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

 


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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2005 Award
Supermag
(Plastwood $24.99 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Testers enjoyed working with these magnetic rods and steel balls. The rods are thinner and more tapered at the ends than Geomag (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) We recommend the colorful 50-piece sets. New model sets sound promising but were not ready for testing.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Prehistoric Creatures and Titan XP
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:) The large red T-Rex that you can build with this set is "amazing looking." Our experienced builders warned: "It's very delicate and could break easily." Set comes with instructions for 10 creatures. Marked 7 & up, we’d say more like 9 & up. About Titan XP ($49.99/782 pieces ) from the same series, our tester wrote "wow, there are a lot of pieces!" Builds a 14"-tall creature that swivels at the waist—but he too is very fragile. (800) 223-8756.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2004 Award
Skrooz
(Progressive Trading Inc. $15 Score:) Here's a new twist on the rods and metallic ball construction sets. These new rods can be lengthened and shortened with a twist so they are more versatile than the original rods with fixed sizes. Add these to existing sets or start here with a 168, 84, or 42 piece set. Available in metallic or bright gem colors. These are compatible with the original MAGZ-X and the amazing new WEBZ from the same maker. Put these on the coffee table in your family room and let the fun begin! 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2006 Award
Rock Castle
(Playmobil $79.99 Score:) Playmobil’s Knights’ Empire Castle uses the company’s new SystemX, which is designed for shorter assembly time and durability. Comes with a working gate and dungeon and looks like the classic friendly Playmobil settings of years past. By comparison, Rock Castle ($79.99 ) has a more sinister feel to it. Suggested add-on, the Red Dragon (because you always need a dragon), is sold separately. Projectile cannons sold separately. Also darker in feel than their previous castles is Lego’s new Vladek’s Dark Fortress ($99 ), which comes with catapults. Most kids love the action of projectiles until one hits them. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

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

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2006 Award
City
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:) The consensus from our builders this year was, “no way a 5 year old could do this.” That said, our older testers enjoyed the city-themed sets that include a Fire and Construction set. Our 8-year-old tester enjoyed building and playing with the Fire Truck ($19.99/214 pieces ) that comes with a movable ladder, two firefighters, and a boat for sea rescues. The same family had more difficulty with the Fire Station ($29.99/260 pieces ). One tester’s parent commented that it’s “like a boy’s ultimate dollhouse,” but the 6-year-old builder had trouble following the directions and the lift in the station “did not work well.” Once assembled it was enjoyed as a pretend setting. Marked 5 & up, but most 5s will need assistance. (800) 223-8756.

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

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