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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2006 Award
Ceramic Swirl Art
(Alex $24.99 Score:) Classic spin art type toys are one of our all-time favorites so you can imagine how excited we were to find this new “spin” that includes ceramic plates and tiles that attach to the platform. You can set your designs by baking them. Adult supervision a must. Also fun and messy, Tie Dye Party ($19.99 4balls) but we’d skip Plaster Caster ($44.99 2 balls), which looked amazingly cool but we could not get a figure to form that wasn’t cracked. 8 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Funky Bead Chest
(Bead Bazaar $ Score:) A dream gift for a beader! The Funky Bead Chest is a tall, brightly painted wooden chest with three lined drawers that comes topped with a juicy collection of wooden beads, charms, and colorful string to match. Our testers clearly loved the box as much as they liked the beads! Equally neat, Inspire Bead Chest, same idea with words on the front of the box. If you're having a party, consider Totally Fun Beads ($18.99) comes with 30 charms, 1000 plus beads and 30 strings. Plenty for a group. Our testers also raved about this company's Hemp and Mystic bead kits ($9.99 each) that will appeal to tweens, teens, and their mothers. (We had difficulty threading some of the beads in these kits with the included hemp string but that did not discourage our testers (they used elastic).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Comfy Chic Flip Flops
(Creativity for Kids $17.99 Score:) Set comes with two pairs of flip flops (sizes 11-2 and 4-7). The project is fun to do. One set comes with chenille yarn, the other with confetti ribbon that you simply wrap around the upper part of the flip-flop. "We got our yarn tangled up but it still came out fine" - then you paste a flower to the top and you're done. (Be forewarned - the flip-flops and yarns are not identical, which can create a problem with some siblings/friends).

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Power Brain YoYo
(Hasbro $10.99 Score:) We wish we had had this yo-yo when we were kids! While some purists may think of it as the yo-yo for dummies, we love the fact that it knows how to come back up with its "auto-return technology." It also makes doing tricks such as "walk the dog" that much easier! One of our testers did warn that "you have you watch out not to hit yourself in the face--it comes up really fast!" That said, this was one of the favorite toys of our older testers.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Wild Adventure Mini Golf
(Milton Bradley $49.99 Score:) This is a plug-in-and-putt game for multigenerational fun! Better than a trip to the miniature golf course, it has six different settings that players can swing through with the plastic putter and a tee that you turn to change the direction of the ball. Can be played solo or with others. Another good choice for getting kids up on their feet and playing actively. 6 & up. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Star Wars Game Saga Edition
(Tiger Electronics $49.99 Score:) Plug the training droid into your TV and players with wireless light saber are ready to become Jedi warriors. Testers had an aerobic workout swinging the light saber and ridding the galaxy of droids and other evildoers! We don’t usually review zap-it games, but this is more fantasy than war, and multi-generational—may even get parents up and on their feet! May the Force be with you. 8 & up. (888) 836-7025.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2005 Award
IZ
(Zizzle $39.99 Score:) IZ looks like a playful alien. Twist his ears,nose and eyes and you will activiate a random collection of sound effects and music. Plug IZ into your MP3 player and he now becomes a speaker. We put IZ to the test against I-DOG, the ipod inspired pup from Hasbro. IZ appealed much more to boys (young and old). Our girl testers felt that IZ was cute but "younger looking" than I-DOG. Our 11 year old boy tester wrote: "It was still appealing after the newness wore off. It would be a cool desk toy to fool around with in the duller hours of the day." Boys generally liked the robotic, alien design of IZ. This same tester hit the toy on the head: "I found IZ, besides being entertaining, a bit pointless. But, then again, fun can sometimes be pointless, right?" We agree.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Pixel Chix
(Mattel $29.95 Score:) Watch a 2-D image of a girl move about in her house. Help her pick what's she going to do (rollerblade vs. watch TV), what she's going to eat or wear. There are five different levels of play and, like a virtual pet, she'll let you know if she's happy or sad. The coolest feature: you can connect two houses together and the chix will visit each other. A little noisy at times but will fit in a backpack for on the go fun.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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Furby
(Hasbro $ Score:) Furby is back this year with what the company calls "Emotio-tronics". This larger furry creature now promises to display happiness,sadness, surprise, fear and of course, sleepiness (what's an electronic creature without the sleep mode?) Sometimes Furby sounds a bit like Yoda as he speaks his Furbish. A pure novelty that will likely end up sitting on the shelf after the initial furbishness wears off.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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VCamNow
(Hasbro $74.99 Score:) Our testers were looking forward to putting the VCamNow and Mattel's Vidster to the test. The idea of a video camera for kids under $100 is very appealing. Rather than hand off your own expensive video camera and hoping for the best, these small kid friendly options seemed like a great breakthrough. Both cameras got initial high marks for design. "Kids this age want gadgets that look like the real thing" noted one parent. However, both products did not test well with our tech savvy kids and their parents. The Vidster view finder was blurry and the output was too dark even when the testers added lots of light. The VCamNow had a clear view finder image, but the output was very blurry. "I would have taken both products back" noted one parent.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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