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Miss O & Friends Trouble With a Capital O by MISS O & FRIENDS™Name: Miss O & Friends Trouble With a Capital O
Company: MISS O & FRIENDS™
Age: 8-12
Price: $5.99
Category: Books

What Is It?
Miss O & Friends are a group of characters (originally started on the web site, Miss O & Friends) first thought up by then 10-year-old Juliette Brindak. Over five years, Juliette, her younger sister Olivia (the real Miss O), some friends and their art director/artist mom Hermine, evolved an organic, authentic tween world based on the very girls who thought it up. This is their first foray into novel form. The book takes up and expands where the Web site leaves off, giving a prose view of the life of Miss O (into soccer and baking), while cousin Harlie is funky and urban and waaay into gymnastics, and Juliette, Justine and Isabella (sister and friends) are into all the things they’re into being into.
 
What We Thought
Very cool. I may not be a tween girl (and never was), but these books are a fun, easy read, which are both age-appropriate and not patronizing in any way, shape or form. I ran them by my niece (age 11), and she thought they were great (though, to be honest, she already is on the Web site). She liked the fact the girls sounded and acted like her friends. She wanted to see more books, and when I told her that one of the new books were written by girls her age (Miss O & Friends Write On!: The Miss O & Friends Collection of Rockin’ Fiction), she thought that was great.
 
Why They’ll Want It
Face it: it’s By Girls, For Girls, and there’s nothing out there so integrated to that age group. It’s fun, it’s sassy, and it’s heartfelt. The illustrations are hip, and there’s no “talking down”. This is about tweens, and it works. Much as Nancy Drew spoke to generations of girls in its time and place, Miss O speaks to the tween generation of girls today … and tomorrow.
— TDmonthly Staff, 5/11/06

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What Should We Name the Twins? by WEE GALLERYName: What Should We Name the Twins?
Company: WEE GALLERY
Age: All Ages
Price: $6.95
Category: Books

What Is It?
A board book with simple black-and-white illustrations enhanced by swaths of muted colors, “What Should We Call the Twins?” is designed to stimulate tiny brains and introduce them to the concept of twindom. Artist Surya Sajnani was inspired to create such a book shortly after becoming a mother. She used high-contrast drawing to stimulate her own baby’s brain, then jumped into authordom.
 
What We Thought
I don’t know how babies’ll respond, but adults will like the humor and sketchy drawings. What should we call the twins? How about “Cal” and “Identi-Cal”? Since it’s a board book, it’ll take some wear and tear. It’s a nice way to introduce babies to the idea of books without worrying whether they’ll understand the words or not.
 
Why They’ll Want It
Any parent who’s interested in giving his or her kids a developmental head start will grab this book. Babies will like looking at the nearly identical twin drawings and, as they grow older, will appreciate the humor in the name play, too.
— Alison Marek, 5/5/06


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Moo, Moo Who Are You? by BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIAName: Moo, Moo Who Are You?
Company: BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIA
Age: 2 and up
Price: $6.95
Category: Books

What Is It?
In “Moo, Moo Where Are You?” kids visit a farm. Jango is excited about making friends with all of the animals. Spike is a little nervous. But luckily, all of the animals in this illustrated book are friendly. Each one introduces herself or himself and gives the kids a little pertinent info, such as “I love to east grass. How do you do? I give lots of milk and I say MOO!” Readers unfold the flap and reveal a photograph of a real cow.
 
What We Thought
The illustrations are adorable, and real photos help kids remember that the animals exist outside the cartoon world, too. Since the book is a joint venture with PBS Kids, the back has plenty of tips for parents and caregivers so they can encourage the kids to make sounds of the animals, fill in the missing blanks of the rhymes in the story and quiz them on colors.
 
Why’ll They Want It
This is a great book for caretakers to read aloud with their favorite kids. There’s plenty of room for Mooing — and learning, too. Kids will especially like being able to open the flap to reveal the real animal. It makes peek-a-boo just a touch more edifying.
— Alison Marek, 5/5/06


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Noah’s Ark – Baby’s First Pop-Up by BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIAName: Noah’s Ark – Baby’s First Pop-Up
Company: BRIGHTER MINDS MEDIA
Age: All Ages
Price: $19.95
Category: Books

What Is It?
A soft, colorful cloth book relating the tale of Noah’s Ark’s is filled with pop-up surprises for young “readers.” All of the pop-up animals come in appropriate sets of two and have nice detailers such as trunks, horns, tails and fins.
 
What We Thought
This is a cute book for any kid who likes animals, which means, I guess, any kid. The pop-up animals will withstand substantial tugging and stand up nicely as soon as the page is opened. Kids will learn about animal names and will be introduced to the concept of animals pairing off. For kids who “read” at naptime, the book’s soft enough for a sleepy head.
 
Why’ll They Want It
Parents and other gifters will like giving a baby his or her first book. Adults will also appreciate that the book can get dunked in the tub, left in the rain or dragged through the mud without dire results. A quick wash in the sink and spin in the dryer will bring the book back to normal. Kids will be excited by the little “toys” in the book, and also by the myriad of cute animals that decorate its pages.
-- Alison Marek, 5/5/06


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Beethoven’s Wig 3 by ROUNDER RECORDSName: Beethoven’s Wig 3
Company: ROUNDER RECORDS
Age: All Ages
Price: $15.99
Category: Audio & CD

What Is It?
Zany lyrics and classical music get together in this fun CD for kids and parents. An accompanying booklet with “librettos” lets kids sing along with the Toreador Song from Bizet’s Carmen: “Please keep your bull outside the china shop. No bulls allowed; that’s where they stop.” Opera lovers might cringe, but kids’ll squeal. For the purists (and for kids’ education), the sing-along symphonies are then followed by instrumental performances. The booklet is also filled with trivia questions that teach kids about the instruments and the composers.
 
What We Thought
Unlike many CDs for kids, the music is high quality. Well, with composers such as Bach, Bizet and Mozart, how could they go wrong? The Slovak Philharmonic Orchestra doesn’t hurt either. The lead soloist, Richard Perlmutter, has an appropriately kid-friendly voice, but he’s surrounded by hard-hitting sopranos and tenors, a contrast that adds to the silliness of the entire venture.
 
Why’ll They Want It
Parents will love being able to introduce their kids to classical music in a fun and friendly way. Kids will enjoy the kookiness for itself and will undoubtedly get excited when hearing and recognizing the “songs” in their more normal context. Still, you have to wonder what it will be like for that grown-up kid when she sees Kubrick’s “2001” for the first time with the lyrics “Men of earth obey! Take me to your leader, take me to your leader” running through her head simultaneous with Strauss’s “Also Spake Zarathustra.”
-- Alison Marek, 5/5/06


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Diving Off the Coral Reef of Integers by WORLD CLASS LEARNING MATERIALS INC.Name: Diving Off the Coral Reef of Integers
Company: WORLD CLASS LEARNING MATERIALS INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $21.95
Category: Educational

What Is It?
It’s a board game that deals in math, but very specific math: adding and subtracting integers, positive and negative integers. For those who don’t remember what an integer is, or, more importantly, what a negative integer is, this is the game for you. And, it’s definitely the game for kids first learning about them. It has a colorful undersea-inspired board with a bubble route that leads to a treasure chest. Up to six “divers” (cool colored plastic game pieces) start at the top. In the easiest incarnation of the game, players roll three dice (one red, one white, one blue) and form an equation. If the answer is a positive number, the player moves forward accordingly. A negative number: back. First person to the treasure chest wins.
 
What We Thought
Okay, this is a game for ages 8 and up and my son’s 7, but he’s pretty darn good at math (and we’ve done negative numbers for a couple years now), so we thought we’d give it a try. First, we talked about the cool underwater stuff (he just got back from Hawaii and has been seeing this stuff for real). We then started the game. He was green, and I was blue. He rolled the dice and made the equation. Negative number. I rolled the dice and got a negative number. This went on for awhile, and we got a little frustrated, but finally, he got a positive number, and we were on our way. It took a little skull work, and a long time (too many negative numbers), but we finally came to a final equation showdown. I got the negative solution, and my son got the positive and won.
 
Why They’ll Want It
It’s an excellent primer for adding and subtracting negative and positive numbers; a fun way to learn. Unfortunately, for us, there was more going backwards than forwards. There’s a level 2 and level 3 (for more sophisticated players). These are decks of equations (with the answers on the backs). Rather than two term equations, there were three term equations, and the upper level added multiplication and division. This should be useful for a number of learning years to come. All in all it’s a fun game and keeps the mind sharp, but there could be a few more twists and turns on the board. It’s definitely unique for what it does.
-- TDmonthly Staff, 4/24/06


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Electronic T-Rex Battle by UNCLE MILTON INDUSTRIES INC.Name: Electronic T-Rex Battle
Company: UNCLE MILTON INDUSTRIES INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $26.99
Category: Science & Nature

What Is It?
In a kind of a prehistoric “Rock ‘Em, Sock ‘Em Robots,” two ferocious T-Rexs (plastic and articulated) face off in a rocky ring for a battle to the death. One player grabs the “controlling” tail of one carnivore, and the other player grabs the tail of the other. Switch it on, and there are roars galore. There’s also an electronic counter to keep track of their “health” — 9 is healthy, and 0 … is extinct. The first player to drop the opposing T-Rex’s health to 0 wins.
 
What We Thought
My 7-year-old son isn’t a big dinosaur fan yet (he’s more into astronomy), but this is more about battle than paleontology, so he was game. After putting in the batteries and attaching the tails, we were “Reaaaady to ruuuuumble!” My son took the green T-Rex, and I took the greener T-Rex, and the battle commenced. We found by twisting the tails, the mouths opened and closed, then, by sliding the base, we got into it. It was a little like thumb wrestling, each of us trying to grab the other with our “jaws” and score a point on the other (take away one of their health points). It was a little difficult to actually know what worked, and what didn’t, but there was lots of roaring, so it was pretty cool. Seems biting the neck and chest do the trick. My son won the first round, and I won the second. It was time for the deciding battle royale! Unfortunately, my tail kept coming off in the heat of the match, and I lost resoundingly. I was bummed. Not by losing, but by losing because of injury. Seems T-Rex tails are pretty fragile things.
 
Why They’ll Want It
It’s loud, active, biting, munching, point scoring and full of T-Rexs. It’s pretty great. But … the plastic seems a bit breakable, and the tails definitely came off too easily. Whether this would hold up more than a week with two rambunctious kids is the real question, but for playability, it scores a nine out of 10 on the Dino-rating system.
-- TDmonthly Staff, 4/24/06


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Spalding Never Flat basketball by SPALDING SPORTS WORLDWIDEName: Spalding Never Flat basketball
Company: SPALDING SPORTS WORLDWIDE
Age: 9 and up
Price: $39.99
Category: Sporting Goods & Accessories

at Is It?
It’s a basketball. A Spalding basketball. A Spalding composite leather indoor/outdoor basketball (29.5”). So it’s the real McCoy. But here’s the twist: It has NitroFlate, a groundbreaking technology developed by former NASA and Dupont scientists, which is guaranteed to keep this basketball holding air up to 10 times longer than traditional basketballs (it is, in fact, guaranteed to stay fully inflated for at least one year — with no additional air needed during that period). Now that’s a basketball.
 
What We Thought
My 7-year-old son is just learning the ins and outs of b-ball (I’m a former Pali High grad, and we lived basketball, mostly for spare change and as a feeder school to UCLA) so we took to the park Saturday morning for a game of hoops. We dribbled, we passed, we dunked (I held him on my shoulders). We kicked the ball around. We played handball with it, dodge ball, and we even dropped the thing from the top of a 10-story building (don’t try this at home; I’m a professional toy reviewer). The ball held up like an NBA champ. And we did it the next Saturday, too. And the next. It is now four months later, and the ball is still as dribble-able (is that a word?) as the day we first tried it. Hasn’t lost a breath of air. Now that’s some basketball. It’s been in pickup games, was lent to a girls’ basketball team for an inside game, and was dropped a few more times from the 10-story building. It definitely lives up to its guarantee.
 
Why They’ll Want It
For a general, all-around, never-worry-about-it basketball, this is it. No muss. No fuss. No pumps. No saggy ball. This gets our full, whole-hearted recommendation. On the Kobe Bryant scale of 1 to 81, this gets a Wilt Chamberlain 100.
-- TDmonthly Staff, 4/24/06


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Mommy, Teach Me Spanish! —– Que Duermas Bien (Sweet Dreams) by FIESTA FRIENDS LLCName: Mommy, Teach Me Spanish! —– Que Duermas Bien (Sweet Dreams)
Company: FIESTA FRIENDS LLC
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Videos & DVDs

What Is It?
This video series centers on the home and daily routines of babies and children through age 9. Kids meet Fuerte, the adorable Chihuahua, and his amigo Fuego, a chili pepper. The video also stars the Fiesta Friends Kids, bright graphics, fun musical scenes and unique toys. “Que Duermas bien — Sweet Dreams” centers on the bedtime routine.
 
What We Thought
Cute kids and puppets abound in this colorful instructional DVD. Children learn to sing familiar songs, such as “Are You Sleeping?” in Spanish. The video also teaches them key phrases through repetition. Later in the video, they build on their skills by asking and answering simple questions.
 
Why They’ll Want It
Parents can use this video to gently introduce their kids to a new language. Kids will love the silly puppets and will also have fun learning new words and commands along with the other kids on the video. Since the Fiesta Friends Kids are themselves at different levels of learning Spanish, children won’t feel intimidated if they can’t pronounce all the words exactly right the first time. They’ll also want to replay the DVD again and again — thereby strengthening their skills — to hear their favorite songs and to watch Fuerte and Fuego create mischief in two languages.

Alison Marek, 4/18/06

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Kids Cook! by IDEALS PUBLICATIONSName: Kids Cook!
Company: IDEALS PUBLICATIONS
Age: 8-12
Price: $12.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Meet the Letters Lift the Flap Book by PRESCHOOL PREP COMPANYName: Meet the Letters Lift the Flap Book
Company: PRESCHOOL PREP COMPANY
Age: 1-5
Price: $12.95
Category: Books

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Reversible Princess Costume by BDAY PARTIES LLCName: Reversible Princess Costume
Company: BDAY PARTIES LLC
Age: 3-7
Price: $15.00
Category: Pretend Play

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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ZipBin — Mansion by NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL LLCName: ZipBin — Mansion
Company: NEAT-OH! INTERNATIONAL LLC
Age: 3 and up
Price: $24.99
Category: Play Sets

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Little Storyteller by THINKATIVITY INC.Name: Little Storyteller
Company: THINKATIVITY INC.
Age: 1-3
Price: $19.99
Category: Infant & Toddler

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Cuddle'ums Elephant by BESTEVER INC.Name: Cuddle'ums Elephant
Company: BESTEVER INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $20.00
Category: Plush

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Stranger Safety by THE SAFE SIDE, LLCName: Stranger Safety
Company: THE SAFE SIDE, LLC
Age: 5-10
Price: $19.98
Category: Videos & DVDs

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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The Knit-It Kit for Kids by CHRONICLE BOOKS FOR CHILDRENName: The Knit-It Kit for Kids
Company: CHRONICLE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
Age: 4 and up
Price: $16.95
Category: Arts & Crafts

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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ME! etc. by DIMENSIONS/PERLERName: ME! etc.
Company: DIMENSIONS/PERLER
Age: 6 and up
Price: $14.99
Category: Play Sets

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Wai Lana's Little Yogis Fun Songs CD & Lyric Book by WAI LANAName: Wai Lana's Little Yogis Fun Songs CD & Lyric Book
Company: WAI LANA
Age: 3 and up
Price: $18.00
Category: Musical Toys

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Animal House by PLAY SMARTName: Animal House
Company: PLAY SMART
Age: 2 and up
Price: $11.00
Category: Play Sets

Please click here to read this special TDmonthly´s Expert Mom review.

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Wordzzo by WESTWIND GAMESName: Wordzzo
Company: WESTWIND GAMES
Age: 7 and up
Price: $9.95
Category: General Games


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Cardformers by RAINBOW GAMES INC.Name: Cardformers
Company: RAINBOW GAMES INC.
Age: 4 and up
Price: $20.00
Category: General Games

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Ancient Egypt Toob by SAFARI LTD.®Name: Ancient Egypt Toob
Company: SAFARI LTD.®
Age: 3 and up
Price: $7.50
Category: Play Sets

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Slooh Explore Space Live Telescope Time Card by BLUESTORM PRODUCTIONS INC.Name: Slooh Explore Space Live Telescope Time Card
Company: BLUESTORM PRODUCTIONS INC.
Age: 8 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Science & Nature

What Is It?
It is a “credit card” of astronomical fun: The Slooh card allows an “observer” using their home computer to log onto one of the two robotic observatories located in the Canary Islands (off the African Coast) and observe in real time deep sky objects, planets, the moon, asteroids, the whole shooting match, while helping to choose sights, as well as take pictures to their computer! It’s like being a real astronomer.

What We Thought
My 7-year-old son has been an astronomy buff since he’s been two (knows all the planets, knows about the Big Bang, etc.); we love the planetarium and going out with a little telescope and looking at the stars. The Slooh is perfect for us. We logged in on the computer, and because the Slooh observatories are in Africa, it’s early afternoon for us when the observing starts. First, you go to the Launch Pad screen, where you see what the weather’s like, get real time pictures of the observatories, see what the “missions” are going to be for that night (every five minutes each of the telescopes changes missions, from planets to nebulae, to galaxies), we helped vote on some of the missions and picked one ourselves. Then, we waited for the observing to begin. When it does, it’s very cool. Each observatory dome has two telescopes in it, one wide-field, the other higher powered, and when a new mission starts, you switch between the two as the CCD cameras capture more and more light and the image gets better and better. There’s a “DJ” that’s kinda mellow, playing music and talking about the different astronomical objects (kind of New Age meets Carl Sagen), there’s a chat room to talk to other observers, and you can snap your own digital photos. It’s addictive!

Why They’ll Want It
It’s real astronomy from your very own home. It’s exciting to watch each object “develop” on-screen. The views run from pretty good to spectacular. It’s great for birthdays, Christmas and any kid (or adult) who likes astronomy. It’s a must have if you like the night sky.

— TDmonthly Staff, 4/17/06




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Built for Speed Race Car by BESTEVER INC.Name: Built for Speed Race Car
Company: BESTEVER INC.
Age: 5 and up
Price: $18.00
Category: Infant & Toddler

What Is It?
The Built for Speed Race Car is a 14” long, 7” tall, 9” wide plush race car. The bright yellow car is emblazoned with red flames and the name “Speedster” on the hood. It consists entirely of soft plush with the exception of two small red plastic headlights, approximately ½” in diameter.
 
What We Thought
When I first saw the toy I was disappointed in the fact that, because it was all one piece, the wheels did not turn. However, the toddlers who played with it did not even notice that fact. The bright colors and large size attracted them immediately. The non-moving wheels may be an issue for older children. The fact that it’s completely plush (except for the headlights) is a plus when dealing with the average toddler’s habit of throwing things, and it can even serve as a pillow in a pinch.
 
Why They’ll Want It
I think the bright colors and size will make this car a standout on retailers’ shelves for children. But more importantly, I think adults will look at it and say, “A plush car — now I can have play dates without worrying about tears.” Retailers should consider this race car, along with the plane and truck, because although there are other plush vehicles on the market, this is one of the largest, and it’s realistic enough to inspire a “vroom” from the young children in my life.
— Jodi M. Webb, 4/05/2006


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A Fire in My Hands by HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURTName: A Fire in My Hands
Company: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT
Age: 12 and up
Price: $16.00
Category: Books

What Is It?
Exploring the everyday moments of life, author and poet Gary Soto uses words of wonder inspired by his youth in California´s Central Valley to create rich poems. They move with direct and vivid prose that brims with emotions. This critically acclaimed collection revisits favorite poems and introduces new ones — some humorous, some heartfelt, all memorable.
 
What We Thought
I loved this book. The poems don’t rhyme and only provide a brief snapshot of who Soto was as a young man. Each poem spans a mere one to two pages and includes a short introduction from Soto. For instance, he presents his poem “All the Luck” with “In high school I nursed my loneliness by the school fountain where others like me sat with nothing to do. I was seventeen.” His poems are stark and yet lyrical at the same time, all either slightly tragic or somewhat uplifting. In “All the Luck,” for example, he talks of his being in love with the homecoming queen who was in love with “some muscle in a letterman’s jacket” while he “wore a hairnet and served chili beans.” He studies cells in his biology class and then goes to his fountain to find trash floating in it while the homecoming queen sails by on a float. He sheds a tear, one would conclude, because he feels more connected to the trash on the water than the beautiful girl on the float, though they are both comprised of the same organic matter. Yet, rather than overtly state this, Soto just presents the details, gives hints to his emotions, and lets the reader feel each scene on his or her own.
 
Why They’ll Want It
Because these poems read like brief narratives, they are easy for everyone from children to adults to embrace. Soto’s sparing use of imagery and his discussion of familiar topics makes the poetry universally easy to understand. Yet, as readers grow and revisit the poems over the years, they will invariably find new meanings in the words. It’s the kind of book that won’t gather too much dust sitting on a family’s shelf.
— Vanessa VanderZanden, 4/05/06


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DVD MagIQ by TINY LOVEName: DVD MagIQ
Company: TINY LOVE
Age: 1-2
Price: Not Specified
Category: Infant & Toddler

What Is It?
This combination educational DVD and interactive plush toy lets baby watch television with a cuddly companion who laughs and sings along. The DVD develops children’s learning abilities by enveloping them in an interactive environment where they are led through lessons by a trio of barnyard friends. They can join Tiny the dog, Tickle the lamb or Dot the cow (who’s recommended for ages 12 to 36 months) as they help build vocabulary and motor skills while always managing to have fun. And the plush version of the cartoon sits beside them, taking part in the story and helping them learn, too.

What We Thought
Although the doll and television should be synchronized, probably due to our bad sound system, we could only get it to work a couple of times. When it works right, the doll comments on what´s going on onscreen, "talks" to the other animals, or sings along. I acknowledge that the concept of the interaction between the doll and the video is very interesting, but in our reality, I don´t think it actually added that much to the experience. Our 1-year-old loves the video and the plush doll on their own merits. She calls them both "Shiny!" for some reason. She will stand at the television and call, "Shiny!" when she wants to watch it.

Why They’ll Want It
Although my daughter is a little older than the recommended age for this toy, she loves the little songs that the animals sing, and often asks me to sing them. The doll talks and sings when you press its belly button, too. When watching the video, Sarah names some of the objects that appear on the screen, and "dances" to the music. There is a version for older babies that I may look into … I´m sure she´ll like it if "Shiny" is in it!

— Michelle Quirk, 4/04/06


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The 40 Year-Old Virgin Talking Doll by KAMHI WORLDName: The 40 Year-Old Virgin Talking Doll
Company: KAMHI WORLD
Age: 18 and up
Price: $14.95
Category: Novelties

What Is It?
The collector collected: This 7” high vinyl figure is a miniature replica of Andy Stitzer, the 40-year-old collector of miniature replicas whose obsession with teeny tiny vinyl men prolonged his virginity. Sculpted by Paul Brooke, little Andy looks startlingly like big Andy (Steve Carell) from the hit film, “The 40 Year-Old Virgin,” thanks to true-to-life details such as an overdeveloped schnoz and underdeveloped physique. Andy is dressed fetchingly in navy blue dotted-swiss boxers with brown anklets and matching shoes. He comes post-wax job, with a nice smiling face etched into his manly chest fur. He stands jauntily on a talking plinth that’s activated with a red hot button, emitting nine phrases from the movie, such as “I’m shyyyyyyy!” and “You know, guys … this is not a good look for me!” in Carrell’s own voice.
 
What We Thought
He’s cute, he’s little and he’ll go anywhere you want him to … what’s not to love? The sculpting and paint job are high quality and his confidently unconfident pose is instantly endearing. Taking the talking Andy doll at his own word (“It loses its value if you take it out of its packaging.”) I couldn’t quite bear to “open him up” but since his own clear packaging has a finger hole near the plinth to access the hot button and a perforated top to allow for maximum sound transmission, there’s really no need. Besides, the package insert is illustrated with scenes and dialogue from the movie, which only adds to the fun.
 
Why They’ll Want It
The 40 Year-Old Virgin Talking Doll should reach a wide demographic: guys who laughed their guts out during the movie, gals who fantasized about “curing” Andy, and 40-year-old collectors who can finally collect themselves. It’s a perfect gag gift and would be a great distraction from office work when plopped next to the computer. Which is why I’m taking this one, Boss.
— Alison Marek, 4/04/06


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I’ve Never … The Game of Truth by INI, LLCName: I’ve Never … The Game of Truth
Company: INI, LLC
Age: Adult
Price: $19.99
Category: General Games

What Is It?
Let’s make this perfectly clear: this is an adult game that rocks. It’s based on the old drinking game of the same name, but brought to a professional level, with slick board and funny cards to draw from. In a nutshell: players roll the dice, moving along the board. When a player lands on “Draw an I’ve Never Card,” that player draws a card from the pile and reads the question aloud. “I’ve never toilet papered someone’s house.” If True: You’re a wimp, take a big drink. If Not True: Free Ride. The cards can get very suggestive. After the player answers the question and moves according to the card, the next player goes. To win: first player to the “Finish” line. If you lie and get caught: Imaginative punishments can be doled out.

What We Thought
So, perfect game for a New Years Eve party, right? First thing: the youngest player begins the game. Everyone claimed to be the youngest player, even a grandmother of eight. After we got that sorted out, we handed shot glasses to everyone (size of drink is user established) and got the big gallon bottle of vodka out. We were ready. First draw for a woman doctor? “I’ve never had sex while at work?” Obviously we had to clarify other doctors, patients and cadavers. She answered false (if true, she would have moved forward) and had to squeal like a pig. And so it went: cheating on exams, cheating on spouses, drinking, quacking like a duck and one big ol’ lie: we can’t say what, but we knew the guy in college and he fibbed big time. We made him get spanked by his wife. (We agreed that the wife was a little too enthusiastic about it.) A good drunken time was had by all.

Why They’ll Want It
Hey, it’s really fun. And you get to drink a lot. And you talk about sex. And there’s even a “strip” version (none of us were brave enough, or going through a divorce enough to try it). This is a particularly handy game because most of the time, no one can think of a good drinking game, and even if they do, they can’t always remember the rules. This takes care of all of that, plus makes the game more entertaining. Grab the game, grab a bottle, grab some people and play!
--TDmonthly Staff, 1/30/2006


Learn more about I’ve Never … The Game of Truth

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Glamaphone by FASHION ANGELSName: Glamaphone
Company: FASHION ANGELS
Age: 8-12
Price: $49.99
Category: Arts & Crafts

What Is It?
What could be more fun for tween girls? Decorating this phone with gems and maribou or rappin’ with their friends? This high fashion phone comes with adorable flower power buttons and super tape ready to decorate. All kids do is attach the multi colored gems, glitter and fabulous fur after they’ve removed the paper containing adhesive and they´re ready to chat for hours.

What We Thought
What a fantastic phone! Not only is it easy to stick the sparkly buttons onto the adhesive that is already wrapped around the phone base and handle, but the bits stay on even as the phone gets used during mega-chat sessions. Be careful not to remove the adhesive, though, because once it’s removed, it’s hard to find a glue that will keep the buttons on as tight. Also, the glitter won’t stick without it. And, though this reviewer prefers cordless phones, it’s no hassle using this stationary phone as the cord is long and the base is easy to drag from room to room. At least, if you live in a one-bedroom apartment, that is.

Why They’ll Want It
Make-it-yourself crafts that allow the user to show off her hard work and artistic zealousness is all the rage right now, and this phone looks great on a side table or shelftop. With only a modicum of effort this useful telephone becomes a work of art, providing a real sense of accomplishment for busy girls who still like to remain crafty. And besides, it’s so glamorous that chatting on this phone while wearing a smoking jacket and sipping a martini (not recommended for users under the age of 21) feels like an event.    
                            -- Vanessa VanderZanden, 1/30/06


Learn more about Glamaphone

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