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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
Tinkertoy Super Building Set
(KNEX $44.99 Score:)

We love this new, satisfying set of Tinkertoys with 150 pieces.  These plastic Tinkertoys are better than the old school versions because the set includes bendable pieces in addition to the more traditional spools and straight rods that allow for more interesting builds. There are suggested 15 builds, but the big appeal of Tinkertoys from our point of view is that they can be used as an open-ended building set. Our testing parents loved the sturdy box with lid that can be used for storage. The set also includes panels and faces for added fun. Tinkertoys are also available in pink - which we recommend if it's the only way the girls in your life will build.

Age: Preschool, Early School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO Kings Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

We love that in the land of licensed lines, LEGO still makes an old-fashion Castle complete with draw bridge, towers, king's throne, collapsing wall, and most appealing to our testers a hidden escape door. Comes with seven mini figures including the King and the White Knight. The game play focuses on keeping the castle safe from the evil Dragon warriors. The build is done in sections -making the castle more manageable for younger builders. The castle is a great parent-child opportunity.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO Creator Thunder Wings
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Our LEGO testers consistently love builds from the Creator series since they include three builds from the same set. With this set you can make a jet, a robot, or a futuristic car. With only 235 pieces this is a very good place to start with beginner builders.  

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Swish Junior
(ThinkFun $12.99 Score:)

One of the most elegant card games we tested this year. Swish Junior comes with 45 transulcent cards that have shapes (a diamond, star, circle) placed on different locations on the cards. A "swish" is made when you can stack up two cards so that the images line up.  Sometimes this requires that you turn the card and to line up a solid circle with an open-circle- calling for great visual discrimination skills.  They say 5 & up, we'd say this a great parent-child game at the younger range. Players can then graduate to the more advanced original game of Swish.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Laser Maze
(ThinkFun $29.99 Score:)

From the folks that brought us Rush Hour, here's a new brainteaser for the 21st century. The idea is to bounce the laser off the mirrors on the other game pieces to hit the end piece. As with their other games, the challenges (there are 60) get progressively more difficult. Our testers loved the idea of the laser game piece. Laser Maze requires problem-solving skills and the ability to think several steps ahead. Very cool.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
Cirplexed
(MindWare $29.99 Score:)

Our game day testers loved this game that requires a careful eye for detail. Each player starts with a certain number of tiles that each have a different color on each corner. As players pull more tiles from the bag the goal is to make circles where all four quarters are of the same color. The player with the most matches at the end of the round is the winner. You can play individually or if you have younger kids we'd recommend playing in teams.  The pace of this game is lovely since you're working on your own board (or team's board) rather than competiting on one board against other players.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO The Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

"You're kidding!" was the response we got from our die-hard LORs fans when we told them that LEGO was now doing builds inspired from the trilogy. The Pirates Ambush gives fans the opportunity to build a LEGO version of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas surprise the Orcs with the Army of the Dead. We have a feeling there will be many teens and adults eager to help with this set!  Comes with a satisfying 9 mini-figures. With 756 pieces, this is a good parent-child build or an independent build for more advanced builders.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO STAR WARS Jek 14 Stealth Starfighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Our LEGO STAR WAR testers were very eager to build this Stealth Starfighter that belongs to rogue clone, Jek-14. If you're saying "who?"...you may not be watching the cartoon series that has captured the imaginations of a whole new generation of Star Wars fans. Once built, our testers used the starfigher for their own stories involving Jek-14. The build comes with 3 minifigures: Jek-14, Separatist Bounty Hunter and Special Forces Clone Trooper. 550 pieces.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO STAR WARS Mandalorian Speeder
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24.99 Score:)

With 211 pieces, this is a great place to start for fans of Star Wars and LEGO. The small blue and grey vehicle comes with Darth Maul and two Mandalorian Super Commandos. Be forewarned there are projectiles on this build. Also smaller, the Corporate Alliance Tank Droid comes with 271 pieces. The circular middle portion of this build is unusual in that it has a moving track like a tank. Comes with Jango
Fett, Clone Trooper, and Battle Droid. Also top-rated, the Homing Spider Droid (295 pieces):  this spider- inspired droid,  comeswith Stass Allie, Clone Trooper, and two Super Battle Droids. For beginning builders - these two sets are just right.  While the bigger kits look appealing, start small so that your child has a positive experience to "build" on.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2013 Award
LEGO STAR WARS AT-TE
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

One of the larger builds introduced this year, this classic Empire fighting machine is anadvanced set with 794 pieces. Comes with five figures: Battle Droid Commander, Battle Droid, Mace Windu, Coleman Trebor, Clone Trooper Commander. High marks for the moving pieces that lift panels of the AT-TE as well as the circular base feet. Be forewarned there are projectiles on this build.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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