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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2005 Award
Road Trip Activity Journal
(Mudpuppy Press $10 Score:) There's lots to keep a tween busy with this clever activity journal that has a place for addresses, bingo, lots of other games, and space to write and draw as they travel. 9 & up. Still top rated, Totable Journals ($10) These 144-page journals come with a handle, stickers, and an assortment of lined, graph, and blank pages for kids to keep track of their adventures. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Nano Case Vehicles
(Mega Bloks $5.99 Score:) You need dexterity, patience and good visual skills to assemble these small vehicles with working parts. Some come with sound chips and all come in sleek cases that convert into play platforms. Collect them and link their roadways together. If you need a lot of not too pricey gifts for birthdays and holidays these sets are a classy choice-but only if the child at the other end loves the challenge of building and the staying power to get the job done. They say 7 and up- we ‘d say that only some 7’s will be able to do this without help. (800) 465-6342.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Back Yard Flyer
(Kid Galaxy $15 Score:) "One of the best toys of the year" was the consensus among our tween testers. They were thrilled with this small blue and yellow plane that is launched by using the battery powered hand-held launcher. Everyone found the launcher easy to use and had a great time running after the plane that really took off! The company says that when the trigger is pulled the plane will fly for 30 seconds or more. It kept our testers (parents included) well occupied for part of an afternoon--even when it went flying into the neighbor's backyard! A great toy for the price. (While our testers gave rave reviews to this product, they found the company's remote control plane very difficult to make work.)

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

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2005 Award
WEBZ 108
(Progressive Trading Inc. $49.95 Score:) Another generation of magnetic connectors and steel balls have arrived in time for the holiday season. This amazing set has 48 gem-toned transparent web plates in three different sizes and 60 steel balls to create a never-ending variety of constructions. This set includes 3, 4,and 5-armed pieces that can be combined with bars and balls. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but lots of ways to experiment with creating domes, towers and other inventive creations. A smaller set, Webz 54 ($24.95)is fun but not nearly as versatile as the larger set. Both sets are compatible with Magz X and Skrooz- the original rod and magnet sets we have reviewed in the past.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Awards
MagneBlocks
(MagneBlocks $10 Score:) During the past few years we have seen an abundance of magnetic toys. This is a new concept that works differently from the rod and ball construction sets. It comes with colorful cubes, pentagons, prisms, pyramids, tetrahedrons, and steel balls. A challenging instruction guide walks players through interesting combinations that give children hands-on understanding of magnetic poles as they experiment with making complex shapes. These blocks come in smaller kits, but with limited pieces we suspect they will get little use. An excellent math and science toy that encourages children to use divergent thinking skills as they explore the physical attributes of various shapes and how they can be combined. With the big Constructa set ($99) the possibilities are endless. Be forewarned: Getting the pieces back in the box with the plastic holders is not likely. You can remove the liner or you may want to keep the pieces in an open basket on a coffee table for quiet moments.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Awards
PlasmaCar
(PlaSmart $69.95 Score:) Our testers from ages 4 to 12 could not get enough of this new ride-on that according to the manufacturer runs on “inertia, centrifugal force, and friction.” Sounds like a lot of serious scientific principles - but this is sheer fun rolled up in one zippy vehicle! There are no pedals, or batteries needed. Rotate the steering wheel and you’re off on any smooth surface. This was tested indoors in a room with the furniture moved out of the way for clear sailing. Your feet are your brakes and this will support riders up to 220 pounds on a smooth, even surface and 120 pounds on an uneven, rough surface. One mom suggested the manufacturer should add bumpers to the front and back to protect the walls. That said- it’s the new favorite toy in their neighborhood. 4 & up. (877) 289-0730.

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

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2006 Award
Grande Mansion
(Playmobil $170 Score:) Part construction set/mostly pretend setting, Grande Mansion has two stories and a usable attic; this yellow house has an old world charm that will be a memorable gift. Younger kids will need help with assembly. This is a fun parent child project if you're so inclined!

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

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2006 Award
American Girl Elizabeth
(American Girl $87 Score:) The American Girl collection of dolls each comes with a book that introduces girls to a bit of history through stories. Elizabeth is an English girl from a prominent Loyalist family (and best friend of well-known Felicity). She’s 18" tall with long blond hair and blue eyes. Still top rated, Nellie O’Malley (Samantha’s best friend). PLATINUM AWARD ’05. 7 & up. (800) 845-0005.

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

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2006 Award
Roboraptor
(WowWee $100 Score:) As friendly as Robosapien was last year, Roboraptor is scary. A 32"-long white robotic dino, he acts like a predator! His sensors allow him to react to his environment which sometimes means he’ll hiss, snap, and generally creep you out. For our older toy testers this was cool. (Some little siblings may truly be freaked out by his aggressive nature). Easy to control, although “running” mode looks more like a fast walk. Also new for 2006, WowWee Alive Chimpanzee ($130) is a chimp head with “facetronics” that come alive with motion and sounds. Talk about creepy! Prototype was amazing, but it was not ready for testing. 10 & up. (800) 310-3033.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Magbots Scorpion
(Mindscope $19.95 Score:) A magnetically assembled robotic scorpion, was “awesome.” “This is totally different from anything else,” noted our tester. The embedded magnets make putting together this 96-piece futuristic scorpion a unique building experience. (800) 903-6249.

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

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