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

 


2010 Award
Playmobil African Wild Life
(Playmobil $69.99 Score:)

A new Wildlife Care Station with baby animals and an enclosure for keeping the animals. Comes with removable casts and bandages and a giraffe with a wound that disappears when it is "treated" by the vet in residence. There are lots of add-ons for this setting that include more animals and vehicles. Marked 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Playmobil Great Dragon Castle
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

For fantasy play, this Great Dragon Castle is an amazing setting with two towers, a trap door, a working drawbridge, clinging trees, dungeon cells and beacons that light up. The set comes a lot of props for dramatic play...a red dragon, four fantasy knight figures with swords, shields and rune jewel. There's a working catapult, glow-in-the-dark skeleton and even a red badge that kids can wear. Requires 2 "AA" batteries, not included. In case that is not a big enough setting, you can add on The Dragon's Dungeon($78.99) another tower with giant light beam and lighted dart that flies. Our testers think this setting is awesome. They say 4 & up. We think you will need to be older to put the pieces together. More like a great choice for 7 & up, up,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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Playmobil Giant Dragon with LED-Fire
(Playmobil $35 Score:)

The "giant" red and black Giant Red Dragon with a giant 16" wing span has an integrated LED-Fire (sort of) coming out of its nostrils. In fact the nostrils light up in red, but nothing comes out, except in the imagination. The dragon’s jaw moves and its wings pivot. This fantasy action figure is a big but quick build. It has 23 pieces and comes with a knight in black and red that carries a battle ax and long silverfish lance. They say 4-9, we'd say more like 5-6's will need help and this looks like a toy for school aged kids, not preschoolers. 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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LEGO DUPLO Cars Flo's Cafe
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

This 32 piece set will be a huge hit with your preschooler that has discovered and loves CARS. The set includes three of the characters: Lightning McQueen, Sally (the Porsche) and Doc Hudson.  Our testers loved that their preschoolers were able to put together the cars with little or no assistance.  Once they had them together, they are pleasingly to handle and move about Flo's Cafe. Our testers had the same concerns we did about the small parts. While all of the pieces are legally large enough (none fit entirely into a choke tube)--they are still pretty small.  One of our testers noted that her son, at three, still puts things in his mouth and the size of some of the pieces concerned her for this reason.  While we recommend the set for older preschoolers, the toy is marked 2 & up--and for that reason alone, we are not giving this set (and unfortunately many of the other wonderful Duplo sets) awards this year. We hope that the  company will either up-size the pieces on the small side or raise the age limit on the toy to at least 3 & up.  Since these are really such great toys for older 2s, we hope they decide to do the former.

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

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2010 Award
Lauri Locktagons
(Lauri $26.99 Score:)

These are different from the original crepe rubber Loctagons that were all flower shaped. There are 216 brightly colored pieces in the new set that come in three different geometric shapes and are made of hard plastic with slots that lock together. They can be used to build horizontally and vertically. There is no right or wrong way to build, yet fitting the pieces together calls for problem solving, logical thinking, and fine motor skills. This is the kind of hands on toy that builds spatial awareness as well as creative thinking. You can use these to sort by color or shape. Are there more blues or greens? Are there more yellows or oranges? Play with them for making patterns…red, blue, yellow, red blue…what comes next? Kids who are into counting can have fun counting them one by one or stacks of five or ten. Best of all, this is an open-ended construction toy that children keep coming back to and using in their own inventive ways. 3 & 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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
LEGO CITY Fire Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79.99 Score:)

A multi-level fire station that also includes a ladder truck and a smaller vehicle. We love that the truck ladder extends and turns 180 degrees. The Fire Station is part of the LEGO CITY theme - a fun collection of rescue vehicles and figures. We also like the new Fire Boat. Our only complaint about this set is the scale- as with many of the new LEGO structures, they have gotten smaller over recent years.  Our testers, unaware of the skrinkage issue, have no complaints. In fact, he really loved working on this set.  His review was so detailed that we need to share the mini-interview he had with his mom in regard to this product:

1. The set is very easy to build.  (He is an 8 year old experienced LEGO builder--and felt this set was particularly easy. He had to be dragged away to go to a ballgame!

2. The "storage" spaces on the building where the accessories go click  in". He mentioned fire hoses, axes, fire hydrants. "It makes it less confusing because every little piece has a place where it goes."

3. "I never thought the Lego City stuff was cool,  but it actually is really AWESOME." (This from a die-hard Lego "action" afficionado. )

4. He likes the moving parts -- sliding garage doors, swinging doors, removeable "hatches," etc.

5. He  also really likes that the bunk beds and all of the spaces for the mini-figures.

What I really love about his review is that the Fire Station has now become a "base" for all of his action figures--including his Star Wars characters--they all think the base is a pretty cool place to hang out!

The Fire Station comes with lots of props for pretend play after the building is done (there's even a cat  and tree). Five year olds will enjoy playing with this set, but they will not be able to build it independently-there are 662 pieces! We recommend making this a parent/child project for less experienced LEGO builders. 

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: 2010. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2010 Award
Lego Storage & Play Sets
(Neat-Oh! $12.99 & up Score:)

Just about the neatest new toy/storage idea we've seen in years! Unzip the sides of these soft fabric boxes and they become mats for building and dramatic play. They have roadways and city scenes on them for giving story ideas a jumpstart. Best of all when playtime is over, simply zip the corners and all the pieces are stored away for another day. They come in various sizes; some with lids and handles to take along on a play date or trip, others more like a tote with strap handles for easy picking up. Look for the Lego Head ZipBin($12.99) an 8"square box with handles and lid that opens to 21" play mat with roadway graphics. Lego City ZipBin ($19.99) A 13” box that opens to a 29 inch mat with city graphics and roadway. Lego City Fire ZipBin( 24.99) A 16" box that opens to 35" playmat with firefighters, roadways and graphics for dramatic fire fighting. Lego City ZipBin($19.99) A 16"tote that opens to 29" mat with city construction scenes, has with no lid, but tote handles cut outs on the side. Lego Racers ZipBin ($17.99) is a clever tool box shape with lid and handle that open up to a ramp for racers to ride down. Also newest addition to the line, Lego Duplo Zip Bins with simpler graphics when the storage container is opened into a play mat. THere's one with a big fire engine graphic with cut out hand grips and lid or one with animal graphics and the play mat has a fenced in scene for playing zoo or farm. NOTE: Lego bricks do not come in these boxes. They are all about the storage, play mat and neat clean- up to keep all those little bricks contained. Great idea. Neat-oh! also makes container/playmates for Hot Wheels. Farm, Dinos, Road & Rail. Airport, and Train Depot. A good way to take some of the jumbled chaos out of the usual mess. 3-8

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

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2010 Award
Constructibles In the City
(Mudpuppy Press $13 Score:)

Newest in the line of cardboard interlocking puzzle pieces. A city set with 5 basic shapes and graphics with vehicles and buildings. There is no right or wrong to this, but it is useful for developing fine motor skills and first hand experience with symmetry and balancing pieces. 25 piece set that will spark imagination as well as problem building skills. Our 5 1/2 year old tester loved them and did not seem distracted by the city graphics on the cards. Personally, we preferred the other Constructible cards with solid colors and abstract patterns.  4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2010.

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2010 Award
Hot Wheels Custom Motors Power Sets
(Mattel $14.99 Score:)

Kids can customize these nifty Motorized Power Sets that each have a pull-back motor and 25 interchangeable parts. Buy more than one and the pieces of all vehicles in the collection are interchangeable. They come with several sizes of wheels, skis, treads, and jazzy racing trims to make unique vehicles. Choose a yellow Humvee, a red pickup or a black Baja Truck. They say 4 & up, we think this will take more dexterity than most 4's have at their fingertips.

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

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2009 Award
Wedgits Pink & Purple Activity Tote
(ImagAbility $44.99 Score:)

We've told you about the Wedgits construction sets in primary colors. What's new is a gender specific Pink & Purple set. In years past we have rejected gender colors in the belief that toys should be gender neutral. In our heart of hearts, we still think that is true and that the primary colored Wedgits or Legos are good for both brothers and sisters. However we recognize that some girls will not be attracted to building toys if they are not pink-a-fied. We'd rather girls did some building, strengthening their math and spatial reasoning skills, than to be absolutists. We need female engineers, architects and mathematicians. Since this kind of thinking begins early...we'll think pink if we must. This 20 piece tote set comes with base and a set of design cards all in a carry/storage case. Or, if you prefer, there are all pink or all purple 15 piece sets without tote or cards. ($22.99 each set.)

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: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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