invite experiments with symmetry, balance and exploration with nesting, stacking, linking and wedging together the shapes to create designs. We gave the 60 piece Wedgits on Wheels an award back in 2006. But it was very pricey and really more appropriate for older builders. New this year are the Mini Wedgits, smaller sets for building a Mini Wedgit Frog, Dog or, Owl. The mini-sets can also be mixed in with the larger expandman sets. In such a high tech world, this may seem too old fashioned for some--there are no motors or lights, but it is still a very interesting toy.

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

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2009 Award
BeeBoo Big Bubble Mix Kit and Dip Stix
(Extreme Bubbles, Inc. $10 & up Score:)

Hands down one of our new favorite products of the year! The unique bubble wand consists of two long wooden handles connected by soft rope. Dip the wand into the bucket with the handles closed. Take the wand out of the solution and open the handles slowly and amazingly, extremely large bubbles that will impress even the most "I'm so over bubbles"  teenager. Great fun for the backyard with mixed ages.  New for 2010, Dip Stix.  The big handles on the wands are now painted (they look less homemade)--and you can mix your own bubble solution in the built in container.  For the Tang generation, the mix your own mixture will seem like fun. Some of our parents (with younger kids) prefer the "it's good to go from the start" approach.  You can still buy the original bubble mixture.  While we found that younger children were delighted with running after these super big bubbles (and their parents had fun making them), this is truly one of the few outdoor toys that will capture the attention of teens and adults.   If you're having a family reunion--this is fun to have around!

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

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Bocce Ball Set
(Restoration Hardware $119 Score:)

What we love about bocce is that it really can be enjoyed by a multi-generation team of players. The pace is just right for a lazy summer afternoon. Perhaps because we are not a very coordinated family, bocce has always had a special place in our summer rituals (you really don't need to have too much athletic ability to play!)  This set comes with a brown canvas bag for storage.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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