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Product Type: Toys

 

Discovery Ball
(LeapFrog $19.99 Score:) Our testers did love spinning the ball and hearing the music while the ball was in its cradle. It is really a cause-and-effect toy. However, this heavy plastic ball should not replace having a soft fabric ball for games of roly poly. While the music is pleasant, we take issue with the focus on teaching babies the ABCs.

Age: Infants. Award Year: .

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2004 Awards
Melody & Motion Activity Toy
(Baby Einstein $9.99 Score:) Our tester loved batting at this rolling musical toy and making the paddle wheel spin, or crawling after it as it rolled and played “Für Elise.” Unlike some of the other musicals in this line, the music is slow and calming—not frenetic. Winding it up calls for adult help, but this is a good choice to motivate baby to get moving. 6 mos. & up. SNAP: Winding it up calls for adult help, but this is a good choice to motivate baby’s to get moving. Play a simple I'll roll it to you -you roll it to me game with this toy. (800) 793-1454.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Tolo First Friends Carousel
(Reeves International $20 Score:)

So happy that this wonderful toy is back in the market! A former Platinum Award winner, it's now on our Blue Chip Award List. What we wrote in 2002: Finding easy-to-activate toys is key for young babies who are just learning the power of making something happen. Tolo First Friends Carousel comes with a big knob to make the little people spin inside a see-through dome.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Awards
Roll & Rhyme Melody Block
(LeapFrog $19.99 Score:) Turn this big fabric block and it either plays music or says a rhyme about the animal featured on the topmost face. The block includes a small mirror, peek-a-boo leaves that open to reveal a parrot, a polar bear that slides on the snow, a fox that pops in and out of its den, and a lion with a satiny mane. Fun for rolling as well as exploring its textures and sounds. They say birth & up, we’d say more like 6 mos. & up. SNAP: Pleasingly easy to activate. Use this for a sing along or talking moment..naming the illustrations on the block or immitating the sounds.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Developlay Activity Center
(Tiny Love $44.95 Score:)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued. A two-sided activity center loaded with interesting challenges for the senses. A polka-dotted spinner reflects in a mirror; music plays with a press of the happy face; pull a ring to make a "hammer" rise and fall. Flip it over for musical buttons, knobs to turn, a gentle pop-up, and gears that spin. 9 mos. & up.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2003 Award
Discover & Play Color Blocks
(Baby Einstein $12.99 Score:)

We like the new Discover & Play Color Blocks that have interesting textures on each side. One block makes a quacking sound that your baby will enjoy hearing long before she'll be able to make it happen. These are fun for stacking and knocking down. Editor's Note: Unfortunately, these blocks are no longer available.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Tolo First Friends Rocker
(Reeves International $10 Score:)

Just a swipe of the hand makes the beads roll and two little figures spin as it rocks. Interesting for gazing at, but even better for two-handed play. Also top rated: Twist & Turn, Play Triangle Activity Cube, or Gripper Rattle, all beautifully crafted in sturdy primary-colored plastic with interesting action for baby to manipulate.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Lil' Creatures Rattles
(Mary Meyer $5 Score:) A delightfully cheery new collection of soft rattles with fabric animals (duck, elephant, turtle, or dino), each attached to a clear easy-to-grasp ring with colorful beads inside. At first you can use these for tracking games, but soon enough your baby will enjoy exploring with two hands. Unlike many rattles, these have a quiet rattle sound that won't startle your baby.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Awards
Symphony in Motion Deluxe
(Tiny Love $49.95 Score:)

Sadly, this product has been discontinued. How do you make a good thing better? Add a remote control and new animals to this clever musical mobile with innovative motion. Small shapes slide on the arms of the mobile, making a clicking sound as the mobile turns. The sound quality is better than most and it plays several classical selections. Still top rated, Symphony in Motion with Calder-like shapes or other animals. PLATINUM AWARD '02.

SNAP This award-winning mobile now comes with a remote control so you can turn the music from a distance. Unlike most mobiles, this innovative offering has more visual interest of several kinds: it tips as it spins, causing objects to shift their positions in interesting ways. It also pauses, and the start-and-stop motion adds another kind of interest. Small shapes slide on the arms of the mobile and make small clicking sounds as the musical mobile turns. The sound quality on this mobile is better than most, and it plays several classical music selections. (800) 843-6292.

Age: Infants. Award Year: 2004.

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2003 Award
Dread Pirate Game
(Old Century Classics $99.95 Score:) Think of this game as Monopoly for Pirates. The object is to collect all the treasure and make sure that none of your fellow pirates have any left! You win by moving your pirate ship around the play mat and collecting "gems" and "coins" from your opponents. Moving around the play mat and how many treasures you collect is determined by rolling the dice. Be forewarned, this game can take a long time to play and will appeal to older kids (9s & up). As with most of the games made by this company, the playing pieces are handsome (and pricey). The directions for this game are pretty lengthy and will probably need clarification, negotiation and the adoption of "house rules".

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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