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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Playmobil Future Planet E-Rangers Headquarters
(Playmobil $129 Score:)

This large setting houses the E-Rangers who are trying to defend their energy source while their enemy, the power greedy Dark Rangers are trying to waste them. This futuristic eco-war story is played out in a variety of settings with this one being the flashiest and biggest. It has a working a solar-powered fan, and light up red crystals that connect to make a circuit to produce colorful lights inside the dome. There is also a light beam cannon for defending headquarters and five characters; one is a robot, of course. A convertible racer changes into a propeller or a jet-car and there are multiple accessories for playing out all sorts of imaginary adventures. For more elaborate play there is also a Dark Ranger Headquarters ($79.99) and several other theme related kits. Our tester liked many of the features but found that the building is not especially sturdy and is easily knocked apart. So our usual suggestion with Playmobil is to build on a tray or table where it is out of the line of traffic and younger siblings. Ages 7 and up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Take It or Leave It: A Choice Game of Chance
(Gamewright $18.99 Score:)

An excellent game that is reminiscent of a strategy-based Yahtzee. Each round starts by rolling the dice, and involves strategy to outwit your opponent(s) as each player tries to collect the dice that match their combination cards. The player with the most points at the end of a pre-determined number of rounds wins. Take it or Leave it is a successful blend of dice, strategy, and turn-based games that is as unique as they come. 2-5 players. 8 & up

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Creativity for Kids Fashion Bracelets
(Creativity for Kids $19.99 Score:) Enough bracelets for two arms full - or for sharing on a fun play date. Ideal for a small sleep-over activity. This new kit includes 5 chunky plastic bangles and 10 thin metal bangles along with a wonderful assortment of adhesive tape, ribbons, craft glue, bows, rainbow cord, embroidery floss, scissors, and ideas brochure. Testers especially like the sparkly rhinestone trim that come in ribbon-like strips for adding bling to the bangles. Marked for 7 & up, however, we think 7's may need help with the final touches to secure their decorations.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Creativity for Kids Color Changing Light
(Creativity for Kids $23 Score:) For decorating her own room, this little lamp has to be assembled, after the shade is decorated. Our tester loved having a working lamp after she went though all the steps of making it. It comes with tracing paper and patterns that can be used for decorating the plastic lamp shade. After drawing the design, kids color the images in with translucent paints and glue on gemstones and hang sequins and rings that will dangle. Now they are ready to assemble the lamp. It comes with a string of color changing lights with its own battery pack. You do need to supply 2 AA batteries. Marked 7 and up, we suggest that most 7-9 will need help with the assembly and probably in the first steps of tracing and decorating.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Knex Ferris Wheel 2012
(KNEX $20.99 Score:)

Scaled down to 475 pieces, the new Ferris Wheel not only takes up less space, it takes less time to build, yet is a satisfying motorized project when it is complete. One of three new Amusement Park sets that are more realistic in size and scope for young builders. In previous years huge five-foot tall Knex models with 2,000+ pieces required a significant amount of time and space. For most builders the new and smaller Ferris Wheel that stands under two feet tall when complete will be more do-able. That said, this is still a parent-child project for the suggested age on the box. Takes 2 AA batteries that are not included. Labeled for 7+.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Sumology: The Game of Equations
(SimplyFun $40 Score:)

An entertaining game played with wooden tiles that might be called, Scrabble meets Math. Begin by drawing 8 tiles. Instead of creating words with your tiles, the object is to build equations in a crossword style, horizontally or vertically. You need to connect your new equation to the other tiles on the table and then you can add up the digits in your equation to get your score. The game uses all four basic operations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Sketch-Foam Print Making Kit
(Eye Can Art $28 Score:)

Everything needed for making real prints is packed into this canister that includes clear instructions, foam plates to sketch on, two tubes of printing ink, a brayer, printing paper and a pencil for drawing on the foam. This is an excellent way to learn a new art form that kids can continue to use. When the foam plates are used up, cut the sides away from foam packing trays that veggies come wrapped in and you are ready to print some more. This is an art form that students in my first and second grade classes enjoyed years ago. Now it is done up in a kit with all the materials gathered and ready for action. 5 & up.

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012.

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2012 Award
Electronic Labyrinth
(Ravensburger $50 Score:)

Long-time fans of the classic game of Labyrinth may be surprised with this updated interactive version. The object is still to free the Wizard Akata from the spell of the evil Witch Grimelda and there is still a movable board and danger lurking at every turn. But in this version the magic book speaks in many voices telling players what they must do and how many gems they may take. Although the first few games require learning a lot of rules, once they got the hang of it, they really thought it was worth the effort. Most of all, our testers liked how, "it changes every time you play the game." They not only return to the game, their mom feels they are learning a lot about strategy as well as spatial relationships as they play. An average game takes 45-60 minutes. This is for older kids and is a real family game that parents can enjoy, too. 

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
American Girl Fun Fabric Bag
(American Girl $25 Score:)

Our 9-year old tester loved adding the precut felt flowers to the green fabric shoulder bag. This involves learning how to sew on a button as well as the flower and making choices about where to place the colorful flowers. It comes with plenty of embroidery floss, needle, flowers, and a project booklet. Best of all the finished bag is totally wearable. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Sci or Fi Files Game
(Educational Insights $14.99 Score:)

Players take turns reading three science statements that are printed on their cards. Everyone guesses which one of the statements is true or which one is false. Turn the card over to get the answer and the explanation. Players collect score chips for getting the facts right. There are 200 double sided cards with tons of fun facts and explanations. The box, designed like a file cabinet is set up with Physical Science, Earth and Space, Life Science and Unclassified (as in misc.) fact cards. You have to get one chip from each category to win the game. This was more fun than we expected at the start. It is something of a trivia game but the information is interesting and since they give you three choices players can always do an educated guess without feeling stupid or at a complete loss and even learn a little factoid,too. 10 to adult.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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