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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years

 

Barbie Fashion Fever Styling Head
(Mattel $19.99 Score:)

If your child is into serious hair play, here's a dream gift (although it might creep other family members). Corolle's Hairstyling & Make-Up Head ($29.95 ) is just the head and shoulders of a beautiful blond doll with plenty of hair to brush and style. Kit also comes with make-up for the doll (of course). (800) 668-4846. If you're looking for a more grown-up head of hair (with really bad chunky highlights), consider Barbie Fashion Fever Styling Head (Mattel $19.99 ). (800) 524-8697. (Editors' note: We're not big on hair play as a pre-occupation, but these styling heads might help encourage good grooming and reduce the common hassles over real hair care.)

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Magbots Scorpion
(Mindscope $19.95 Score:) A magnetically assembled robotic scorpion, was “awesome.” “This is totally different from anything else,” noted our tester. The embedded magnets make putting together this 96-piece futuristic scorpion a unique building experience. (800) 903-6249.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Quadrilla
(HaPe $30 Score:) A new line of imported marble run toys caught our attention for their design (they are beautiful). An unusual funnel-shaped piece is the center post of both the Basic Set ($49.95) and the big Twist Set ($149.95). Their Rail Set ($129.95) is also a beauty, with releases that add surprise motion. The first batch of these sets had some rough pieces that impeded the marble from rolling, but this issue has been addressed. If you got one of the old sets, exchange it. (800) 661-4142.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Castle Keep
(Gamewright $11.99 Score:)

The object is to be the first to complete a castle with a total of nine castle cards (walls, towers, and a keep). But beware—opposing players can seize your pieces if they have a duplicate! A game of strategy that involves flexible thinking as builders must match geometric and color attributes. 8 & up. For younger players, Leaping Lizards ($9.99 ) is also an attribute game. The novel “game board” is actually a long shoestring and beads. With each turn players choose a “lucky” picture token that will help determine how many spaces they can move. Watch out, if you roll a sad face you move backwards! This can be frustrating for younger players. With adult participation, 5s & 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, Later School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Alfredo's Food Fight
(Fundex $19.99 Score:) Set up Alfredo the chef with his Velcro plates and apron; push the button on the base and he turns. while players use “forks” to launch meatballs covered with yarn spaghetti strands that stick. Our school-aged testers thought this was pure “silliness” and fun to play. For 2–4 players. 5 & up. (800) 486-9787.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
eeBoo Storefront Bingo
(eeBoo $14.99 Score:)

Each playing board is a different store. Dealer draws a picture tile and names object; player who has the store for that item calls out name of store. Winner is first to match and fill card pictures. Also new, Life on Earth Matching Game ($14.99 ), a concentration-style matching game with pleasing images of birds, snakes, kangaroos, and other earthly creatures. Also top rated, Candy Matching ($12.95 ) with yummy-looking candies to match. All 5 & up. (212) 222-0823.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Family Fun Game
(Cranium $19.95 Score:) Designed for teams of grown-ups and kids to play together, players use visual memory, creativity, factual information, cooperation, and communication skills to win. For example, with timer going, a player must sculpt a turtle of clay; or recall sequence of a pattern without looking; or name five zoo animals, each new one beginning with letter of last one named. There’s plenty of thinking, doing, and laughing, too! 7 & up. Still top rated and geared for younger kids, PLATINUM AWARD-winner Balloon Lagoon ($19.99 5 & up) and Cranium Cadoo for Kids ($19.99 ) are similar to the new game but this one is played by kids with other kids. 7 & up. (877) 272-6486.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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Groovy Girl Pet Show Game
(Briarpatch $19.99 Score:)

Our 8- and 9-year old Groovy Girl fans found the instructions confusing and the game play boring. We had similar complaints about the directions for last year’s Groovy Girl Sleepover game.   6 & up.   This game has been discontinued.


Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Chaturanga
(Front Porch Classics $44.95 Score:) Our older testers loved this Indian game, said to be the earliest form of chess. It’s a strategy game with an element of chance, as players roll wooden dice and play one-on-one or in teams. They say 8 & up—we’d say more like 10 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’06. Also noteworthy, a Bookshelf version of Raceway ’57 (PLATINUM AWARD ’06). Our players did not love the design or play pattern of the new Wordspot (3); “there are more exciting word games like this.” (206) 826-3202.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Pandabo
(HaPe $9.95 Score:) Beautifully crafted, this is a balancing game with a wooden panda holding up round, half-round, and square rods. Fine motor skills help as players take turns trying not to be the one who upsets the stack. They say 4 & up, we’d say most fours will have trouble doing this. More like a good choice for 5–8. Also clever, Cagola ($9.95 ), another balancing game with a swinging “boat” and small pieces that fall overboard! We like them both, but Pandabo is better. (800) 661-4142.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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