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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
LEGO CITY Auto Transporter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

While we never like driving next to one of these big trucks on the highway, this is a fun build! The 350-piece set includes making the transporter truck itself, two vehicles and two mini-figures. And as with the real deal, you can off load the cars by lowering the ramps on the transporter. So, this is a great project that ends up being fun for dramatic play. 5-12.  

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO City Airport Fire Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Call the fire truck to the rescue! A nice 326-piece build for beginner builders, this jaunty red fire truck comes with two firefighters, a retractable hose and fake water for putting out the pretend "engine fire." 5-12 years.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY High-speed Passenger Train
(Lego Systems, Inc. $149.99 Score:)

Our tester was very excited to see the reintroduction of a train set to LEGO. Modeled on a European high-speed train with three train cars, track and a remote control device that has 7 speeds. The set includes a IR-Receiver, a Motor and a Battery Box. The high speed train has side doors that open as well as the front for loading engineer and passengers. Compatible with the new Train Station set.
6-12 years.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY Police Station
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

An update on the 2009 Police Station Headquarters. The 854-piece build is multi-level with both a police station and jailing area. Comes with an assortment of vehicles to build (a car, a police car, a police motorcycle and a police helicopter). A big gift and great parent child project to enjoy together. 6-12. Can be used with the LEGO CITY Helicopter Transporter (382 pieces) that comes with a flatbed truck, a racing car, a race car, a helicopter and a motorcycle and an assortment of good and bad guys (with stolen loot!). Our 7-year old tester and his almost 6-year old brother are "having a blast making stories up" with the figures that came with the set. "The toilet/trap door was a big hit…they have really enjoyed all the detailed pieces…such as handcuffs, computers, cups…yes! There are lots of details so there are many ways to play with it…so they never get bored." Since the boys are on the younger side of the suggested age, building the large structure was a little frustrating and they needed help. "They worked on it for an hour, then leave it…do something else and then come back to it." That is fine. Big projects are not instantaneous—staying with a task over time is an important life lesson. Parents can help but try not to take over.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Disney Princess LEGO Cinderella's Romantic Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Cinderella has arrived in LEGO land. This multi-layered white castle has accents of blue, lavender and pink (of course). We love the detail (down to the glass slipper) so that once you're done building, you have a pretend setting to retell the story. With 646 pieces, this is a sizeable set to work on together with a new builder or for a more experienced intermediate LEGO builder alone. Set includes the unforgettable, Prince Charming--  and a place for him to dance with Cinderella. [Editors' note: with so many plastic castles that just scream pink and princess - this one refreshingly calls for some thought and building. After all, we want smart princesses.]

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Airhogs HyperActives5
(SpinMaster $45 Score:)

A 5-wheeled RC stunt vehicle that is zippy thanks to the fifth wheel that helps deliver high speed. Kids can jump it, roll it, flip it and even drive it upside down. It has shock compression tires that can run on any kind of surface. You'll need 6 AAA and one 1.5V. 8-13

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Colossal Art Set
(Alex $47.95 Score:)

Talk about big presents--this takes the prize for the young artist in the family. Perhaps it is more like a gift for the whole family to share and enjoy for all kinds of creative projects. This gigantic 315-piece set includes 40 crayons, 20 pastels, 48 fine markers, 36 watercolor cakes, 36 jumbo markers, 24 colored pencils, 24 watercolor pencils, drawing pencils, erasers, 4 sharpeners, 18 paint brushes, stickers, paper, and pallets. All these tools for creativity are housed in a gigantic fitted box.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Seedling Let's Rock Kit
(Seedling $29.99 Score:)

Our in-house tester has loved geodes for ages and this kit was an absolute hit. It comes with secure safety glasses, four good sized geode rocks and a magnifying glass for examining the crystals inside the geodes.
It does not include a hammer and you will absolutely need one. They also suggest doing this with an adult and out of doors. They did not mention putting the rock inside a towel or cloth to catch the possible debris. Our tester's grandfather, the original rock hound of the family, always did this to be on the safe side. This is a kit that will not take long to do, but the pieces will be enjoyed for a long time and those crystals may spark an interest in a long-term hobby. We suggest this is a good choice for 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
LEGO Creator Yellow Racers
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

A versatile 3-in-1 set with 328-pieces for building a helicopter with chunky main rotor, sleek cockpit, retractable front landing gear, and multi-directional rear wheel. Had enough of the helicopter? Turn the same parts into a speedboat or a high-speed racing car. This is a fairly complex set meant for experienced builders 7-12.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Awards
Rand McNally World Wall Map
(Rand McNally $13.95 Score:)

A giant 50"X 32" wall map for young geographers. Bring home this or a similar U.S.A. map for their room. Kids will like marking the places they have been or following sports or world news by seeing where in the world things are happening.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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