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Product Type: Toys
Age: Preschoolers

 


2008 Award
The Very Hungry Caterpillar and Butterfly
(Kids Preferred $15 Score:) Bring the magic of Eric Carle's Very Hungry Caterpillar to life with a plush 11" green caterpillar, a multi-colored hand puppet butterfly, or a caterpillar plush puppet. This is a well-executed collection of plush and puppets that are true to the spirit of Carle's work. Makes an ideal present with the book!

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

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2008 Award
Candy Land Castle Game
(Milton Bradley $19.99 Score:) We love this low-tech game that reinforces shape and color concepts. Pull the candy-cane lever and out pops a shape. Players match shape spaces on their gingerbread-cookie playing boards. Preschoolers will like the action of popping shapes, and you can add words that define the colors and shapes.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Diggity Dog
(International Playthings $19.99 Score:) Players must listen to the number of times the big electronic dog barks and then move their little dog that many spaces. When you land on that space, your magnetized dog picks up a bone. If it matches your dog, you keep the bone in your dog house. Winner is the one with the most bones, of course. A game of chance with listening and simple counting. 3 & up. 2–4 players. 4 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Smart Cycle
(Fisher-Price $99.99 Score:) Responding to concerns that our kids are sitting on the couch way too much, Smart Cycle combines video games and active play. Be forewarned—the stationary bike is small, so if you have a big preschooler, you might want to test-drive this in the toy store. In order to play most of the games on the TV screen, kids must pedal. The bike comes bundled with Learning Adventure, a game that combines typical arcade driving with pretty simple matching games that focus on letter names, colors, shapes, and numbers. Kids use the joystick on the bike to select some answers and steer the handlebars for others. Hooks up easily to the A/V jack of your TV. Our testers found the games entertaining. Additional games including Dora, Hot Wheels, Barbie, and Diego are planned, but were not ready for testing. 3 & up. We really wish they had made a version for older kids who traditionally spend much more time playing video games!

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Once Upon a Time Matching Game
(eeBoo $12.95 Score:) The matching cards are all fairy-tale related but not tied to a license (a plus to our testing family). The cards "are substantial" and will hold up to more wear and tear. I Never Forget A Face Memory Game ($12.95)—same idea (less pink). Our almost-five-year-old tester proclaimed, "this is the best memory game ever" (after he repeatedly beat his grandmother). Our testers were split on the new Tea Party Game ($15). One family loved the big playing pieces and the tablecloth that add to the pretend part of this simple luck-of-the draw game. Another family preferred the game play of the Once Upon a Time game above. Graphics are beautiful. For a less pink version, the Picnic Game ($15) uses the same idea with a few ants thrown into the mix!

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

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2008 Award
Groovy Girls Poseable Dolls
(Manhattan Toy $15.95 Score:) This continues to be a BLUE CHIP collection of soft 13" multi-ethnic dolls with stitched features, yarn hair, and groovy clothes. The big addition this year is a collection of dolls with bendable limbs. Happily, there is a boy doll in this line. Still the superlative gift, consider a Supersized Groovy Girl ($50), a 40" child-sized fabric doll that’s like a pretend play pal.

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

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2008 Award
Circus Tent
(Bazoongi Kids $129 Score:) There's something very pleasing about this old-fashioned colorful tent (61" tall, 54" diameter) done in vivid circus colors. Our testers found the frame easy to put together and the kids loved the window and opening. "At first we thought it was going to be shaky but once we put the fabric cover over the frame it was sturdy."

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

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2008 Award
ESPN Better Batter Baseball
(Fisher-Price $69.95 Score:) We had mixed reviews about this batting toy. All of our testers loved that the each time the ball is loaded, it plays music from ESPN and says encouraging baseball phrases. We agree, that part is really fun. In order to start the ball loading, you push (with your bat) or step on the red target on the "plate". That was also fun and easy to do. Here's where there was a source of disagreement. The ball is suspended (in the zone) by an arm that has Velcro on it. The ball sticks to the Velcro. For some of our testers hitting it off the Velcro was not a problem. Even some of our hard swinging 3 year olds could do. Others (including some grown ups) had great difficulty getting the ball off the Velcro. For this group, it was necessary to pull the ball of and then re-attach it. Once reattached (but not on as tightly) this group could now also hit the ball. We also found that if you hit out and down, it is easier to get the ball off the suspended arm. For some, a simple t-ball will do the trick. If your child is not a slugger, this may be the way to go. Our best advice, try your neighbor's before you invest in this one. It is much more expensive than a simple t-ball.

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

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2008 Award
Poseable Nutbrown Hare
(Kids Preferred $18 Score:) A plush recreation of a favorite storybook character, Nutbrown Bear, from Guess How Much I Love You. This one has poseable ears and front paws and a silky feel. Bring it home with the book that is available in sturdy board edition or regular format. 2 ˝ & up. 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. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Alex Sack Racing
(Alex $19.99 Score:) Maybe it's all our years going to camp, but nothing screams summer to us as much as sack racing. Can you say color war? Of course we were so excited when these new versions came into the office. Each pack comes with two (there are four different animal motifs to select from). The first question was to see if a grown up can use them -- unless you are really really tall--they'll work just fine which makes this a great family party activity for the whole family.

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

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