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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2006 Awards
My First Leap Pad Bus
(LeapFrog $39.99 Score:) Three Dr. Seuss books have been adapted for this platform, which has been updated with a bus motif. You can listen to the story and/or play the games that extend the experience. Each page has items to find with a sensor pen. Comes with Leap’s Big Day, with many basic preschool counting and language skills, not just the usual alphabet drill. Happily, there’s a volume control, so it won’t blast their ears. (800) 701-5327.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Car Wash
(Alex $23.99 Score:) After a day in the sandbox, it’s tough to deal with the “don’t wanna take a bath” preschooler. But this floating car wash with spritzer, conveyer belt, and turning gate might just change some minds. Comes with four little cars and miles of play power. Takes some hand strength and fine motor tuning to operate. 3 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Fold 2 Go XL Trike
(Radio Flyer $60 Score:) Our tall four-year-old tester had trouble with her long legs on other trikes. According to her mom, “The minute I put her on this one, she took off. This one is easy for her to steer and pedal, it’s stable because of the wide base at the back, and it folds up nicely . . . the best one yet!” She did note that the parent push bar was not as sturdy as the one on their Ultimate Family Trike ($80 ) but her daughter found this one easier to ride! Also new for , the Twist Trike ($60 ) You can twist the body of this trike from trike to low-to-the-ground “chopper.” Our tester enjoyed the dual mode of the trike, although her mom noted that the turning radius wasn’t as good as other Radio Flyer trikes. (800) 621-7613.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Naturally Playful Welcome Home Playhouse
(Step 2 $550 Score:) This oversized 66" high house will accommodate growing children and has bay windows, full kitchen, doorbell, and room for multiple children. “She loves playing peek-a-boo and having her own special space,” wrote our tester’s mother. The smaller Adobe House ($299) is 55" high, has small kitchen, sand tones, red “tile” roof, and stucco adobe look. (800) 347-8372.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Jump 'n Slide
(Little Tikes $200 Score:) The neighborhood kids that tested this new inflatable toy had one word: “Great!” Ideal for the 2–5 year old range. (Older testers were disappointed that it didn’t have enough bounce for them.) Parents liked the protective walls on the sides and loved the extra-wide slide. Great fun for a birthday party and just backyard fun, but does require parental supervision. Like an air mattress, it inflates quickly with the built-in pump (also a plus). 3 & up. (800) 321-0183.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Super Rolling Art Center
(Alex $129 Score:) You need a lot of room for this generously sized art cart that has two easels and place for storing your child’s creations and supplies in between. The wheels gives this good-looking piece of equipment some portability. It does require a fair amount of assembly which was not always easy. That said, it looks like it belongs in a Pottery Barn catalog. If space is an issue, consider the BLUE CHIP Tabletop Easel ($40 ). Folds flat for convenient storage. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Awards
Woodstock Band
(Woodstock Percussion $29.99 Score:) Beat out that rhythm with this six-piece set with wooden tambourine, recorder, maraca, egg shaker, castanet, and sleigh bell jingler with big wooden handle. Solid-sounding instruments. (800) 422-4463.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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Playskool Video Now
(Hasbro $49.95 Score:) Poses as an interactive game for preschoolers...but the DVD keeps playing without any intervention from the player. The characters on screen ask the child to answer questions but it does not require any action to make something happen- it just keeps going. This does not play any DVD’s but the ones made for this toy. Buy a DVD player and have real videos to watch instead of this stuff. (800) 752-9755.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2006.

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See 'n Write
(Educational Insights $39.99 Score:) The good thing about this writing machine is that kids get to see how to shape upper and lower case letters in both script and cursive on a small LCD screen. In game mode player tries to recognize letters as the machine writes. But, unfortunately, there is no direct writing on the screen--no tracing or free form writing. So, this is pretty remote. The only way kids get to try their hand is with paper and pencil. (800) 995-4436.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Knights' Empire Castle
(Playmobil $179 Score:) Playmobil’s Knights’ Empire Castle uses the company’s new SystemX, which is designed for shorter assembly time and durability. Comes with a working gate and dungeon and looks like the classic friendly Playmobil settings of years past. By comparison, Rock Castle ($79.99 ) has a more sinister feel to it. Suggested add-on, the Red Dragon (because you always need a dragon), is sold separately. Projectile cannons sold separately. Also darker in feel than their previous castles is Lego’s new Vladek’s Dark Fortress ($99 ), which comes with catapults. Most kids love the action of projectiles until one hits them. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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