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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2015 Award
K'nex Mighty Makers Fun on a Ferris Wheel
(KNEX $22.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this classic ferris wheel building set is done in pastels rather than the traditional primary colors. That said, it is less than an all-out pink and lavender girlie look and involves important skill sets that girls have often missed in traditional toyland where building was for boys only. Riding a ferris wheel is not just for boys and neither is building one! This set comes with clear instructions, a female action figure and 324 pieces to challenge young builders. Marked for 7 & up, we know that most 7's will need help and this may be a better choice for slightly older girls. We are happy to see the options in play expanding as more building toys are being made to enable girls to develop spatial skills and enthusiasm for engineering and problem solving. 7 & up

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO CREATOR Rainforest Animals
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:)

We're big fans of the LEGO Creator series - each non-licensed set comes with instructions for three different builds. A good place to start with beginning builders. New for 2015, the Rainforest Animals (with instructions for building a parrot, fish or chameleon). Comes with 215 pieces.  If vehicles are more your speed, there's the new Vehicle Transporter (264 pieces) where you can build a transporter truck and two smaller vehicles. And for future architects, there's the new Beach Hut (286 pieces) - a fun build with two action figures and lots of props (including a surf board!).

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO CITY Swamp Police Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

Each year LEGO has a police setting and this year the focus is on Swamp Police.  This 707 piece set has a structure to build (the police setting) as well as a police boat, an air boat, a police Jeep-like vehicle and a motorcycle. There is of course a jail cell (to break out of), an alligator, two bad guys (with stolen loot) and four police officers.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO CITY Water Plane Chase
(Lego Systems, Inc. $34.00 Score:)

Our testers liked that this set came with both a police Water Plane and a jeep (with the requisite bad guy) to chase. There's also stolen money and an alligator to add to the drama. With 263 pieces, this is a good beginning - intermediate set.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO CITY Snowplow Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

A great beginning set for new LEGO builders - with only 196 pieces, this is a satisfying build. Comes with a municpal worker, shovel and snow (a first we believe). The plow portion of the truck can be removed just like the real thing. We're hoping next winter we see the real thing a little less often! Also fun in this category this year, Pickup Tow Truck (with 209 pieces), you get the truck, a car to tow, a stranded driver and a tow truck operator.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 911 GT Finish Line
(Lego Systems, Inc. $66.99 Score:)

An engaging build that has plenty of play value once you're done with the construction. The set comes with two Porche racing vehicles (complete with corporate sponsors!), a starting line structure, a winner's area and a pit area. There are two racers (of course), a team worker and a reporter (female).

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Pirates The Brick Bounty
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.55 Score:)

Ahoy! We love when LEGO brings back their Pirates! With 745 pieces this is a more advanced build - would make a very good parent/child project together. The ship comes with four sails, a whole crew, three good guys, pirate treasure, flag, a rowboat and a menacing shark! We love the droppable anchor - your builders are likely to enjoy the cannons that fire! A smaller set, Soldiers Fort ($19.99) is a good add-on - it's a small multi-level structure with a jail cell (pirates can break out of without too much trouble), a cannon and rowboat.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Minecraft The Mine
(Lego Systems, Inc. $109.99 Score:)

Minecraft has a huge following on-line and is now finding fans in the LEGO realm. This 922 piece set is the "big set" of the year and comes with instructions for making a multi-level build that features ramps, ladders, TNT and the following characters: Steve, Zombie, Skelton, Creeper, and Spider. We love the TNT push buttons that allows bricks to fall away. Like the game, the idea is that you can rebuild. Also new for 2015, The Ender Dragon ($69.95) (with 634 pieces) that comes with instructions for building a dragon (that has moving pieces), a light brick as well as Steve and 3 Enderman. The Farm ($29.95) is a much smaller set (a good choice for beginners with 262 pieces).  Purists may also love the more open-ended Minecraft Crafting Box ($49.99) with 518 pieces. The set comes with building instructions for 8 builds but can also be used to build whatever your child imagines. 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Legends of Chima Tiger's Mobile Command
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

Big fans of the Legends of Chima series will appreciate this impressive big build featuring a key vehicle from the show. Comes with 712 pieces - so not a beginning build by any means! Our testers liked all of the minfigs that are included: Eris, Tazar, Trakkar, Breezor, Sir Fangar and Sibress. This line of sets continues to include many moving parts and unusual pieces that add the fun of building and pretend play. The large command vehicle includes smaller vehicles that can break away. It's also possible to take the larger vehicle apart and build a taller command center structure. For a smaller build, consider Tormak's Shadow Blazer (a smaller vehicle that also comes with Gorzan, Tormak and Sykor). Note: Both builds have projectile parts.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Jurassic World T. Rex Tracker
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Thanks in large part to the Jurassic World movie, 2015 is the year of the dino in toyland! LEGO has a line that delivers settings that are fun to build and have lots of scary "dino" moments built in. The particular set comes with 520 pieces including a pretty mean looking T. rex. Comes with Hoskins, Acu and Vet (characters from the movie). We also liked the interesting vehicle build that carries the cage for the T. rex if you're lucky enough to capture him. Comes with a motorcycle (as if that's ever a good idea around a T. rex!).

For an even bigger set, there's the Indominus rex Breakout (comes with 1156 pieces!) including Dr. Wu, Zach, Vet and Acu. The structure has lots of moving pieces including the doors that are supposed to keep the dino trapped, a helicopter and fun ball (holding one of the characters) that can be propelled away from the structure and offer some protection from the dinosaur. Fans of the collection, will most likely want to collect all five dinosaurs.

Two smaller sets are also fun: Raptor Rampage (324 pieces) comes with two really scary Raptors (when are raptors anything but scary?), Claire, Acu and Owen, a Vet Unit Vehicle and a motorcycle--for the money this has a lot of pretend play built into it. The other is Dilophosaurus Ambush (with 248 pieces) comes with one dinosaur, a small jeep, Gray, Acu and an enclosed ball where one character can roll away from the dinosaur.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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