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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

 
2009 Awards
Les Cheries
(Corolle $45 Score:)

We loved these dolls when they first hit the market back in 2003. They received a Platinum Award and we are now giving them a Blue Chip Award for 2009. Chloe, Camille, Clare, Cecile and Cathy are a multicultural collection of 13" dolls and are marketed as "best friend" dolls and are purposefully not fashion dolls. Our favorites this year are Cecile, an African American girl, with jeans, a knit shrug and glorious hair or Chloe, a brunette ballerina in a gossamer tutu. They are meant to look like girls of today. There are new clothes almost every year--but this is a collection that should not be missed.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2009. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
Chess Yankees vs. Mets
(USAopoly $34.95 Score:) Last year our testers raved about this company's major league versions of Monopoly (featuring Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, or Dodgers). New for are various chess sets, which feature the managers as the kings, and pitchers as the queens-you get the idea. These are for kids who are already well versed in the game. Also new and good fun for Charlie Brown and Lucy fans , Peanuts Monopoly. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Gobblet
(Blue Orange Games $29.95 Score:)

"This has a nice feel to it," remarked our 11-year-old tester after a long day of testing a lot of plastic games. The wooden box stores the playing board and birch playing pieces that are six stacks of nesting "gobblets" (half natural/half black). The object is to be the first player to have four gobblets in a row. The game is easily learned but quickly becomes more challenging as you discover all the strategy involved! Fast-paced rounds for beginners. (415) 572-3885.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
Scrambled States of America
(Gamewright $11.99 Score:)

There was disagreement from our testers on this geography game, where the object is to collect as many state cards as possible by matching factoids with the right state. One parent noted that a good part of the game has nothing to do with geography, which is true. But it is a painless way to introduce kids to the US map, states, capitals, and nicknames. Given the poor level of geography knowledge in our country--any opportunity to work on these skills is a plus in our book. We'd also recommend putting up a map in your house--Where does grandma live?  Where have you been on vacation?  Where does the President live?  8 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2008 Awards
Elmer's 3D Washable Paint Pens
(Elmer's $14.99 Score:)

Imagine getting a set of 31 squeezable "pens" with writing tips for drawing on posters or cards. Paints puff when dry and set includes primary colors plus pastels, glitter, and pearlized pens. This is a wow-wee kind of present that will get lots of use. Editor's note: These pens have been updated this year with gender-specific themes from Disney (fairies, cars, and princesses). While we preferred the gender-free cast of the original sets (Platinum from 2003) --these are still a great choice and the price still makes this a really affordable gift.

SNAP Activity: Motivating kids to practice writing just got easier with this huge set of colorful gluepens. To get the feel for shaping letters or numbers, this is a terrific material. Write letters that he needs to practice on separate index cards. Now have child trace the letters and make them big enough to see with ease. Make one card with the upper case and a matching card with the lower case. When the cards are dry your child will be able to play a mach it up game, matching the upper and lower case letters. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2003 Award
K'nex Burn Out
(KNEX $49.99 Score:) You can build three different models of racing cars with this 246-piece set that also comes with a remote control. Our 12-year old Knex builder constructed the first model in under an hour. For less advanced builders, some assistance will probably be needed but this is a manageable kit. Available with two frequencies so that you can race a friend's car, too. One model is 3' long-very neat. 9 & up. (800) 543-5639.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lego Bionicle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $7.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed these futuristic robots that have become a hot collectible. Not the Lego toys you remember, but not too dark or menacing-and they're easy to put together.

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

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2003 Award
K'nex Downhill Thrill
(KNEX $19.99 Score:) Our extreme sports fans at first gave a mediocre rating to this new 3'-tall ramp that you build for a street luge racer because they could not make him go through the finish line properly. But once they adjusted the position of the finish line, the rating shot up way up! A good playdate toy. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Awards
Talking Clever Clock
(Learning Resources $34.95 Score:) Hands down, the best electronic clock for teaching kids how to tell time. Our nine-year old tester had given up on ever learning how to tell time-but within minutes he was having fun using the clock that has self-checking features with both digital and analog clock faces. He liked moving the hands of the clock to match the digital readout. There are buttons that will tell you the time out loud, along with quiz-and-answer buttons. 5 & up. If time is an issue in your house, look no further! SNAP: For kids with disabilities, having a clock that uses several senses may be a real plus. This clock talks and gives digital as well as analog read-outs. So it's a great learning tool for exploring telling time. Our tester liked setting the time and then pressing the button to hear the time said. The same company's non-electronic clock is less expensive and still a great choice, but hearing the time out loud may be worth the extra money. Activity: Set the clock for typical times when you eat, rise, go to bed, leave for school. Concentrate on the hour first and then the half hour. Minutes come after those are pinned down. Learning to tell time- takes time. As the old adage goes- Rome wasn't built in a day. To build interest you might want to consider one of the craft kit clocks that kids paint, as well. (888) 800-7893.

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

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2003 Award
Girl Trends Girl Wear
(Creativity for Kids $12 Score:) Our nine-year-old tester was thrilled with the dog tag and belt buckle she decorated. While she thought younger kids would have trouble picking up the small rhinestones and placing them "just right" on the metal, she enjoyed the project that took her approximately 45 minutes to complete (with some popcorn breaks in between!). Comes with glue, over 150 rhinestones, two dog tags, and a pink, black and grey camouflage belt (yes, you read that combination correctly!). 8 & up. Also fun, Hair ChopSticks ($8 ).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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