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Product Type: Toys

 


2003 Award
K'nex Downhill Thrill
(KNEX $19.99 Score:) Our extreme sports fans at first gave a mediocre rating to this new 3'-tall ramp that you build for a street luge racer because they could not make him go through the finish line properly. But once they adjusted the position of the finish line, the rating shot up way up! A good playdate toy. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lego Bionicle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $7.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed these futuristic robots that have become a hot collectible. Not the Lego toys you remember, but not too dark or menacing-and they're easy to put together.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
K'nex Burn Out
(KNEX $49.99 Score:) You can build three different models of racing cars with this 246-piece set that also comes with a remote control. Our 12-year old Knex builder constructed the first model in under an hour. For less advanced builders, some assistance will probably be needed but this is a manageable kit. Available with two frequencies so that you can race a friend's car, too. One model is 3' long-very neat. 9 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Kart Maniax Stunt Pit
(Mattel $19.99 Score:) Of all the new track sets from Hot Wheels our testers gave the highest marks to the Kart Maniax Stunt Pit. However, they all thought the set should come with two karts ($9.99 for each additional kart). We agree! Our testers also liked the Octoblast ($39.99 ) - the marquee racing set of the year. The cars travel quickly and it is more stable than most of its predecessors. Like most of these closed sets it will likely have short-term appeal.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Super Gymnast Barbie
(Mattel $19.99 Score:) No great unusual Barbies this year. Our top pick: Super Gymnast or, of the straight "pink" variety, the Ballet Star Barbie-comes complete with long and short tutus and two crowns. At least they're all active! Also Barbie Rapunzel with hair that grows (with extensions).

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

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2003 Awards
Playmobil Airport
(Playmobil $99 Score:) Build the Boarding Gate and Tower with working elevator and baggage carousel. Other accessories: Jet Liner with 20" wingspan ($44.99 ) with pilot and flight attendant, folding steps, and removable roof. These are good parent/child building projects, but make no mistake, an adult must do most of the building. Once it's built, it will be a wonderful mini-play setting for dramatic play. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lace-a-Saurus
(Lauri $11.99 Score:) These precut felt puppets with a dino theme are just right for your dinosaur fan with six pre-cut dinosaur hand puppets and one finger puppet. Kids lace them up and use them for storytelling. Kits come with yarn and big plastic needle for sewing (which develops fine-motor skills kids need for writing). 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Griffin puppet
(Folkmanis $50 Score:) All of this company's oversized puppets double as big huggables that older kids enjoy. The mythical Griffin had great appeal to older kid testers and adults. 5 & up. We fell in love with the company's 30" honey-colored Retriever. Also special, a furry 23" Giant Panda puppet ($56 ) with velvety paws and leathery claws. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Paint-Your-Own Chair
(Action Products $34.99 Score:) A '50s-styled 36" folding canvas sling chair that kids paint with their own design. However, the company's Bubble Chair ($16 ) received poor marks from our testers for being too small and hard to paint.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Le Most Cute Objects & Hand Painted Shakers
(Creativity for Kids $14 Score:) Three charming ceramic boxes, shaped like an over-stuffed chair, a tiny birdhouse, and a stack of luggage. These come glazed in white with metal rims, hinges and clasps. Kids can paint and either bake them or simply leave them for a week to lock the colors. Since these have more details to paint than most, they are a better choice for older painters with the dexterity for fine details. Also new for 2003, Hand Painted Shakers ($12 12) Two hefty white ceramic shakers for salt or pepper. Still top rated, Paint Your Own Ceramic Tea Set ($15 ) or a Dog Dish ($18 ). Adult supervision required for baking. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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