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Product Type: Toys

 


2004 Award
Gobblet Junior
(Blue Orange Games $19.95 Score:)

This junior edition of PLATINUM AWARD ’03 winner is just as much fun. The object is to be the first player to have three gobblets in a row, as in Tic Tac Toe. But beware, you can capture the spot with a larger gobblet! PLATINUM AWARD ’04. For an easy color memory game, consider Maask ($19.95). (415) 572-3885.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Awards
Cranium Hullabaloo
(Cranium $24.95 Score:) Players have to listen carefully to the electronic ringmaster that directs play among the 16 playmats. The player on the "lucky" mat when the ringmaster says, "freeze!" is the winner. Pace slow enough that most 4s would also enjoy playing. Also new, Conga ($19.95 ), an interactive trivia game based on how well you know your friends and family. Still top rated, Cranium Cadoo for Kids ($19.99 ): in order to win, players must draw, act out, use clay, and retrieve objects from around the house. 7 & up. PLATINUM AWARD '02. SNAP: Active fun while building listening skills and concepts. For kids who cannot get up and jump from mat to mat...adapt the game for a floor sitting find it fun. Give children a long cardboard tube and place mats in easy reach around the player(s)..object is to touch the right mat first.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Blokus
(Mattel $29.95 Score:)

Older players say this is a game like classic Go, played on the diagonal. But here the playing pieces are in a variety of geometric shapes, so seeing the special relationships can be challenging. Still, even younger players begin to use strategy as they find ways to use all their pieces while blocking others from their moves. A handsome game for 2-4 players. 5 & up. 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Mgears
(Learning Resources $36.95 Score:) From the folks that brought you the open-ended Gearbotic sets (BLUE CHIP), here's a more advanced 350-piece set that comes with gears and a motorized wheelbase. We thought this was going to be a huge hit but our testers found the set difficult to do independently and then they didn't think the vehicles went fast enough. We still highly recommend the original nonmotorized BLUE CHIP Gears! Gears! Gears! sets because they are more open-ended and develop problem-solving skills as kids make their own moving machines. ($20/$40). Also new this year, Dizzy Fun Land ($36.95), a gear set with an amusement park theme that our five-year-old tester enjoyed. 5 & up.

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

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2004 Award
Lego Inventors Series
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.99 Score:) (Lego Systems $14.99 & up ) These are more challenging sets that come with a motor. Once built, models can travel on ropes across your room. 9 & up. For beginning builders we still recommend a Lego System Classic Building Set BLUE CHIP (Lego Systems $3.99-$29.99) for more open-ended creations. 5-7.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Quercetti Skyrail Suspension Marble Run Sets
(International Playthings $69.99 Score:) You need a lot of space and a good dose of patience to put this together (an adult is needed) but once you're done, you have a truly amazing structure. It takes some finessing to keep the marbles on the track, "but that's part of the fun." Not for the "it's got to work right out of the box" crowd. Marked 6 & up, but really, a grown up will be needed from beginning to end. For a simpler wooden marble run, consider the original BLUE CHIP Blocks & Marbles (Tedco $30 & up).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Empire State Building
(B.C. Bones $44.99 Score:) Our office is decorated with these stunning wooden structures that include the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge. Our complaint with these beautiful sets is that there are no clear directions. The company insists that they make "puzzles," not construction sets. The company promises to post a cheat sheet up on their website. Still recommended, their Wooden Prehistoric Animal Models ($30 & up). Good parent-child projects. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Erector Vehicles
(Brio $32 Score:) One tester told us that the starter set was hard but "awesome" while another said it was "way too frustrating." That's how it is with Erector sets—you either love 'em or you don't. That said, your best bet is to try a smaller "starter" set. Design Set 1 builds three different motorcycles and tested better than last year’s small models. New for this year, Design Radio Controlled 4x4 Truck ($100/618 pieces) is the first remote-controlled Erector vehicle. Builds three models with a 9.6V motor. For advanced builders, Renault Formula 1 Car ($200/809 pieces). Both looked promising, but were not ready for testing. 10 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Fancy Prancy Princess Tooth Fairy
(North American Bear Co. $14 Score:)

With a special little bag for a newly lost tooth, this little 8" fairy winged doll in lavender, yellow, or pink can wait up for the regular tooth fairy to arrive and leave something special for this major event. 5 & up.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Award
Olivia Saves the Circus Set
(Madame Alexander $99 Score:) This collection is as scrumptious as Olivia herself. The Circus Set comes in a big hatbox with ringmaster, clown, tight rope-walker, and dog and lion trainer outfits. Lion, dog, and pop-up tent also included. Olivia's Trunk Set ($85) also is very special with Olivia plus ball gown, bathing suit, tutu, two dresses, and lots of jewelry. You can buy Olivia in her red sailor dress with her red purse, striped tights-with articulated ears. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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