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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2007 Awards
My Creative Center
(Alex $159.99 Score:) You’ll need lots of room for this oversized wooden table (49" x 29.5" d) that eclipses their previous Super Art Table ($179 5) in size. Rounded on one end with a storage container, this table comes with a chalk surface and a paper roller/cutter and two long benches. Done in the same cheerful primary “Maisy-like” color scheme as the other tables in the collection. For a smaller round table with same style, consider My First Table (Alex $100 41⁄2). 3 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
Wikki Stix Curious George Activity Books
(Wikki Stix $14.95 Score:)

Choose from three different themes (school, birthday, or circus), which come with a colorful pack of wax-coated bendable stix that can be used to trace geometric shapes, follow the dots, do puzzles, trace mazes, or circle the “answers” to questions. A little workbookish, but an entertaining parent/child activity. 3 & up.


Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Penelope Peapod
(Penelope Peapod $40 Score:) Imagine a drawstring pocketbook made of a basket with fabric top, that opens into a bassinette and has a sweet little doll inside, dressed in a matching romper. Perfect for pretend on the go. Dolls come in various ethnicities, with cotton prints (including our favorite with Pucci-inspired fabric). Additional dolls also done for Kate Spade (but you’ll need to add $10 to the price). (877) 352-1035.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Awards
Cooking Essentials
(Step 2 $17.99 Score:) A handsome 7-piece set of enameled blue pans includes a large and small saucepan with lids and a sauté pan with wooden handle plus two pot holders. Their stainless steel set ($24.99 3) with tea kettle, colander, sauce pots, sauté pan, and pot holders would have been a top winner but for the tea kettle’s handle, which is roughly finished. We pass on the bake set ($17.99 3) because the measuring cup, marked as a cup, is short of a true cup. It seems silly to be inaccurate. 3 & up. (800) 347-8372. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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BIrd's the Word Elmo
(Fisher-Price $19.99 Score:) Novelty dolls often get a lot of media attention. Some are worth the buzz, others deserved silence. For example, Bird’s the Word Elmo (Fisher-Price $19.99 2) features our pal Elmo dressed up like a bird, telling jokes and singing. It’s just too derivative and remote for kids.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Playmobil's Soccer Match
(Playmobil $39.99 Score:) Both Playmobil and Lego introduced new soccer sets for 2007 that scored high with our testers. Playmobil’s Soccer Match ($39.99 ) comes with six players with kicking action and an oversized 38" x 26" soccer mat that you build the frame around. Comes with a suggested scoring game, which our testers tried; then they made up their own games. The Lego Grand Soccer Stadium (Lego Systems $49.99/386 pieces) is an updated version that is much improved, with greater stability in the core playing field. The goalies have the greatest mobility and two players are also on slides to cover more of the field. Other players can kick (our testers thought two of them should also be on slides for great coverage). Much smaller and different in feel from Playmobil’s—our testers thought both were fun. Younger builders will need help putting both together. 7 & up. Lego (800) 233-8756/Playmobil (800) 752-9662.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
My Picnic Basket
(Alex $20 Score:)

We liked the sturdiness of this 18-piece set that comes with blue enamelware including plates, cups, spoons, forks, and tablecloth. Great for real picnics or pretend tea parties.   All stored in a lovely wicker basket that closes- just like the real thing.  5 & up.


Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2007. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Smoby Star Party Duo Mix Set
(International Playthings $59.99 Score:)

A set of mikes perfect for American Idol wannabes and host. Unfortunately, very gender specific in pink and lavender. For a solo mike there's Star Party Micro Star ($39.99 4). Both have applause sound effects. 5 & up. For the full disco effect, check out Smoby Star Party Disco Bubble and Light ($64.99). You might just need this faceted-mirrored disco ball that turns on a platform with an automatic bubble maker and spotlight. Not exactly a toy, this is more like a piece of equipment to add a twinkle to parties. 5 & up. (800) 445-8347. These products have been DISCONTINUED.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2013 Award
Mindstorms EV3
(Lego Systems, Inc. $349.99 Score:)

LEGO is rolling out a completely revamped version of the robotics kit for a new generation of kids. Knowing how essential smart phones have become, the new design enables them to operate their robots via their phones. The set comes with 17 suggested builds with three different levels of programming. Comes with a hefty price tag - but if you think of this as an after-school program in robotics, it seems more approachable.  We are waiting for our testers feedback. This toy made our Platinum Award list in 2007.

We sent it to a family with 4 builders (14, 12, 10 and 9 years old). The 9 year old let his brothers fill us in. They did a great job reviewing this product. Here's what they reported:  

Mindstorms is a really fun robotics set. It is really awesome because you can program it to do anything you want. The programing itself is very easy. You just click and drag, and it is very intuitive. There are more advanced setting if you want to be more detailed. The directions to build were easy to follow even though they were online. The robot that we built could track its remote and then when it got close enough, would shoot it with a ball. It could usually hit it within two or three shots. The set is made of Lego technics, which are a slightly more complicated Lego. But it makes building moving parts very easy. It comes with a touch sensor, a color sensor, and an ultra sonic sensor, so it can see where it is going. The sensors are really fun to work with, and you can make things you can't usually make. Over all it is a great robotics kit. One of the best I've ever worked with.
-14 year old

Mindstorms is easy to use and is appropriate for ages 10 and up. It comes with directions to make certain robots, but you can also make things you want. The directions are easy to follow, and the parts seem really durable.
-12 year old


...each robot has a specific mission. For the humanoid, you could set it up to find and shoot the remote control. And that was really cool. Also you could switch it to a mode where you can control it with the remote control. Each side of the remote would control a side of the robot. Or you could switch it to channel two and when you press forward, he would shoot low, and you press backwards it would shoot high. The remote control has 4 buttons and 4 channels. Which makes it pretty easy to use.
-10 year old

Here's what their mom wanted other parents to know:

The technic legos are more difficult to work with than regular lego blocks. The kids really had to pay attention to which piece they were supposed to take (a 6cm rod vs an 8cm rod to connect things made a big difference). I found the directions on the website a little trickier to follow than the ones in a physical book. But the kids didn't have as much trouble as I did. Also, some of the directions were harder to actually do like when you had to flip some pieces around that you had built to connect it to the wires. They were able to get them, but the 9 year old had to ask for help occasionally from the older boys.
They built the trickiest humanoid robot first...but were excited about all the different choices. I think they will make most of them over time. After they took the pictures, they were going to take it apart and try something else. Overall, very well done. But definitely for the older set of kids.

A picture from our testers:

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Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2007 Award
Airport
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79.99 Score:) You can’t go wrong with any of the new airport/plane sets from Lego—they’re all Lego at its best in terms of design. Really depends on what size plane you want and how much you like helicopters. The Airport set is wonderful, comes with a passenger plane, control tower, and baggage truck. Our testers loved the see-through ramp to the plane and the revolving door. 5–12. The City Airport ($89.99/863 pieces 5) comes with two helicopters, a smaller plane, control tower, and vehicles. Marked 9 & up. Passenger Plane PLATINUM AWARD ($39.99/401 pieces 5) is fun to put together down to the beverage cart, swivel chairs, and cockpit controls. The age label 5–12 is misleading on both this set and the Airport. You’d need to be an experience Lego builder to do this on your own—although we agree that 5s would love to play with this plane after putting it together with a parent. For a chunkier plane, look at Airport Action on page TK. The City Hospital ($49.99/377 pieces 4) also has a lot of play value after it’s built, with building, helicopter, and ambulance. For race fans, you’ll want to bring home the Lego Competition Racers set ($64.99/573 pieces) that features a Ferrari, pit stop, and all the props for race day. 8 & up. (800) 223-8756.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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