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Sonoma Family Life Magazine

Award Winning Toys 2009

Nov 04, 2009 12:00AM

NAPPA Presents Its Annual Best Toys Awards. For virtually every category and age group, toy companies have used their ingenuity to make good toys even better. This year’s winners reflect an evolution from traditional playthings to impressive, exciting tools for broadening knowledge, honing high-tech skills, and experiencing both challenge and delight. We proudly present the toy manufacturers’ freshest and most inventive work.


For Infants & Toddlers

  • Baby Einstein™ Animal Exploration Tunnel, The Baby Einstein Company; www.BabyEinstein.com ; ages 6 months and up. Children and adults can crawl through this mesh-sided play tunnel, decorated with photos of real jungle animals and cartoon counterparts. The 4-foot, see-through hideaway has a padded mat and overhead rings for hanging toys.
  • Elmo Tickle Hands, Fisher-Price; www.ticklehands.com ; ages 18 months and up. Elmo’s contagious laughter accompanies the vibrating tickle of furry red paws. When children don Elmoesque hands to tickle others, they feel vibration themselves. One glove has the electronic tickle component; the other is purely kid-charged.
  • Flutterby Teether, Sassy Inc.; www.sassybaby.com ; ages 3 months and up. Bold buggy eyes and curled antennae capture baby’s attention, while the Flutterby’s water-filled wings soothe teething discomfort. A second set of rubber-nubbed wings further stimulates baby’s mouth and encourages grasping.
  • If the Shape Fits eebee, Every Baby Co.; www.eebee.com ; infants and up. This plush pal engages little ones with simple childlike charm. It comes with four cushy, colorful shapes that can be stacked, tossed or attached to baby’s arms and legs to increase interaction, exploration and discovery.

For Preschoolers

  • Adorable Kinders Rag Doll Alise, Granza Inc.; www.adorablekinders.com ; ages 3 and up. Cuddly rag dolls come with a key-code to access online fun and games that follow school standards. Lessons are introduced by grade level, from kindergarten to 12th grade.
  • Dolphin Explorer Boat and Dino Adventure Rig, Sprig Toys; www.sprigtoys.com ; ages 3 and up. Simple designs and faceless characters put imagination back into play with these two charming adventure playsets. Both prehistoric and aquatic sets are constructed from Sprigwood™—an eco-friendly material composed of recycled plastics and reclaimed sawdust.
  • Kidizoom™ Digital Camera Plus, VTech Electronics; www.vtechkids.com ; ages 3 and up. Budding photographers can take up to 2,000 pictures and 10 minutes of video, then embellish them with stamps, frames, distortion effects, voice messages and animation. View images on the camera’s LCD screen, or a computer or TV screen.
  • Make Your Own Animal Puppets, Creativity for Kids; www.creativityforkids.com ; ages 3 and up. Adorn these three chenille-soft socks with self-sticking felt shapes, wiggly eyes and fuzzy fur. Fun accessories and animal body parts, such as ears and snouts, adhere extraordinarily well during the puppet show that’s sure to follow!
  • Rainbow River Stones, Wee Blossom; www.weeblossom.com ; ages 3 and up. These step-on molded plastic stone shapes have non-skid patterns that add texture and grip. Stones can be placed individually or stacked, so that stepping from one to the next is even more challenging.

For Ages 5 & Up

  • Digital Blue SNAP Video Camera, Digital Blue; www.digiblue.com ; ages 5 and up. This video camera captures up to 30 minutes of viewing pleasure with one simple button. The 2-inch LCD screen is crystal clear and the video is a high-resolution stunner that can be easily uploaded to Facebook or YouTube.
  • Razor® Rip Rider™ 360, Razor USA, LLC; www.razor.com ; ages 5 and up. Like the familiar “Big Wheel” bike, the Rip Rider sits low and has a back-support seat, handle bars and pedals. But every ride brings roller-coaster excitement as the Rider’s highly responsive casters help kids zip, swirl and make 360° turns!
  • Swinxs, Swinxs BV; www.swinxs.com ; ages 4 and up. This screenless game console has 10 preinstalled games, with more free downloads. The get-up-and-keep-moving games range from timed relay races to charades. The unit gives verbal directions and identifies players by scanning their colored wristbands.

For Ages 8 & Up

  • LEGO® Mindstorms® NXT 2.0, LEGO Systems Inc.; www.LEGO.com ; ages 10 and up. Mindstorms enables kids to build and program their own robots, using a PC or Mac computer. Use a USB cable or Bluetooth technology to transfer the programs to the robot and control it remotely with a cell phone or PDA!
  • Ridemakerz, Ridemakerz; www.ridemakerz.com ; ages 8 and up. Kids create customized cars by choosing a body style and then picking out wheels, rims, spoilers, running boards and sound chips to trick out their ride. Free-wheel or remote-control options are available.
  • The Shred Sled, Skyking Worldwide; www.theshredsled.com ; ages 8 and up. This new-generation skateboard gives a faster-paced, smoother ride on four in-line casters. The unique dual platform is more responsive to movement and constantly tests the rider’s agility.