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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2008 Award
Arena
(Playmobil $89.99 Score:) Playmobil meets the Gladiator, with this ancient arena that includes audience seating, trap doors to the lion cages, a wide gate, and a large battle area. Comes with eight figures, two lions, a double harness chariot, and more. One of the most unusual pretend settings we've seen in a long time! They say 5 & up, but will be of more interest to older kids.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Lego Creator Ferris Wheel
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if you’re talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after it’s built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The K’nex Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Crayola Telescoping Crayon Tower
(Crayola $14.99 Score:)

We think everyone needs this tower. It makes everyone smile. Remember the really big box of crayons that smelled just like the beginning of the school year? This is better, but you don't have to do third grade again. Comes with 150 crayons in a round plastic tray; pull up the center, and now you have a tower of colors and a sharpener. Also special, Telescoping Mini Marker Tower with 50 washable mini-markers stored in a holder that lifts into a tower. 5 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Decoupage Diva Tray
(Creativity for Kids $22.95 Score:)

Learning the technique of decoupage is made simple with this kit, which includes a white wooden 17" ✕ 12" tray, with fold-out legs, a precut hole that holds a cup, two sheets of pastel-related art to cut out and paste, glaze, scissors, a foam brush, glitter glue, and gem stones. Older kids like to work on projects that give them a finished product they can use. There is no right or wrong way, yet kids end up with a breakfast tray or writing desk that will be all the more fun to use, since they designed it. May need adult assistance to get started. 7 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Eye Clops
(Jakks Pacific (Child Guidance) $49.99 Score:)

There's no way of knowing how long this will hold their interest, but it is one amazing "bionic eye" that magnifies objects 200✕ their size! Plug it into the TV screen and look at your skin, a bug, a coin, your sweater. We hope a future model will plug into the computer so you can save slides of your finds. Unlike a classic microscope that is hard for kids to use, this projects images on the TV screen so that they really can marvel at the crystal shapes in table salt and examine the details of a fly or rug fiber. 6 & up.

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

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2008 Award
Kidizoom Camera
(V-Tech $59.99 Score:) We were really impressed with the many features on this new digital and movie camera with dual eye viewing, an 1.8 LCD screen with 16 MB of memory, and auto flash. It stores 200 photos or 5 minutes of video. It has wacky effects such as hats, photo frames, and more that can be added on the camera screen or when you put it on the computer or TV. It also has games and photo puzzles. You can add a memory card and connect to TV or PC. A lot for the money!

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Awards
Crayola Color Surge
(Crayola $7.99 Score:)

Magical drawing experiences when these color surge markers touch down on the brilliantly colored double-sided paper. The colors brighten up as you draw and turn colors as one marker glides over an earlier line. Sets come with 8 or more markers and 20 or more sheets. This makes a great open-ended travel toy or a good choice for some non-messy creative time for a play date. Take it to Grams--chances are she will want to try it! 5 & up.

The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements. We did not independently test this toy in a lab. SNAP ACTIVITY: Use these magical markers and paper to encourage kids to practice writing their names and turn the finished work into signs for the door to her room or cover of his notebook. First you write a letter...then have the child trace your letter. This follow the leader game is a great way to make work into play with a happy payoff!

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

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2009 Award
Boochie
(Gamewright $34.99 Score:)

A great new active family game that combines the action of the Italian classic Bocce with a ring toss and extra twists! Everyone puts on a "wrist tracker" set at zero. "It" tosses the soft foam Boochie Ball about 12 feet away. Now players take turns tossing their color-coded hoops and balls as close to the 12-sided Boochie Ball. After everyone has had two turns, players approach the Boochie Ball to score the round. First to score 11 points wins. But watch out! The Boochie Ball may give points for being furthest away. Players set their wrist trackers, which reveal how they must play the next round, tossing, bowling, kicking, standing on one foot, squatting. For 2-4 players.

The company has submitted our safety verification form. Note, we did not test this independently in a lab.

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

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2009 Award
DRV Rescue SUV and Plane
(Kid Galaxy $45 Score:) Here's one of the coolest combinations. Two remote control vehicles to play with at the same time. The remote control works both the sturdy truck and the plane that sits on top of the truck. Charges just like their stand alone planes—you hold the charger down for 10 seconds.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2009.

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2008 Award
FlyTech Butterfly and Moth
(WowWee $24.99 Score:)

Ok, so it's probably too early in the season to declare our favorite toy...but these butterflies and moths are clearly front runners! Easy to launch- you just hold the button down on the launcher until the wings really start to go-and then pull it back all the way-the butterfly or moth will take off! Also available, a pretty sharp looking red and black Mosquito (only on-line). This is the type of toy everyone will want a turn playing with- including the adults. (Editors Update: So these remain one of our top fun picks of the entire year.)

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: 2008. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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