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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

 
2003 Awards
Good Morning Alarm Clock
(Creativity for Kids $14 Score:) A handsome translucent alarm clock that is ready to be decorated with special paints and stick-on gems. This is a really gender-free craft item that boys are sure to design quite differently than girls. But that's one of its charms. It's open-ended but once completed it's a functional clock that can be used in a child's room or given as a gift. This runs on a single AA battery and will wake them with a gentle beep. Arrived too late for the 2003 book but is bound to be a good choice for school aged kids.

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

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2003 Award
Old Century Baseball
(Old Century Classics $129 Score:) Our testers, kids and parents, loved this retro baseball game that has no sounds or lights but plenty of action! This is like the old baseball games your grandfather and maybe your father played when they were kids. It works a bit like a pinball machine. Metal marbles are socked into field and roll down to the "flipper" bat that players use ti score singles, doubles or homers into the grandstand! This would make a nifty choice for a family room, playroom or in grandparent's den where kids may actually be surprised to discover how much fun folks had in the olden days before sound chips. Granted, grandpa's version was probably made of cardboard or cheezy wood, this is the BMW version-with a pricetag to match. Be forewarned, our testers did manage to lose the metal "balls" before the afternoon was out. Too bad this came too late for our annual book. It might have been one of the Platinum winners.8 & up.

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

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2004 Awards
Teaching Cash Register
(Learning Resources $44.95 Score:) A clever way to combine math skills with pretend play! When kids play store with this smart new register they learn to use a calculator, make change, use coupons and charge cards, and even check the customer's credit! It has a pretend scale plus a three-level coin game that asks kids to deposit specific amounts. The screen tallies and kids press enter to self-correct. Be sure the "CB" (Coin Bank) cover is snapped in place! Still recommended, the quiz-free Play Calculator Cash Register ($39.95). PLATINUM AWARD '00. SNAP: Use real coins for a knowing naming game.the calculator says the names of the coins in one mode and asks for certain coins in another mode. A good tool for building practical money-math skills. ACTIVITY: PLay a swapping game...trade two nickels for one dime...what other coins will you trade for another dime? Check out answers in the coin bank that talks on this toy. Play money or real work equally well.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
American Girl Kailey
(American Girl $84 Score:) The company alternates each year between historic dolls and current dolls. This year, Kailey is a very California girl with long blond hair and boogie board! Her story focuses on saving the tide pools from a local developer. Still top rated, Kaya, the first Native American doll from the Nez Perce people in the collection. PLATINUM AWARD '03. 7 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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Erector Vehicles
(Brio $32 Score:) One tester told us that the starter set was hard but "awesome" while another said it was "way too frustrating." That's how it is with Erector sets—you either love 'em or you don't. That said, your best bet is to try a smaller "starter" set. Design Set 1 builds three different motorcycles and tested better than last year’s small models. New for this year, Design Radio Controlled 4x4 Truck ($100/618 pieces) is the first remote-controlled Erector vehicle. Builds three models with a 9.6V motor. For advanced builders, Renault Formula 1 Car ($200/809 pieces). Both looked promising, but were not ready for testing. 10 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Empire State Building
(B.C. Bones $44.99 Score:) Our office is decorated with these stunning wooden structures that include the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge. Our complaint with these beautiful sets is that there are no clear directions. The company insists that they make "puzzles," not construction sets. The company promises to post a cheat sheet up on their website. Still recommended, their Wooden Prehistoric Animal Models ($30 & up). Good parent-child projects. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Blokus
(Mattel $29.95 Score:)

Older players say this is a game like classic Go, played on the diagonal. But here the playing pieces are in a variety of geometric shapes, so seeing the special relationships can be challenging. Still, even younger players begin to use strategy as they find ways to use all their pieces while blocking others from their moves. A handsome game for 2-4 players. 5 & up. 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Awards
Cranium Hullabaloo
(Cranium $24.95 Score:) Players have to listen carefully to the electronic ringmaster that directs play among the 16 playmats. The player on the "lucky" mat when the ringmaster says, "freeze!" is the winner. Pace slow enough that most 4s would also enjoy playing. Also new, Conga ($19.95 ), an interactive trivia game based on how well you know your friends and family. Still top rated, Cranium Cadoo for Kids ($19.99 ): in order to win, players must draw, act out, use clay, and retrieve objects from around the house. 7 & up. PLATINUM AWARD '02. SNAP: Active fun while building listening skills and concepts. For kids who cannot get up and jump from mat to mat...adapt the game for a floor sitting find it fun. Give children a long cardboard tube and place mats in easy reach around the player(s)..object is to touch the right mat first.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Gobblet Junior
(Blue Orange Games $19.95 Score:)

This junior edition of PLATINUM AWARD ’03 winner is just as much fun. The object is to be the first player to have three gobblets in a row, as in Tic Tac Toe. But beware, you can capture the spot with a larger gobblet! PLATINUM AWARD ’04. For an easy color memory game, consider Maask ($19.95). (415) 572-3885.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2004 Awards
PDQ
(Gamewright $9.99 Score:)

PDQ, short for the Pretty Darn Quick Word Game, works by players drawing three letter cards. The first player to call out a word that uses those three letters wins those cards. Not for shy game players! Much like Word Sense, but without the tiles. Great for travel. 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, Tweens. Award Year: 2004. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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