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2002 Award
K'nex Screamin'Serpent Roller Coaster
(KNEX $89.99 Score:) Our test family raved about the 1280 piece set that stands 6 feet by 3 feet when built! They said their child was so "thrilled with the results that it was a bigger hit than Disney World!" That said, they reported that it took over 36 hours to build and is truly for dedicated K'nex builders. The Trampoline (scored a four) was also a multiday project that our 10 year old builder thought was "neat" but only for those with lots of patience. The set also required some "jerryrigging" to get all the parts working smoothly.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Lincoln Logs Commemorative Edition
(K'NEX Industries $29.99 Score:) Good news! Last year's splintery Lincoln Logs are gone! These are smooth and ouch-free. Keep in mind that building log houses requires visual discrimination and dexterity. Testers loved that big Commemorative Edition with 115 pieces in a giant tin. Most fours can't do these- save them for 5s. 6s and 7s.

Age: Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
American Girl Lindsey
(American Girl $84 Score:) Lindsey is first in a line of annual featured dolls that will only be available for the year. Lindsey has curly auburn hair and sporty clothes. Her interests are in finding her lost dog. Her book (which was not available at press time) and accessories are extra. Pleasant Company continues to make exquisite multiethnic dolls from different periods in American history with books and period clothes and furnishings for each doll. A wonderful way to introduce history to kids. If you are looking for a patriotic theme this year, consider Molly a girl of the 40's and WWII. 7 and up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Colossal Barrel of Crafts
(Chenille Kraft Co. $39.99 Score:) Like a giant jar of treats in an old fashioned candy store, this huge plastic jar has mammoth supply of pom-poms, craft sticks, beads and string, foam shapes, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, glitter, metallic spangles, cutters, and plasticine. Add glue, scissors and imagination for many crafty seeeions. 4-8. Similar but with less “stuff” (and also less expensive) is the Giant Art Jar (Alex $ 24 41⁄2). 3 & up.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Awards
Finders Keepers Game
(International Playthings $16.99 Score:) Players draw three small picture cards and race to be the first to find matching object on the playing board. Winner is first to find 15 objects. Don't be put off by the graphics on the box. The game illustrations are clear and not cartoonist. His is a challenging matching game that enlarged vocabulary, too. For two-four players. 4-8.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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Award
Stop and Go Shed
(Brio $40 Score:) Push the lever to start or stop trains as they roll through this narrow shed with rooftop that opens. Or for preventing crack-ups on heavily traveled tracks, see the Stop and Go Crossing($27) with levers to stop trains heading for the same crossroad. Still top-rated, Light and Sound Level Crossing(#36) with lights that flash and bell that pings for 10 seconds as trains go by. 3 and up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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Award
Thomas the Tank Engine Around the Barrel Loader Set
(RC2 Learning Curve $100 Score:) Thomas fans were thrilled with this 50 piece set that includes three trains, tunnel, barrel loader, shed, signs, trees, and play figures. Note: Some Thomas trains are too tall for other makers' bridges and tunnels. Kids can set this up in multiple ways and doing so is part of the learning experience. Also a good and less complex choice, Stop and Go Figure Eight Set($44) with bridge and Stop and Go Station are still a great buy. 3 and up.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: .

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Award
Mountain Action Figure 8 Set
(Brio $39.95 Score:) This is your basic 25-piece figure eight set with extra mountain twist thrown in for over-and-under action. Comes with a battery-powered engine, two cars, and one play figure. A good beginning for 3 and up. For a more advanced and pricier set consider Country Crossing Play set($100/35 pieces) with raised girder, animals, train and engineer. Track and Stack City Set($130/38 pieces) is still more complex. It includes an elevator, stacking supports, signs and figures. Looks more complex to assemble, but our 4 and 5 year olds testers had no problem with getting this assembled independently. They combined it with other sets they own. Parents were pleased with this innovative design and its sturdiness. New Curious George and Builder Bob sets were not available for tasting at press time.

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

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2002 Award
Speedster Pull Back Action Wheeler
(Lego Systems, Inc. $14.95 Score:) With adult help to get them started, kids can build several different vehicles that run with pull-back motor. Parts(14 pieces) are assembled with a special screwdriver that testers loved- once they learned how. There's also a new RC Car($34.99) that assembles the same way. Looked neat, but was not available for testing at press time.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Racin'Rider RC Cycle
(Little Tikes $29.99 Score:) There are a lot of remote control cyclers scooting about this year. This one is easy enough for younger kids to operate. It has a very futuristic look. The cycler balances by putting a leg out when you change its direction with the two-button controller. Operating this calls for memory, directionality and some dexterity. too. For a simpler to operate vehicle, stay with last year's Select'n'Go R/C Car (Little Tikes $29.99)a zippy futuristic racing car.

Age: Preschool. Award Year: 2002.

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