Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Early Elementary School Years
Categories: Vehicles

 


2003 Award
Kart Maniax Stunt Pit
(Mattel $19.99 Score:) Of all the new track sets from Hot Wheels our testers gave the highest marks to the Kart Maniax Stunt Pit. However, they all thought the set should come with two karts ($9.99 for each additional kart). We agree! Our testers also liked the Octoblast ($39.99 ) - the marquee racing set of the year. The cars travel quickly and it is more stable than most of its predecessors. Like most of these closed sets it will likely have short-term appeal.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Down by the Docks Train Set
(RC2 Learning Curve $150 Score:) This "wow-ee" of a 45 piece gift set includes the Sodor Bay Bridge, a Lighthouse, and a Crane (with working magnet). Don't get caught up with the playmat, which is limiting—train layouts should be open-ended. Or, for a good, but less expensive layout ,consider the Conductor's Figure 8 Set (Learning Curve $44 ), a good starter set with 25 pieces, including a conductor's shed, tree, stop sign, signal, Sir Topham Hatt, and ramp. Comes with three train pieces. You can gradually add on bridges and other props for birthdays and other gift events. Still top rated, Around the Barrel Loader Set ($100/50 pieces ).

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends Rescue Hospital
(RC2 Learning Curve $50 Score:) It's Harold the Helicopter to the rescue! When Harold lands on the helipad a slight bit of pressure will pop the hospital garage doors open so the ambulance pops out. This little set comes with railroad track next to the building and road to surface ramp for ambulance. Also new and amazing a musical Merry-Go Round with magnetic wooden animals that can be rearranged.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2004 Award
Tonka All-Terrain Crane
(Funrise $29.99 Score:) Our three-year old tester enjoyed making the crane go up and down while he placed different toys on the hook. It took some time to get the hang of making it work (one switch is counterintuitive) but it had lasting play value. We also recommend the Lights and Sound Dump Truck (Funrise $14.99 ) Comes with a construction hat, figure and road crew accessories. 3 & up. (800) 882-3808.

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

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2004 Award
Thomas & Friends Mr. Jolly's Chocolate Factory
(RC2 Learning Curve $50 Score:) We like the "magic" of this chocolate-making factory (even if it’s pretend)! The Quarry Mine Tunnel ($25 ) got a high rating even though some of the trains got stuck going through; they liked "the momentum as they go through the tunnel." The Clock Tower ($25) is controlled by turning the roof, which makes the drawbridge go up and down. Our two favorite accessories: the Rescue Hospital ($50 )—press Harold (the helicopter) down on the helicopter pad and the ambulance pops out; and the Carousel ($50 ) plays music as it spins the magnetic circus animals. 3 & up. PLATINUM AWARD ’03. (800) 704-8697.

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

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2007 Award
Thomas and Friends Water Tower Figure 8 Set
(RC2/Learning Curve $39.99 Score:) This 25-piece set is a great buy and gives beginners a great place to start. Includes Thomas, a cargo car, water tower, and stone bridge for a figure 8. New for 2007, Edward the Great Set ($79.99, 29 pieces 41⁄2) features Edward & Spencer with Duke and Duchess Coach Car and Furniture Car; we’d pass on the Rheneas & the Roller Coaster Set ($129.99, 32-piece set 3) which looks great but the trains are hard to maneuver; Storm on Sodor Set ($179.99, 35-piece set) with tunnel, tumbling trees, breakaway shed, and collapsing windmill was not ready for testing. Still top-rated, Deluxe Aquarium themed set ($299 41⁄2). Call in the grandparents! (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Geotrax All About Trains Motorized Starter Set
(Fisher-Price $24.95 Score:) A classic 20-piece figure-8 set with 13 pieces of track, motorized engine and trail car, yield sign, crossing sign, gantry with crate, coal loader and crossing gate. Comes with a wonderful live-action DVD (see p. TK for fuller review). A great value! Still top rated, GeoTrax Workin’ Town Railway ($39.99 4) This 30-piece set comes with a bridge, station, and windmill. Our testers found that it is possible for the train to get caught in a loop and fitting the tracks together is more challenging than with wooden tracks, since these only fit right side up. That said, kids liked the many features of this set and the flexibility of extending the system with other settings, such as the GeoTrax Coastal Winds Airport ($24.99 41⁄2). Marked 21⁄2—we’d say it’s a true preschool set. (800) 432-5437.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Thomas and Friends Load and Sort Recycling Center / Echo Tunnel /Sodor Fire Sta
(RC2/Learning Curve $49.99 Score:) Three pieces of cargo slide through the Recycling Center ($49.99 5) and magically drop down the can, paper, or glass chutes and onto a waiting truck. Clever use of technology with a built-in message! Also great fun, Echo Tunnel ($49.99 5). Our tester loved speaking into the tunnel and hearing his own words echo back! There are also a train whistle and rackety track sounds that echo as trains run through the small tunnel that fits into any track set-up. One parent noted: “The ability to record one’s voice is so much fun for this age.” Also wonderful, Sights & Sounds Deluxe Fire Station ($69.99 5). An alarm activates lights and sounds of the fire crew with their fire truck and fire train. Switches above the doorways turn on lights and sounds, and open the double doors. 3 & up. (800) 704-8697.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Brio Double Suspension Bridge
(KNEX $25 Score:) This is the longest bridge in the line—three and a half feet long! Can also be used side by side for two-way traffic. Our tester liked the Stop & Go Station ($16.50 ); with a simple push button the train is locked into the station and then released to go. (800) 822-5639.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Toby's Windmill
(Learning Curve International $39.95 Score:) New for the Thomas & Friends train buff, a working windmill with a lever that kids push to make the propeller twirl and a top loader that releases barrels of flour from the “mill” onto waiting trains. Comes with barrels and train car carrier for the flour. 3 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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