Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2012 Award
Lego Ultimate Race Set
(Lego Systems, Inc. $26 Score:)

Based on the Disney Pixar, Cars, this racing car set features Raoul CaRoule, the world's greatest rally car that is about to race his biggest rivals, Lightning McQueen and Max Schnell. Can Raoul win the race or will he be our maneuvered? First players have to assemble the cars and slammers. There are three separate building plan booklets that show step by step how to build the racing pieces. Hit the slammers to see who is the fastest! Includes the following vehicles: Lightning McQueen, Max Schnell, Raoul CaRoule and Raoul's pittie. This is the kind of set that does more than gather dust on a shelf. It's a fun setting to play with when the building part is done. It's marked 6-12 but kids at the younger edge will need help with the building.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City Garbage Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24 Score:)

Part of the easy start modular build kits, this new garbage truck is bright green and white and assembles with 208 pieces. It includes two play figures, a lifting rear loader, two trash bins, shovel, brush and some plastic garbage, i.e. a fish and banana. The truck measures over 8" and will add to the city scene.  Others in the collection this season include an ambulance and firetruck. We know kids at the younger end of this will need help with the plans and small pieces. 5-12

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City Town Ambulance
(Lego Systems, Inc. $23 Score:)

Call 911! There's an emergency. We need an ambulance! This set includes the makings for a 6" long ambulance with opening rear door, a removable stretcher, movable roof, and three minifigures--2 doctors and a patient. There is also a bicycle, helmet, trash bin and doctor's equipment. Like the City Fire Truck and Garbage Truck, this is marked and easy start modular build for 5-12. We know kids at the younger end of this will need help with the plans and small pieces.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City 4X4 Fire Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

There's a tree on fire in Lego City! Quick! Go to the rescue with this 243-piece set that includes the makings for a 5" long firetruck with a rotating water cannon and big storage compartments. There's a firefighter with an axe and of course, a tree. Marked as an easy start modular build for 5-12. Others in the collection this season include a garbage truck and ambulance. We think kids on the younger end will still need help with following the plans.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego Bricks and More Pink Brick Box
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls, this pink storage box filled with 224 pieces comes with building directions for building a house, vehicle, and outdoor area. While we still prefer the traditional tubs and buckets with primary color building bricks that are gender neutral and appropriate for boys and girls, we understand that some girls prefer these colors. Since building is such an important skill for developing spatial relationships and math skills, we would say pink building is better than no building. So, we avoid being absolutists on this subject. Unlike earlier pink block sets from other makers, the themes of most of the new girlie Lego collection doesn't center on malls and beauty shops. This set is marked 4+. We'd say these tiny pieces will be a challenge to many 4's and even 5's.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Duplo Creative Sorter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $20 Score:)

Although all the bricks are big enough for toddlers to handle with safety, this 23-piece bucket is jazzed up with three different shape sorter lids that are way too hard for most toddlers, yet the package is marked 1/2-5. First of all there are as many as 6 openings in each lid. They are supposedly color coded-which would have helped some-but there are green shapes that fit in the red lid and blue shapes that fit in the yellow. All very confusing if you want to talk about matching and establish color concepts with beginners. Besides, the pieces have to be turned just so in order for the peg fittings to match the cut-out opening. This kind of precision matching calls for visual acuity as well as fine motor skills that are way too challenging for most little ones. By putting such a broad age range on the product, the label seerve no purpose. If you get this as a gift and you have a toddler, put the lids away for now and use the pail and blocks for a fill-and-dump toy and for open-ended building set to stack and snap. That alone will be more than enough for anyone under two. Before you start pressing kids to fit their bricks in the right opening, keep in mind that little children are learning about themselves as learners and toys that are beyond their developmental level can undo their confidence. It is far more important to build their sense of competence than to rush them with toys that are frustrating. Sorry, the age label on this keeps it from being a winner.

Age: Toddlers, Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
CitiBlocs Glow in the Dark Blocks
(Citiblocs $29.99 Score:)

70 Glow in the dark and 30 natural blocks come in this new set of blocks. If you expose them to light for 10 minutes they will glow for over 40 minutes. These are fun to use separately or as additions to other building sets. We can report that they do work and add a new kind of sensory dimension to building fun. Build before bedtime and there is a nightlight when the overhead light is turned off. Also new this season, a set of Neon color Citiblocs.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Playmobil Falcon Knights Castle
(Playmobil $104.95 Score:)

Our testers loved this large scaled castle from Playmobil. We're always clear to say the following about Playmobil builds: the directions could be clearer; the construction of Playmobil structures requires an adult; there are LOTS of pieces.  With all of those disclaimers, our testers consistently enjoy the product and the level of detail once it's put together.  Specifically, our experienced builders did have more difficulty this year putting the smaller castle in this line together. We recommend having two adults for some aspects of the build--to hold the pieces as the connections are being made.  We also suggest that large structures be built and possibley glued down on a board or table top where they will not be moved or knocked around. True, this means it is less open-ended than a set of block, that will also falls over with active play, but these large structures do become pretend settings that are fun to use, although they will surely require some rebuilding and fine tuning from time to time. Once this castle is put together, it is great fun. It has a main gate that you can crank close (and there is an "iron" gate to put down when you really mean to keep the bad guys out).  There are trap doors, walk ways and one really big tower.  Our testers also gave high marks the play figures (complete with period appropriate clothing) and spectacular horses as well. This is not a toy for preschoolers or even young early school kids.  The level of detail requires more dexterity than most kids under 8 bring to their play.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
LEGO CITY Marina
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

A fun beginning build with a lot of pretend play possibilities on the other side. We recommend that if your child is new to LEGO--this will make a great parent/child build. While there are lots of pieces- there are really several smaller builds here- making it a little less overwhelming.  And if you haven't played with LEGO in a while--you'll find that the builds are put in separate clear plastic bags...so there isn't that same frustrating "I can't find it" feeling. 

Our testers liked that there was a two part structure that connects with a walk way. There is also a boat (that floats) and a little yellow dune buggy type vehicle. We love the little details on this set. The surf board, the windsailer, the lifeguard, the binoculars, the buoy..you get the idea.  There's even a harpoon in case you want to fish for your dinner.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
LEGO STAR WARS Jedi T-6 Shuttle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $62.99 Score:)

What's super neat about this build, is how the wings turn from being horizontal to vertical. This kind of moment is exciting when you get it to work (as a builder) and even more fun to play with when you're using the Shuttle as part of your pretend play.  LEGO has a new circular piece this year that allows for this type of rotation. The shuttle comes with play figAnakin Skywalker, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Saesee Tin, and Shaak Ti.  The set has 389 pieces so really designed for intermediate builders.  Also a favorite with our testers, Anakin's & Sebulba's Podracers (810 pieces)  - straight from the movie. The set comes with Watto, Sebulba, Anakin Skywalker, Wald, Obi-Wan Kenobi.
 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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