2000 Toy ReportCTTC 2000 TOY REPORT ONLINE

Age 0+ | Age 1+ | Age 2+ | Age 3+ | Age 4+ | Age5+ | Age 6+ | Age 7+ | Age 8+ | Age 9+ | Age 10

 

Click on one of the age categories above for the CTTC 2000 TOY Report


Three Years and Up (3 +)

Toys which enhance imaginative play are very important to a child's healthy development. Such toys help a child to play out and to resolve daily occurrences. Playing house, pirates or trains is "role playing", which helps a child to develop values, attitudes, language skills, and patience.

 

 

 

Active Play

*

3 - 6 yrs

DUEL-A-CROSS

PLAYHUT INC.

40014

This large, free-standing toy offered kids the opportunity to shoot some baskets or throw a ball around, even on a rainy day. The unit was designed to spring out of its carrying bag to form a two-sided mesh basketball and baseball arcade; the hoops were adjustable to match the age or skill of the player, and the flap between sides allowed a test of throwing skills. Eight coloured balls were also included. Unfortunately, the small size of the hoops and baseball flap discouraged younger children, while play value was not sustained when older testers mastered the games. NOTE: Unit requires a lot of space indoors, and is very unstable in wind outdoors.

Active Play

***

3 +

EASY STORE BASKETBALL SET

LITTLE TIKES COMPANY

4849

Kids don't have to be as tall as Michael Jordan to enjoy this sturdy, portable basketball play structure that folds into a compact size for storage. This structure can shift from 1.5 m to 2.1 m (5' to 7') in height, so it provided a good challenge for hoop enthusiasts. The base featured a place to keep score, and this basketball set's ability to fold up made it great for indoor or outdoor use. The set comes with one small ball (not regulation size, but a regulation basketball can fit through the net.) One or many children can play and enjoy the action!

Active Play

Not Recommended

GROW TO PRO BASEBALL

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

72818

This tall, plastic ball-pitching toy did not quite let kids "grow to pro". While the device worked well as a simple, stationery T-ball stand that children could use to practice their hitting, the toy's pop-up mode failed. Kids were supposed to insert five balls into the side opening of the T-column, and then tilt it so it is at an angle. Pressing the foot pedal, followed by tapping the pitch button, was supposed to make the ball pop up so that kids could swing at it. However, this function did not work, disappointing our junior ball players.

Active Play

**

3 - 4 yrs

GROW TO PRO GOLF

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

72819

This durable plastic set for young golfers played more like baseball than golf, but that didn't seem to affect the fun. Children set the tee in place, pressed a lever on the toy and a ball dropped into position. Little golfers could hit up to five balls in a row without reloading. The gold clubs were very lightweight, and kids did experience some difficulties with the toy tipping and the tee falling off, but overall they still enjoyed practicing their swings and putts.

Active Play

**

3 - 5 yrs

JUNGLE CLIMBER

LITTLE TIKES COMPANY

4852

Children enjoyed playing jungle explorers on this durable, plastic play structure, which came complete with a slide and climbing rope, as well as dinosaur fossils and plant life embedded in the structure's three walls and three platforms. For most testers, the assembly of this structure was difficult; while the instructions were easy to follow, fitting pieces into each other as directed proved challenging. Once constructed, however, kids did enjoy lots of play, and while some complained the slide was too bumpy, they went down it anyway! NOTE: Maximum weight of 32 kg (70 lb.) per child; limit of four children on load-bearing surfaces.

Active Play

**

3 - 10 yrs

KOOSH LOOP DARTS

ODDZON PRODUCTS

2910

This brightly coloured, plastic, revolving, circular dart board came with a unique twist--instead of throwing darts, kids could hurl koosh balls that stuck to little plastic comb-like prongs. While the bard was meant to be hung on the wall, the toy did not provide screws; instead, children laid the board flat on the floor or propped it up against a wall. A directional arrow that coordinated play on the wheel did not function well, but kids had loads of fund just throwing the balls and watching them stick, as well as spinning the circular board.

Active Play

***

3 +

MEGAHOUSE

PLAYHUT INC.

71989

This big, bright indoor/outdoor playhouse was a huge hit with our testers. Featuring a front door, a hole for climbing through and two windows, children found numerous opportunities for fun and play within its walls. While this durable playhouse tent structure measured 152.4 cm x 152.4 cm x 152.4 cm (60" x 60" x 60") when put up using spring open assembly, it could be collapsed and stored easily in the provided bag. NOTE: Read all instructions before assembling.

Active Play

***

3 +

MY PONY

LEDRA PLASTICS

001698 080383

Children loved this big, round bouncing ball toy with a friendly horse-like head. Kids had lots of fun sitting on the brightly coloured, round, inflated synthetic resin body and hopping about, grasping the longish ears to hold on and ride. NOTE: Bicycle pump needed to inflate toy; two air plugs included; maximum load of 150 kg.

Active Play

**

3 - 5 yrs

POWER RIDER ADVENTURE CRUISER

HEDSTROM CORPORATION

9525 & 9535

Our testers got a big kick driving this battery-driven car made of durable plastic, which had room for two children up to a maximum of 47.5 kg (105 lb.)--we recommend 36 to 41 kg (80 to 90 lb.)--and offered reverse, low and high speeds. Popular features included a horn with four buttons that made exciting car sounds, as well as a play phone. During the course of testing, the vehicle's left front wheel fell off but was easily popped back on, and this did not affect play. NOTE: Battery (included) needed 18 hours to charge before first use. ADVISORY: Read instructions first; adult supervision required at all times.

Active Play

***

3 +

POWER WHEELS KAWASAKI NINJA

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

74113

Easy rider! This large ride-on vehicle toy was a huge hit; its four-wheel, all-terrain look impressed kids as being very cool, and it was easy to drive, too. This vehicle had two speeds--slow, at 4 km per hour, or fact, at 5.5 km per hour, which parents could control--and worked well in forward or reverse by foot activation. Kids quickly learned that they could not step on the pedal when getting on the vehicle, as the vehicle would move before they sat down. Adult supervision and obeying safety rules required. Still, children begged for a turn to ride! NOTE: Two six-volt batteries required (included); 18 hours needed to charge batteries (charger included).

Active Play

***

3 - 6 yrs

PRO STREET

HOCKEY SET

WINNWELL

96037

Net results! Our young hockey enthusiasts enjoyed lots of active play with this light-weight plastic set that included two hockey sticks, net, orange puck and yellow ball. The mid-sized nylon hockey net featured a plastic tube frame that held together well, plus clear instructions for easy assembly. Taller kids or those on roller blades found the 99 cm hockey sticks too short for comfortable use, but all liked the authentic look of the set. TIP: Use plastic ties (included) to anchor the net around the bottom of the frame instead of weaving to prolong life of net. NOTE: Cold weather durability of toy not assessed.

Active Play

*

3 - 4 yrs

WATER SOAK 'N SPRAY

LITTLE TIKES COMPANY

902

This multi-spray sprinkler toy promised lots of gentle spraying fun, but did not quite work as expected. Up to three children could "arm" themselves with nozzles that sprayed water in different patterns, while a centre section sent up a whirling spray for kids to run through. Attachments for the toy to the hose proved awkward and leaky. The arms that held the nozzles were very loose and kept falling down; nozzles were also low to the ground and did not come out far enough when children wanted to chase and spray each other. Still, kids enjoyed water play of on hot days.

Active Play

***

3 - 5 yrs

WILD WIND

ROMP 'N ROCKERS

HEDSTROM CORPORATION

2-605/2-6054

Ride like the wind! Our testers enjoyed hours of wild west play riding this realistic-looking horse, made of sturdy plastic and mounted on a wide frame. Its strong, covered springs can support children up to 27 kg (60 lb.), and this horse tended to rock back and forth rather than bounce up and down. This toy required lots of space but kids loved playing on it indoors and out (put a tarp over the horse if placed outdoors). NOTE: Three hours of assembly required; parental supervision required at all times.

Arts & Crafts

**

3 - 6 yrs

NORIS CLUB GLITTER DABBERS FOR KIDS

STAEDTLER-MARS LTD.

8861 C1

These bingo-style sponge-tip markers in eight different colours--blue, green, yellow, red, pink, purple, transparent and black-- added the appeal of glitter to children's art creations. Our youngest testers enjoyed grabbing a bottle in their fists and pounding away at the paper to create "splotch" art, while older kids liked experimenting with the bright, glittery colours. Some children found it difficult to draw even, flowing lines while grasping the rather wide circumference of the bottle, but they still enjoyed the sparkly results. NOTE: Paint is washable when stain is presoaked and washed immediately.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

NORIS CLUB THICK TRIANGULAR COLOURED PENCILS

STAEDTLER-MARS LTD.

128 NC8

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***Kids loved going back to the drawing board with these unique, non-toxic triangular coloured pencils that made grasping easy for little fingers. The set included eight high-quality colours (yellow, orange, blue, brown, red, green and black). Both testers and parents appreciated the fact there was no lead breakage during use or sharpening. The larger size and three-sided format did help children learn and improve proper pencil grip, and these pencils soon became favourites to use. NOTE: Large-hole pencil sharpener required.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

NORIS CLUB WASHABLE MARKERS (THIN) 50 PKG

STAEDTLER-MARS LTD.

327 NC50

Fifty--count 'em--fifty! Kids found having so many markers to colour with at one time "awesome"! They loved the many different shades of different colours, and the sheer number of markers encouraged cooperative play. These thin markers were better for drawing than colouring large areas, and some testers found that the markers were dry and squeaky at first, but that problem disappeared. The non-toxic, washable markers with air-flow safety caps came in a convenient carrying tray and box with handle--easy to play and put away.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

NORIS CLUB WATERCOLOUR MARKERS (THICK)

STAEDTLER-MARS LTD.

340 WP6 & 12

Colour your world! These thick, non-toxic watercolour markers came in a variety of colours, and our budding artists found them to be a joy to use. The markers did not dry up even if their caps were left off, and the colours themselves were lovely and vivid. Made with food colouring, they did not have a strong smell associated with other markers. Note: Heed manufacturer's instructions to soak stained fabrics immediately and colour will come out; some surfaces may stain also.

Arts & Crafts

**

3 - 4 yrs

NORIS CLUB COLOURING SET

STAEDTLER-MARS LTD.

220 NC301

This compact drawing and colouring set provided the tools budding artists need to create bright works of art. Each kit included 16 wax crayons, a three-sided ("triplus") learners' pencil, an eraser, a pencil sharpener and a 24-page colouring book. While some of our testers found it difficult at first glance to tell the colours of the crayons apart (for example, black and purple looked alike), they delighted in the results of their creations. The learners' pencil was popular--very easy to grip. NOTE: Pencil sharpener is not recommended for children under 3.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

PLAY-DOH SEASIDE PLAYWORLD

HASBRO CANADA INC.

17447

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***Kids were delighted to be able to visit the ocean right at home, thanks to this nifty moulding compound play set. The suitcase-like packaging opened up into a colourful, textured 3-D beach scene, and children could create fish, coral, seaweed, starfish, sandcastles and more using the accessories provided (extruder, bucket and shovel, and two-piece fish mould). The big hit, however, was the special moulding "dough" that was textured and coloured like sand, slimy like seaweed, or smelling like seawater. Children loved the theme and had oceans of funs with this toy.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

PRESCHOOL TUG BOAT

CREATIVITY FOR KIDS

616070

Terrific tugboat! This craft kit consisted of five wooden shapes which children could sand, paint and then glue together (or leave as separate sections) to form a tugboat and barge, connected by a string. Kids enjoyed the creative process, which took about an hour to complete using the acrylic paint and brush provided, and were pleased to have a colourful toy to float in the bathtub. Children who did not glue their tugs together could take apart and put together the toy over and over. A simple craft that kids loved!

Arts & Crafts

**

3 - 5 yrs

TEE TIME

CURIOSITY KITS

597

This craft kit put a unique twist on the game of golf. Each kit came with glue, brush, tissue paper, pom poms, googly eyes and six cardboard animal stand-ups with holes, as well as two plastic golf clubs, balls and a scoring pad. Kids could decorate the cardboard animals and then use them to create their own mini-putt range. Children enjoyed making this craft, but had less luck playing mini-putt; the stands holding up the cardboard animals fell out when moved or blew over if played outdoors. House rules worked best as the game resembled croquet more than golf. NOTE: Try gluing the stands onto the animals; best played indoors.

Arts & Crafts

***

3 +

WORLD'S GREATEST PAINT SET

UNIVERSITY GAMES

64010

Fantastic! This all-in-one paint set lived up to its billing, and the key was the concise, colourful, easy-to-follow instructions for 15 projects. Using the supplies provided--six bottles of paint, scraper, brush and paper--kids created stickers, moulded "bio putty" (Borax required), froze icicle paint (which drew like chalk), did face painting and balloon stamping, to mention just a few of the activities. All materials supplied were non-toxic, washable and ecologically friendly. NOTE: Paint will wash out when instructions followed.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 5 yrs

BLUE'S ABC TIME ACTIVITIES

HUMONGOUS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.

04-15251

Get a clue with Blue! Doggy Blue and pals kept kids happily entertained while helping them practice letter recognition, alphabet sequencing, early vocabulary and word recognition on this CD-ROM. Children enjoyed this software's interactive word book, word puzzles, alphabet maze as well as snack time with Mr. Salt and Mrs. Pepper, among other fun scenarios. Excellent graphics and sound; easy to install. NOTE: Playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 6 yrs

BLUE'S BIRTHDAY ADVENTURE

HUMONGOUS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.

ISBN 56893-841-1

Blue's Clues beat the blues! Kids loved this double CD-ROM set, in which players had to help Blue's friends Steve, Tickety Tock and others to find clues and to prepare for Blue's birthday party. There were four different games featuring adjustable levels of difficulty. Kids enjoyed creating their own birthday card for Blue, as well as selecting a birthday gift at the store. This software kept children amused with learning games, exploring Blue's house and yard, making a birthday cake and many other activities. Our testers found it hard to leave this virtual birthday party! NOTE: Playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 7 yrs

CANDYLAND

HASBRO INTERACTIVE

99258

This tasty CD-ROM for Windows presented a sweet version of the popular children's board game. Kids were invited to travel down the magical path of Candyland to help free King Kandy while visiting and exploring eight candy worlds. Players enjoyed hide and seek with Mr. Plumpy, music with Mr. Mint, decorating Gramma Nutt's garden and house, and more. The game proved entertaining for solitary activity as well as play for up to four players. This software also provided print-outs of the characters for kids to colour--an added treat!

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 8 yrs

FREDDI FISH 3

HUMONGOUS ENTERTAINMENT, INC.

04-13207

In the swim! Kids loved joining Freddi Fish, pal Luther and other colourful characters on their quest to recover a missing conch shell. On this CD-ROM, playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems, each new session offered new clues, new locations and even new culprits. Children liked the fact that if they ran out of playing time, they could save that particular game and finish it later. Great sound and music as well as quality graphics made this software a hit. NOTE: Younger players needed adult assistance in some areas, but had fun once they caught on to the game.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 7 yrs

GEOFFREY GOES TO THE FAIR

APPTASTIC SOFTWARE INC.

#10,000

Fun at the fair! This Windows CD-ROM featuring Geoffrey the Giraffe took players on a leisurely, entertaining trip to the county fair. Kids loved riding the bumper cars, visiting the haunted house as well as making their own ice cream sundaes (and then having a food fight)! There were nine activities in all with three skill levels. Trophies were awarded for top player scores, and voice instructions made the software easy to follow. Younger players especially found the subject and graphics most appealing.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 6 yrs

GREAT ADVENTURES CD-ROM SERIES

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

Even kids who weren't familiar with the Great Adventures toys had a grand time with this software. Each CD-ROM had its own theme (Western Town, Pirate Ship and Castle), but they were similar in their set-up. In Wild Western Town, our cowpoke testers could personalize their own sheriffs' badges and then head out to search for gold bars and bandits. The Pirate Ship's cannon on the Jolly Roger was of enormous entertainment to our swashbuckling testers, who shot out chickens and dogs as well as cannon balls. In the Castle, the king had to locate his knights in the dungeon, which contained endless hidden secrets for kids to discover. While this series offered little educational value, it did help refine smaller children's mouse skills. Best of all, it was full of humour and provided hours of pure and simple fun. Playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems. NOTE: Some testers found the characters' comic accents hard to understand.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 5 yrs

MADELINE PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN

CREATIVE WONDERS

She's Madeline, and her double CD-ROM set was a big hit! This software, playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems, was geared to two ages--preschool and kindergarten--and featured lovely graphics and music. Kids never tired of entering Madeline's neighbourhood, eagerly exploring over 50 activities including letters, counting, patterns, spelling, phonics, math, introductions to French and Spanish languages, and more. As children completed each skill level, they earned medals and enjoyed seeing them printed out, along with fun activity sheets, stickers and postcards. Fantastique!

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 5 yrs

MILLIE & BAILEY PRESCHOOL

EDMARK

ISBN 1 56926 414 7

Kids got a kick out of this CD-ROM, which featured eight fun activities that took them on a path to early learning. Friendly, supportive characters guided children through the activities, including learning the alphabet, making rhymes, composing a story, comparing and matching shapes, practicing counting, etc. Preschool children enjoyed mouse-driven activities, while older kids were challenged by language and reading activities. NOTE: Playable on both Windows and Macintosh systems.

Computer Software & Games

***

3 - 7 yrs

MY PERSONAL TUTOR PRESCHOOL & KINDERGARTEN

MICROSOFT CANADA INC.

ISBN 0 7356 0012 0

***BEST BET AWARD 2000***Children had loads of fun while learning reading and math with this four CD-ROM set. In the first CD, kids joined Jab Jab the monkey and other jungle friends to help master early learning skills (patterns, shapes and colours, counting and quantities, etc.). In the second CD, children helped Rosy Raccoon create magic with alphabet activities. In the third CD, kids went on a trip to the circus and learned reading skills along the way. In the fourth CD, children visited the city of Mathopolis and solved arithmetic problems. All four CDs could be adjusted to a child's skill level. Players were also assisted by a virtual tutor, Professor Presto, and parents were provided with a useful Activity Guide. Kids really enjoyed playing the games offered by this Windows software--and learned things too!

Construction Toys

***

3 - 6 yrs

JUNGLE GEARS

QUERCETTI

2336

This unique 50-piece construction system was enjoyed by all of our testing families. The set consists of eight base plates, 10 large and small gears, 18 connectors, eight animals (lion, camel, giraffe, etc.), two trees and two tree bases. Testers enjoyed connecting the base plates and gears, and experimenting with simple mechanics of interlocking wheels. They also enjoyed creating their own unique moving wild kingdoms. This construction system encouraged great fun and silliness for both children and adults.

Construction Toys

*

3 - 6 yrs

KALEIDO GEARS

QUERCETTI

2341

This brightly coloured 52-piece plastic block-and-gears set initially had kids eager to try building gadgets. However, a lack of instructions led children to merely assemble and disassemble the toy, rather than building a model that captivated long-term attention. Kids liked the jazzy kaleidoscope effect as 16 wheel gears turned, but that was not enough to sustain interest overall.

Construction Toys

**

3 +

MEGA BLOKS BUILD N' GO BUS

RITVIK TOYS INC.

5016

Kids were attracted to this 45-piece construction toy that featured a big yellow Sesame Street bus that doubled as a play platform and storage container. Each play set contained Big Bird and Elmo building pieces as well as regular blocks; Big Bird did not stay together well. While there were problems with the hard plastic door to the bus coming off, children did enjoy the recognizable theme and enjoyed building with this portable toy.

Educational Toys

***

3 +

BACKYARD BUGS & PATTERN AND SEQUENCING CARDS

LEARNING RESOURCES

LER 0457 & 0458

This set of insect toys and nicely illustrated sequencing cards provided kids with hours of icky fun using the bugs to work out puzzles by placing them on the cards. Six different bugs of various colours were included as well as directions for shape recognition, colour recognition and patterns/logic activities. Some found the patterning could not be completed due to a lack of bugs in the required colour; overall, however, the bugs were a hit and children played with them separately as well as with the cards. NOTE: If bugs get wet, make sure they dry thoroughly to avoid mould.

Educational Toys

Not Recommended

BALAZOOM

INTELLI-KID

17613 29983

This game for one to eight players came with four identical sets of 16 illustrated cardboard tiles as well a magnifying glass. The tiles could be used in a variety of ways--jigsaw puzzle, memory and matching, inventing funny stories, etc. The designs on the tiles were very busy and rather abstract (animal, capital letter and hidden letter), which made it difficult for children, especially younger ones, to identify the letters. The magnifying glass was supposed to help identify the hidden letter, but it was of poor quality. While some children liked some memory and matching aspects, overall this toy's design frustrated players.

Educational Toys

Not Recommended

BLUE'S CLUES BIG EASY GAME

UNIVERSITY GAMES

77943

This game was big but it wasn't easy. Each game came with a huge, oversized plastic game mat and large markers that refused to stay up or fell out of their bases. Kids were supposed to spin a spinner, and then travel from room to room on the game mat collecting things, but the mat was just too big and unwieldy, and the markers kept getting knocked down. The 16 colorform stickers would not stick to the game cards. This game was frustrating even for the most fervent fan of Blue's Clues.

Educational Toys

**

3 - 5 yrs

BLUE'S CLUES PARTY TIME GAME

UNIVERSITY GAMES

77956

This board game for two to four players, based on the popular TV show, combined traditional board game play with colorforms stick-on play. Each player had his or her own small game square to which a colorform image (eyes, smile, present, hat, balloon and noisemaker) could be added after the spinner was spun and pointed to that image. The first player to complete the Blue's Clues character on his or her square using the stickers won the game. Despite some problems--the spinner did not always spin well and the stickers did not always stick well--kids enjoyed the theme of this game. No reading required.

Educational Toys

**

3 - 5 yrs

CORDUROY'S BIRTHDAY GAMES

RAVENSBURGER

214846

This birthday game came with 16 large floor tiles of different shapes, colours and with appealing pictures. Kids enjoyed doing a "sock hop" from tile to tile when they were laid out on the floor and a particular colour was called out. While 10 activities were promised on the box, players soon found that these were really variations of one main game. For example, in the competitive version, "prizes" were put on the tiles and the first person who reached it "won" the prize (a printed game token). Kids did enjoy the game's cute bear and birthday motif.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 5 yrs

DOG DICE

GAMEWRIGHT

400

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***Bow-wow bingo! This cute board game for two to four players proved to be dog-gone fun. The bingo-style game featured four small boards with colourful cartoon illustrations; kids rolled the dice, which featured doggies and other symbols instead of dots. Pictures on the dice had to be matched to pictures on the boards, and matching pictures were marked with little cardboard bones. The first player to get a bingo and shout "hot dog!" was the winner. Children loved the design of this well-made game and enjoyed lots of cooperative play.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 6 yrs

FARM FRIENDS

RAVENSBURGER

214648

This gentle, non-competitive game for two to four players offered a fine first board game for younger children. Players had to move the tractor around the farm pasture on the board after the sun came up and before it set. As players moved, they had to build a pen and collect the farm animals (cardboard cut-outs in plastic stands). The dice was coloured (no numbers) and no reading was required. Kids had a good time and enjoyed the theme.

Educational Toys

**

3 - 6 yrs

FRANKLIN GOES TO SCHOOL THE GAME

BRIARPATCH

FT-104

Franklin fans found this board game for two to six players very appealing. In this game, Franklin and his friends race along through Mrs. Owl's classroom, as children answer questions and learn language, math and science skills. A parent or sibling with good reading skills had to participate, reading (and sometimes explaining) the questions. While the board featured a lovely Franklin illustration, the design was a bit busy so it was sometimes hard to "follow the footprints" as the game required. Still, kids quite enjoyed playing this game.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 5 yrs

FRANKLIN'S TREASURE HUNT GAME

BRIARPATCH

ISBN 1 890809 50 0

This memory and matching game for two to four players was a big hit with Franklin fans. The game included an attractive game board, 24 treasure "chips", eight Franklin "chips", four playing pieces with stands, four score cards, spinner and game rules. The object was for children to search for the treasure "chips" that matched their score cards. The first player to fill his or her card became the winner. While the concept was easy to grasp, the game also offered three ways to play--from beginner to advanced. No reading required.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 5 yrs

HUG & LEARN

LITTLE LEAP

LEAP FROG

34009

This friendly, soft green frog came with a bright yellow shirt with letters to push and hands with numbers on them as well as an on/off switch. Kids really enjoyed playing with this toy, which used songs and games to reinforce letters and number knowledge. Activities included the ABC song, letter identification and even a "say please" game, among others. The toy's functions were easy to activate by pressing the buttons, engaging older children, and younger children liked to snuggle. NOTE: Four "AA" batteries required (included); surface wash only.

Educational Toys

**

3 - 4 yrs

I CAN COUNT

1 TO 10/

1 CAN COUNT

10 TO 20

THOMAS ALLEN & SONS LIMITED

5181-6, 5189-1

These colourful. durable, spiral-bound books featured flip cards with rows of simple pictures and numbers. Kids could make matches by flipping the cards to reinforce counting, sorting and pairing skills. These books were compact and cards could not get lost, but the Velcro fastener did not function well. Still, the books provided a good opportunity for children to play and learn numbers at their own pace, especially with the help of a parent or older sibling.

Educational Toys

***

3 +

I SPY GO FISH

BRIARPATCH

ISBN 1 890809 27 6

***BEST BET AWARD 2000***I spy with my little eye something that is fun! This set of 48 large cards with big, clear, appealing, durable, photo-quality reproductions combines the fun of such traditional games as "I spy" and "go fish". Children loved matching the many cool objects on the cards as well as playing "go fish" and other games. Playing the games helped kids work on memory, concentration and language skills while they entertained themselves. This compact set of cards was great for travel too.

Educational Toys

***

3 +

JESTER'S MEMORY

INTELLI-KID

17613 29982

This lotto-style game for one to 10 players was played a bit like bingo, and children enjoyed using their memory and matching skills to fill out the strip-like cards. The game was very simple and fun, and reinforced children's recognition of upper and lower case letters, as well as numbers. The animal illustrations on the 80 picture cards were comical and appealing, and the game's instructions for five variations adapted well to both younger and older players.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 4 yrs

LITTLE SMART PHONICS

FROM A TO Z

VTECH ELECTRONICS CANADA LTD.

80-20500-E,

80-20505-F

Our testers spent hours playing with this nifty toy made of durable plastic, pressing the raised alphabet buttons to hear sounds of English-language letters and words, as well as learning about letters, objects, concepts like "before and after", and even the Braille alphabet. The toy featured fun sound effects and music, too, as well as an automatic shut-off and volume control. Kids found the sound to be good and clear, and like the fact that the toy could be easily carried around by its handle. A great early phonics toy. NOTE: Two "AA" batteries required (included).

Educational Toys

**

3 - 5 yrs

LOGICOLO

LEARNED ENTERPRISES INTERNATIONAL

2 921748 56 8

This progressive problem-solving game (book and square cardboard tiles) invited children to place picture tiles on a game page to complete a pattern. Kids who liked puzzles enjoyed the challenge and liked the cute graphics, but others found it was tough to follow instructions or grasp the concept. Players who did figure it out were pleased at first, but found they did not enjoy repeat play. This game worked best when a parent helped by checking the child's results and offering help and encouragement.

Educational Toys

***

3 - 7 yrs

PHONICS CREATE-A-WORD TRAVELER

LEAP FROG

18000

Phonics frog! This electronic game kept kids happily engaged with its alphabet, phonics, spelling and word creation games. This toy featured a durable plastic rounded shape that looked like a frog's face, with its smile as a carrying handle. The letters of the alphabet appeared as raised keys (small letters) and a friendly voice prompted children as they pressed the keys. This toy featured six different levels as well as automatic shut-off and a headphone jack. Great for travel as well as solitary play. NOTE: Four "AA" batteries required (included).

Educational Toys

***

3 +

ROCK PAPER SCISSORS

PATRIX

22851 0003

With 48 bright, two-colour cards featuring cartoony graphics of a happy rock, perky paper and smiling scissors, this game appealed to children and was fun and easy to play. No reading or writing skills were required with this "six games in one" package for two to four players. Kids could uncover pairs, match three of a kind (same colour background), create "straights" as well as play a "battle game" of rock vs. paper vs. scissors. A fine family activity, this game helped kids understand turn taking, decision making and sorting.

Educational Toys

*

3.5 - 5 yrs

SMART START

FLIP-TOP TUTOR

VTECH ELECTRONICS CANADA LTD.

80-20800

This attractive, little electronic game was the perfect size to be sitting on a child's lap while sitting down or travelling. Our testers were intrigued by the 12 interactive learning activities that became increasingly complex, including music and memory games, number and alphabet ordering, as well as spelling and math. Kids used eight brightly coloured buttons to enter their answers; however, our testers found most of the activities difficult to understand and needed lots of adult assistance to get them going. Children also found the video screen too small and the poor-quality graphics made it difficult to read numbers and pictures. It was also hard to figure out which coloured button resulted in which answer. NOTE: Two "AA" batteries required (included).

Educational Toys

**

3 +

SUPER TEDDYX 1

LEARNED ENTERPRISES INTERNATIONAL

2 921748541

This board game invited kids to use skills of reasoning and logic and correctly place colourful teddy "pawns" along a colourful trail on the board. The game, which featured three levels and both cooperative and competitive play, was most enjoyed by solitary players although it could be played by two or more. Children had a hard time getting started due to the unclear instructions, but once the concepts were understood, they quite enjoyed the challenge. The teddy bear theme was most appealing, especially to younger players.

Educational Toys

**

3 - 5 yrs

TEACHING TELEPHONE

LEARNING RESOURCES

LER 2665

This realistic looking telephone made of bright red plastic with a yellow handset and large dial buttons had kids eager to practice their telephone techniques. The telephone offered a "911" feature that responded verbally when dialled. While the packaging promised that the phone was programmable and provided record/play features, only one message could be recorded and played back (parents had to help to do this). Still, kids enjoyed chatting on this phone with the prerecorded messages or imaginary friends. NOTE: Three "AA" batteries required (included).

Educational Toys

Not recommended

TEDDY MANIA 1

LEARNED ENTERPRISES INTERNATIONAL

2 921748 55 X

Many children found it was impossible to figure out how to play this progressive problem-solving game using logic and reasoning, especially three-year-olds. Parents working with their kids also found there was something lost int he translation--instructions were not clear--and the fact that the rules were ont he back of a picture card that had to be flipped over all the time didn't help. Children liked the cute teddy "pawns", but overall, this game caused more frustration than fun and learning.

Educational Toys

***

3.5 - 5 yrs

TWINKLE, TWINKLE, LITTLE STAR

RAVENSBURGER

21 474 7

The stars on this game board really did twinkle as they glowed in the dark when the lights were dimmed. Children liked the charming illustrations of this simple game for two to four players, and enjoyed play as no reading or counting was required. Players rolled the coloured dice to move Paul and Lamby around, and collected stars to hang in the sky. The highlight was, of course, watching the stars shine when the lights were out. NOTE: For best results, hold the game board under a light for a minute before dimming lights.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

2-IN-1 RC TRUCK

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

72824

Built to move! This powerful and very durable remote control truck allowed junior road warriors to drive in two ways. Pushing the truck cab down let the vehicle operate at high speed as a racing truck; pushing the toy's roll-bar back raised the cab and let it operate at low speed as a monster truck. The remote control was easy to use, and kids loved using its push button action and steering wheel to make the truck roll back and forth or turn. This toy's cool colours, big wheels and racing motif were also a hit. NOTE: One 9-volt and four "AA" batteries required (not included); automatic shut-off after a few minutes of non-use.

Imaginative Play

**

3 +

BARBIE & KELLY GIGGLES 'N SWING

MATTEL CANADA INC.

20333

This teen and little sister doll set had kids wanting to get "in the swing" with the neat accessories of its play set--baby swing and slide. Little Kelly would giggle and make other sounds when being pushed on the swing (complete with safety belt) but children were somewhat confused that Kelly's voice came from Barbie, as the noises were activated by pushing a button on Barbie's back. In addition, the plastic swing set tended to fall apart when it was picked up from the top, but kids loved it anyway. These two dolls also provided hours of separate imaginary play. NOTE: Three AG13 or LR44 batteries required (included).

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

BARBIE

BUTTERFLY ART

MATTEL CANADA INC.

20359

This cool and trendy looking Barbie with long, crimped hair was popular with kids, who quickly used up the two sheets of small, colourful tattoos to decorate the doll and themselves. The little flower and butterfly tattoos washed off easily. This doll also came with a bright pink bikini, denim wrap skirt, plus a woven string necklace and bracelet. Children enjoyed the tattoo application activity as well as imaginary play with this doll.

Imaginative Play

**

3 +

BARBIE

HAPPENIN' HAIR

MATTEL CANADA INC.

22882

Barbie can't go on a date with Ken because she has to wash her hair. Kids liked this cute Barbie doll with long, straight hair, but had some problems getting the happenin' hair to work. Using icy cold water and styling tools (stencils, and stamps), children were supposed to turn sections of the doll's hair pink in streaks and patterns, but the results were uneven and smudgy. The doll's hair had to be immersed in warm water to return to its blonde roots. Still, this doll provided Barbie fans with the usual fun imaginary play.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

BRIO FIGURE 8 MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE SET

BRIO SCANDITOY INC.

33027

Mountain of fun! This 1000 mm x 450 mm (41.5" x 17.75") wooden train track set with plastic engine and car ran a nice little course up, around and through a toy mountain. The track could be laid as an oval as well as a figure 8, and kids found the little two-piece train in bright colours very appealing. Children particularly liked the small figure and toy horse that came with the set. This 21-piece play set was a very nice beginner's train set.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

BRIO RAILWAY CROSSING OVAL SET

BRIO SCANDITOY INC.

33021

This small (16 pieces) sturdy, wood and plastic train set had enough track to make a circular route, a bridge crossing and engine, cars and an engineer figure. Kids enjoyed using their hands to make the train travel around the track and across the bridge, as well as putting the engineer in the driver's seat. Cars were attached using a magnet. This proved to be a good introductory train set or add-on to existing train system.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

BRIO RICHARD SCARRY BUSYTOWN TRAIN STATION SET

BRIO SCANDITOY INC.

32550

Good and Scarry! This wooden train track and plastic engine set featured a simple oval track design, but had a popular Busytown theme and figures. Characters Huckle the Cat and Lowly the Worm came along to join the fun, although only one could ride in this train at a time. The set also offered a Busytown station with a flat design so it could be flipped and used in two different ways; the station also had a door that opened and closed. Kids loved the Richard Scarry theme, and really had a blast when this set was added to other compatible trains and track.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

BRIO THEODORE TUGBOAT CARGO DOCK PLAY SET

BRIO SCANDITOY INC.

32750

With moving eyes and a friendly grin, this wood-and-plastic tugboat toy was a big hit with Theodore fans. A play board opened up to reveal a harbour scene, and children soon had Theodore Tugboat and Bonavista Barge transporting cargo blocks from dock to train sing their magnetic couplings. The barge also featured a working crane. A train engine and car were included, but the set did not offer a closed loop of track. Still, children were delighted with the theme and enjoyed hours of fun with this quality play set.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 6 yrs

BRIO WATERWAY PANAMA SET

BRIO SCANDITOY INC.

45350

Pumped for action! This big canal and boat set kept kids captivated for hours as they filled the plastic waterway units with water and sent the toy boats on trips through the canal. Hand-operated pumps located at strategic places let the water levels rise and drop; as the water rose, the boats floated through and around the course. This toy needed eight to 10 litres of water (eight is plenty), and as it was too big to fit in a bathtub, outdoor play is recommended. NOTE: 40 to 60 minutes of assembly required; follow instructions carefully.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

CABBAGE PATCH KIDS GARDEN FAIRIES

MATTEL CANADA INC.

20938 & 20939

Fairy magic! These chubby little dolls came with fairy wings and a special scent as each doll represented a different flower. These soft-bodied plastic dolls came with their own name and birth certificate, as well as a little charm on a ribbon. The dolls were enjoyed by children as they visited imaginary lands together. NOTE: Not suitable for children with allergies die to their scent; wash in warm water and hang to dry as dryer use can make hair crinkly.

Imaginative Play

*

3 - 4 yrs

CREATE A CRITTER BUMBLEBEE

CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA

CV17

This costume set consisted of a striped yellow "shell" vest and a black cap, to which accessories were added using Velcro to create a bumblebee. While kids enjoyed making the very cute bumblebee using the eyes, wings, antennae, stinger and bow tie, they lost interest in it very quickly. This costume also suffered from some durability problems: elasticized side straps that broke; Velcro pads that separated from antennae; eyes that came apart; and unreinforced edges of the black stripes that split and peeled when machine washed. Best used as a Halloween costume rather than for daily play.

Imaginative Play

**

3 - 5 yrs

CREATE A CRITTER DOG/TURTLE AND LADYBUG

CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA

7187717018, 7187717016

These costume "shells" let kids create their own versions of a doggie (one costume set) or a turtle and ladybug (another costume set). Velcro spots, eyes, ears, nose, tail, antennae, bow tie, etc. could be attached to the shell and head caps to create the desired animal. The shell for the turtle and ladybug could be reversed (red or green) depending on the desired creature. Kids liked making and trying on these costumes but their themes were not overly inspiring for imaginary play. Still, these costumes were nice looking and would be great for Halloween.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 8 yrs

CREATE-A-MASK

CREATIVE EDUCATION OF CANADA

MK 02

***BEST BET AWARD 2000***Unmasking a hit! Kids could not get enough of this colourful and well-designed play set. Two durable, fabric, reversible masks and 16 attachable Velcro pieces (eyes, muzzles, ears, feathers, etc.) let children use their imaginations to the fullest, coming up with a variety of creations that went well beyond the wolf, dog and bird masks pictured on the packaging. Kids enjoyed hours of play making masks and then wearing them. This pieces for this toy stored well in its clear plastic case, making it great for travel, too.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 5 yrs

FELTKIDS INTERACTIVE PLAYBOOK

LEARNING CURVE TOYS

16001-1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

Make room for fun! Our testers loved turning the pages of this play book, learning about the different rooms of a house (living room, kitchen, dining room, bathroom and bedroom), and decorating them with over 40 pre-cut felt pieces. The felt pieces were interchangeable (i.e. bedspread could also be a tablecloth), allowing for hours of creative play. This portable toy came with its own lightweight plastic carrying case. NOTE: Best results experienced when the book was kept flat, as the felt pieces do not adhere well to the pages.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

FINGER FOLLIES FINGER AND HAND PUPPETS

MANHATTAN TOY COMPANY

EL6, SSR12, 5015

These hand and finger puppets made of exciting, colourful fabrics were simply beautiful, and children loved them. Whether the puppet was a little horse that fit on one finger or a funny butterfly that fit over an entire hand and had an operating mouth, these lovely puppets inspired many hours of imaginative play. Many more puppet characters available. Can be used for play by themselves or puppet theatre. NOTE: Follow instructions for machine wash.

Imaginative Play

**

3 - 5 yrs

GREAT ADVENTURES ALL-IN-ONE CASTLE

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

72849

This mini-playset with its stately grey plastic castle walls and non-articulated little knight figures caught the imagination of adventure-seeking children. While kids enjoys lots of imaginative play, they encountered some problems with the moving turret that would not stay up; in addition, the hammer that served as a door battering ram was stiff and did not function well. Still, kids liked the compact size and carrying handle that made this toy portable, as well as the fact that everything fit inside the castle for storage and carry-along.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 5 yrs

GREAT ADVENTURES ALL-IN-ONE SPACE SHUTTLE

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

77111

Ready for blast off! This little space shuttle toy provided the theme and features to please budding astronauts. Each toy came with two space explorers, an alien, moon rock, space walk lifeline, buggy, space arm, satellite and launcher, as well as the shuttle itself. The biggest hits were the working space arm which could grasp items, as well as the launcher and satellite. While younger kids had some difficulty opening the doors to the shuttle, play was not affected as the doors were just left off. Lots of imaginative play was enjoyed, and everything packed into the shuttle cargo bay for easy storage.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

LES BEBES--NOURRISSON LOVE WHITE

COROLLE

25015-0

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***This 42 cm (17") life-like soft doll was a huge hit with nurturing children, who instantly fell in love with it. The dolls' size, weight, fine facial and body details made it seem like a real baby to the children. The bean-like filled bottom allowed the doll to sit up well; when laid to rest, the lovely eyes closed. Clothes came off easily for dressing games, and both doll and clothes could be machine washed. From its sweet features to its vanilla scent, everything about this doll made it a favourite toy.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

LES BEBES--VALENTINE ROSE

COROLLE

24117-0

This lovely 36 cm (14") doll had beautiful golden hair, soft skin, a pretty pink dress and eyes that opened and closed. Children loved looking at and touching this doll, which resembled a toddler. Dressing and undressing was made easy through the use of snaps on the clothing; both the doll and clothing could be machine washed. This basic, cuddly doll captivated hearts with its sweet face and vanilla scent.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

LOVING FAMILY DOLL HOUSE

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

74649 9993

This large, beautifully detailed, folding doll house made of durable plastic was a huge hit with kids wanting to "play house". The house featured six rooms, including a realistic looking fireplace, flip-top kitchen table, opening and closing oven, microwave oven and more. This play set came with some furniture and three nice figures (mom, dad and baby) with additional accessories sold separately. Lots of decorating decals added to the overall effect. This house kept children engaged for many hours, and its fold-up feature allowed for easy clean-up.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 5 yrs

MAGICLOTH THEATER & SHOWPACK

SCHYLLING ASSOCIATES INC.

19649 20387 & 19649 20377

Story time! This two-dimensional theatre consisted of a large folder which, when opened, revealed a rainbow stage backdrop for storyboard play. The toy also featured a storage pouch, a small magnetic board for organizing figures as well as the "magic cloth" characters that stuck to the magnetic board perfectly. Kids could move the characters around with the push of a little finger. This toy's "showpacks", sold separately, featured a wide variety of themes and licensed characters familiar to pre and early school-aged children; these additional figures helped to sustain the theatre's play value. While this toy's weight and size made it impossible to use in a car seat, overall, children found this toy to be a functional and cheerful addition to their solitary play.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

MCDONALDLAND BIRTHDAY GIRL

HASBRO CANADA INC.

66802

This sweet looking doll with blonde hair and golden arches on her dress was indeed the life of the party. Kids found the doll herself appealing, but really enjoyed all the neat accessories--plastic singing birthday cake, plastic milkshake cup with changeable flavours, party favour, stickers, etc. The birthday cake had a removable piece as well as a secret storage area that could be unlocked with a special key. Children enjoyed going to this birthday party again and again. NOTE: Three "AA" batteries required (not included).

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

MCDONALDLAND HAPPY MEAL GIRL

HASBRO CANADA INC.

66760

This pretty doll really fed our testers' hunger for fun! Kids enjoyed playing with all of the fast-food accessories that came with this toy, including a cardboard Happy Meal box with toy "surprise", plastic french fries, a plastic burger with retractable "bite", and a battery-operated cup that made slurping, burping and bubble sounds. This cute doll was made of hard plastic and children enjoyed playing with her alone, but liked feeding her most--an action which did tend to trigger a desire to go to McDonald's themselves. NOTE: Two "AAA" batteries required for the slurping cup (not included).

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

PICNIC SET

ANDRONI GIOCATTOLI S.R.L.

000796 021304

Appetizing play! This durable plastic picnic set in bright colours was a huge hit with our young picnic enthusiasts. The set came in a clear plastic "picnic basket" with a yellow lid and white handles, and contained plastic dishes, cups, cutlery, fruit and canteen. Kids loved playing with this set indoors and out, and especially enjoyed filling up the canteen with water. This toy provided many hours of imaginative play.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

PLAY-DOH ICE CREAM PLAYSHOP

HASBRO CANADA INC.

22118

This fun play set made of sturdy whipped up ice cream fun for creative kids. Each set contained three 57 g cans of moulding dough (white, brown and pink), an ice cream "machine" with a five-shape extrusion strip, two ice cream cones, one ice cream bowl, and ice cream scoop and a spoon, plus lots of moulds to create such toppings as cookies, chocolate chips and a cherry to put on top. Younger children were initially challenged by the extrusion strip and smaller moulds, but soon caught on. The three colours did blend together after awhile, but overall, kids screamed for this ice cream-making toy.

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 4 yrs

POLLY POCKET HOT STUFF CD FUN

MATTEL CANADA INC.

21954

Dance fever! Kids had a groovy time dancing to the short musical numbers offered by this toy shaped like a CD player. The toy flipped up to reveal a disco area where miniature figures of Polly, Lila and Rick (included) could trip the light fantastic using a magnetic moving slots in the floor of the CD case. Kids enjoyed playing with the figures, which were approximately 30 cm high--slightly larger than usual--as well as dancing to the four 10-second songs. All figures could be put away in the case for storage. NOTE: Two "AAA" batteries required (not included).

Imaginative Play

**

3 - 4 yrs

POWER CHANGE WORKSHOP

FISHER-PRICE CANADA INC.

72722

Junior carpenters were impressed by the appearance of this large, portable tool box made of durable plastic which, with a tug of two pull-out legs, converted into a little workbench with storage bins. Everything necessary for hammering, gripping, prying and screwdriving was included, but the table saw proved most popular. The little size of the toy tools appealed greatly to younger children, but the small size of the hammer affected its "pounding ability". The small handle of the vise was also difficult to use, and the storage bins would not swing out properly when full. Still kids had loads of fun with this "tool time" toy.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

RADIO GO RACE CAR

LITTLE TIKES COMPANY

831

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***Hearts were racing along with this brightly coloured and very durable sporty little remote controlled car. Its primary colours, rounded body, and big, studded wheels appealed to younger children, while older kids were impressed by its remote control handling and overall responsiveness. The remote was easy to use and functioned extremely well. The toy also featured automatic shut-off, soft bumpers, and a "neutral" switch for optional kid-powered play. The driver's head swiveled in the direction of movement. This toy really excited kids and provided hours of entertainment. NOTE: One 9-Volt and two "AA" batteries required (not included).

Imaginative Play

**

3 +

SHOWTIME PUPPET THEATER

MANHATTAN TOY COMPANY

SHW1000

Kids let their imaginations run wild with the help of this attractive puppet theatre (puppets sold separately). The theatre was constructed with fabric-covered polyurethane foam and featured a "working" stage curtain, a small storage pocket for puppets and a show time clock. While children found the theatre a bit unstable--it tended to tip over easily--they enjoyed using this good-looking backdrop for puppet play. The theatre folded up neatly and featured a carrying strap for easy storage and portability. NOTE: Surface wash.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

SINGING BATHTIME BOUNCY BABY

IRWIN TOY LIMITED

32650

Children were taken with this pretty, hard-bodied doll with curly blonde hair, blue eyes, a snub nose and dimpled smile. This waterproof doll came with her own plastic bathtub and bathing suit. When the doll's right hand was squeezed, she would talk; when her left hand was squeezed, she would sing; when her tummy was squeezed, she would giggle. Kids enjoyed bath play as well as regular imaginative play with this cute doll. NOTE: Three "AA" batteries required (included).

Imaginative Play

**

3 +

SINGING BOUNCY BABY

IRWIN TOY LIMITED

ENGLISH - 23081

This cute doll did indeed sing, talk and giggle when her hand was pressed or when she was bounced on a knee. Our testers liked the pretty doll, which featured a plastic head and hands, but a soft body (surface wash only). Kids soon discovered that a regular rhythm had to be established in order to get the doll to perform when being bounced on a knee--not always easy for young testers to do. In addition, her dress could not be removed. Still, overall, children enjoyed this doll's cheery singing and laughing. NOTE: Three "AA" batteries required (included).

Imaginative Play

***

3 - 6 yrs

SMALL MIRACLES DRESS UP CLOTHES

LEARNING CURVE TOYS

VARIOUS

***CHILDREN'S CHOICE AWARD 2000***Beautiful from head to toe... that's how kids felt when they dressed up in these quality fun fashion separates that included tiaras and plastic "ruby" slippers as well as tops, skirts and feathery boas. These outfits featured glittery fabrics with easy-to-use Velcro fasteners. Children dreamed of being movie stars and played at being princesses while wearing these fabulous fashions. The clothes fit sizes 2 to 6, and girls loved them. Outfits for boys also available. NOTE: Do not machine wash.

Imaginative Play

**

3 -4 yrs

THEODORE TUGBOAT PRESS 'N ROLL

ERTL CANADA

34039 & 34040

These little plastic tug boat toys were accurate replicas of characters Foduck and Emily from the television show. Offering a solid design and a press-and-roll feature, kids soon discovered the toys were fun to race, especially in pairs. Younger children found the smokestack hard to push down; still, they liked to roll the boat around using hand power. While some kids would have preferred a tug boat that went in water, these rolling boat toys provided fun for Theodore fans.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS GIANT SET

TOMY AMERICA INC.

7404

Huge fun for Thomas fans! Kids were thrilled with this big (92 cm x 61 cm/3' x 2') motorized rail set that featured an oversized Thomas engine that acted as a tunnel and as a storage compartment for the toy's tracks, three engines and cars. This set featured two levels of tracks. The upper level was supported by yellow plastic pillars; careful play ensured they remained standing. Children were delighted to watch these trains run their course through Thomas, whose eyes would move. NOTE: Three "C" batteries required (not included).

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS SAWMILL

LEARNING CURVE TOYS

99326

Our young railway engineers and Thomas enthusiasts delighted in reconstructing the story of "Henry's Forest" with this fine sawmill playset. All components--made of durable wood and plastic--functioned smoothly to dump toy logs, cleverly held together with a magnet, down a chute and into a trough to be "split" by a buzzing saw. This toy's innovative design was hampered somewhat by the loose-fitting roofs of the sawmill, which were easily knocked over, but this did not interfere with play. This set proved most successful when used with other wooden track railway systems.

Imaginative Play

***

3 +

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS SUSPENSION BRIDGE

LEARNING CURVE TOYS

96714 99325

Train crossing! All of our testers loved this attractive, double span suspension bridge, which featured attractive arches and bricked supports. Made of wood and plastic, this toy had a unique peg support that connected the bridge to ascending track without risers. This bridge was a real hit with our train buffs, and was often the first element chosen when a railway was being constructed. NOTE: Ascending track not included; Thomas engine toy and other accessories sold separately.

Imaginative Play

Not Recommended

THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS TOTE-ALONG-TRAIN

TOMY AMERICA INC.

1191

Thomas fans were excited to run this little wind-up toy engine around its plastic course, but were immediately disappointed that there were no tracks, only a road-like indentation for the train to travel on. The biggest problem, however, was that little fingers could not wind up Thomas or put him down in time so the toy could travel. Children kept running to parents to wind the toy, and then were frustrated when it had stopped by the time they put it on the track. Kids did like the train station with chime, but it was not enough to keep them interested. In addition, this set did not fold easily for storage as noted on the box.

 

 

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Click on one of the age categories above for the CTTC 2000 TOY Report