Does it Work: 2007 Christmas Toy Test for Girls

Does it Work: 2007 Christmas Toy Test for Girls
By: Lauren Keith

This week's Does it Work Wednesday is a special edition: Toy Tests for Girls.  Next week, I'll feature some of the top toys for boys.  
I head to Deer Creek Christian Academy in Cape Girardeau where there's a large number of kids ranging in age from kindergarten to 8th grade, sometimes all in one-room during "group time."
Right from the start of this toy test, I knew we had some little mommies in this classroom.
"Her name is baby Jackie.  We named her after my teacher," says fourth grader Virginia  Fleming. 
Virginia is talking about one of several dolls in this test.  One school-week later when I return, here's what topped the Girl's List of Top Toys out of the nine products here.
First, it's worth mentioning, both girls (and boys, of course) named the $100 Triclops tops, but more on this toy next week.
Right now, we're focusing on what's pretty in pink. The $50 Little Mommy Real Loving baby doll is truly almost like the real thing.
The battery-operated doll tells you when she wants her bottle, blankie or bear.  Then you place the item on her magnetic hands and she uses them.
"I really want it for Christmas.  I'm going to tell my mom actually," says little Virginia.
This little baby is definitely a step above your average doll, earning an A.
If your little girl would rather paint nails than fix bottles, check out the Polly Pocket Stylin' Polly Playset.  We can see from this water-logged Polly, she's a hit.  Little girls use sponges to give Polly some pink streaks, even changing the shades of Polly's make up.
Teachers at Deer Creek say somebody was always playing with this doll, but they also warn parents: be careful.  Little Polly's pink locks can drip onto the carpet.  That said, the $20 Playset paints a B plus.
Polly also has a new Triple-decker Bus this year.  However, the little girls struggled keeping all the parts together.  Plus, I should point out: several Polly Pocket toys, with all their little pieces, have been on recall lists in years' past.  Mattel deems this one safe, and Polly Pocket continues to be one of the most popular toys on the market, but I might roll past the $20 Triple Decker Bus and it's C-minus, and maybe pick up the Polly Stylin' Playset instead.
Now for the little princesses in your life, several toys they'd enjoy.  First, the Disney Princess Pop-up Storybook folds from a traveling case to an enchanted world of fun.  It made the little girls' wish list and pops up a B plus.
Next we move onto the part of the classroom where we hear some singing.  It comes from a Barbie Styling Dollhead.  These toys are always popular, but this year, Barbie sings and you can too, with the special microphone.
You can also buy separate Island Princess DVDs to watch and sing along.  While this toy wasn't the favorite, a lot of little girls enjoyed this new twist on a classic favorite, earning Princess Rosella Barbie a B-plus.
Perhaps your little princess would enjoy styling hair while sitting in a very special chair?  Well, the queen has arrived!  Mattel's My Size throne has surprises hidden everywhere.  From pint-size mirrors to music that plays each time your little princess sits down, reigning over her court, it's a first.
However, as cute as it is, only a few little girls continued playing with it, and at $65, we're not sure how much of a treasure this will be.  That's for you to decide.  In the meantime, we'll sit on a B minus.
"This was the result of our first baking experiment, and then after much angst, this," points teacher Jackie Brandtner.
She shows us a very tiny crumbled up piece of food "baked" in the new Disney Cool Bake Oven.  It's not like the classic Easy Bake oven.  Instead, little girls freeze ice in the tray, and magically, it bakes very small cupcakes.
"It's supposed to be using 'cool-air' technology.  You tell me what that means!" laughs Mrs. Brandtner.
Whatever it uses to cook, this is not the way cupcakes should crumble.  I have to actually pull the cupcake apart, proving it's very rubbery and it doesn' t taste much better either!
"It's chewy," says little Celeste, a student.
But that's putting it nicely.  While the little girls enjoyed playing with this $25 oven, Mrs. Brandtner makes this point.
"They only make enough mix for 4 cupcakes, so I see kids open this on Christmas and parents running to the store to buy more ingredients," she says.
Plus, the special refills cost between $10 and 15!  So, as fun as it might be, the Disney Cool Bake oven whips up a 'D' for us.
And finally...
"I had a horrible time getting on the Web site, but it was fun decorating," says student Annie Yuede.
Fourth grader Annie Yuede's talking about the Barbie Girls Music Player.  It's similar to an mp3 player.  I sent it home with Annie to try, but big brother Joseph had to help her download it, just to get this thing rockin'!
"It said age six and up, and there's no way," says Joseph.
Both kids say they'd rather have a true mp3 player or ipod, but if your child really, really likes Barbie, you might buy this $60 device.  We give the Barbie Girls Music player and her separate accessories a C.
I have one more homework assigment.  I was afraid the Video Journal might take up too much of the school's computer hard drive, so I sent it home with one student.  She even printed out some of the cool designs she made with it.  It also comes with a low-grade digital camera, so you can place pictures inside your online journal.
So, as long as that brother or sister of yours doesn't learn your password, your journal entries will be kept secret.  We'll give this $30-Video Journal software a 'B," and close the book on this year's Does it Work Toy Test for Girls. 
Next week, a bunch of toys all for boys!  Tune in Wednesday to the Breakfast Show and Heartland News at 10.
***Also, to see the latest toys on recall lists, just use the SpeedWord search.  Type in "recalls" and you'll see the latest information.  All of the toys in this test were made in China, a country that has certainly come under fire for using lead paint on its toys.  So, please keep an eye on product recall alerts.  Finally, you can buy all of these toys at most major retail stores.