Past Seal of Approval Reports | TNPC Home | TNPC Mall | Boards/Chat for Parents
The National Parenting Center and its Seal of Approval are registered United States trademarks
These bright, colorful play toys are "VW
bug-like" as one tester told us and the description really fits. Soft rounded edges make for a totally
adorable design that fits nicely into children's hands and roll around easily. The biodegradable material held up to some
pretty rough action. There are a
variety of models that we tested but each one was met with a smile and eager
hands ready to play. Huggy Buggy's are
well-priced, well-made toys.
Recommended Ages: Pre-school Suggested Retail Price: $5.00 to 10.00
Bubbles Tonka Bubble Fire Truck
The ability of bubbles to bring a smile to a child's face is truly remarkable. Time and time again we have witnessed instant mood changes when just a couple of bubbles take flight. When children can make their own bubbles well then, watch out! The Tonka Bubble Fire Truck, made of sturdy plastic and featuring a great revving motor sound when pushed along, produces loads of crowd-pleasing bubbles. Like most bubble toys, the care you take with the unit will result in the quality and quantity of playtime you have. Watching the faces of the little fire boys and girls who made bubbles fill the air was precious.
Recommended Ages: 2 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
K & M International
Once your child gets a loving embrace from one of these
adorably sweet rain forest primates you'll both be hooked.
These well-made monkeys, orangutans, and
other lesser known species have velcro extremities that attach in a variety of
positions, most notably around your kid's necks and arms in a warm
embrace. There are 27 species of
monkeys represented in the Wild Republic line and all come with an informative
hangtag about each one. As an added
bonus, those hang tags feature a password, which when used at the company's web
site, opens the door to more fun and games for your kids. Several parents told us that they envisioned
decorating their children's rooms with a jungle theme using Wild Republic
primates as props.
Recommended Ages: 2 to 12 Suggested Retail Price: $6.00-$10.00
This intriguing toy/musical instrument/learning tool was quite a hit. Young and old, boys and girls all saw Music Blocks as both enchanting and irresistible. Five, six-sided musical blocks produced rich sounds and musical phrases with each touch. By moving, flipping and interchanging the blocks, the musical permutations were endless as was the fascination with this exciting new product. The cartridges that supply the sounds feature Mozart which is included, and for $19.95 each, an orchestra and rhythms from around the world. The blocks are very easy to manipulate for any sized hand and the variety of musical sounds or phrases are wonderfully produced from the stereo speakers. What parents told us as they watched their children experiment with the sounds and music they were gleefully making, was that they loved the fact that there was no right or wrong combination.
Recommended Ages: 2 to 7 Suggested Retail Price: $69.95
Crossing Oval Set
This solidly made wooden train set makes a great introduction to the world of train toys. Little engineers can easily design and construct the oval track on their own and then run the colorfully painted wooden trains for hours. The smooth, grooved tracks are expertly crafted and fit together easily. This is a superb starter kit since it allows for expansion of additional track and trains. Our testers mentioned the price as being reasonable, allowing them to gauge their child's interest before jumping to pricier kits.
Recommended Ages: 3 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Builder Toolbox Set
This very compact tool kit comes bursting with equipment for the serious handy man or handy woman-to-be. The tools are made of a very sturdy molded plastic that withstood hours of banging. There are real wood pieces with pre-drilled holes, which allow for construction of any number of projects. Also included are rubber wheels if building vehicles are your child's interest. The freeform play experience is the real strength of this toy and is ideal for children who love to work with their hands.
Recommended Ages: 3 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $29.95
Dump Truck Puzzle
Frank Schaffer Publications
Not content to have their finished puzzle product be a static image to look at, and understanding that their customers don't care much for anything that just "lays there", Frank Schaffer has pulled a rabbit out of his hat. When the dump truck has been pieced together using the sturdy cardboard pieces, the player can choose the payload they wish to fill their truck up with. Then with a unique pivoting action piece they can (on a smooth surface) dump their load and replace it with the other. Whether it's rocks or coal, there is a level of action in this puzzle that made it both refreshing and fun.
Recommended Ages: 3 and up Suggested Retail Price: $14.95
Frank Schaffer Publications
The appealing design of this superbly crafted puzzle really caught the eye of our testers. The colorful Fairytale Castle gives players an inside peek of the castle activities because this two sided puzzle gives both a front and rear, or should we say, inside view of the magic. Each room is full of discoveries and the large easy to handle pieces fit together seamlessly. This is a unique puzzle, unlike any our young testers had used before and once they caught on that it was in fact two puzzles in one they were thrilled.
Recommended Ages: 4 and up Suggested Retail Price: $16.95
We can all use a little boost to our ego now and then and if you are looking for a shot in the arm about your football passing skills then the Vortex T3 is for you. The newest design in this successful line of pint-sized footballs, the T3 features wings that contract and expand with the touch of a button. So, depending on the distance of your wide receiver or your skill level, you can really let go with an awesome, long distance bomb or a precise spiral that'll impress all your fans. The Vortex is also easy to catch making it a big favorite in our testing centers.
Recommended Ages: 5 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $12.99
Rugrats Reptar Walkie Talkie Set
What fun the kids had driving the remote controlled Reptar around the testing centers. Featured in this year's Rugrats theatrical movie release, the Reptar is controlled by your child with a remote device called a "Sponsility". The kids picked up the controls quickly and the zippy little device was off and running with Baby Dill at the wheel. There is a walkie-talkie feature here that is fun though not very sophisticated or powerful. There is a spy function where you can maneuver the Reptar in another room and listen in, again the range and quality are suspect so parents, your conversations are safe! The remote controlled feature is what really caught the attention of our young testers.
Recommended Ages: 5 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $29.99
Darts with a twist...and a whirl...and a spin! The always creative people at OddzOn have taken their soft, rubberized "loop" balls and designed a great game that the whole family can enjoy. There are three game versions but by far the most fun our testers had was with the spinning dart or "loop" board. The thrown, "indoor-safe" balls land on the board and as the weight is distributed with each ball, the arrow designating the point value spins around. Not until the last ball is thrown do you know if you've come away with big points or not. Having this healthy dash of luck play such a big part of the game makes for a level playing field for players of all ages. Anyone with reasonable aim can play and win.
Recommended Ages: 5 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $19.99
Oregon Scientific, Inc.
As laptop games go, Zip the Robot is a fun, reasonably priced portable toy that is filled with games that entertain and teach. There are games that drill children on math and word skills, games that place an emphasis on typing skills and more. The mouse is a nice addition that gives children a better level of control over the environment as well as a feeling of using a real laptop. Parents liked the mobility of this toy and the fact that it worked equally well whether powered by batteries or with the included AC Power cord.
Recommended Ages: 5 to 8 Suggested Retail Price: $49.95
Binary Arts Corporation
This fun yet challenging game had both parents and kids totally hooked...we're talking hook, line AND sinker! Watching the faces of their children plot and plan intricate moves to get the red engine out of the train yard, parents were amazed at the level of concentration their kids exhibited. The deck of cards provides players with the starting position, then you're on your own. Thankfully, for those of us who are logically impaired there are solutions on the backs of the cards, but we found that most children avoided the easy way out at all costs. The board, the cards and all the pieces can be neatly put away into one bag, which of course got parental raves.
Recommended Ages: 6 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $20.00
TREND enterprises, Inc.
Here is a fun, exciting and educational game that can be played competitively by the whole family. Rhyming words form Chip-O's foundation as players use sounding out skills as well as a small portion of luck to connect their pieces on the playing board. The game relies on both words and pictures to make matches. The pictures on the board are clear and leave no room for doubt about the subject, something that is often lacking in games of this nature. The game plays quickly which allows for rematches, it also gives this game the potential for becoming a family favorite.
Recommended Ages: 6 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $21.99
Freight Starter Set
LGB of America
This very well made starter train set has all the features you would want if you were looking to introduce your children to the world of electric trains. The large size model trains are solidly made and they glide across the round track smoothly and effortlessly. The track pieces fit together well and are raised up enough to allow this set to be run over a carpeted floor. The engine has a light that gets progressively brighter as you increase the speed of the train; this feature delighted our young testers. This is clearly a starter set and an expensive one at that. You will want to monitor the enthusiasm your child exhibits with regards to expanding a system like this as the cost can become prohibitive.
Recommended Ages: 8 and up Suggested Retail Price: $195.99
TREND enterprises, Inc.
Board games have taken us from Chutes and Ladders to Park Place and back but how many take us to our own backyard? We're talking about the Mall, which is the real life scenario for Let's Go Shopping, a fun yet challenging concept game that requires a good amount of reason and logic. Just like in real life when you are trying to balance and budget your dollar, Let's Go Shopping puts players to the test. The board and its game cards are extremely colorful and attractive, and caught the eye of just about everyone who played. The game allows for two levels of learning and competition and no two games are ever the same.
Recommended Ages: 9 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $24.99
Pokemon Trading Card Game
Wizards of the Coast
There was absolutely no denying the excitement these cards brought to the testing center. Pokemon is a compelling game that involves strategy, creative thinking and a dash of luck. The phenomenon around this game and these cards is nothing short of remarkable. We haven't seen young boys in particular, so excited about a game of this nature in a long time. The collectibility of these cards in many cases outweighs the appeal of the game itself. The marketing effort to bring this about is nothing short or astounding. We were visited by many children who had already accumulated large portfolios of the different cards, and they told us they had never even played the game! But if you want to wade in slowly and learn more, the price of the starter set and the additional cards is very reasonable according to our grown-up testers.
Recommended Ages: 10 and Up Suggested Retail Price: $7.99
Or, for more information about The Seal of Approval or The National Parenting Center call: 1-800-753-6667
Hosted by VectraNet Communications
Last Update: August 15, 1999