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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

 
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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2006 Award
Star Wars ARC-170 Starfighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:) Some of the best Lego sets this year came from the Star Wars line. Top marks went to this new fighter featured in the last film. Our testers also enjoyed the Wookiee Catamaran ($49.99 /376 pieces) which comes with Jedi lightsabers that really light up (very cool). 8 & up. Editors’ note: Also noteworthy—Lego Factory, where you build your own creations online at lego.com and then they ship you the parts. (800) 223-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Castle Keep
(Gamewright $11.99 Score:)

The object is to be the first to complete a castle with a total of nine castle cards (walls, towers, and a keep). But beware—opposing players can seize your pieces if they have a duplicate! A game of strategy that involves flexible thinking as builders must match geometric and color attributes. 8 & up. For younger players, Leaping Lizards ($9.99 ) is also an attribute game. The novel “game board” is actually a long shoestring and beads. With each turn players choose a “lucky” picture token that will help determine how many spaces they can move. Watch out, if you roll a sad face you move backwards! This can be frustrating for younger players. With adult participation, 5s & up.


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: 2006. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2006 Award
Charoodles
(ThinkFun $19.99 Score:) Our families with older kids, 8 to 12, really enjoyed this new version of Charades that includes “props” (a foam ball, tube, square, and plastic cup) for acting out one of the 3,000 charades on the play cards. Timer included. A good choice for a family party. (800) 468-1864.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Da Vinci's Challenge
(Briarpatch $24.99 Score:) For 2–4 players, this is a truly challenging game where the object is to create ancient patterns on the pre-printed circular game board. Each pattern you create has different point values, but of course there is a twist. Your opponents can block your patterns. “The game became more interesting as more pieces were put on the board and sometimes a bigger pattern emerges when you’re not paying attention!” They say 8 & up, we’d say more like 10 & up. The connection to Da Vinci? He studied the Egyptian symbol called the Flower of Life. (800) 232-7427.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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