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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:

Via Toy Box - 2-Pack of Cubes by KD PRODUCTS LLCName: Via Toy Box - 2-Pack of Cubes
Company: KD PRODUCTS LLC
Age: All Ages
Price: $118.00
Category: Storage

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s summary of online toy reviews of this product.

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Big Bear Hug by KIDS CAN PRESSName: Big Bear Hug
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 4-8
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

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The Elf on the Shelf: The Claus Couture™ Scout Elf Skirt by CCA and B LLCName: The Elf on the Shelf: The Claus Couture™ Scout Elf Skirt
Company: CCA and B LLC
Age: 2-12
Price: $7.00
Category: Dolls - Accessories

Please click here to read TDmonthly´s summary of online toy reviews of this product.

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Pocket Farkel® by LEGENDARY GAMESName: Pocket Farkel®
Company: LEGENDARY GAMES
Age: All Ages
Price: $5.95
Category: General Games

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X-Ball by CREATIVE WHACK COMPANYName: X-Ball
Company: CREATIVE WHACK COMPANY
Age: 12 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: Creative Activities

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American Heroes #3 by SPROUT RECORDINGSName: American Heroes #3
Company: SPROUT RECORDINGS
Age: 5-12
Price: $13.98
Category: Music

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Martian Television Invasion by THADDEUS REX PRODUCTIONSName: Martian Television Invasion
Company: THADDEUS REX PRODUCTIONS
Age: All Ages
Price: $15.00
Category: Audio & CD

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Teaspoon at a Time by SONG WIZARD RECORDSName: Teaspoon at a Time
Company: SONG WIZARD RECORDS
Age: All Ages
Price: $14.98
Category: Audio & CD

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The Cinch Wrap by ANEWName: The Cinch Wrap
Company: ANEW
Age: Adult
Price: $86.00
Category: Infant & Toddler

What It Is: The Cinch is an adjustable abdominal wrap to help postpartum women regain their pre-pregnancy waistline. Available in two sizes, it has a hidden measuring tape for fitting, elastic banding on the front and rear, a zip-up side, and a fold-down, flat-front pouch.

What We Thought:
I was pleased to be able to test out the Cinch after the birth of my first child. Aesthetically, the wrap-style product has great lines. The Cinch is made of soft, feel-good fabric that doesn't leave you itching to get it off at the end of the day. One of the the things I really enjoyed about the Cinch is the built in measuring device at the product's waistband. I was able to track as my postpartum waistline shrunk, giving motivation and gratification for the efforts I put into regaining my previously fit condition. The Cinch is also highly effective at "tucking in" loose, saggy postpartum skin. I felt as though it gave my stretched abdominal wall extra support as well. Notably, the side panels of the product really helped not only hold me in all around, but also actually helped recreate some of my previous curves. The only real trouble I had was that the top of the front panel constantly fell forward, creating a bunch at the top of my stomach. If I adjusted it, it would stay, but I feel like this issue took away from the Cinch-ing effect, as it looked a bit ballooned out whenever the top fell forward. Because of this, I was unable to wear the Cinch with tighter fitting tops or dresses, as the bunching and seam lines were visible. If there were a way to prevent this, however, the Cinch would have 5 stars in my book!

Why They´ll Want It:
High quality and aesthetically pleasing, the Cinch is an excellent product for postpartum mamas. It effectively supports the midsection while also concealing loose skin, and is comfortable and secure enough to wear for hours. — TDmonthly Reviewer, 3-17-10

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Syncrohearts by SYNCROHEARTS SERVICESName: Syncrohearts
Company: SYNCROHEARTS SERVICES
Age: Adult
Price: $39.95
Category: Adult Games

What It Is: Syncrohearts is a relationship game for couples created to foster communication, love, laughter and quality time. It is not an XXX-type game.

What We Thought:
While playing Syncrohearts, my significant other and I were forced to discuss topics we hadn’t directly addressed before. It asks about division of household chores, for example — something I’ve felt bad about (because he does about 90 percent of the chores!) but that we had never talked openly about. There are many questions like this, and since they’re asked within the scope of the game, it makes it easier to broach the subject. There are also opportunities to physically interact with your partner (in pretty tame ways). My boyfriend, for example, kept trying to land on the “massage” spaces on the board. Cards drawn may include kisses, hugs or other romantic activities, like having a picnic or dress-up night. Players are supposed to complete some activities within 30 days, but honestly, by the time you finish playing the game, you’re likely to forget about those. I think romantic ideas should be executed within the hour of game play. Just 4 Fun cards ask you to answer harmless questions. For example, I had to tell my boyfriend which outfit I thought was his silliest, and we had a good laugh about it! While some tips may be obvious to couples who have a sound relationship — “treat your partner as you would like to be treated,” for instance — the suggestions in the game may be real eye-openers and reminders to couples who have communication issues or are dealing with rough patches in their marriages.

What Others Thought: The Syncrohearts website includes testimonials from customers whose relationships have benefited from the game. For example, Karl and Tammi Bryan, who said they play weekly, recommend Syncrohearts "for couples looking to respect and understand each other at the deepest and most passionate level possible." Amid "gut wrenching laughs" and deep conversation, Odin and Rea Surrey found the game inspirational and ideal for fostering a lifelong relationship. And Michelle, who bought Syncrohearts as a wedding gift after playing, found it helped her relationship with her husband better than counseling, permitting them "to reconnect in a safe environment."

Why They’ll Want It:
Couples therapy settings could definitely make good use of this game, which, if played honestly and with an open mind, could help individuals get to the root of their problems or realize why they’re unhappy. It can be very liberating! I personally think it would do well in fairly conservative parts of the country, perhaps gift and novelty shops in the South or Midwest. Syncrohearts is likely to make couples remember the early days of their marriage/relationship and just relax and have a good time! — TDmonthly Staff, 2.1.10

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Exploracise Gymathtics™ by EXPLORAMANIAName: Exploracise Gymathtics™
Company: EXPLORAMANIA
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Videos & DVDs

What It Is: The Exploracise Gymathtics DVD is a 30-minute fitness program that teaches math and healthy lifestyle concepts at the same time. It takes kids through stretching, aerobic movements, pattern exercises and a cool down. 

What We Thought: The packaging is well done, representing both the excitement and learning potential of the program. I do wish, however, that the design of some of the video, particularly the screens presenting educational elements in conjunction with the movements, was more polished and professional to match. That said, there really is a lot to learn, including subjects that I didn’t expect to be covered, such as repetition of patterns. A variety of ages is represented through the children doing the workout with the instructor, including a little girl whose movements aren’t perfect, which could be encouraging to other kids and shows that anyone can jump in and give Gymathtics a try! While positive reinforcement for kids, the healthy lifestyle concepts about being kind and dreaming big covered at the end of the video seem out of place, given the transition from mathematical concepts — which is clearly the focus of the DVD and title — to a totally different theme.

What Others Thought: The Homeschool Desk blog reviewer found “Gymathtics” ideal for various learning styles with its multi-sensory approach, and discovered that her children, especially the 8- and 9-year-olds, loved it!

On Homeschool Reviews for You, a writer said she liked the voice-over commentary and encouragement in the video, and called it “a no-fail solution for math review,” given the geometric terms and images covered in such a short period of time. An 8-year-old girl especially enjoyed the jumping jacks and said she’d recommend the DVD to friends.

Why They’ll Want It: It’s educational, it provides a workout, and it’s brief enough for frequent replay — big pluses for parents and kids in a culture that’s overweight and pressed for time. — Julie L. Jones, 12-16-09

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Motif Cubes by NEWARTIFACTSName: Motif Cubes
Company: NEWARTIFACTS
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Puzzles & Skill

What It Is: This nine-piece set of smooth hardwood blocks on a sturdy base features artistic design elements that merge perfectly no matter which way the cubes are turned. It’s referred to as an anti-puzzle, because there’s no right or wrong way to manipulate it.

What We Thought: Beautiful! It really is fascinating to start playing with the blocks in a very random fashion — only to realize that the result is not random at all. The way the red dots, curvy lines and natural wood patterns blend together is mesmerizing and a bit addictive. Part of the company’s mission is to integrate art into daily life, and I think they’ve done a superb job of it! Playing with the blocks also proved to be a relaxing, calming activity.

What Others Thought:
Four reviews of Motif Cubes on FatBrainToys.com resulted in an average rating of 5 out of 5 stars. Reviewers praised the product for stimulating the imagination and exploration, and for its appeal to all ages.

Why They’ll Want It:
It’s wooden, which alone gives the product an air of quality. It’s a set of blocks, which is downright classic. And in addition to being a “toy” of sorts, it effortlessly makes the perfect decorative element for a coffee or side table in a home. — Julie L. Jones, 12-15-09

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Zoey and the Yok-Yok Man by YADEEDA.COMName: Zoey and the Yok-Yok Man
Company: YADEEDA.COM
Age: All Ages
Price: $12.98
Category: Language

What It Is: This 16-track, storytelling album features singer-songwriter Alain Le Lait, a native of France. Songs include “We Caught a Piggle,” “Your Grumpiness” and, of course, “Sam and Sally Meet the Yok-Yok Man.”

What We Thought: A mom reviewer and her 3-year-old daughter who listened to this album found it “a little off the beaten path,” with new, unfamiliar characters and stories that didn’t always seem to make sense. There’s some interesting instrumentation, though, and the music has twinges of a Beatles influence — a quality that may bring parents closer to enjoying it along with their kids!

What Others Thought: RadioIndy.com applauded this album as “just the right musical entertainment for kids/family fun,” with crisp, energetic vocals. The reviewer found the musicality creative, with nice harmonies and instrumentation that support “amusing,” child-friendly lyrics.

Why They’ll Want It: While this album may not have universal appeal, it certainly lends musical creativity. Kids are bound to enjoy the story aspect, really getting to know the characters and follow their adventures through the entire album. — Julie L. Jones, 12-15-09

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Penguin Needle Felting Kit by WOOLPETSName: Penguin Needle Felting Kit
Company: WOOLPETS
Age: 10 and up
Price: $16.00
Category: Arts & Crafts

What It Is: Designed to teach sculptural felting, this craft kit comes with wool roving, a small pamphlet with step-by-step instructions and color pictures, two felting needles and a wooden skewer.

What We Thought: The Woolpets kit is a treat from the cute take-out packaging down to the finished product. The wool is obviously high quality — it’s extremely soft — and is easy to work with. I was impressed with the clear, step-by-by directions accompanied by color photographs. For a beginner felter, I felt empowered, and found it was fairly easy to catch on and start poking the little penguin into its proper form. I wondered if I was using the needle correctly, but kept on per the instructions, and it seemed to come out OK. There’s enough material to fashion two or three penguins, depending on size, so the kit is a decent value for the price. As a side note (and there is a warning with the package), the included needles are extremely thin and sharp, and should not be near or used by children. You will need a foam pad as an appropriate surface for the needle to land while felting; they are available from Woolpets as a separate purchase.

Why They’ll Want It: In short, it’s adorable! Woolpets offers a fun, keepsake craft, and something out of which the resident felter can build a nice collection. Plus, since the pieces aren’t preformed, every animal fashioned through this labor of love comes out with unique quirks and qualities. The penguin, for one, began to develop more and more of its own character the closer it got to completion! — Julie L. Jones, 12/8/2009

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Hip&Go - Chocolate Leather with Green Stitch by RED MOHICANName: Hip&Go - Chocolate Leather with Green Stitch
Company: RED MOHICAN
Age: All Ages
Price: $229.00
Category: Bags & Backpacks

What It Is: There’s only room for one diaper bag in this here town: Like a gunslinger’s holster, the Hip&Go is designed to be worn around the hips to free up the hands for other activities, such as holding, swinging, changing or feeding baby. Constructed of luxurious Nappa leather and lined with a velvety fabric, this isn’t your average yes-I’m-mom quilted shoulder bag bulging with burp cloths and lovies. Each of its two pockets can hold a disposable diaper and some wipes, as well as essentials such as cell phones and wallets, which can slip into the convenient mesh holders inside the 6" x 6.4" x 2" pockets. The belt easily adjusts with snaps to fit hip sizes from 29” to 44”. Also included are two zippered inner pockets for passports or cash, plus two clips for keys and other items. It’s designed to be worn with a baby carrier, but moms can wear it sans-baby, too.

What We Thought: The cool, unexpected Western design, plus the quality of the materials and construction will make the Hip&Go attractive to women inside and outside the mom-set. It’s convenient and stylish enough to be used by any professional — such as hair dresser, artist or filmmaker — who needs access to a number of implements while working with her hands. Mom, too, will appreciate a baby-related item that’s designed with her style needs in mind. The belt design minimizes the chances of the bag accidentally being left behind on a park bench, and the Hip&Go can be worn with jeans or dresses. Cowboy hats are optional!

What Others Thought: A review on dirtydiaperlaundry.com lauded the Hip&Go’s stylishness and ease of use. The reviewer could fit a couple of disposable diapers as well as a wallet, keys, cell phone, wipes, lipstick and small onesie inside her pockets. She mentioned that the Hip&Go needs to be removed when driving, and I would say the same goes for chair-sitting — it’s a little too bulky if you’re not on the go, but stays nicely out of the way when you’re active.

Why They´ll Want It: Moms who don’t want to look like tween girls will appreciate the high-quality and sleek styling of the Hip&Go. It’s an item that will certainly be used long after baby has passed the diaper stage. In fact, mom might find herself dueling the kid one day for the chance to holster up with this leather carrier. — Alison Marek 12/8/09

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SPEECH PARADE! Sounds Are All Around DVD by GASP VIDEOName: SPEECH PARADE! Sounds Are All Around DVD
Company: GASP VIDEO
Age: 1-6
Price: $19.99
Category: Videos & DVDs

What It Is: Designed to support language development in young children, "SPEECH PARADE!" shows footage of animals, activities and familiar environmental scenes while a speech-language pathologist and young children speak identifying sounds. It´s set up to encourage imitation through repetition and includes tips for parents and caregivers at the end, so they can help their children develop solid language skills.

What We Thought:
By offering three rounds of the same content with varying audio explanation — one with the speech-language pathologist speaking and pictured, one with children speaking the sounds, pictured, and the other displaying just adult audio with the natural sound — viewers have ample opportunity to pick up the emphasis of words and begin to identify sounds with their counterparts in the natural world. The production´s real-life footage of people, animals, objects and natural scenes, as opposed to animated reel, reinforces proper identification. Although a 1 1/2-year-old boy and his two older sisters viewed this video, "it didn´t seem to capture them," their mother said. Improvements could be made to the packaging, with its basic font usage and a large photo of a parrot that doesn´t necessarily convey the video´s purpose. For that reason, consumers might need a recommendation before purchasing. The moderator’s head pops up in a bubble during the first round of sounds, which may seem a bit awkward; however, this visual, along with the later ones of children speaking, is important for kids to see how the mouth is shaped for the formation of words.

What Others Thought: Consumer reviewers on Amazon.com and the company’s website praised this DVD for being visually engaging, relating well to everyday sightings, and prompting kids to repeat the words and sounds they hear. Per numerous comments from parents, it has been a hit with children in the toddler and preschool age range.

Why They´ll Want It: This video was created by a professional who works with children in the field of language learning and understands their developmental needs. It fills an educational and developmental need for content that targets sound association and progress in basic speech patterns. — Julie L. Jones, 11-3-09

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Safe Sizer™ Choking Prevention Plate by MIDWEST MONKEYSName: Safe Sizer™ Choking Prevention Plate
Company: MIDWEST MONKEYS
Age: All Ages
Price: $4.99
Category: Infant & Toddler

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

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Rubbabu Rubbablox by PLASMART INC.Name: Rubbabu Rubbablox
Company: PLASMART INC.
Age: 2 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: Plush

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

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Cory Caterpillar by HABA USA/HABERMAASS CORP.Name: Cory Caterpillar
Company: HABA USA/HABERMAASS CORP.
Age: 2-5
Price: $50.00
Category: Infant & Toddler

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

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Boikido Wooden Shapes Train by BOIKIDOName: Boikido Wooden Shapes Train
Company: BOIKIDO
Age: 1 and up
Price: $39.99
Category: Infant & Toddler

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

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RiNGLEY Knotted by RINGLEY NATURAL TEETHING TOYSName: RiNGLEY Knotted
Company: RINGLEY NATURAL TEETHING TOYS
Age: All Ages
Price: Not Specified
Category: Infant & Toddler

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

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Have You Ever Seen a Duck in a Raincoat? by KIDS CAN PRESSName: Have You Ever Seen a Duck in a Raincoat?
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 4-7
Price: $14.95
Category: Books

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

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Caillou Boxed Set by CHOUETTE PUBLISHING INC.Name: Caillou Boxed Set
Company: CHOUETTE PUBLISHING INC.
Age: 3 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Books

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

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There’s a Babirusa in My Bathtub: Fact and Fancy About Curious Creatures by DAWN PUBLICATIONSName: There’s a Babirusa in My Bathtub: Fact and Fancy About Curious Creatures
Company: DAWN PUBLICATIONS
Age: 7-12
Price: $8.95
Category: Books

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

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Origami Fun: Paper Folding for Beginners by BARRON'S EDUCATIONAL SERIESName: Origami Fun: Paper Folding for Beginners
Company: BARRON'S EDUCATIONAL SERIES
Age: 9 and up
Price: $11.99
Category: Books

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

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Grinning Streak by LINDA SEVERTName: Grinning Streak
Company: LINDA SEVERT
Age: 4-12
Price: $13.00
Category: Audio & CD

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

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Global Wonders: Around the World Music by GLOBAL WONDERS INC.Name: Global Wonders: Around the World Music
Company: GLOBAL WONDERS INC.
Age: 2-7
Price: $9.99
Category: Audio & CD

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

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Meltdown by SANDMAN RECORDSName: Meltdown
Company: SANDMAN RECORDS
Age: 4-12
Price: $12.98
Category: Audio & CD

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

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Pairs in Pears by BANANAGRAMSName: Pairs in Pears
Company: BANANAGRAMS
Age: 6 and up
Price: Not Specified
Category: General Games

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

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Follow That Map!: A First Book of Mapping Skills by KIDS CAN PRESSName: Follow That Map!: A First Book of Mapping Skills
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 5-10
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

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

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