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

 


2008 Award
Lego Creator Ferris Wheel
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if you’re talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after it’s built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The K’nex Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Lego Beach House
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:) Who wouldn’t like this bright contemporary looking yellow beach house with two big skylight windows and clear back doors that leads to a terrace. It has a satellite disk, BBQ, picnic table and umbrella, and hours of play build in to the fun. From Lego’s Creator line it’s cleverly designed to be converted to a café or a tall apartment building. A 3-in-1 kit with 522 pieces. Full of the kind of details that suits older builders. 8 & up. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2009 Award
Lego Police Headquarters
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

Loaded with action, this is an immense building set with 953 pieces that will take days to assemble. Part of the City Collection, this multi-level huge police headquarters has a lock-up, of course, as well as offices, vehicles, satellites, and police figures. Build it together and then let the dramas begin. They say 6 & up. It is an elaborate set that will require an older sibling or adult if you bring it home for a 6 year old. It will be enjoyed by younger kids after it is built, but as a construction set, it will be an overwhelming challenge for solo building for kids under 8. Still, this is a wow-wee kind of gift for enthusiastic builders. Makes a good choice for those long rainy days when going out is not possible.

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

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2008 Award
Lego Creator Stegosaurus
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

With 731 pieces, advanced builders can build three different ferocious dinosaurs. The lead creation, Stegosaurus, has armor fins, moving jaw, spiky tail and eyes that light up! This is a challenging set, not for beginners! Knock it down and you can build T-Rex or Pterodactyl. 9 & up. .

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

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Award
HearthSong Connectagons
(HearthSong $24.98 Score:)

Connectagons is an old-fashion kind of construction toy. The set comes in a wooden box with a slide opening--and inside there are 240 wooden discs. Each disc has eight notches-and there are five different colors. All in all, making this a very open-ended and pleasing building toy. Much like the magnetic toy sets of recent years, Connectagons is a set you'll enjoy having on your coffee table. There's no right or wrong way to build with this set -- appealing to both boys and girls (and their parents).

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: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
K'NEX Electronic Arcade
(KNEX $89.99 Score:) You can build this as either a one-person pinball or a two-person speedball machine. Very challenging to build but satisfying to our advanced K'nex testers. Even our teen testers needed adult assistance. 10 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Extreme Sports X Mountain
(Ritvik (Mega Bloks) $19.99 Score:) Our extreme sports fans gave high marks ot this set because it had lots of play figures to use (although they noted that the ramp "didn't stay on as well as it should!"). Our 8- and 9-year-old testers preferred this to the Island Adventure series from Lego, because it came with more cool vehicles. Either way, no trips to the ER! (800) 465-6342.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Quercetti Skyrail Suspension Marble Run Sets
(International Playthings $69.99 Score:) You need a lot of space and a good dose of patience to put this together (an adult is needed) but once you're done, you have a truly amazing structure. It takes some finessing to keep the marbles on the track, "but that's part of the fun." Not for the "it's got to work right out of the box" crowd. Marked 6 & up, but really, a grown up will be needed from beginning to end. For a simpler wooden marble run, consider the original BLUE CHIP Blocks & Marbles (Tedco $30 & up).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Lego Inventors Series
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:) (Lego Systems $14.99 & up ) These are more challenging sets that come with a motor. Once built, models can travel on ropes across your room. 9 & up. For beginning builders we still recommend a Lego System Classic Building Set BLUE CHIP (Lego Systems $3.99-$29.99) for more open-ended creations. 5-7.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Mgears
(Learning Resources $36.95 Score:) From the folks that brought you the open-ended Gearbotic sets (BLUE CHIP), here's a more advanced 350-piece set that comes with gears and a motorized wheelbase. We thought this was going to be a huge hit but our testers found the set difficult to do independently and then they didn't think the vehicles went fast enough. We still highly recommend the original nonmotorized BLUE CHIP Gears! Gears! Gears! sets because they are more open-ended and develop problem-solving skills as kids make their own moving machines. ($20/$40). Also new this year, Dizzy Fun Land ($36.95), a gear set with an amusement park theme that our five-year-old tester enjoyed. 5 & up.

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

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