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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

Map Tangle
(Borderline Games $24.95 Score:) Think Twister, but here the play mat is 6' x 5'5" with a marvelous map of the world! We really love the design of the giant playing mat and the idea of cooperative play by teammates who help each other find the two locations they must stand on while avoiding a “Map Tangle” and falling down! This came too late to test with families and we are not sure if the game play is going to be satisfying. We suspect kids will be making up their own rules. Still top rated, Borderline ($9.95 ). Whether you play with the USA or new World Edition, here’s a painless way to make maps fun! The object is to get rid of all your cards, but you can only put cards down on a card that “borders” the state, body of water, or country in your hand. If you don’t know, flip your card for a map that shows the borderlines. A no-tears-or-fears geography game! 8 & up. (973) 761-6260.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Monster Art Center
(Alex $69.99 Score:) Imagine the thrill of opening this double-hinged art center with trays to the right, trays to the left, and trays below! It comes loaded with 30 fine-tip markers, 28 colored pencils, 26 crayons, 24 oil pastels, 12 watercolors, brushes, pencil, glue, and palette. The crayons aren’t as juicy as Crayola, but the materials and kit would be a dream gift to most art-minded kids! They say 4 & up, we’d say this is more like a gift for 6 & up. (800) 666-2539.

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

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2006 Award
My Star Box
(Balitono $19.95 Score:) Our tester painted and then gave this star-shaped box as a gift for Mother’s Day. A real hit! A keepsake for any gift giving season.

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

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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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