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

 


2011 Award
BrickStix
(BrickStix $7.00 Score:)

If you ever put decals on plastic bricks, you know how difficult it can be to get them on straight or to get them off later. BrickStix don't stick on--they do cling and are easy to remove and even reuse. Cleverly designed to fit on Lego-sized plastic bricks, they do require a certain amount of fine motor dexterity. In fact, young builders who like details may be willing to work at refining their eye hand skills to use these clever stickable graphics. There are several sets, each with 84 small clings that fit specific themes. The Metro set includes pictorial images and words like park, cafe, taxi, and open--signs that one would typically see in a city setting. We like the Transport set with speed limits signs, yield, stop, zig-zag, police, stoplights, and no parking signs. Similarly, there are clings for Rescue, Space, Shops, and amusing Splats. We suggest these are best for early school aged kids not preschoolers who will not have the fine motor skills to use them with ease. 6 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2011 Award
Superstructs Wacky Machines
(Waba Fun $65 Score:)

Newest set in a construction toy line we really love. Superstructs are like your old Tinkertoy set---on steroids! Kids can construct seven different models with this big 175-piece set. What's new are the 16 large gears that add motion to the Superstructs. It comes with a 59-page step-by-step building guide to help kids create a ferris wheel, clock, a drilling car, a thumping watch-ma-call-it, a three-wheeled car, a crane with gears and a lawn mower. Kids can build these or create structures from their own imaginations. Comes in a sturdy storage container. Pieces are dishwasher safe. 5 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2011 Award
Laser Pegs 3D Lite Board
(Laser Pegs $99.95 Score:)

Our testers enjoyed playing with this construction toy both in an open-ended manner and by following the instructions for building the 21 suggested models.  The set comes with a light board and 115 laser pegs (a satisifying amount).  The board comes with a AC adapter but can also be run on 3 AA batteries. To make the laser pegs light up, you need to make complete the electrical circuit by making the proper connection (the pieces have male/female receptors)-- so there's some science involved here.  The real fun comes when you turn off the lights and see your build aglow!  Our eight and ten year old testers found the instructions easy to follow.  Pricey--but well worth it!  We also recommend the company's new Bug kits. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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
Constructibles Wacky Machine
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Newest in this collection of 3-D cardboard construction sets. There are 25 wacky machine parts graphics on these cardboard playing pieces. Like Mudpuppy's City Constuctibles, these have a playful look and invite inventive ways of making connections. They come in five geometric shapes that are put together into open-ended structures. There is no wrong or right way to use these sturdy building cards. They develop kids fine motor skills as well as their problem solving abilities as they fit the interlocking pieces together and keep them from falling over. These are not flimsy, as many card sets tend to be. Best of all this is a toy for creative thinking as kids make their own structures. 4 & up.
The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2011 Award
Lego Star Wars Storage Toy Box
(Neat-Oh $19.99 Score:)

We loved last year's storage toy case with a battle bridge motif. That held 500 Legos. Now, a larger container is available that can hold 1,000 Legos. The sides of the unit zip open to a 29" X 26" play mat with graphics of the inside of the Empire Ship. This makes for a self contained play surface for building and dramatic play. When cleanup time comes all the big and little pieces can be easily put away with a zip at each corner and a lid on top. Still useful for smaller collections, the Lego Star Wars Storage Toy Case Battle Bridge. These cases are marked for 3 & up, but keep in mind that small Legos and especcially Star Wars themes are are a better choice for school aged kids.

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
Mudpuppy Constructibles Pop Patterns
(Mudpuppy Press $14 Score:)

Newest in this collection of 3-D cardboard construction sets. There are 25 bold pop art patterned cards with stripes, dots, zig-zags and hot colors. Like Mudpuppy's Bold Pattern Constuctibles, these have a bold look that is more about design, patterns and color than realistic building toys. They come in five geometric shapes that are put together into open-ended structures. There is no wrong or right way to use these sturdy building cards. They develop kids fine motor skills as well as their problem solving abilities as they fit the interlocking pieces together and keep them from falling over. These are not flimsy, as many card sets tend to be. Best of all this is a toy for creative thinking as kids make their own structures. 4 & up.
The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

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

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2011 Awards
Toobers & Zots
(Little Kids $24.99 Score:)

Kids love the bendable open-ended foam pieces in this colorful construction set. It's more free form than building toys like Legos since the pieces twist together rather than needing to fit together. There are tubes, skinny rods, flat pieces and dots that hold and mold together. There is not right or wrong way to create whatever can be imagined. This giant set has 345+ pieces to be used in a multitude of ways. Fitting them all back into the holder may be a challenge, but they are quiet and soft and good fun for younger builders.

We have written about this toy before but it has been repackaged and refreshed by another company and we're glad to see it back.

SNAP IDEAS: Easier to put together than many other building sets, the soft easy to grasp pieces of Toobers and Zots make them a good choice for creative building. They are quieter than wooden or plastic blocks and pleasing to handle. ACTIVITIES: Use them for sorting by color or shape and developing language to describe if there are more long pieces than short ones...more yellows than reds? Fewer greens than yellows? These kinds of sorting and talking games help kids develop concepts that they can touch and see in a concrete way.

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

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2011 Award
LEGO Space Shuttle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Marking the end of an era, Lego has introduced a new Space Shuttle. With 231 pieces, this is a fun build for intermediate builders. Comes wtih an astronaut and a space satellite to launch into orbit.  Sad to think that the next generation will probably ask, "What's a space shuttle?"

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

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2010 Award
Lego City Airport
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

Here's a top of the line airport, control tower, and jet with 703 pieces to assemble and then use for dramatic play. It's all here, from the revolving doors, ticket desk, security checkpoint with X-ray machine, café, and lounge. Every small detail from baggage carts, passengers, and crew are included. But perhaps best of all, the jet itself is a big 20" long and over 7" tall. This is a great choice for Lego builders 6-12.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Tegu Magnetic Wooden Blocks
(Tegu $55 & up Score:)

We need to start the review with the safety warning that there are magnets in these beautifully crafted wooden blocks.  The toy is marked 3 & up, but if you have smaller children in your house or older kids that still mouth their toys wait on this toy for another day.  That said, these are exquisitely crafted blocks of different sizes (there are long and short slates and cubes) that have such a smooth finish-they're just fun to handle.  Then there is the added bonus of the magnets.  A perfect toy for the coffee table--and delightfully open-ended.  The other major draw back--the price. The 52 set will put you back an impressive $100, 26 pieces is $55.  On the upside, the company is promoting the planting of Tegu trees in Honduras and sending kids to school in Honduras as well. 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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