Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys
Subcategories: Themed: Plastic

 


2006 Award
Rock Castle
(Playmobil $79.99 Score:) Playmobil’s Knights’ Empire Castle uses the company’s new SystemX, which is designed for shorter assembly time and durability. Comes with a working gate and dungeon and looks like the classic friendly Playmobil settings of years past. By comparison, Rock Castle ($79.99 ) has a more sinister feel to it. Suggested add-on, the Red Dragon (because you always need a dragon), is sold separately. Projectile cannons sold separately. Also darker in feel than their previous castles is Lego’s new Vladek’s Dark Fortress ($99 ), which comes with catapults. Most kids love the action of projectiles until one hits them. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
City
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:) The consensus from our builders this year was, “no way a 5 year old could do this.” That said, our older testers enjoyed the city-themed sets that include a Fire and Construction set. Our 8-year-old tester enjoyed building and playing with the Fire Truck ($19.99/214 pieces ) that comes with a movable ladder, two firefighters, and a boat for sea rescues. The same family had more difficulty with the Fire Station ($29.99/260 pieces ). One tester’s parent commented that it’s “like a boy’s ultimate dollhouse,” but the 6-year-old builder had trouble following the directions and the lift in the station “did not work well.” Once assembled it was enjoyed as a pretend setting. Marked 5 & up, but most 5s will need assistance. (800) 223-8756.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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K'nex Pirate Ship Park
(KNEX $49.99 Score:) Pirate Ship Park is over two feet tall. This motorized kit can build three different amusement park-style rides with screaming sounds and swinging action.Not for beginners! Not available for testing.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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K'nex Vertical Vengeance Coaster
(KNEX $59.99 Score:) Here is the latest twist on a K’nex roller coaster. This one is over 5 feet high, with a motorized chain lift that takes two cars to the top—where they zoom down the loops and spiral turns of 33 feet of track. Our crack K’nex testers gave the directions very poor ratings. Ages 10 & up. For younger K’nex builders, Light ups! 30 Models Kit ($29.99) looks challenging with rods that light, but not available for testing; also Gear Action Building Sets ($29.99 3) that have gear-driven motion; these work, but directions are not clear. 7 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2008 Award
KNEX Serpents Spiral Coaster
(KNEX $59.99 Score:) The latest in the big builds from the K'nex roller coaster line, it has a five-foot-tall tower with a motorized chain lift that takes two cars to the top—where they zoom down and around the loops and spiral turns. Comes with instructions for 3 different models. Our expert teen builders laughed at the 8 & up age label, "Your parent will be doing most of this," but they were quick to admit that it was cool. "Some of the smaller rods hurt your fingers when you work with them," but the directions “were much better this year." Another tester wrote: "You will need to fix" the chain position from time to time since it does jam. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
KNEX Double Ferris Wheel
(KNEX $29.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if you’re talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after it’s built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The KNEX Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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