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Send us your toys ... and you may be eligible to win a TDmonthly Magazine Top Toy Award!

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:

In the Trees, Honey Bees by DAWN PUBLICATIONSName: In the Trees, Honey Bees
Company: DAWN PUBLICATIONS
Age: 3-12
Price: $8.95
Category: Books

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

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A Practical Guide to Faeries by MIRRORSTONEName: A Practical Guide to Faeries
Company: MIRRORSTONE
Age: 8 and up
Price: $12.95
Category: Books

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Shopping with Dad by BAREFOOT BOOKSName: Shopping with Dad
Company: BAREFOOT BOOKS
Age: 3-7
Price: $16.99
Category: Books

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Global Green Pals™ Pink Coral Laurel by RESTORATION GALLERY LLCName: Global Green Pals™ Pink Coral Laurel
Company: RESTORATION GALLERY LLC
Age: 3 and up
Price: $29.99
Category: Dolls

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BANDthology - The Board Game for Music Lovers by BANDthology Inc.Name: BANDthology - The Board Game for Music Lovers
Company: BANDthology Inc.
Age: 8 and up
Price: $30.00
Category: Board Games

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

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You Are Weird: Your Body’s Peculiar Parts and Funny Functions by KIDS CAN PRESSName: You Are Weird: Your Body’s Peculiar Parts and Funny Functions
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 9-14
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

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

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Painting the Town by CRYSTAL PRODUCTIONSName: Painting the Town
Company: CRYSTAL PRODUCTIONS
Age: 3-7
Price: $15.95
Category: Books

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green start™: one tree by INNOVATIVEKIDSName: green start™: one tree
Company: INNOVATIVEKIDS
Age: 3-6
Price: $6.99
Category: Books

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Benny and Penny in The Big No-No! by RAW JUNIOR LLCName: Benny and Penny in The Big No-No!
Company: RAW JUNIOR LLC
Age: 6-10
Price: $12.95
Category: Books

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Mama’s Kiss by CHRONICLE BOOKS FOR CHILDRENName: Mama’s Kiss
Company: CHRONICLE BOOKS FOR CHILDREN
Age: 3-6
Price: $14.99
Category: Books

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The Imaginary Garden by KIDS CAN PRESSName: The Imaginary Garden
Company: KIDS CAN PRESS
Age: 3-7
Price: $16.95
Category: Books

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A Pirate’s Quest: For His Family Heirloom Peg Leg by CARL R. SAMS II PHOTOGRAPHY INC.  (STRANGER IN THE WOODS)Name: A Pirate’s Quest: For His Family Heirloom Peg Leg
Company: CARL R. SAMS II PHOTOGRAPHY INC. (STRANGER IN THE WOODS)
Age: 3-11
Price: $19.95
Category: Books

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

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ArtiSands Mini Geometric kit by ARTISANDSName: ArtiSands Mini Geometric kit
Company: ARTISANDS
Age: All Ages
Price: $14.95
Category: Arts & Crafts

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

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SphereXyz by LA1PRODUCTSName: SphereXyz
Company: LA1PRODUCTS
Age: 8 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Puzzles & Skill

What It Is: SphereXyz features two hemispheres and two sets of colored tiles that can be moved within canals on the face of the puzzle. Once the tiles are mixed up well, the goal is to rotate the hemispheres and move the tiles along the two axes until the white tiles are at opposite poles and each hemisphere houses only one collection of colored tile — green or purple.
 
What We Thought: Similar to the method of mixing the puzzle, solving the puzzle requires one to continue rotating the tiles and hemispheres, but in a controlled, purposeful direction. Drawing from my experiences with the Rubik´s Cube, I understood that I might become distracted in trying to fill in one particular corner, just to end up realizing my other corner had been shifted to a point of no return. I might also become disoriented and lose track of what goes where. My strategy was to go at it in a structured, methodical way. I knew the beginning would be the easiest. The hard part is toward the end when you have a small collection of colored tiles remaining and you don´t want to risk gambling your set pieces in hopes of getting the miscellaneous floaters in their correct spots. Well, I gambled, and it paid off, as the pieces I had already stayed safe and the remaining pieces fell in correctly, solving the puzzle on the spot. Mixing the tiles around sometimes required precision by making sure all were aligned correctly; otherwise, you would run into a tile jam. The rotating hemispheres fell victim to the same situation, but overall, not something that was too cumbersome. I tried my best to purposely mix the two colors in certain arrangements that I felt would come back to haunt me when it was time to solve the puzzle.
 
Why They´ll Want It: It took roughly 20 minutes to solve the puzzle, which seems to lean on the easy side of things. Ask my coworker, though, and she´ll tell you she struggled with it to the point of giving up — so it can offer a significant challenge! Also, it may be tougher to the minds of children between 7 and 14, where it presents itself as a challenge requiring cognitive functions such as predicting outcomes, visualizing the actions of all the moving parts, and understanding how the puzzle interlocks together with all its components. I feel that with more time spent on this puzzle, it would reveal a more recognizable sequence of techniques, allowing the solver to continually change or improve upon his or her approach. This puzzle is a solid production that can serve as a good brain teaser. Its ever-changing configuration of piece layouts increases its shelf life, and it's nice to have around just to exercise the brain. — Allen Tran, 7/24/09

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Mashoonga! SABERS by REVEL KING, INC.Name: Mashoonga! SABERS
Company: REVEL KING, INC.
Age: All Ages
Price: $24.95
Category: Outdoor Fun

What It Is: Created for playing the game of Mashoonga! with the goal of becoming a Mashoonga! Warrior™, these sabers consist of firm foam material covered with a stretchy, removable red or blue fabric, plus a sturdy handle. The life-sized “swords” are designed for battle.

What We Thought:
The office staff had a total blast with the sabers, both in free-for-alls in the parking lot and in more structured, fencing-style contests in the hallway. In many cases, we couldn’t stop laughing as we watched each other develop distinctive maneuvers and strategies for battle. The foam surrounding the sword´s inner base helps prevent most bodily injuries, assuming the person dealing the damage is not swinging to hit a home run and not directing it at a person´s head. If strength is restricted to a reasonably safe level, duelists can still battle each other with enough force that one would feel they are in a real sparring match. It is important that children and teens (and adults!) heed the warning label, and avoid direct hits to the head, eyes or groin. The only gripe about the Mashoonga! saber is its weight, which falls on the length of the foam blade, requiring unnecessary expenditure of energy to hold it up. The weight also affects movement — if the weight was primarily in the hilt, it would make for better balance.

Why They’ll Want It: It´s a fun toy for pretend play as one can easily imagine himself as a sword master cutting away at the bad guys or at an opponent, without the worry of hurting people or furniture in the process. I remember fighting my friends with sticks and plastic swords for hours on end when I was young, and Mashoonga! is a terrific modern alternative. Parents may appreciate that it keeps children active; you can get a decent cardio workout while playing, with a low risk of injury. — TDmonthly Staff, 7-10-09

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Pentago CE by MINDTWISTER USAName: Pentago CE
Company: MINDTWISTER USA
Age: 6 and up
Price: $19.95
Category: Puzzles & Skill

What Is It: Pentago CE is a two-player, portable strategy game in which the goal is to be the first player to create a row of five marbles. The twist is that after a player places a marble, he or she also rotates one of the four squares that make up the game board, 90 degrees in any direction. The game comes with black and white marbles.

What We Thought: Pentago is so intuitive players can begin a game without even reading the directions, and its sleek design and simple concept make it immediately attractive. The more one plays it or watches a game of Pentago, the more its nuances are revealed. One reviewer found it reminiscent of an extended tic-tac-toe game, and a little weak on the defensive end — not as well developed in the area of giving players opportunity to directly interrupt their opponent by, say, knocking out an opponent’s piece or issuing some kind of trump card-like counter attack. He appreciated, however, elements that other players applauded, too: the simple rules, quick play, and opportunity for extended matches. “I like Pentago specifically because it’s not too hard, so it has a wider appeal with non-geeks,” another reviewer commented. One player noted that Pentago features the long-term planning of chess but without the complexity. And, it seems the simplicity of the game gives a novice a greater chance of beating an expert than games like Othello or Tannhauser do.

Why They’ll Want It: As one reviewer noted, “This is one of the most elegant [strategy games] I’ve ever seen.” The sophisticated design, “twist” play, portability and easy-to-learn rules are all pluses for Pentago CE, as is the fact that it can be effectively covered in mid-play so opponents can return to a game later on, if need be. Also, since a game can be played in just five minutes, it maintains a rapid-fire pace that keeps players from getting too discouraged when they make mistakes. — Julie L. Jones, 5/29/09

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Crayola® Art Studio by CORE LEARNINGName: Crayola® Art Studio
Company: CORE LEARNING
Age: 4 and up
Price: $24.95
Category: Software

What It Is: Crayola Art Studio is a software program that lets children draw and paint with digital art tools, then edit their creations using special features. It includes 12 realistic art tools, hundreds of preset colors, undo and redo options so kids are free to experiment, and hundreds of images that can be used to practice digital editing techniques. Kids can save and print their work, and even design decorations and greeting cards.

What We Thought: “Crayola Art Studio is a great tool for developing young minds in art,” wrote an 8-year-old girl who reviewed this product. She observed that some tools, like pencils, are thin, some tools, such as the tempera paint and slick stick, don´t have much of a difference, and other tools, such as oil pastels and markers, are very different. She especially enjoying zooming in on images to see the pixels, and felt like kids could easily create an entire art gallery with the elements available in this program. Her younger sister, 5, most enjoyed using one tool with the symmetry feature that shows a mirror image of the artist’s drawing. Stamps can be added to pictures and shapes, too.

Why They’ll Want It: Aside from parental help when installing the program and saving artwork, the children were able to navigate and enjoy Crayola Art Studio on their own. Although they wished the program would allow them to animate images, overall, they said they prefer Crayola Art Studio to Kid Pix by Software Mackiev because of the variety of colors and tools available. The reviewers spent a couple of hours (not consecutively) with the software during the initial evaluation, and said they definitely plan to use it again! — Julie L. Jones, 5/29/09

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F.A.S.T.® SpeedDial® by YOYOFACTORYName: F.A.S.T.® SpeedDial®
Company: YOYOFACTORY
Age: 8 and up
Price: $50.00
Category: Yo-Yos

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

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Morph-O-Scopes Kit - Sports of All Sorts by OOZ & OZName: Morph-O-Scopes Kit - Sports of All Sorts
Company: OOZ & OZ
Age: 5-14
Price: $15.99
Category: Educational

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

Learn more about Morph-O-Scopes Kit - Sports of All Sorts

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Perfect Sense by PATCH PRODUCTS INC.Name: Perfect Sense
Company: PATCH PRODUCTS INC.
Age: 12 and up
Price: $25.00
Category: Board Games

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

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SLIDER™ the Unscooter™ by IDEA MILL LLCName: SLIDER™ the Unscooter™
Company: IDEA MILL LLC
Age: 3-99
Price: Not Specified
Category: Sporting Goods & Accessories

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

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Make Shrink Art Jewelry and Tags for Your Pet and You Too by BOWWOWMEOWName: Make Shrink Art Jewelry and Tags for Your Pet and You Too
Company: BOWWOWMEOW
Age: 8 and up
Price: $17.99
Category: Arts & Crafts

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

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Bye Bye Monster Gift Set by YOUR THYME INC.Name: Bye Bye Monster Gift Set
Company: YOUR THYME INC.
Age: 4-12
Price: $49.95
Category: Eco-Friendly

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

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Sweet as Can Be Fairy Doll by LINDA RICK, THE DOLL MAKERName: Sweet as Can Be Fairy Doll
Company: LINDA RICK, THE DOLL MAKER
Age: 3 and up
Price: $25.00
Category: Dolls

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

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Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story? Three Uncommonly Clever Tales by HOUGHTON MIFFLINName: Jim Copp, Will You Tell Me a Story? Three Uncommonly Clever Tales
Company: HOUGHTON MIFFLIN
Age: 6-9
Price: $17.95
Category: Music

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

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Ask the Planet: The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends  by THE BIOMIMICRY INSTITUTEName: Ask the Planet: The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends
Company: THE BIOMIMICRY INSTITUTE
Age: All Ages
Price: $14.98
Category: Music

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

Learn more about Ask the Planet: The Missoula Coyote Choir & Friends

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Rocketship Run by TWO TOMATOES RECORDS LLCName: Rocketship Run
Company: TWO TOMATOES RECORDS LLC
Age: 1-6
Price: $15.00
Category: Music

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

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Ultimate Spinner by ROBBINS TOYName: Ultimate Spinner
Company: ROBBINS TOY
Age: All Ages
Price: $49.95
Category: Wooden Toys

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

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Food Pyramid Bingo Updated Deluxe Edition by SMARTPICKS INC.Name: Food Pyramid Bingo Updated Deluxe Edition
Company: SMARTPICKS INC.
Age: 10 and up
Price: $29.95
Category: Educational

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

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Comet, The Fast Path to Learning - Family Edition by ACTIVE MINDS INCName: Comet, The Fast Path to Learning - Family Edition
Company: ACTIVE MINDS INC
Age: 11 and up
Price: $39.95
Category: Educational

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

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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.
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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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