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

 


2015 Award
LEGO ELVES The Elves Treetop Hideaway
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

Our LEGO FRIENDS builders were very excited to try the new Elves sets that are also geared at girls. If you have a child that loves both fantasy and building, this collection will be a hit. As with the Friends line, Elves features a multi-cultural cast including Emily Jones who enters the magical world of elves. The Treehouse comes with some moving pieces (a moving basket to the top, a "magical" ladder) and two structures. We wish these sets were more than 6" high - that said they have lots of pretend play value once built which as been one of the appeals of the LEGO FRIENDS. Two smaller sets in the Elves line: Naida's Epic Adventure Ship (312 pieces) and Azari and the Magical Bakery (324 pieces).  We do like that there is always one boy elf in the mix. LEGO has a story line for all of these characters-- but we're sure that kids will spin their own elfen adventures.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO FRIENDS Heartlake Lighthouse
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:)

Our testers loved this unusual and fun Heartlake Lighthouse that comes with a battery-operated "light" and a place to buy ice-cream! The lighthouse has a pink and white tower attached to a building (where you pick up your favorite scoop of ice-cream) - and even more fun it comes with a pink row boat. The small pieces (binoculars, camera, seal on a small "rock")  add to the pretend play value of the set once it's built. A great set for summer fun. Comes with Friends characters Stephanie and Kate. Two other smaller new sets for 2015 that are also fun: LEGO FRIENDS Vet Clinic (with 192 pieces) and LEGO FRIENDS Heartlake Got Air Balloon (254 pieces and comes with Andrea and Noah). As far as we can recall, this is the first LEGO hot air balloon!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO FRIENDS Emma's House
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Fans of LEGO FRIENDS will love this multi-level house to build. With 706 pieces, this is a build for more advanced builders. The attention to detail will likely be a hit with builders - it includes a easel for painting, a grill, a birdbath and garden, flower boxes, flat-screen tv,  furntiure - you get the idea. Comes with Emma, Charlotte and Luis. The instructions come with variations on the build. We were intrigued by the three-story build.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO Classic Creative Building Sets
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:)

We love the open-endedness of these classic kits that have a pleasing array of colors. Our favorites are the sets that come in yellow "brick" plastic buckets that can be used for storage: the Classic Large Creative Brick Box ($59.95) with 790 pieces; the Classic Medium Creative Brick Box ($29.99) with 484 pieces or the Classic Small Creative Brick Box ($14.99) with 221 pieces.  The bigger the sets you get not only more bricks but other types of pieces including wheels, doors, faces, etc.  Each comes with ideas for building but the beauty of these sets is really enjoying them as an open-ended building opportunity!

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Roominate Chateau
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Newest in this award winning construction set, all the makings for building a chateau with pieces for creating a spiral staircase, bunk beds and more. It has a motor and light circuits for running elevators, lamps, and windmills. The 131-piece set has walls, wheels, axles, and more. Along with ideas in the box there is a website with even more creative ideas for making the chateau run. This is more about building and less about typical dollhouse pretending. For future engineers, scientists and architects, this is the dollhouse of choice.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Playmobil City Action Crane
(Playmobil $118 Score:)


Talk about big--this is stands almost a yard tall and can be operated with a hand-held remote control. The Crane can move from side to side and the trolley goes forward, back, up and down. There is a construction worker who fits into the cab. There's a forklift for lifting loads up to the construction site. An amazing 32-piece set with step by step directions for assembling. Younger kids are going to need adult help to do this. Once it's put together, it will be a fun prop for moving toy blocks. Takes 6 AA batteries that are not provided in the package. 5 & up

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Playmobil Wild Life, Noah's Ark
(Playmobil $95 Score:)

Not surprisingly, this is subtitled, Noah's Ark, even though a lot of the animal pairs you might have expected to be here are not. Noah and his wife are here and the Ark could take a lot more passengers. That said, there are 101 pieces in the box and plenty of play potential. You may want to add the African Savannah elephants and rhinos to the other African animals in the set, i.e. giraffes, lions, zebras, monkeys, parrots, and ostriches. There is food on board, a ramp for getting off and on. A classic play setting for the ages. 4 & up.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers Magnets in Motion 22 piece Power Set
(Magformers $69.99 Score:)

This is more like an add-on for those who already own a set of Magformer gears. Plug the generator into your computer with the USB cord to charge it up or into an USB adapter. Once you have it charged, your Magformers gears are ready to spin into action. This little set comes with some magformer squares and rectangles to build a platform, two lights, two gears and the big blue spinner that will activate other gears from this and other sets. Basically, it is pretty limited as a stand alone, but a fun accessory that will add to the action of gear sets in the magformer collection.  6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Playmobil City Life Furnished Shopping Mall
(Playmobil $159.99 Score:)

We usually avoid shopping mall setting as too commercial. Yet, let's be honest, once built, this is a terrific play setting for trying on lots of roles as sales people, soda jerks, customers, and family members. No doubt a lot of drama does take pace in shopping malls, so why not a setting they can build and they pretend in. This elaborate set comes with seven playfigures (mostly female) along with lots of clothing that can be tried on the playfigures. There is even a mirror and bags for purchases as well as registers and money and computers. There are also manikins for displaying clothing as well as an ice cream shop and some athletic equipment. Just in case they run out of cash there is an ATM ( of course) and a coffee bar, planters, to choose from in the stores. All together there are 535 pieces in this very elaborate play setting. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers 83 Piece Magnets in Motion Power Set
(Magformers $179.99 Score:)

Here is the super duper uber size Magformer set that includes gears, a generator, and all the shapes needed for building exciting constructions that move. A pricey set that will challenge and large enough for several kids to share. Like all Magformer sets, this involves science, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience and imagination. Kids are going to have good fun building machines that they can activate with the colorful gears and crank for getting all those parts moving or use the generator to get things going. There are big and little gears, colorful image plates that swirl when they turn, creating optical illusions. This primary colored set is gender neutral and comes with step by step instructions for making their models, though the pieces can be used in an open ended way for making their own creations.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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