August 2007 | Vol. VI - No. 8
Roundtable Roundup: Our Favorite Toys
Moms and Kids Pick Their Top-3 Keepers
What makes a great toy? More than anything, it depends on whether the kids still play with it after the rush of the new is gone. So TDmonthly Magazine checked back with its Roundtable participants to find out which of the toys they evaluated from March to July had lasting value.
Here are their top-three picks for each Roundtable:
Ernie Fire Engine comes to the rescue with his powerful friction motor and crew of firefighters. Little firefighters can ring his push-button bell and watch his revolving light before using the click-and-turn ladder to fight any imaginary blaze. The firefighter’s hand opens the back door to reveal two emergency barriers. Ernie is great for long-lasting role-play fun.
— “Wow is an excellent line of cars, especially for the 1- to 1½ -year-olds,” said Fred Rosenberg, owner of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, in spring 2007. “It’s hard to find things as well made as [Wow] that you can actually sell to that age. In the fall , we brought them in, and they’ve done very well.” They’ve also become a best seller for Brain Station and Tree Town Toys in Ann Arbor, Mich., Owners Hans and Tricia Masing told TDmonthly in fall 2007.
— “This is my baby’s favorite toy. She plays with it every day,” shared TDmonthly's Baby Roundtable reviewer Sharri Hefner. She and her co-reviewers voted Ernie No. 1 for lasting value out of the 12 toys they evaluated from March to July 2007.
— Ernie Fire Engine is full of “wow” for toddlers — from its friction-prompted motion and siren to its friendly face and likable figurines. Doors that open and close, a workable ladder and attractive packaging also contributed to its receipt of a TDmonthly Top Toy 2007 award. Saving trips to the store to buy batteries (it doesn’t need them) helped, too!
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12722 (added 5/10/2007)
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Up, up and away, Harry the helicopter to the rescue! Hold his sturdy handle and squeeze the trigger to activate his friction-powered main rotor, then pick up the injured animals with his magnetic lift and drop them off safely by turning the searchlight. He’s also got a clicking tail rotor. A flying vet figure, a panda, lion and crocodile complete this wonderful role-play set.
— “My 3-year-old girl loves rescuing the animals,” said Penelope Pauley, a member of TDmonthly’s Baby Roundtable review panel. “The animals move into other games as well. It’s very versatile.” It was the No. 2 pick of 12 toys evaluated for lasting value.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10268 (added 11/28/2006)
Golden Retriever Puppy by DOUGLAS CUDDLE TOYS
Other products from DOUGLAS CUDDLE TOYS
This 9" kohair Golden Retriever Puppy is even softer and cuddlier than the real thing. Kids won't have any problem taking this puppy everywhere.
— “In the plush area, Douglas realistic dogs and cats are our No. 1 item,” Fred Rosenberg, co-owner of On the Park in Kingwood, Texas, told TDmonthly in spring 2007.
— “Who knew?!” exclaimed TDmonthly’s Baby Roundtable evaluator Christy Chambers. “This toy goes with us everywhere! Every day! Of all the toys we have seen, this is one my 2-year-old son still uses the most!”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10257 (added 11/28/2006)
Cub Cadet Lawn Tractor with Trailer by PEG PEREGO
Other products from PEG PEREGO
The grass will be much greener on your side of the fence, because your child will be driving the Cub Cadet Lawn Tractor. This motorized tractor will keep your little worker busy for hours with the matching trailer — perfect for hauling all kinds of gear. Turn the key and hear the diesel engine sounds. Press the buttons and hear the horn and see the blinking lights. Other exciting features include a foot pedal accelerator, 2-speed shifter and automatic brakes. It goes 2 ¼ or 4 ½ mph on grass, dirt or hard surfaces, and even has reverse. This tractor has large wheels and an adjustable seat. It also has fully enclosed body, wiring, motors and gearboxes to protect little hands. The parent-controlled high-speed lockout prevents beginners from going too fast, and the powerful 12-volt rechargeable battery and recharger are included.
― Gail Richardson, one of TDmonthly's Preschool Roundtable moms, said of that when her kids saw the Cub Cadet, "The reaction was overwhelming … The tractor was assembled the first night ...Three weeks later, it continues to be a real favorite for outside play."
― When asked what her kids learned with the toy, she said, "They have certainly improved their driving skills ... They have also improved their sharing and negotiating skills."
― The Roundtable parents awarded the Cub Cadet 4.5 out of 5 stars. Weeks after receiving it, the Cub Cadet was used from three to seven times a week by four out of five families.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 12505 (added 4/26/2007)
This All 4 Kidz Enterprises book introduces readers to Patty, a girl who loves cheerleading and modeling. Patty wants to be the best she can be, but in this adventure she has to learn how to make healthy choices. In today’s world, when unhealthy eating is so pervasive, educators and parents are sure to enjoy this positive message. Children will love the rich language, bright illustrations and great format of this book. Readers can “read along” with the CD.
— The Urban Kidz I Promise series was voted one of TDmonthly's Preschool/Early School Roundtable's favorite products, and is used almost daily by two of the Roundtable families.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13501 (added 6/15/2007)
These Dive Pets slowly twirl as they sink. Players can dive for them or catch them in the net. The Dive Pets sink slowly enough so that they can be scooped up before they hit the bottom. Dive Pets Fishin' Net includes Fishin’ Net and three Dive Pets.
— During the summer swimming season, this set was used at least once a week by four out of five of TDmonthly’s Preschool/Early School Roundtable families.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 11077 (added 1/11/2007)
How encouraged would Li’l DaVincis feel if instead of the refrigerator door, their art was placed in real frames and hung on your home’s walls? Dynamic Frames®, a California-based picture frame company, has created a masterpiece of its own. The company's idea was to combine a slim, elegant art frame with a cabinet so that parents can actually store multiple pieces of art together. When they want to change the showpiece, they simply open the frame like a cabinet, and switch the display piece. Each frame can hold up to 50 different works of art. The 8.5" x 11" frame comes in black with white mat or white with black mat. A 12" x 18" size ($32.95) is also available.
— Though they’re not toys, the Li’l DaVinci frames were still a favorite with TDmonthly’s Preschool/Early School Roundtable moms and kids, and earn an Honorable Mention as a product with lasting value. “We love it,” summed up evaluator Gail Richardson.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 7859 (added 5/11/2006)
Apples to Apples Junior by OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Other products from OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Complete with 576 cards, Apples to Apples Junior 9+ 2nd Edition brings the award-winning card and party game, Apples to Apples, to the entire family. Readers, ages 9 and up, will delight in the clever comparisons while expanding their vocabulary and thinking skills. Read Review
— Toys Ahoy Owner Rob Slye from Barrington, R.I., said that Apples to Apples is a top seller for boys 9 to 12. “They like more game-type of things.” Ricki Block, owner of Ariel’s Child in New Windsor, N.Y., agreed: “[It's] one of our hottest.”
— “Sales of Apples to Apples have doubled for us every single year … since 1999. We’ve now sold over two million games!” Matt Mariani, director of marketing for Out of the Box, excitedly told TDmonthly Magazine.
— Apples to Apples was picked as No. 2 of 18 toys evaluated by TDmonthly’s Homeschoolers Roundtable for lasting value. “It’s very, very popular not only for those at our house, but with friends who come to visit,” summed up Roundtable Editor Susan Ledford.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 3548 (added 5/12/2005)
10 Days in the USA by OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Other products from OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Another destination in the 10-Days Travel Series, this game gives kids 10 days to travel the USA by jet, car, and on foot. They plan the trip from start to finish using destination and transportation tiles. With a little luck and clever planning, you just might outwit your fellow travelers. The first traveler to make connections for their 10-day journey wins the game.
— “This is probably my kids’ favorite board game," said Julie Petoia, a member of TDmonthly's Homeschooling Roundtable. "They've also modified the play, so that it can be an extra-cutthroat race to the finish.”
— The homeschoolers play 10 Days in the USA an average of 1.31 times per week.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 13811 (added 6/28/2007)
Freddy Chair by FREDDY & FRIENDS LLC
Other products from FREDDY & FRIENDS LLC
Designed for children ages 3 to 12, this chair comes standard with two solid hardwood construction side panels that can support up to 350 lbs.; a quilted, removable, washable seat loop (18”W x 30”H); two foam padded cross bars for extra comfort (18”L x 3”D); and a limited edition individually numbered brass plate.
— “This chair is designed to last a very, very long time,” noted Susan Ledford, one of the homeschooling moms who evaluated the Freddy Big Chair for TDmonthly Magazine. All of the moms commented on the chair's high-quality construction and ease of assembly. Homeschooler Elise Wilson (8) called it "the perfect gaming chair," and the other kids agreed.
—Months after it was first reviewed, the Freddy Chair earned an Honorable Mention as a product with lasting value. Two of 5 Roundtable moms reported that their kids use the chair “almost daily.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 8971 (added 8/11/2006)
14" Bébé Do (pronounced "baby dough") has a beautifully sculpted face with a delicate, lifelike, newborn expression and eyes that open and close. Her translucent vinyl skin appears like that of a newborn baby. Bébé Do wears pink footed pajamas and comes with a picture book that shows make-believe moms how to care for their baby doll.
— Ruth Mandt, one of TDmonthly’s Dolls Roundtable reviewers, said her granddaughters "think this is the sweetest baby doll they have. They take this doll everwhere and care for it like a real baby.” It was picked by the Roundtabler reviewers as the doll with the most lasting value.
— Corolle baby dolls are constantly mentioned as a great seller in specialty retail stores, especially around the fourth quarter, which makes vanilla-scented Bébé Do a natural for a TDmonthly Classic Toy 2007 award. Her sweet face has just enough realism to trigger a nurturing instinct. Her scaled-down size makes her a perfect fit for little mommies.
Where to Buy: Blue Turtle Toy Store
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 2380 (added 1/12/2005)
Only Hearts Club ? Taylor Angelique by ONLY HEARTS CLUB GROUP LLC
Other products from ONLY HEARTS CLUB GROUP LLC
The Only Hearts Club dolls are favorites with moms and grandmas who want to foster wholesome play and role-modeling for their little girls. Nine-inch Taylor Angelique says, “My heart melts for cute critters. Kittens, puppies, birds, rabbits, even goldfish. I love them all.” She comes with her pet dog, Patches. Girls can read her storybook, “It’s Hard to Say Goodbye,” which tells how the Only Hearts Club was formed.
— “They loved them,” Ruth Mandt, a TDmonthly Dolls Roundtable participant said of her granddaughters’ reactions to the Only Hearts Club dolls. “They want more of these.”
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10881 (added 1/4/2007)
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This exclusive collection of high-quality dolls is based on the biblical teaching of Proverbs 31. The P31 dolls were specifically designed to provide a Bible-based, Christian alternative to secular toys on the market, and to encourage young girls to pursue biblical womanhood. There are three different P31 dolls: Abigail, Elisabeth and Leah. Standing 18” tall, each doll has beautiful glass eyes, long rooted hair and a contemporary outfit. Each doll comes with an accessory kit, containing a Bible lesson (based on Proverbs 31:20), two cookie-cutters, a cookie recipe and a list of exciting activities. Launch date: December 12, 2006.
— Josh Livingston of one2believe said, “It is our prayer that the Lord would use these dolls as a means to encourage the girls of today to become Proverbs 31 women of tomorrow.”
— P31 Elisabeth is a daily play favorite for 6-year-old Savannah Forrest, a TDmonthly Dolls Roundtable participant, and so tied for third place as a toy with lasting value.
ToyDirectory Product ID#: 10883 (added 1/4/2007)
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Writer's Bio: ALISON MAREK is an award-winning writer, director and cartoonist whose work has been published by Fairchild Publications and DC Comics (Piranha Press), broadcast on Showtime and other cable networks, and viewed worldwide in film festivals. See her short films and print work on www.alisonmarek.com. Watch her nefarious villains in the web series www.MuggsMovers.com. Get inspired by her cartoons "Daily ARFFirmations to Unleash Your Inner Fido" at www.ARFFirmations.com. Phew! And then ... Read more articles by this author
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