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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2005 Award
Pop Art Painted Jewelry and Nail Polish Kit
(Fashion Angels Enterprises $16 Score:) Plastic jewelry from the 60s is making a come back. Kids can be right in the middle of this retro fashion trend with this set that comes with six rings, two pendants and four bracelets. You paint the underside of the plastic for a "pop art" effect. We agree with the directions that you really need to paint with toothpicks (not included) to get the right color saturation. If you just paint with the nail polish brushes included we found the color is too light.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Friendship Wheel
(Alex $13.99 Score:) Remember braiding friendship bracelets in multicolored threads? Well they are back, only now there is a weaving wheel that guides the process and takes just a few minutes to master. Kit comes with two foam wheels and enough thread for 10 bracelets. Kids can pass the wheels around and help make all of them or bring home a wheel for each guest. Also a great choice for play dates or keeping hands busy on a trip. Our ten year old tester said it would be the "perfect travel toy."

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Paint Ice Jewelry
(3M $13.99 Score:) Make a whole wardrobe of rings and bracelets with the five funky rings and four bracelets. Jewelry is made of clear plastic that you paint on the underside. Kids can use decals as well as paints to make stripes, spots and other designs. A fine brush and bright paint do the task with ease. But kids do need to wait between colors so the colors dry one at a time. Also a good choice for a play date with enough pieces to go around. 8 & up. (800) 666-2539.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2006 Award
Rock Castle
(Playmobil $79.99 Score:) Playmobil’s Knights’ Empire Castle uses the company’s new SystemX, which is designed for shorter assembly time and durability. Comes with a working gate and dungeon and looks like the classic friendly Playmobil settings of years past. By comparison, Rock Castle ($79.99 ) has a more sinister feel to it. Suggested add-on, the Red Dragon (because you always need a dragon), is sold separately. Projectile cannons sold separately. Also darker in feel than their previous castles is Lego’s new Vladek’s Dark Fortress ($99 ), which comes with catapults. Most kids love the action of projectiles until one hits them. 8–12. (800) 233-8756.

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

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2006 Award
City
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:) The consensus from our builders this year was, “no way a 5 year old could do this.” That said, our older testers enjoyed the city-themed sets that include a Fire and Construction set. Our 8-year-old tester enjoyed building and playing with the Fire Truck ($19.99/214 pieces ) that comes with a movable ladder, two firefighters, and a boat for sea rescues. The same family had more difficulty with the Fire Station ($29.99/260 pieces ). One tester’s parent commented that it’s “like a boy’s ultimate dollhouse,” but the 6-year-old builder had trouble following the directions and the lift in the station “did not work well.” Once assembled it was enjoyed as a pretend setting. Marked 5 & up, but most 5s will need assistance. (800) 223-8756.

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

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K'nex Pirate Ship Park
(KNEX $49.99 Score:) Pirate Ship Park is over two feet tall. This motorized kit can build three different amusement park-style rides with screaming sounds and swinging action.Not for beginners! Not available for testing.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Star Wars Monopoly
(Milton Bradley $29.99 Score:) In honor of the last installment of the series, Hasbro has brought out several classic games with a SW theme. The Star Wars Saga Edition Monopoly ($29.99 1⁄2) is great fun with features that span the series including Darth Maul, Darth Vader, Yoda. The board takes you through the galaxy. For parents who enjoyed Stratego ($15.99 ) or Risk ($24.99 ), your kids will enjoy these versions with characters from all six movies. We’d skip the Chess Set ($29.99 ); the pieces are too difficult to distinguish for young chess players). (888) 836-7025.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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2006 Award
Who? What? Where? Jr.
(Pazow $19.95 Score:) Each player takes a who, a what, and a where card, which combine to ask you to draw a certain image—Abraham Lincoln fishing in Paris, for example. Players get points for guessing each other’s drawings. A fun family game for 7 & up. A follow-up to last year’s PLATINUM AWARD-winning game for 12 & up. (415) 885-5006.

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

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2006 Award
Maya & Miguel Word Scramble
(Briarpatch $19.95 Score:) Like last year’s I Spy Word Scramble, this has a big game board with sliding tiles. Players take turns drawing a card, choosing a letter or image on the card, and spelling that word by sliding letters before the timer runs out. Inspired by the PBS TV show, this game can be played both in Spanish and English. 7 & up. (800) 232-7427.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2006.

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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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