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Product Type: Toys

 

 
2005 Awards
MagneBlocks
(MagneBlocks $10 Score:) During the past few years we have seen an abundance of magnetic toys. This is a new concept that works differently from the rod and ball construction sets. It comes with colorful cubes, pentagons, prisms, pyramids, tetrahedrons, and steel balls. A challenging instruction guide walks players through interesting combinations that give children hands-on understanding of magnetic poles as they experiment with making complex shapes. These blocks come in smaller kits, but with limited pieces we suspect they will get little use. An excellent math and science toy that encourages children to use divergent thinking skills as they explore the physical attributes of various shapes and how they can be combined. With the big Constructa set ($99) the possibilities are endless. Be forewarned: Getting the pieces back in the box with the plastic holders is not likely. You can remove the liner or you may want to keep the pieces in an open basket on a coffee table for quiet moments.

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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2005 Award
WEBZ 108
(Progressive Trading Inc. $49.95 Score:) Another generation of magnetic connectors and steel balls have arrived in time for the holiday season. This amazing set has 48 gem-toned transparent web plates in three different sizes and 60 steel balls to create a never-ending variety of constructions. This set includes 3, 4,and 5-armed pieces that can be combined with bars and balls. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but lots of ways to experiment with creating domes, towers and other inventive creations. A smaller set, Webz 54 ($24.95)is fun but not nearly as versatile as the larger set. Both sets are compatible with Magz X and Skrooz- the original rod and magnet sets we have reviewed in the past.

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

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2005 Award
My Hawaiian Hula Girl
(Kuleana Productions $19.99 Score:) This is an adorable fabric doll with a hula skirt and Lei, yarn hair and stitched features...and oh, yes, discreetly painted toe nails,too. Her arms bend and her hips sway with ease! From the company that make a wonderful video that teaches kids to do the Hula. See review of new videos "I Want To Be a Hula Dancer & Wear a Flower Lei".

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Maask
(Blue Orange Games $19.95 Score:) Here is an unusual format for a concentration game. A wooden crown has hidden “jewels” that players try to collect. To do so they must unmask the covers on the jewels and find gems to match the dice they throw. Winner is the one with the most jewels. From the maker of Platinum Award ‘03 winner Gobblet Junior. A memory game for 6 & up. (415) 572-3885

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Back Yard Flyer
(Kid Galaxy $15 Score:) "One of the best toys of the year" was the consensus among our tween testers. They were thrilled with this small blue and yellow plane that is launched by using the battery powered hand-held launcher. Everyone found the launcher easy to use and had a great time running after the plane that really took off! The company says that when the trigger is pulled the plane will fly for 30 seconds or more. It kept our testers (parents included) well occupied for part of an afternoon--even when it went flying into the neighbor's backyard! A great toy for the price. (While our testers gave rave reviews to this product, they found the company's remote control plane very difficult to make work.)

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

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2005 Award
Nano Case Vehicles
(Mega Bloks $5.99 Score:) You need dexterity, patience and good visual skills to assemble these small vehicles with working parts. Some come with sound chips and all come in sleek cases that convert into play platforms. Collect them and link their roadways together. If you need a lot of not too pricey gifts for birthdays and holidays these sets are a classy choice-but only if the child at the other end loves the challenge of building and the staying power to get the job done. They say 7 and up- we ‘d say that only some 7’s will be able to do this without help. (800) 465-6342.

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

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2005 Awards
Crawl N Fun
(Playhut $25 Score:) Testers giggled their way through this 6'-long tunnel as they crawled along! Also top rated: longer and more spacious Yellow School Bus and Red Fire Engine and a blue Deluxe Train engine. These each easily accommodate two kids for pretend fun. 3 & up. (888) 752-9488.

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

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2005 Awards
Plan Toys Shape Sorter
(Brio $20 Score:) A handsome curved wooden platform holds four shapes in place. Cut-out shape boards are fitted over the circle, square, rectangle, and triangle. Boards can be used to reinforce color, shapes, or fractions. Also see Plan Toys’ Shape & Sort ($20 ) with three shapes that drop in and slide out—Abracadabra!—when platform is touched. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Toddlers,Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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Awards
Peek a Blocks IncrediBlock
(Fisher-Price $19.99 Score:) Tots loved standing up to play activities on each side of this huge block.This is a multi-faceted activity "table" that has lots of surprises. (800) 432-5437. Activities: Best fun, push a button and stacks of see-through blocks go kaboom! Or put single blocks on top of a spinner that says the name of the object inside the little block. Develops language as well as dexterity.

Age: Toddlers. Award Year: .

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