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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2004 Award
ETX 90AT Telescope
(Meade $595 Score:) Our reviewers gave high marks to the ETX-90AT because it comes with the Autostar computer controller (usually only found on much more expensive models). The Autostar computer allows the viewer to find celestial objects by using the hand-held automated controller. (This technology was recently featured on the West Wing.) The AT model also comes with a tripod. We would recommend this model for tweens and up. A worthy investment for a family of star gazers!

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2004 Award
Magz-x 106
(Progressive Trading Inc. $34.95 Score:) We’ve seen a lot of these magnetic building kits. Thanks to the X shaped pieces in this set it’s possible to build curved structures by making a cube and adding a triangular connection. Our builders were delighted to find more steel ball connectors in this kit, as well as the new shape. Kit comes with 28 bars, 53 steel balls and 25 “X” bars. 5 & up.

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

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2004 Award
My Horse Stable and Corral Kit
(Balitono $25 Score:) We weren't prepared for the amount of excitement when we took this craft kit out of the box. Our testers, admittedly all big horse fans, were eager to have their own stable and corral to decorate. The kit comes with a wooden double door barn with a three part sectioned corral, a 4" wooden horse, paint, brush, and painting guide. You can buy additional wooden horses from Balitono or you can use Beyer's 4" horses with the set as well.

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

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2000 Awards
ChildLIfe Ultimate SuperChief
(Childlife $3600 Score:) This isn't your father's playset! ChildLife's play gyms are made from yellow cedar that is then covered with green enamel- giving it a smooth, splinter free finish. Older climbers will be attracted to the rock wall, the buoy ball swing, and the clubhouse. Starter sets begin at $800 but you can always add more and more features (kind of like designing a kitchen). The company will help design your "dream" system on their website, by phone or with an authorized dealer. With all climbing equipment, adult supervision is a must. The government recommends a minimum of 6 inches of ground covering (wood chips, recycled mulch, pea stones, fine sand) and a minimum perimeter of 6 feet. For more guidelines, please visit www.cpsc.gov.

Age: Preschool,Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2000.

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2005 Award
4-Way Spelldown!
(Cadaco $19.99 Score:) Roll the two "letter" dice and try to make a word with the letters thrown and as many of the 10 letter keys on the playing board. For example, if you roll a "t" and an "o," and you have a "y" and an "s," you can spell "toys." The first to flip all of their keys wins. Marked 6 & up, but we'd say more like 8 & up. (800) 621-5426.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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Chicken Coop Dominoes
(Fundex $14.95 Score:) A new twist on dominoes. An electronic coop is the centerpost of this fun game. Players build “legs” off the coop and when they add a “double,” everyone must play matching tiles to form a three-pronged chicken leg. Develops matching, counting, and strategy skills. 8 & up.

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

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2005 Award
Castle of Morcia
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) If all things medieval intrigue your builder, bring home this satisfying new castle from the new Knights' Kingdom series. Each component fits onto a plastic base, there are lots of moving pieces, and as our tester commented: "just a lot of pieces—but it wasn’t hard!" There’s also a new Hogwarts Castle ($89.99/928 pieces), "smaller than the original." "Neat, the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99/242 pieces), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Hogwarts Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) Our testers wrote: "smaller than the original, but neat the way you build several towers that then connect." Experienced testers found it difficult to make the wind-up motor for the clock tower work, but gave overall high marks (they especially like the moving staircases). Also a hit, the Knight Bus ($29.99 ), straight out of the pages of Book 3. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Supermag
(Plastwood $24.99 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Testers enjoyed working with these magnetic rods and steel balls. The rods are thinner and more tapered at the ends than Geomag (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) We recommend the colorful 50-piece sets. New model sets sound promising but were not ready for testing.

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

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2005 Award
Prehistoric Creatures and Titan XP
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:) The large red T-Rex that you can build with this set is "amazing looking." Our experienced builders warned: "It's very delicate and could break easily." Set comes with instructions for 10 creatures. Marked 7 & up, we’d say more like 9 & up. About Titan XP ($49.99/782 pieces ) from the same series, our tester wrote "wow, there are a lot of pieces!" Builds a 14"-tall creature that swivels at the waist—but he too is very fragile. (800) 223-8756.

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

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