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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2013 Award
LEGO City Set Fire Boat
(Lego Systems, Inc. $48.90 Score:)

Once this 222-piece construction set is put together it really can be played with on water. It floats! Kids can build smaller sub-sets for quick builds. It includes a pontoon as well as a power-boat and action figures for dramatic play. According to his mom, our 5 year old tester "LOVED this build. He always likes the Lego City things and this was no exception." Though his mom usually does not allow Legos in the bath...since this is a boat, they gave it a test run in the tub. "It floats well (even the guys float when they fall in the water) and he is having a blast having play time with it and "fighting fires" in the bath."

A good build and good imaginary play once completed - a big winner.5-12

 

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

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2012 Award
LiteBrix Lumi-Port
(Cra-z-Art $54.99 Score:)

Build a control tower and a jet plane that light up and flash when you make the right circuitry connections. This is one of a new series of construction sets that comes with a battery pack and lots of challenges to dexterity and problem solving. Marked six and up but we’d say it's more like an 8 and up, up, up kit. Younger builders are going to need parental help to learn how to install the plug in ports and figure out the less than clear directions, that the company says they hope to improve in the future. That said, the end results are showy and fun for dramatic play. This is the smaller kit and there are several still smaller ones (which might be a good way to try it out) as well as one big wow of a kit called Extreme City Lights ($99 ). Once built these will be fun to use for dramatic play with Lego and Playmobil settings. Kids can also use the components to create their own structures with the multiple building pieces. 8 & 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
LEGO The Lord of the Rings The Battle of Helm's Deep
(Lego Systems, Inc. $129.99 Score:)

For many tweens, teens and even adults-- when we mentioned that there would be Lord of the Rings LEGO sets it was like a dream come true. With over 1300 pieces, this is a tah-dah kind of build that recreates the fortress with towers, a main gate,  an exploding wall, a side door attack function and, of course, a catapult.  The set comes with one horse along with eight mini figures: Aragorn, Gimli, Haldir, King Theoden, Berserker Uruk-hai and three Uruk-hai.  Somehow we think this kit will end up on the holiday wish list of many "big" kids! 

Our 13 year old tester pointed out that an experienced younger LEGO builder (like his 10 year old  brother) would not have a problem with this set. "There are lots of pieces, but none of it difficult."  He thought the older label on the box was to appeal to the middle school audience that likes the books and movies. We agree.  He did note that the tower was a little more challenging to put together, but even that was not too difficult.

Our tester also thought this was a "really good" LEGO set in general. His rationale: "I have never seen most of these (Minifig) accessories before – They’re all new except for one battleaxe…" (His mother wanted us to share that this is a boy who, despite growing up in a pacifist home, knows his Lego medieval weaponry…) "The bows are more detailed, and the swords are a new model that is different from the Lego Kingdom sets. There is also a new type of pike. And they (the accessories)  all just seem more detailed."

We loved the parent report that this tester was mixing this set with other LEGO sets including the Kingdom and Star Wars to make his own fantasy story "set ups" that he builds.  His version of Middle Earth is populated with not only LOTR & LEGO Kingdom guys, but also pirates, dwarfs, an Ewok, a chef from Lego City (who is being held prisoner in the keep and being forced to cook for the general!), Prince of Persia guys, Chewbacca from StarWars, and a "space criminal."
 
And if there was any question that sometimes licensed sets prevail, check out this response to how he would spend his money:  "If I were going to spend the same amount of money on a Lego Kingdom set or a LOTR set, I would definitely choose the Lord of the Rings set."

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Star Wars Gungan Sub
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Our LEGO Star Wars fans gave this set high marks: "the shape of the pieces are different", "the tail spins!", "fun build", "I like the minifigs!"   This 465 piece set comes with a cockpit that opens, two cargo containers and a rotating tail. You can detach the mini-sub -- providing more room for dramatic play.   The plus of these sets is that most kids both build and PLAY with the sets once they're together.  Cleverly, each set comes with different minifigures-- so that's also part of the appeal of putting together the fleet.  This build comes with Queen Amidala, OBi-Wan Kenobi, Qui-Gon Jinn and of course, Jar Jar Binks.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Star Wars Sith Fury-Class Interceptor
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:)

A big build featuring a ship from the Star Wars: The Old Republic series. With 748 pieces, this is not for beginners!  Our older LEGO builders loved working on this set ("it took a long time"). The folding wings open and close for flight/fight.  Comes with the truly evil (and fully caped) Darth Malgus and two Sith Troopers.  Nice that not everything is instantaneous and that our testers enjoyed the experience.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Star Wars X-Wing Starfighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $59.99 Score:)

One of the best new builds from the LEGO Star Wars line for 2012.  Our testers loved that that wings can move from an open to closed position. The set comes with 560 pieces making this a comfortable intermediate build. For beginner builders we'd suggest starting smaller and having them build their confidence before buying a bigger set.  If only the big box will do, make it a parent/child project--but just be careful not to take over the building!  There are lots of moving pieces (the canopy over the pilot) and there is of course a special compartment for R2-D2). Comes with JEK Porkins, R2-D2, Luke Skywalker and R5-D8. Also fun and smaller (only 376 pieces) is the Republic Striker-class Starfighter.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Star Wars TIE Fighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $54.99 Score:)

If you're shopping for a LEGO Star Wars fan, to us this is basic gear.  (The bad guy needs to have a way to get around.) Our testers found this intermediate set was sturdy once built (and you know this one will be swished around the room). Comes with 413 pieces and comes with mini figures: Death Star Trooper, TIE Fighter Pilot, IMperial Officer and R5-J2.  "The canopy that goes over the pilot is a good feature." 

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Star Wars Jabba's Palace
(Lego Systems, Inc. $119.99 Score:)

The big STAR WARS set of 2012 that will make any fan very happy. Something about having a LEGO version of Jabba is super cool. The palace comes with both the main building that was featured in the movie as well as a tower.  The set comes with 717 pieces and features Han Solo, Gamorrean Guard, Dola, Bib Fortuna, Han in Carbonite (how neat is that!), Chewbacca, Boushh, B'omarr Monk, Salacious B. Crumb and Jabba the Hutt. There's a trap door in the floor just like the movie, but no Princess Leah in a bikini.  What we really love about this set is that once it's built, there will likely be a lot of pretend play.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Creator Highway Pickup
(Lego Systems, Inc. $79.99 Score:)

For more experienced builders this 3-in1 construction set can be used to make a Highway pick up, a sports car, and a crane truck. There are 805 pieces in this elaborate set and includes 2 light bricks for extra pa-zazzz. There is a working crane, and a truck bed that tilts, The sports car has steering that works and doors that open and close.   The Crane truck has push button headlights that work and a crane that rotates.  A good choice for 9 & up.

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

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2012 Award
LEGO Creator 3-in 1 Transport Chopper
(Lego Systems, Inc. $34.99 Score:)

Kids can build a helicopter, a pontoon seaplane, or a ferry. The set comes with 383 pieces that can be rebuilt again and again. Our tester liked the motion of the propellers and the ramps for uploading vehicles. These are relatively easy builds with plenty of pretend play potential after the construction puzzle part is complete. 8 & up.

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

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