‘TODAY’S TOY TEST 2003’: WINNING TODDLER TOYS
It’s America’s biggest and most comprehensive toy test. Thousands of kids across the country tested hundreds of this year’s new toys to see which ones they like the best. And for “Today’s Toy Test 2003,” “Today” contributor and consumer specialist Herb Weisbaum shares the winning results in a special five-part report. First up is a look at the toddler category. Children 18 months to three years can be a tough group to shop for, but there are some great options this year. Read more about the top winners in the toddler category below and be sure to check out the complete list of winners.
FIVE ALARM FUN CENTER BY STEP2
This year’s top-rated toddler toy is a big, bright, sturdy plastic playhouse shaped like a friendly fire engine. As one teacher noted on the ratings “this is the biggest hit!” This make-believe rescue vehicle has a number of realistic features, including an emergency light and siren on the dash board, overhead push button for realistic horn sounds. There’s also a horn on each of the two steering wheels. The open cab design makes for easy in and out. Parents will like the fact that only minimal assembly is required. This play set comes with two helmets.
STEP2 MOTORCYCLE BY STEP2
Because they’re built to last, Step2 toys can be a bit pricey. But not the new Step2 Motorcycle. It’s Step2 quality at a very affordable price. This authentic-looking fun machine was clearly designed with toddlers in mind. It has wide wheels for good balance and easy grip handles for better steering. Decals for the headlights, taillights and air intake add a bit of flare to the look. As one teacher told us, “all the kids loved this toy!”
JOHN DEERE ANIMAL SOUNDS HAY RIDE BY RC2
This realistic-looking farm tractor and wagon set is fun and educational. Push the friendly farmer and the “Old McDonald” song plays. Put the removable pig, cow, horse or sheep back into their hay wagon seats and the animal sounds are triggered. It’s a fun way to play farmer and learn which animals make what sounds.
PLAYSKOOL AROUND TOWN ACTIVITY CENTER BY HASBRO
This pretend town is filled with sounds and surprises. There’s an animated train, elevator, control tower and pet show. Things seem to come to life as your child moves the characters around town — the little girl’s umbrella twirls, the boy’s hat spins and the puppy dances. They’re all air powered! Teachers told us the kids were attracted to the sounds and the motion.
BLOCK BUDDIES MY MUSICAL FARM BY MEGA BLOKS
This simple construction set is perfect for little hands. The big, bright barn is pre-built. They get to add on to it with 15 Mega Bloks building blocks. And that’s just half the fun. There’s a musical sea-saw; roll the tractor over the wooden board to hear the engine start and the farmer go “yeeha!” There are also places to push on the barn to hear pig, cow and chicken sounds. Plus, sing along with five favorite children’s songs.
TOGETHER TUNES BY NEUROSMITH
This soft, cuddly cloth cube encourages infants and toddlers to discover and explore. The six illustrated pictures have surprises under each flap, helping enhance motor skills. For instance, the barn doors on Old MacDonald’s farm open to reveal the barnyard animals hiding inside and the wheels on this bus do go round and round. A simple touch of any side is all it takes to start one of the six classic children’s songs. Printed lyrics help parents learn the words and there are three volume settings to choose from. Together Tunes is designed give parents quality time with their infants and toddlers and to grow with the child. Teachers told us “kids love the music and the interaction,” and they said Together Tunes is “well made and lots of fun.”
Consumer expert and “Today” contributor Herb Weisbaum has been helping people across the country for over 25 years. His award-winning reports have exposed everything from quack medications to bogus investments. Since 1990, his Toy Test has helped millions of parents and grandparents select the bets toys for their kids. To learn more about Herb Weisbaum and his latest consumer reports, you can visit his Web site at: The ConsumerMan Show: www.consumerman.com