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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 


2004 Award
Doll Houses Comparison Shopper
(Brio $50 Score:) Dollhouses should be kept simple for little hands. In wooden dollhouses, there are three great collections. You can’t go wrong with any of them. From Plan Toys: Choose either of their modern-looking A-frames ($90–$125 ) with open roofs for easy access, or their Classic Dollhouse (Brio $70/$50 for add-on basement ). PLATINUM AWARD ’01. New for , a grand two-story Victorian Dollhouse ($200 1?2) with two staircases (which fall down too easily) and removable partitions for small-scale remodeling. From Small World Toys: Ryan’s Room Deluxe Home Is Where the Heart Is Dollhouse, three stories high (Small World Toys $100 ) PLATINUM AWARD ’03. An add-on balcony and garage with ramp are available ($50) or consider their smaller Home Again, Home Again A-Frame ($130) that can be enlarged with an add-on basement and stairs ($70). Multicultural families and furnishings for both companies are sold separately and run between $15–$20 per room. We thought the Ryan’s Room Making Muscles exercise equipment set was a sign of the times. From Alex: My Dollhouse, Platinum Award ’01 ($169 ), has three floors done in bright colors/patterns and comes with 22 pieces of furniture. Brio (888) 274-6869/Small World Toys (800) 421-4153/Alex (800) 666-2539. Fisher-Price’s plastic Special Edition Townhouse ($99.99 ) is fully furnished and has sound effects that our testers loved; crackling fireplace, ringing phone, running water, chiming doorbell, and lights! 4 & up. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Tonka All-Terrain Crane
(Funrise $29.99 Score:) Our three-year old tester enjoyed making the crane go up and down while he placed different toys on the hook. It took some time to get the hang of making it work (one switch is counterintuitive) but it had lasting play value. We also recommend the Lights and Sound Dump Truck (Funrise $14.99 ) Comes with a construction hat, figure and road crew accessories. 3 & up. (800) 882-3808.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Thomas & Friends Mr. Jolly's Chocolate Factory
(RC2 Learning Curve $50 Score:) We like the "magic" of this chocolate-making factory (even if it’s pretend)! The Quarry Mine Tunnel ($25 ) got a high rating even though some of the trains got stuck going through; they liked "the momentum as they go through the tunnel." The Clock Tower ($25) is controlled by turning the roof, which makes the drawbridge go up and down. Our two favorite accessories: the Rescue Hospital ($50 )—press Harold (the helicopter) down on the helicopter pad and the ambulance pops out; and the Carousel ($50 ) plays music as it spins the magnetic circus animals. 3 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Musini Preschool
(Small world toys $39.99 Score:) When your kids move, they activate the lights and music on the Musini console. A fun stomping-around lesson in cause and effect. This new smaller version has a clever listening game where kids have to respond when they hear particular instruments. Also new but not ready for testing, Musini Magic Wand. (800) 220-3669.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
I Spy Bingo
(Briarpatch $15.99 Score:) Fans of the I Spy series will enjoy revisiting the graphics that are used in this straightfoward Bingo game. Players get Bingo by finding either the letter or one of the objects pn the draw card. There are two sides of the Bingo boards(one is in alphabetical order, making it easier ro find matches). They say 4 & up,we'd say more like 5. (800)232-7427.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Crayon Sticks
(Elmer's $2.99 Score:) These oversized crayons are softer than most and will be easier to grasp. These are fine for encouraging big sweeping arm motion and tracing or free-form drawing. (888) 435-6377. SNAP AWARD: ACTIVITY: Use these on big shhets of paper on the floor, a table or easel. For developing eye hand these give juicy results- something like thick colored markers, but greasy. They may smudge some so, a shirt to cover up clothes may save some trouble.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Soccer Guys
(Kaskey Kids $14.99 Score:) If you're looking for non-violent action figures that your child will love, look no further! Here's a truly satisfying kit that comes with 24 players, one referee, two soccer goals and a generous green felt 24" x 36" playmat. The carrying case (with a handle) makes this a great take along. The company also makes a Football Guys set. Both sets are great for dramatic play. We like the fact that there are no directions--leaving the play up to your child's imagination. Hooray! (or should we say Score!)

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Magz-x 106
(Progressive Trading Inc. $34.95 Score:) We’ve seen a lot of these magnetic building kits. Thanks to the X shaped pieces in this set it’s possible to build curved structures by making a cube and adding a triangular connection. Our builders were delighted to find more steel ball connectors in this kit, as well as the new shape. Kit comes with 28 bars, 53 steel balls and 25 “X” bars. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Super Sized Floor Puzzle (Construction Duty)
(Ravensburger $12 Score:) Kids fascinated with all things construction will love working on this oversized (2 x 3) puzzle with 24 pieces that features a picturebook quality illustration of a construction site. One of our adult reviewers noted that the crew was not multi-cultural and that the only woman on the site seemed to be the architect, but still a handsomely designed puzzle.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
My Horse Stable and Corral Kit
(Balitono $25 Score:) We weren't prepared for the amount of excitement when we took this craft kit out of the box. Our testers, admittedly all big horse fans, were eager to have their own stable and corral to decorate. The kit comes with a wooden double door barn with a three part sectioned corral, a 4" wooden horse, paint, brush, and painting guide. You can buy additional wooden horses from Balitono or you can use Beyer's 4" horses with the set as well.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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