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Well-reviewed toys and products recommended by specialty retailers are more likely to be nominated for a TDmonthly Award and appear in our annual Specialty Toys Report. For submission information, please see the bottom of the page.



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Recent Reviews:

Eloise Goes to School by STARZ MEDIAName: Eloise Goes to School
Company: STARZ MEDIA
Age: 6-10
Price: $14.98
Category: Videos & DVDs

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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"Dreams Can Come True": An Early-Start Career Guide for Girls and Boys by ALL 4 KIDZ ENTERPRISESName: "Dreams Can Come True": An Early-Start Career Guide for Girls and Boys
Company: ALL 4 KIDZ ENTERPRISES
Age: 8-12
Price: $10.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Wag a Tail by HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURTName: Wag a Tail
Company: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Age: 3-7
Price: $16.00
Category: Books

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Handstand Kids Italian Cookbook and Chef’s Hat in a Pizza Box by HANDSTAND KIDSName: Handstand Kids Italian Cookbook and Chef’s Hat in a Pizza Box
Company: HANDSTAND KIDS
Age: 6 and up
Price: $28.00
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Evil Genius by HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURTName: Evil Genius
Company: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Age: 12 and up
Price: $17.00
Category: Books

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Time Spies: Magician in the Trunk by MIRRORSTONEName: Time Spies: Magician in the Trunk
Company: MIRRORSTONE
Age: 6-10
Price: $4.99
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Senior Year Game by CYGNETCOMMName: Senior Year Game
Company: CYGNETCOMM
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: Educational

What Is It?
“Senior Year Game” is a board game that helps prepare kids for the extreme social pressures of high school— in a fun way! Two to six players ages 12 and up move around the board, hoping to avoid pitfalls such as “Flunked test because you’re too high,” and make it to graduation.

What We Thought

Even good kids go bad in this game. In one turn, a player snags the lead in the school play; on the next he sniffs glue and can’t find his way out of the house. The game aptly mimics the public humiliations of high school by forcing players to answer “pop quiz” questions, thereby revealing their ignorance to co-workers and friends. In our experience, the “You’re Busted!” cards elicited the most glee from fellow players, but everyone got busted sooner or later. Some of the advice is questionable: On one space, a player is “involved in a ‘date rape’ situation”; the recommendation is “be more careful,” where it should be “report the creep to the police!!”

Why They’ll Want It
Parents and educators will find “Senior Year Game” a useful tool for teaching kids how destructive behavior will hinder their progress in life. Kids will enjoy the extreme twists and turns of the play, as well as quizzing their elders on long-forgotten trivia. “Senior Year Game” also provides a great opportunity for adults to discuss serious issues, such as drug use, sexuality and responsibility, in a nonconfrontational way. — Alison Marek (8/28/07)

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Fun-Vee Storage Chest by PUZZLECRAFT FURNITUREName: Fun-Vee Storage Chest
Company: PUZZLECRAFT FURNITURE
Age: All Ages
Price: $179.99
Category: Furniture & Decor

What Is It?
This hand-sanded, twice-lacquered toy chest looks like a truck and can be decorated with paint, decals or anything a kid dreams up. It assembles in minutes, primarily with a slot-and-groove technique that’ll make Santa’s elves sigh in relief. The only screws go in the safety hinge that keeps the top from slamming down on tender fingers. The front of the truck can even be used as a seat by little ones weary from cleaning up their rooms.

What We Thought
The truck really was easy to assemble, even though the wrong set of instructions was included! Within minutes, ToyDirectory had an attractive new way to store all the samples that arrive for review.

Why They’ll Want It

Little kids will like having a toy chest they can use as a toy, too — especially if they decorate it themselves. Parents will appreciate the safety lid, the chests’ hassle-free assembly and the inspiration it provides kids to get their junk off the floor! — Alison Marek, 8/6/07

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Squint Junior by OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHINGName: Squint Junior
Company: OUT OF THE BOX PUBLISHING
Age: 8 and up
Price: $16.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
In this family-oriented game, players use transparent shape cards to build simple pictures and then other players guess what the picture might be. Kids can learn how to create images from shapes and improve their perception skills. Adults just like the challenge. This game received Learning Magazine´s 2007 Teachers´ Choice Award for the Family.

What We Thought
The family who tested it for ToyDirectory has a 6-year-old who is just starting to learn to read, and now she wants to play Squint Junior every day! The unexpected bonus of the game is that the game is actually improving the little girl’s reading skills. Her parents also appreciate that it’s an easy game to clean up.

Why They’ll Want It
“Squint was very easy to learn and very entertaining for almost all ages — kids to very old people,” Dad assured TDmonthly Magazine. “It´s a great game.”  — Alison Marek, 8/6/07

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Abima by PRETTY UGLY LLCName: Abima
Company: PRETTY UGLY LLC
Age: All Ages
Price: $20.00
Category: Plush

What Is It?
Abima is part of the award-winning collection of “ugly” plush created by Pretty Ugly. There’s not a whole lot to Abima, but his own story and personality — not to mention his look of bewilderment — make him intriguing.

What We Thought
Uglydolls are fun because they’re unique, and they’re empowering people all over to love and accept something atypical, which is, of course, a cool thing to do and a trend unto itself. Abima and the other dolls boast huggable bodies (cuddly and flat, kind of like a pillow), quality fabric and attractive colors. There are smaller-sized plush and keychains, too, so customers can have their picks.

Why They’ll Want It
In short, Uglydolls are still popular (see TDmonthly’s Top-10 Most-Wanted Plush), so anyone interested in stuffed creatures, home decorating or out-of-the-ordinary gifts should be steered toward Abima. Perhaps the best thing about Uglydolls is that they don’t just belong in the toy box. A contemporary color palette and soft appeal give them just as much ownership on a couch or bookshelf, where they can exude personality all day long. — Julie L. Jones 7/30/07

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Harry Potter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry Building Cards by KLUTZName: Harry Potter Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry Building Cards
Company: KLUTZ
Age: 8 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Construction

What Is It?
This kit includes a Harry Potter figurine and 275 cards and instructions for building the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

What We Thought
I asked a Harry Potter fanatic what he thought about the set. It’s fun, he said, to be able to design your own castle. The booklet includes instructions on how to build different the structures — spires, walls, steeples, turrets — and shows pictures of various castle options. There are no step-by-step instructions for each, however, so it was difficult to build things exactly as they are shown, since Hogwarts is not displayed from every angle.

Why They’ll Want It
The package itself is attractive, and the pieces are sturdy and well-designed, with detailed parts for windows, doors, floors and roofs. There are even pieces with grass on the bottom and ivy growing up the side for the bottom level. The set invites creativity, and the result is an impressive Hogwarts School, with Harry included! As my friend pointed out, this toy is ideal for kids who aspire to be wizard architects. — Julie L. Jones, 7/31/07  



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Be the Ball Ornament/Figurine - Dude by BE THE BALL 4 UName: Be the Ball Ornament/Figurine - Dude
Company: BE THE BALL 4 U
Age: 4 and up
Price: $9.99
Category: Novelties

What Is It?
This fun figurine with a detachable base serves as both a stand-alone and an ornament, and is part of a line that includes several golf-ball characters with plenty of personality.

What We Thought
This product is simple, playful and fun — the perfect gift for a golf fanatic or someone who even mildly likes the sport and needs cheering up. The piece is pretty solid, but parts, such as the golf club, are flexible. Its duality makes it ideal not only for the holidays, but also year-round, as long as the right audience is there to snatch it up.

Why They’ll Want It
These figures would make a playful addition to a golfer’s office desk, a bookshelf or a room dedicated to sports paraphernalia. — Julie L. Jones, 7/31/07

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Sara — Yellow by PEDIPEDName: Sara — Yellow
Company: PEDIPED
Age: All Ages
Price: $29.00
Category: Apparel

What Is It?
This pair of premium leather toddler shoes is outfitted with soft, cushioned soles and Velcro fasteners.

What We Thought
Not only do Pedipeds have a cute name, but they’re adorable and stylish in their design, too. The hand-stitching around the edges of this pair, hemming in the black-bottomed soles, gives it extra class, and the leathery smell right out of box lets buyers know they’re getting a quality product. The color scheme is multi-seasonal, so these shoes can have a long life, even as a hand-me-down.

Why They’ll Want It
These PediPeds are flexible for endless play and, despite their slipper-like appeal, are durable enough to be worn both inside and outdoors. They have a non-slip sole for safety, and little ones and their parents will likely have an easy time getting these shoes on and off. They’re so soft, flexible and lightweight that toddlers won’t have to bear the burden of trying to run around in clunky shoes. — Julie L. Jones, 7/3/07

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The Terrible Twos: If You Ever See An Owl... by POQUITO RECORDSName: The Terrible Twos: If You Ever See An Owl...
Company: POQUITO RECORDS
Age: 3-11
Price: $13.98
Category: Audio & CD

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Listen in Addition by JANDIE JAMS MUSIC LLCName: Listen in Addition
Company: JANDIE JAMS MUSIC LLC
Age: 4-8
Price: $16.99
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta TWINKLE by HUNK-TA-BUNK-TA® MUSICName: Hunk-Ta-Bunk-Ta TWINKLE
Company: HUNK-TA-BUNK-TA® MUSIC
Age: 1-10
Price: $15.99
Category: Audio & CD

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Exercise Party by CASABLANCA KIDS INC.Name: Exercise Party
Company: CASABLANCA KIDS INC.
Age: 2-5
Price: $5.95
Category: Audio & CD

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Just Imagine by ILLUMINATION ARTSName: Just Imagine
Company: ILLUMINATION ARTS
Age: 4 and up
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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One Well: The Story of Water on Earth by KIDS CAN PRESSName: One Well: The Story of Water on Earth
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 3 and up
Price: $17.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Noom & Raj Start a Business: The ABCs of Money by MOONJARName: Noom & Raj Start a Business: The ABCs of Money
Company: MOONJAR
Age: 6 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Anne Frank: The Young Writer Who Told the World Her Story by NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETYName: Anne Frank: The Young Writer Who Told the World Her Story
Company: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY
Age: 8-12
Price: $17.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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SENSEsational Alphabet by SENSESATIONAL ALPHABETName: SENSEsational Alphabet
Company: SENSESATIONAL ALPHABET
Age: 1-7
Price: $29.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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ZipBin™ Softie Train Depot by NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL LLCName: ZipBin™ Softie Train Depot
Company: NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL LLC
Age: 3-8
Price: Not Specified
Category: Play Sets

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Ministers Chess — Third Edition by CORINTHIAN GAMES LTD.Name: Ministers Chess — Third Edition
Company: CORINTHIAN GAMES LTD.
Age: 6 and up
Price: $32.95
Category: General Games

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Perler Beads Bead Blast by DIMENSIONS/PERLERName: Perler Beads Bead Blast
Company: DIMENSIONS/PERLER
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Arts & Crafts

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s Toy Expert review of this product.

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Shining Stars - Beagle by RUSS BERRIEName: Shining Stars - Beagle
Company: RUSS BERRIE
Age: 4 and up
Price: $15.00
Category: Plush

What Is It?
This cuddly creature comes with a secret code that allows kids to name an actual star in the sky through the National Star Registry and print an official Shining Star Chart. In addition, kids will be able to officially name their Shining Star friend. They can also assign it character traits using a simple drag and drop method, make a wish upon their very own star, and more.

What We Thought
The stuffed animal is not only cute and cuddly, but it is accompanied by many online features, including the ability to add Shining Star friends, watch Shining Star movies, play games, send e-cards, chat and download wallpapers and icons.  The Web site is child-friendly, with large, colorful images and icons, fun sounds and intuitive setup. Although it was easy to use, there was a glitch in which the site kept prompting me to exit the screen and try again. The site also had about three features that seemed really cool, such as voting and discovering unique facts about specific constellations. But when I clicked on them, I got the message, "Coming Soon!" which was kind of disappointing.

Why They’ll Want It

Kids will love the opportunity to officially name and assign character traits to their Shining Star friend. Such personalization allows kids to develop strong emotional attachments to their new friend, while the animals’ cuddliness allows kids to develop strong physical attachments to the toy. Kids can give their little friends “star makeovers” at any time, changing the toys’ personalities as they themselves change and grow, thus making their Shining Star friend a friend for life. — Sivhour Sim, 6/5/07

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Ultimate Family Wagon by RADIO FLYERName: Ultimate Family Wagon
Company: RADIO FLYER
Age: All Ages
Price: $179.00
Category: Vehicles - Riding

What Is It?
This convertible wagon can accommodate one or two riders, thanks to its pop-up, five-fold seats. For tots who like to hit the road alone, one seat can be flipped down and used as a table top or covered storage area. Both wagon seats can also be folded to make a flatbed wagon. Child seat belts and a UV-protection canopy are included, as are two child-sized and two adult-sized cup holders.

What We Thought
The Ultimate Family Wagon is great for tugging the kids along on a sunny day because the canopy provides a nice shade that keeps them comfortable and helps protect them from damaging rays. Our toy tester especially appreciated the double seat, since his two little girls didn’t have to fight over who got the first wagon ride.  The storage space is great for stowing favorite toys and games to keep kids amused on their journey. The large wheels and easy steering make for a comfortable ride. The handle can also stay in the “up” position, which prevents parents from having to bend down to pick it up every time the kids are ready to ride.

Why They´ll Want It
The little girls who tested the Ultimate Family Wagon found it “cozy” and “fun,” said their father. Kids will love having a vehicle all their own … which they can nevertheless choose to share in their more generous moments.  —  Alison Marek, 5/14/07

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SnoFling by SNOFLINGName: SnoFling
Company: SNOFLING
Age: 2 and up
Price: $5.00
Category: Outdoor Fun

What Is It?
The SnoFling has the feel of Wiffle ball bat: hard, yet lightweight plastic with a nice handle that’s easy to grip. The design is pretty much perfect for its purpose, which is hurling snowballs at friends and enemies. Simply stab the SnoFling scoop into a snowbank and remove a nicely formed snowball. The length provides optimal leverage for young and old to fling snowballs as far as they can.

What We Thought

Upon picking up this badboy, I instantly knew I was going to have fun with it, especially in New England. As soon as it snowed, I took my plastic friend out on the town, digging into piles of snow to scoop out snowball after snowball and toss them around at innocent targets. The scoop held the ball firmly until ready to fling.

Why They’ll Like It
There are absolutely no drawbacks to the SnoFling. I wish I had it as a kid and am glad to have it as an adult. Fortunately, this product hasn´t become mainstream just yet, so walking around with a SnoFling tethered on your arm makes people think you are on the cutting edge of “what’s cool.” Overall, this product is a great addition to any kid’s outdoor sporting supplies. — Jon Arsenault, 5/5/07

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Goodnight, Sweet Pig by KIDS CAN PRESSName: Goodnight, Sweet Pig
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 2-5
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

What Is It?
In this adorable story, Pig No. 1 is desperately trying to get to sleep, but her mission is interrupted over and over again with one pig visit after another. Rhymes relay the spirited entrance and, eventually, exit of each numbered character, bringing Little Pig full circle toward a good night’s rest.

What We Thought

This is one of the cutest looking books I’ve ever read — and it’s well written, too. The little pig’s bedroom is decked out in appealing green, gold and red tones, and pleasing colors echo throughout the communicative illustrations. The characters are interactive and expressive in their scenes — from Pig No. 8’s Spanish dancing to sweet little pig’s clutching a pillow, huddled on the floor amidst the pandemonium. Details such as the “Porkeo & Juliet” book on the floor and outdoor scenes through the bedroom window give the story extra flair.

Why They’ll Like It
Kids will love “Goodnight, Sweet Pig,” not only for the rhyming verse, but also for the bright and fresh, yet still traditional, color scheme. Readers will identify with Pig No. 1’s frustration and with the remorse the other pigs eventually feel for disturbing her. Their kindness (as they make the little pig’s bed, read her a story, sing lullabies and turn the lights out) is heartwarming, as is their characterization and individuality. The story is fun, moving and perhaps the perfect story to help a little one get to sleep. — Julie L. Jones, 5/2/07

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Bella and the Bunny by KIDS CAN PRESSName: Bella and the Bunny
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 2-5
Price: $14.95
Category: Books

What Is It?
This book tells the story of a little girl, Bella, who loves the classroom rabbit at her school and the special sweater her “Nonna” knit for her — both of which are “soft, furry and white.” When Bella loses the sweater at school and the rabbit goes missing, she and the other children search until they find them both…cozily cuddled up together.

What We Thought

“Bella and the Bunny” is filled with charming pastel drawings and a rabbit theme that make it nice read-aloud to a group of preschoolers, who can relate to the search for something lost and the school setting illustrated on many of the pages.

Why They’ll Want It
Little kids will cherish the idea of a “favorite” something, as well as the love of a “Nonna” who’s kind enough to knit a sweater even for a bunny, as the end of the story reveals. The familiar classroom surroundings — story time chairs, bookcase, craft table — will draw in readers. And they will delight in the bunny’s house hutch, complete with curtains and pictures printed on the wall. — Julie L. Jones, 5/2/07

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Toys can be submitted without a fee to be considered for editorial review. However, manufacturers who wish to guarantee that their toys will be evaluated in the Review section should send payment of $150 per toy* along with the toy itself to:

Product Review Dept.
ToyDirectory.com, Inc.
12340 Santa Monica Blvd. Suite 226.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

Many of the toys considered for review are donated to children's services organizations, such as Children's Hospital Los Angeles. Also, to recover the cost of reviewing, starting August/2012 we may occasionally resell products that are sent to us.

* Please make checks payable to ToyDirectory.com, Inc. Payment does not guarantee a positive review. Advertising with ToyDirectory and TDmonthly Magazine does not guarantee a positive review. Quality, play value and educational value are considered when reviewing toys and games.

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