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

 


2012 Award
K'NEX Build A Bunch
(KNEX $19.99 Score:)

Our testers really enjoyed exploring and building with this 30 piece plastic construction set.  Comes with building ideas for 30 models--but we're big on allowing this to be an open-ended experience with no right or wrong results. The process of problem solving how pieces go together is what's valuable here as well as the creative aspect of making your own creations!  "I like the wheels" and the "funny eyes" - were some of the running dialogue of our testers in action.

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

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2012 Award
FAO Schwarz 150th Anniversary Playmobil Victorian City LIfe Set
(Playmobil $129 Score:)

To celebrate their 150th anniversary, FAO Schwarz has reintroduce a classic Playmobil set that is very special. In addition to the victorian house (that comes completely furnished), our testers loved the horse and buggy for taking the family out for a ride.  The attention to detail (as with all Playmobil sets) is unmatched-- our favorites:  the grandfather clock,  the flower boxes, the "modern" car, and the umbrella and purse for the lady of the house! A great parent/child project that will then be used a setting for dramatic play.  Available at the store or at TRU on line.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
TinkerToy Transit Building Set
(KNEX $43.99 Score:)

Many may remember TinkerToy sets that came with wooden pieces with a happy sense of nostalgia.  We think in this case, that this new set with "bendy" plastic pieces are even better than the original. K'NEX has licensed the trademark from Hasbro (in case you were wondering).  Our testers also liked the ability to make vehicles with this set that comes with lots of wheels as part of this 150 piece set. Fun to explore together. There are 15 suggested builds, but encourage your child to create their own builds.  The box the set comes in is sturdy enough to be used again and again for storage, also a plus!  The only comment of our testers "we wish there were more bendy pieces!"

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Janod Kubix Geometrix Blocks
(Janod $24.99 Score:)

A pleasing set of 50 wooden geometric cubes in an array of colors.  We love the open-endedness of this set-- exploring how the differently shaped cubes can fit together.  Fun to work on with your child - a great opportunity to talk about colors and shapes.  The blocks are also ideal for working on visual discriminaton skills. The only issue we had with the product was the recommended age. While an 18 month old could fill and dump with these pieces, the set is better suited for older preschoolers given the fine motor skills needed to turn the pieces - not to mention the problem solving skills required to fit the pieces together.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Hulk Helicarrier Breakout
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

The HULK action figure sold our testers on this Marvel Super Heroes Kit. With 389 pieces, it's a medium build with lots of pretend action when you're done. The set also includes Thor, Hawkeye and Loki.  The Helicarrier and jet fighter are also part of the build. If you have a child that's into LEGO and the HULK, this set will be a hit.  No one will be angry.

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
Playmobil Pirates' Ship 5135
(Playmobil $79.99 Score:)

Ahoy! Is that the infamous Captain Hook on deck shouting orders to the crew? They are sailing the blue sea in a two masted sailing vessel complete with crow's nest, flags, netting, a crane for uploading the treasure chest, parrot, and a good supply of weapons and stout red cannons. 176 pieces of fun to assemble and then use for pretend play or put on display. The ship is 26.8 inches from stem to stern and comes with four action figures and plenty of detailed accessories. There is also a magic coin that can be used on the Adventure Island kit. There are a lot of very small pieces on this that are a choking hazard for children who still mouth their toys. Set this up out of reach of younger sibs. The boat can float. They say 4-10, we'd say this is more like a 6 & up toy. Preschoolers who love pirates will enjoy this after it is built by an adult. They may enjoy handing you the pieces needed but this will be your build. Parental help will also be needed with early school aged kids. It should be part of the fun. Showing kids how to assemble a big model like this gives you a chance to model working from plans and doing the steps in a systematic way. It will not get completed in one sitting but that too is a learning experience. Be forewarned stringing the rigging on this ship was challenging to our adult tester.

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

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2012 Award
Playmobil Ferry Boat
(Playmobil $59.99 Score:)

A big 21-inch ferry that opens to 25 inches when the on and off ramps are opened. It comes with four passengers, a motor scooter and bike, life preservers and a landing station with piers to tie up to.  This is a 63-piece set to assemble and use for dramatic play. Kids will no doubt add cars and other props to the setting. This will work in the tub or pool as well. 4-10

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

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2012 Award
Playmobil Princess Fantasy Magic Castle
(Playmobil $169.99 Score:)

Totally gender specific, this pink castle is huge and comes with ready to move in furnishings plus two royal figures. There is a big outside staircase and roundish rooms in the tall turrets. They have built in a secret chamber for keeping the royal jewels in the great tower. For the real life owner of the castle, there is a tiara, bracelet and ring to wear while playing with the Magic Castle. Putting this together will be a parent child project. Use a table or a board that can hold the building in a safe place out of family traffic. With all the small pieces, you want to put this somewhere that small sibs cannot reach. Once built this is a setting with miniatures that will hold the interest of young pretenders. 4 & up

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

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2012 Award
Playmobil Future Planet E-Rangers Headquarters
(Playmobil $129 Score:)

This large setting houses the E-Rangers who are trying to defend their energy source while their enemy, the power greedy Dark Rangers are trying to waste them. This futuristic eco-war story is played out in a variety of settings with this one being the flashiest and biggest. It has a working a solar-powered fan, and light up red crystals that connect to make a circuit to produce colorful lights inside the dome. There is also a light beam cannon for defending headquarters and five characters; one is a robot, of course. A convertible racer changes into a propeller or a jet-car and there are multiple accessories for playing out all sorts of imaginary adventures. For more elaborate play there is also a Dark Ranger Headquarters ($79.99) and several other theme related kits. Our tester liked many of the features but found that the building is not especially sturdy and is easily knocked apart. So our usual suggestion with Playmobil is to build on a tray or table where it is out of the line of traffic and younger siblings. Ages 7 and up.

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
K'nex Maxi Building Set
(K'NEX $12 Score:)

This is one of three building sets designed for beginning builders in the Kid K'nex line. Maxi, a yellow racing car has just 18 pieces and assembles pretty easily - with a little adult help, of course. The directions are pretty clear. You could call this Model Building 101. Best of all when the pieces are put together there's a vehicle that can be played with. It even has an extra set of wheels to roll on toy railroad tracks, a probable option for preschoolers. These are not Disney characters from Cars, but will please kids who are seriously into racing car mania. There is also a Tin Top Building set, 16 pieces and blue or the Roary Building Set with a red racer. All three come in canisters with a model on top and the canister will be fun in the tub for sprinkling since it has holes in the bottom for safety. Though kids may like to build and rebuild, be forewarned, getting the pieces back into the cannister is not easy. It is marked 3 & up, though we think threes are going to need a lot of help with this. This will make a good birthday party gift for fours and fives, especially if you are doing a lot of party going and need multiple gifts.

 

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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