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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:

TeleStory by JAKKS PACIFIC INC.Name: TeleStory
Company: JAKKS PACIFIC INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $34.99
Category: Electronics

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My Baby Can Talk—Sharing Signs by BABY HANDS PRODUCTIONSName: My Baby Can Talk—Sharing Signs
Company: BABY HANDS PRODUCTIONS
Age: 1-3
Price: $19.95
Category: Videos & DVDs

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Always Play Fair by ALWAYS PLAY FAIR LLCName: Always Play Fair
Company: ALWAYS PLAY FAIR LLC
Age: 6-12
Price: $19.95
Category: General Games

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Dinosaur Holiday by MUSEUM MUSIC, INC.Name: Dinosaur Holiday
Company: MUSEUM MUSIC, INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $15.95
Category: Audio & CD

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ArtShark by BIRDCAGE PRESSName: ArtShark
Company: BIRDCAGE PRESS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

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Holiday KLIK Dispenser by AU´SOME CANDIESName: Holiday KLIK Dispenser
Company: AU´SOME CANDIES
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Candy & Food

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Chef Dramatic Dress Up by BRAND NEW WORLDName: Chef Dramatic Dress Up
Company: BRAND NEW WORLD
Age: 3-6
Price: $29.95
Category: Pretend Play

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Qolf by BONFIT AMERICA INC.Name: Qolf
Company: BONFIT AMERICA INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $24.95
Category: General Games

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Cantos y Rimas by CANTARIMA MULTIMEDIA LLCName: Cantos y Rimas
Company: CANTARIMA MULTIMEDIA LLC
Age: 1-5
Price: $19.95
Category: Videos & DVDs

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Fifteen Minutes: Of Mice and Mops by AMALGAMATED PUPPETWORKS LLCName: Fifteen Minutes: Of Mice and Mops
Company: AMALGAMATED PUPPETWORKS LLC
Age: 6 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: Videos & DVDs

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Jack Grunsky: My Beautiful World by CASABLANCA KIDS INC.Name: Jack Grunsky: My Beautiful World
Company: CASABLANCA KIDS INC.
Age: 1-6
Price: $14.98
Category: Audio & CD

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

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The Monkey Doos: Things That Go! by MAZZARELLA MEDIAName: The Monkey Doos: Things That Go!
Company: MAZZARELLA MEDIA
Age: 2-6
Price: Not Specified
Category: Videos & DVDs

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SteveSongs: Marvelous Day by ROUNDER RECORDSName: SteveSongs: Marvelous Day
Company: ROUNDER RECORDS
Age: All Ages
Price: $14.98
Category: Audio & CD

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Stylin´ Pony by AVAN INC.Name: Stylin´ Pony
Company: AVAN INC.
Age: 4 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Toys

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Taggies Fun Shapes Cuddlin' Cube by TAGGIES INC.Name: Taggies Fun Shapes Cuddlin' Cube
Company: TAGGIES INC.
Age: 1-3
Price: $12.95
Category: Infant & Toddler

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Off We Go to Mexico! An Adventure in the Sun by BAREFOOT BOOKSName: Off We Go to Mexico! An Adventure in the Sun
Company: BAREFOOT BOOKS
Age: 1-7
Price: $16.99
Category: Books

What Is It?
In this brightly illustrated hardcover book, readers accompany a family of five on a vacation to Mexico, exploring the country´s land, culture, history and language. Every other page features a lesson in Spanish vocabulary.

What We Thought
The book reads quickly and easily due to the rhyming phrases, and couldn´t be more filled with vibrant color. Eyes travel across the pages, then back again, because there´s so much to absorb. The pictures alone could triple the reading time, and are captivating even without the words. The educational quality of this book is outstanding! In addition to the four or five Spanish words and phrases that accompany each story section, the back of the book contains a map of Mexico, facts about the country, information about the three most popular festivals, historical explanations and a section on "First Spanish Phrases."

Why They'll Want It

Children are welcomed into a colorful and rhythmic journey in this book. The repetition is not only in the sentences, but also in the artwork. Kids will delight in the festive illustrations of people, houses, plants, instruments and animals. Can they count the dozens of butterflies across one spread? Boys and girls don´t have to pay attention to the Spanish words, but will probably want to after a read or two. And as they get older, they can discover all the educational insights at the story´s conclusion. Before long, they´ll be asking to take their own trip to Mexico! — Julie L. Jones, 11/22/06

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I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur by BAREFOOT BOOKSName: I Dreamt I Was a Dinosaur
Company: BAREFOOT BOOKS
Age: 1-7
Price: $6.99
Category: Books

What Is It?
This delightful board book follows one little kid´s dream of becoming a dinosaur in a land filled with all sorts of creatures. It takes children back in time, introducing them to various dinosaur species by name, through a simple story and attractive illustrations.

What We Thought
From the cover to the conclusion, unique illustrations that accompany simple sentences make this book an eye-catching treat. The backgrounds and characters are laid out like an art project in felt, enhanced with beads, sequins, yarn, and embroidered material. The dinosaur names will likely prep preschoolers for a school science lesson later on, but pronunciation-conscious parents might want to do a pre-read to make sure they get them right!

Why They'll Want It
The book´s 3-D quality - from the sequined dragonflies to the stitched dinosaur smiles - invites readers to "reach out and touch." And once children have enjoyed the story a few times, they can take up the challenge of finding the purple snail hidden on every page. None of the featured dinosaurs are "scary," with the exception of Rex the Wrecker. So at most, kids might release a few giggles when the other dinosaurs are running from him. In the end, the young dreamer is tucked safely in his bed holding a stuffed dinosaur, leaving readers with the fascination of his journey. Perhaps his story will encourage kids to share their own dreams. — Julie L. Jones, 11/22/06

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Putt Poker by DREAM PLAY LLCName: Putt Poker
Company: DREAM PLAY LLC
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Game fans can test their dexterity and strategy by putting a golf ball onto a 17” x 36” game mat printed with poker card values. Instructions are included for three levels of play for Texas Hold ‘Em, 5-Card Stud and 7-Card Stud. No betting is required. The matt can be rolled up for easy travel. A golf ball and scorecards are included, but the putter must be provided separately.

What We Thought
I’m neither a golf nor a poker fan, but as soon as my opponent and I rolled out the printed mat and grabbed our “putter” (a cardboard mailing tube), we were hooked. Getting the ball onto any score card proved to be a challenge for both of us, even though we were playing by the game’s “amateur” rules. Our scorecard was pretty much filled with nils, but that just made us try harder (and our coworkers cruelly mock our pathetic efforts). The challenge of the play made it fun and we were sorry to see the game end.

Why They’ll Want It
Putt Poker is a great game for family and friends. Almost anyone can play because even if you don’t score at all, you’ll still have a blast trying to figure out how to control the ball better and actually get a score. The worse you are, in fact, the more valuable the game, because you’ll get plenty of exercise chasing your wayward ball. — Alison Marek, 11/17/06

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Scare "D" Cat by ANTENNA FRIENDZName: Scare "D" Cat
Company: ANTENNA FRIENDZ
Age: 3 and up
Price: $5.99
Category: Novelties

What Is It?
A weather-resistant PVC cartoon action figure that swirls around a car’s radio antenna when the vehicle is in motion, Scare “D” Cat comes with his own backstory. He’s just 5 years old, but he’s got 9 lifetimes of experience “lazin’ around, chasin’ bugs and sleepin’,” according to his official bio. But despite his love of speed, he’s just a regular kitty who cares not for Big Dawgs or — perish the thought — vacuum cleaners.

What We Thought
With his eyeballs hanging from his sockets and his tongue whipped behind him like Isadora Duncan’s scarf, Scare “D” Cat looks like he’s having the ride of his life. He’ll cheer up the dingiest of jalopies and lighten up the poshest luxury sedan with his good-old boy can-do and will-do attitude. While others keep on truckin’, he’ll keep on spinnin’. The coolest thing about Scare “D” and his friends, is that they can also be attached to backpacks, so when kids run, they’ll be part of a chase, too.

Why They’ll Want It
What’s the most boring place in the world for kids? Inside a moving car. But being able to watch Scare “D” do his daredevil spins as mom scoots down the highway will keep the juniors amused. Kids and teens will want this novelty toy to show the world that even when driving the same old box as everyone else, they still have some pizzazz. Scare “D” has his own Antenna Friend in Junkyard Dawg. There are also some more, um, risqué models (i.e., scantily clad female humans) for the bigger boys. — Alison Marek, 10/28/06

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EntertainMe Play Gym by THE BOPPY COMPANYName: EntertainMe Play Gym
Company: THE BOPPY COMPANY
Age: 1 and up
Price: $64.99
Category: Infant & Toddler

What Is It?
This interactive musical gym for babies lets parents change the placement of toys, remove the padded bars from which they hang, and add a pillow to cushion baby’s tummy or back. Babies have 15 different developmental activities with which to amuse themselves, including a musical bee, a ladybug hiding under a crackly leaf, a child-safe mirror for peek-a-boo and a teether ring.

What We Thought
The big, cheery faces on the soft plush characters make this gym set especially appealing. And since they’re bugs, each one has six dangling legs for baby to reach out and pull. The bee plays music when his head is pressed. The little bugs double as rattles and squeak toys, for added stimulation. The playmate has numerous textures for baby to explore.

Why They’ll Want It

This is a great gym to keep both babies and parents amused. Since the toys can be changed from the bars to mat to the pillow and back, babies will be constantly stimulated as parents “shake up” the scene. The bars are easily detached from their fabric hooks, allowing the playmate to be folded up and transported to Grandma’s or the park. It’s a great first gym with bright, bold, unfussy graphics that are stimulating but not overwhelming. — Alison Marek, 9/25/06

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Cinderella by AWESOME KIDSName: Cinderella
Company: AWESOME KIDS
Age: 3-8
Price: $25.95
Category: Pretend Play

What Is It?
The Cinderella in a Boxx play set from Awesome Kids has everything a little girl needs to recreate and embellish the Cinderella story, including tiny figurines of Cinderella, the Prince, the Ugly Stepmother and Sisters as well as various servants. And for every little girl who’s envisioned herself as a Fairy Godmother, there’s a feathered fairy tiara for her to wear and a wand for her to wave so that she can change the included four mice into four white horses and the lizard into a Coachman. Also included are a pair of child-sized acrylic “glass slippers” and a cardboard castle backdrop.

What We Thought

This amazing set lets little girls put together their own pumpkin coach, turn mice into men and back again, and otherwise have fun reliving the Cinderella story in whatever role they choose. Including costumes for both Cinderella (the shoes) and the Fairy Godmother (wand and tiara) was a smart move that should preclude real fights between real sisters battling for these must-have costume pieces.

Why They’ll Want It

The Cinderella in a Boxx play set is the kind of toy that sets little girls jumping up and down with feverish excitement as soon as they see it. It reaches out to them on a number of levels: First, they’ll feel a sense of accomplishment by assembling their own coach (with help, if they’re on the young side); second, they can play with the little doll characters; and third, they get to dress up and be part of the action, too!  — Alison Marek, 9/25/06

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Monster by MIMOCO INC.Name: Monster
Company: MIMOCO INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $69.95
Category: Electronics

What Is It?
A computer device cleverly disguised as a monster, this is a limited-edition designer flash drive that makes collecting data ultra-chic. All Mimobots have their own personalities and hobbies. They come in well-designed, attractive packaging along with some fun stuff, such as wallpapers, already stored on the drive. Compatible with both Mac and Windows, Mimobots comes in 256MB, 512MB, 1GB and 2GB versions (with price ranging from $69.95 to $144.95).

What We Thought
This super-cool monster works just like any other USB drive. Monster looked funny when plugged in, though because it looked like s/he (Monster´s sex is unknown) had plunged its head into the computer, searching for data. The Monster´s head is screwed on pretty tight — it is hard to remove the cap when it´s clicked in. Monster was smaller than expected, too, which is a good thing in this case. However, if you have two USB ports adjacent to each other, it may be hard to fit a second USB device.

Why They´ll Want It
This is a trendy and highly collectible item. So trendy that Mimobots are on MySpace! It is a must-have for all the coolest nerds of (almost) all ages! — TDmonthly Review Team, 9/21/06

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My Loving Jesus Doll by HF CORPORATIONName: My Loving Jesus Doll
Company: HF CORPORATION
Age: 1 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Dolls

What Is It?
A 16" Jesus doll clothed in a removable robe of brushed flannel and a fleecy blue undergarment, My Loving Jesus comes with a scroll that contains a letter addressed to "a Dear Sweet Child." The scroll briefly retells the life of Jesus in English on one side and Spanish on the other. The doll is soft and well made.

What We Thought
The expression on this doll’s face is undoubtedly loving. There are many Jesus merchandise/images out there that can be described as "contemplating Jesus," “suffering Jesus," "I- know-you -did-something-bad-Jesus," "angry Jesus" or just plain "creepy Jesus." But no matter how you look at this Loving Jesus Doll, his face tells you, "I love you!" and his open arms scream "Hug me!"

Why They´ll Want It

My Loving Jesus Doll not only serves as a great spiritual companion for young children, it’s also cuddly and lovable. It can also serve as a great novelty item for adults, and would make a welcome and surprising gift for that someone who thinks he has everything. – TDmonthly Review Team, 9/21/06

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Toothbrush, Jammies, Man In The Moon ... Why Is It Bedtime So Soon? by MODERN PUBLISHINGName: Toothbrush, Jammies, Man In The Moon ... Why Is It Bedtime So Soon?
Company: MODERN PUBLISHING
Age: 3-8
Price: $14.99
Category: Books

What Is It?
Who wants to sleep when there are so many fun things to do? But Dad says, “Bedtime’s as fun as playtime,” and then he and Mom show their little kids how. This hardcover illustrated book by Nicole Tocco takes kids through nightly rituals, such as bath time and reading time, to make the transition to sleep that much easier.

What We Thought
The little kids in the book are just as resistant to leaving their toys at night as their real-life counterparts. But Tocco reminds them how important sleep is, and how much fun getting ready for and snuggling into bed can be. From bubble baths to a last sip of water, Tocco reinforces the routines that every child engages in at bedtime.

Why They’ll Want It
“Toothbrush, Jammies, Man in the Moon … Why Is It Bedtime So Soon?” is a great book for parents to read at bedtime. Kids can shout along with the little protagonist when she protests, “I don’t understand. It’s just not fair! WHY can’t I stay up all night?” They’ll identify, too, with the rituals of bathing, brushing teeth, getting their plush friend into his nighties and hearing a lovely story before drifting off. “Toothbrush, Jammies, Man in the Moon … Why Is It Bedtime So Soon” will make kids feel like they have allies in the I-don’t-wanna world, and give parents a helping hand getting their kids out of the playroom and into the bed. — Alison Marek, 9/6/06


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Fly — Totally Stumped by BINARYLABS INC.Name: Fly — Totally Stumped
Company: BINARYLABS INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $19.99
Category: Computers

What Is It?
Totally Stumped is a trivia game designed for 1 to 4 players … and a LeapFrog Fly Pentop Computer (sold separately). The game comes with 68 Trivia Category Cards, 4 Answer Cards, 2 Category Counter Cards, a carrying case and a rulebook. It is also a 2006 Parent's Choice Gold Award Winner.

What We Thought
The solo games are fun. The Flypen actually keeps track of how many questions you get right in a row. I only got 3. Some of questions are hard. For example: “Which one of these products was not invented by a woman? Band-Aids, Circular Saw, Windshield Wipers or Duck Shoes?”” The answer was Band-Aids; I’d chosen Duck Shoes. Totally Stumped would be good for travel if you planned on playing solo games. The game requires too much setup and too many cards to accommodate multiple players on a car trip, though you could always improvise and test each other with the questions alone, avoiding the actual laying out of the cards.

Why They’ll Want It
Basically the game is fun! The questions are broad enough to make it comfortable for an adult to play against a child. The kid may know the answers to the video game trivia and random questions about pop culture, while the adult would favor other categories based on accumulated knowledge. The only drawback was that the Flypen volume was sometimes too low for a public setting. You have to pass the pen back and forth for each player to hear it. Using the earbuds solves that problem when playing solo. — Jon Arsenault, 8/25/06


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Wrap-n-Rides — Dragon by AEROMAX INC.Name: Wrap-n-Rides — Dragon
Company: AEROMAX INC.
Age: 3-5
Price: $39.95
Category: Pretend Play

What Is It?
This big goofy dragon with a pink smile is really a wrap-around costume for hot tots. Kids who’re ready to breathe fire can just slip into the adjustable shoulder straps and wrap the dragon’s soft blue and green plush body around their waists, sealing it closed with a Velcro strip. A tab on the dragon’s head lets kids pull him upright, make him look left and right for marauding knights, and gallop around, long green tail trailing behind, just as a tail should.

What We Thought
While we were all a bit too oversized to slip comfortably into the shoulder straps, this wrap-around-costume brought out the Little Kid in the TDmonthly staff members. One tester quickly located the elastic strips that attach the wings to the wrists and started flapping away. Most appreciated the vinyl paw pads and talons, which give this silly toy just the slightest air of realism. But nothing can beat having a tail for the day, especially when it’s lined with purple scales.

Why They’ll Want It
Kids who love dressing up and kids who love plush will want to wrap themselves up in these soft, cuddly costume/toys. Do you play with it, or be it? A little of both. And when play day is done, this Dragon and his companions, such as Flamingo and Duck, easily slip back off again and into bed for some serious nighttime snuggling. — Alison Marek, 8/17/06


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Playfoam by EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.Name: Playfoam
Company: EDUCATIONAL INSIGHTS INC.
Age: 5 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Arts & Crafts

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Signing Time! My Favorite Things Volume 6 DVD by TWO LITTLE HANDSName: Signing Time! My Favorite Things Volume 6 DVD
Company: TWO LITTLE HANDS
Age: 1 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Videos & DVDs

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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Dimity Duck by PHILOMEL BOOKSName: Dimity Duck
Company: PHILOMEL BOOKS
Age: 2 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Books

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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My Little Pony: Sing & Play Piano Songbook by BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIAName: My Little Pony: Sing & Play Piano Songbook
Company: BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIA
Age: 3 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Books

Please click here to read this TDmonthly's Toy Expert review.

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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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