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Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2009 Award
Lego Pirates Brickbeard Bounty Ship
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.95 Score:)

Our testers loved this set complete with shark, treasure and a whole cast of pirates! With 592 pieces, your younger builder will need assistance – but produces a really satisfying build. The ship is 22 inches long and comes with five sails. There is a projectile for which we are making an exception to the rule. 6-12.
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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2009 Award
Plan Toys Build N Spin
(Plan Toys $75 Score:)

Instead of a ball run, this wonderful building set comes with several spinning "rollers" that will glide down the ramps and curves that can be arranged in many different roadways. This is an open-ended building set that challenges kids problem solving skills, their eye hand coordination as well as their spatial visual skills and imagination. Made of chemical free rubberwood, the set has 36 pieces in natural and colored pieces. They say 4 & up. We think 4's will need some help in learning how to construct a run. We know slightly older kids will enjoy building all sorts of constructions with this handsome set.  

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

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2009 Award
Lego Racers: Monster Jumper and Extreme Wheelie
(Lego Systems, Inc. $15 Score:)

Build these 91 piece racers with pull back motors and they will scoot across the floor and even jump over the ramp! This is the kind of building toy that challenges without taking days to finish. You can't go wrong with either the Monster Jumper or Extreme Wheelie. Or buy both and race them against each other. Ideal for 7-12 years olds. 

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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2009 Award
Citiblocs 100 piece set
(Citiblocs $27 Score:)

These wooden blocks look like the much pricier original French, Kapla blocks. Compatible with the originals, they are all the same size pieces of natural wood.  The open-endedness of these blocks truly  challenges the builder's imagination and dexterity. The smooth and precision cut blocks are made of Radiata Pine from certified renewable forests in New Zealand and come packaged with suggested projects kids can build without glue or pegs. Also new this season, colored Citiblocs. These make interesting patterns and may hold added appeal to some young builders.  A 54 piece set is $17 and can be used for adding accents or on its own. We like the basic blocks in natural color for starters.  The packages say 3 & up, we think older builders of 5 & up will find them more interesting.  The activities suggested will challenge even older kids.  Our recommendation--put them on the coffee table and see what everyone, young and old, comes up with.  We found them addictive.
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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2001 Awards
Soccer Champion Challenge
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

Kids build a soccer field and let the games begin! This 274-piece set becomes a game with mini-players that can kick and goalies that move. 7 & up. You can add to the fun with a Fans Grandstand with scoreboard ($19.99) and a Team Transport vehicle ($29.99).  This toy has been discontinued.


Our testers also gave these sets top ratings: For a simpler set consider the 110 piece Fire Fighters' Lift Truck ($19.99). Testers also liked the Polar Base ($59.99) with control tower, helicopter, snow tracker, and polar bears, too.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Frigits Deluxe
(Think of It! $29.99 Score:) You'll want this on the fridge door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic shoots, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. 7 & up. SNAP INFO: Kids who might not be able to get down on the floor to make a marble run can do this in a wheelchair at the refrigerator door! It's great fun to discover the many ways to arrange the magnetic chutes, wheels, and spinners so that the marbles drop into the catch box. Marbles do fall off easily while the run is being constructed, so have a large supply of extra marbles on hand..

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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1996 Awards
Master Builder Block System
(T.C. Timber $25 Score:) These wooden blocks are 40 percent smaller than regular unit blocks but maintain their size relationships. Aside from mini-unit shapes there are interesting architectural sets for school-age builders: Roman, Egyptian, Mayan, Middle Eastern, Russian, and Japanese, and new for , the Coliseum ($50/110 pieces ) and the Leaning Tower of Pisa ($45/27 pieces).

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1996.

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1998 Awards
Mini Traffic Signs
(989 Sports $12 Score:) Six wooden traffic signs are ideal for highway control! 4 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1998.

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1998 Award
Color See-Thru Blocks
(Guidecraft $39.95 Score:) Scaled to unit blocks, this 21-piece set of blocks with window panels of colored Plexiglas comes in squares, rectangles, and triangles. These make decorative accents for constructions with wooden blocks. Kids also like looking through them to see the world tinted in rose, blue and yellow.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 1998.

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2000 Awards
Expandagon Hoberman Kit
(Hoberman Designs $40 Score:) You've probably seen Hoberman's spheres in science museums, but now kids can create flexible geometric shapes with simple connections. Sets have expandable squares that are key to making big structures. The manual could be a little more user friendly, but once you get started this is an addictive toy. PLATINUM AWARD '00. An Expandagon Actuator, a turntable display stand that motorizes creations looked promising but was not ready for testing. ($30). 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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