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Product Type: Toys

 


2005 Award
Prehistoric Creatures and Titan XP
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:) The large red T-Rex that you can build with this set is "amazing looking." Our experienced builders warned: "It's very delicate and could break easily." Set comes with instructions for 10 creatures. Marked 7 & up, we’d say more like 9 & up. About Titan XP ($49.99/782 pieces ) from the same series, our tester wrote "wow, there are a lot of pieces!" Builds a 14"-tall creature that swivels at the waist—but he too is very fragile. (800) 223-8756.

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

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2005 Award
Supermag
(Plastwood $24.99 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Testers enjoyed working with these magnetic rods and steel balls. The rods are thinner and more tapered at the ends than Geomag (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) We recommend the colorful 50-piece sets. New model sets sound promising but were not ready for testing.

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

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2005 Award
Geomag
(Ekos $20 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Geomag comes with straight magnetic rods in different colors and steel balls. The rods are not tapered like the competing Supermag sets (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) Geomag Panel kits were interesting at first, but not as open-ended as the classic sets. (888) 450-9858.

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

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2005 Award
Mgears Remote Control Racers
(Learning Resources $29.95 Score:) Our testers liked the speed they got with this 213 piece Grand Prix Racer. The base comes with the wheels already on (last year we had trouble getting the wheels on!). "The directions sometimes have too many steps in them—they should be more like Lego's." "It really works, the gears move when you make the car go." "Much better than last year’s tethered remote control; it goes much faster too." 7 & up. (888) 800-7893.

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

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2005 Award
American Girl Nellie O'Malley
(American Girl $84 Score:) The company alternates each year between historic dolls and current dolls. This year, they introduce Samantha's best friend, Nellie. With a big blue bow in her strawberry blonde hair and a white dress with matching blue sash, she’s the image of an Irish girl of 1906. Her story focuses on her promise to care for her younger sisters when her mother dies. Still top rated, Kaya, the first Native American doll from the Nez Perce people in the collection. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. 7 & up. (800) 845-0005.

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

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2005 Award
Hogwarts Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) Our testers wrote: "smaller than the original, but neat the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99 ), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Castle of Morcia
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) If all things medieval intrigue your builder, bring home this satisfying new castle from the new Knights' Kingdom series. Each component fits onto a plastic base, there are lots of moving pieces, and as our tester commented: "just a lot of pieces—but it wasn’t hard!" There’s also a new Hogwarts Castle ($89.99/928 pieces), "smaller than the original." "Neat, the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99/242 pieces), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Crane
(Playmobil $69.99 Score:) For construction-minded kids, you have to check out the incredible large working crane that moves up, down, and around! One of the coolest toys of the year. Also new and noteworthy from Playmobil this year, their Zoo ($66.99) with lots of animals, play areas. Be forewarned-there's a lot of parental construction time here but our playmobil fans couldn't wait to get started. Also new Noah's Ark ($66.99). Previous award-winning Airport ($49.99) and Fire Station ($64.99) have been scaled down in price and size. Add-ons include Fire Chief’s Car and, as a sign of the times, a HAZMAT Crew. 5 & up. (800) 752-9662.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Play-Doh Fuzzy Friends Farm
(Hasbro $9.99 Score:) Play-Doh is one of those products you either love or hate as a parent. We are long-time fans—the product can be used to build hand strength, and small pretend settings like this new farm are fun for pretend play as well. Classic Play-Doh ($2 & up ) without the doodads is still our favorite since it is the most open-ended. Remember, this self-hardening dough dries out if left uncovered. 3 & up. (800) 327-8264.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Kiddo Supertrike
(Kettler $80 Score:) This gender-proof primary-colored trike has a stroller bar and high back bucket seat (seat belt available), storage bin, and air-filled tires. Well built, this has an adjustable four-position frame for growth. Kettler trikes tend to run small and fit younger preschoolers only. (757) 427-2400.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2005.

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