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

 


2015 Award
LEGO Speed Champions Porsche 911 GT Finish Line
(Lego Systems, Inc. $66.99 Score:)

An engaging build that has plenty of play value once you're done with the construction. The set comes with two Porche racing vehicles (complete with corporate sponsors!), a starting line structure, a winner's area and a pit area. There are two racers (of course), a team worker and a reporter (female).

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 Pirates The Brick Bounty
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.55 Score:)

Ahoy! We love when LEGO brings back their Pirates! With 745 pieces this is a more advanced build - would make a very good parent/child project together. The ship comes with four sails, a whole crew, three good guys, pirate treasure, flag, a rowboat and a menacing shark! We love the droppable anchor - your builders are likely to enjoy the cannons that fire! A smaller set, Soldiers Fort ($19.99) is a good add-on - it's a small multi-level structure with a jail cell (pirates can break out of it without too much trouble), a cannon and rowboat.

 

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 Minecraft The Mine
(Lego Systems, Inc. $109.99 Score:)

Minecraft has a huge following on-line and is now finding fans in the LEGO realm. This 922 piece set is the "big set" of the year and comes with instructions for making a multi-level build that features ramps, ladders, TNT and the following characters: Steve, Zombie, Skelton, Creeper, and Spider. We love the TNT push buttons that allows bricks to fall away. Like the game, the idea is that you can rebuild. Also new for 2015, The Ender Dragon ($69.95) (with 634 pieces) that comes with instructions for building a dragon (that has moving pieces), a light brick as well as Steve and 3 Enderman. The Farm ($29.95) is a much smaller set (a good choice for beginners with 262 pieces).  Purists may also love the more open-ended Minecraft Crafting Box ($49.99) with 518 pieces. The set comes with building instructions for 8 builds but can also be used to build whatever your child imagines. 

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 Legends of Chima Tiger's Mobile Command
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

Big fans of the Legends of Chima series will appreciate this impressive big build featuring a key vehicle from the show. Comes with 712 pieces - so not a beginning build by any means! Our testers liked all of the characters that are included: Eris, Tazar, Trakkar, Breezor, Sir Fangar and Sibress. This line of sets continues to include many moving parts and unusual pieces that add the fun of building and pretend play. The large command vehicle includes smaller vehicles that can break away. It's also possible to take the larger vehicle apart and build a taller command center structure. For a smaller build, consider Tormak's Shadow Blazer (a smaller vehicle that also comes with Gorzan, Tormak and Sykor). Note: Both builds have projectile parts.

 

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 Jurassic World T. Rex Tracker
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Thanks in large part to the Jurassic World movie, 2015 is the year of the dino in toyland! LEGO has a line that delivers settings that are fun to consturuct and have lots of scary "dino" moments built in. This particular set comes with 520 pieces including a pretty mean looking T. rex. Comes with Hoskins, Acu and Vet (characters from the movie). We also liked the interesting vehicle build that carries the cage for the T. rex if you're lucky enough to capture him. Comes with a motorcycle (as if that's ever a good idea around a T. rex!).

For an even bigger set, there's the Indominus Rex Breakout (comes with 1156 pieces!) including Dr. Wu, Zach, Vet and Acu. The structure has lots of moving pieces including the doors that are supposed to keep the dino trapped, a helicopter and fun ball (holding one of the characters) that can be propelled away from the structure and offer some protection from the dinosaur. Fans of the collection, will most likely want to collect all five dinosaurs.

Two smaller sets are also fun: Raptor Rampage (324 pieces) comes with two really scary Raptors (when are raptors anything but scary?), Claire, Acu and Owen, a Vet Unit Vehicle and a motorcycle--for the money this has a lot of pretend play built into it. The other is Dilophosaurus Ambush (with 248 pieces) comes with one dinosaur, a small jeep, Gray, Acu and an enclosed ball where one character can roll away from the dinosaur.

 

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 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 designed to appeal to girls. If you have a child who 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 has 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 Awards
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 sets not only have more bricks, they include more pieces such as 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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