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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
Magformers Magnets in Motion 22 piece Power Set
(Magformers $69.99 Score:)

This is more like an add-on for those who already own a set of Magformer gears. Plug the generator into your computer with the USB cord to charge it up or into an USB adapter. Once you have it charged, your Magformers gears are ready to spin into action. This little set comes with some magformer squares and rectangles to build a platform, two lights, two gears and the big blue spinner that will activate other gears from this and other sets. Basically, it is pretty limited as a stand alone, but a fun accessory that will add to the action of gear sets in the magformer collection.  6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Knex Typhoon Frenzy Roller Coaster
(Knex $49.99 Score:)

Our twelve-year old tester took four days to complete, working approximately two hours a day. He considers this particular set very difficult and in his words, "Kids with short attention spans will take a lot longer to do this because each of the steps takes at least 10-15 minutes, and I believe there were 53 steps in this set." When asked about the age label on the box When I asked him if the 9 & up age range on the box he said, "There is no way that a 9-year-old could put this together.” He thinks that a more realistic age bracket would be ages 11+ but it would have to be a pretty disciplined eleven year old because with the rail, for example, one false move and you'd end up having to reassemble a huge portion of this." Unlike other builds, our tester felt there as not a lot he could do with it after it was built. He played with it for a few days and then it has been untouched. His mom, a teacher of gifted kids, thinks it will appeal to engineer-type kids for whom the assembly is the thrill. On the positive side, our tester reported, "One good thing about playing with this is that the little car keeps its momentum all the way down, which you wouldn’t expect since it goes upside down."

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers 83 Piece Magnets in Motion Power Set
(Magformers $179.99 Score:)

Here is the super duper uber size Magformer set that includes gears, a generator, and all the shapes needed for building exciting constructions that move. A pricey set that will challenge and large enough for several kids to share. Like all Magformer sets, this involves science, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience and imagination. Kids are going to have good fun building machines that they can activate with the colorful gears and crank for getting all those parts moving or use the generator to get things going. There are big and little gears, colorful image plates that swirl when they turn, creating optical illusions. This primary colored set is gender neutral and comes with step by step instructions for making their models, though the pieces can be used in an open ended way for making their own creations.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Awards
Magformers 62 piece Classic Set
(Magformers $99 Score:)

This is where we started when Magformers were first introduced. It has all the basic pieces for making a dome, a square, a star and so many other geometric forms. We have to confess, we loved the dome that goes together like magic and remains a favorite at the toyportfolio. Like all of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Magformers 62 piece Inspire Design
(Magformers $99 Score:)

Designed to appeal to girls with hot pink, lavender, powder blue, pink and magenta pieces, this construction set had magnets embedded in plastic shapes, so it is safe, yet challenging, inviting kids to investigate in a hands on way how magnets attract and repel, how they can put the pieces together to make three dimensional designs. This big set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of geometric constructions. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. Do we think girls need special colors to entice them? No, but apparently it does appeal to some who might otherwise not do any construction play. That would be a greater loss, since developing spatial skills and this kind of thinking should not be reserved for boys only. It this is the ticket--we say go for it.  6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers Magnets in Motion 37 Piece Set
(Magformers $59.99 Score:)

This is a mid size variation of the big Magnets in Motion set that combines gears and magformers to build some amazing machines. It has a snap on crank handle and plenty of big and small gears with colorful discs that create optical illusions in motion. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience, science, and imagination. This interesting set comes with a step-by-step instruction booklet for creating all sorts of constructions with gears. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Magformers 61 piece Magnets in Motion
(Magformers $99 Score:)

What could be more fun than combining gears and magformers? Kids are going to have good fun building machines that they can activate with the colorful gears and crank for getting all those parts moving. There are big and little gears, colorful image plates that swirl when they turn, creating optical illusions. This primary colored set is gender neutral sets it comes with step by step instructions for making their models, though the pieces can be used in an open ended way for making their own creations. Like so many of the Magformer sets, this involves, science, problem solving, fine motor skills, patience and imagination. A smaller 32-piece set is $39.99. Or, you can add a 20 piece Magnets in Motion Accessory Set (19.99) with large and small gears and crank to enlarge the possibilities of your basic Magnets in Motion set. 6 & up

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
American Girl Beforever Samantha & Book
(American Girl $115 Score:)

Samantha, an American girl at the dawn of the 20th Century, is being brought up by her grandparents to be a proper young lady of her day. But her privileged life does not prevent her from befriending a servant girl and understanding her very different circumstances. American Girl introduced Samantha in 1986 and she is reintroduced this season in a new line of historical dolls with a refreshed look. Her original look had more of a historic period piece costume; while the update has a far more modern look. That said, we expect that many of the original Samantha doll owners will be eager to bring their daughters an update of their memorable doll. Samantha is the first, but not the last of the well-loved collection to be updated. There are new books and accessories, as well. Dressed in a charming pink dress with ruffled collar and velvet sash, she is a beauty. 6 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
Krazy Kars Max Traxxx Tracer Racers Truck Set
(Skullduggery $29.99 Score:)

Awesome described last year's Max Traxxx Racing cars and the awesome-ness continues with the new Tracer Racer Truck set. With 16 feet of glow-in-the-dark track and two LED light-up trucks with lights on the bottom, kids can change the setting to adjust the type of pattern the trucks will leave on the track. Yes, like the cars the trucks leave a trace of LIGHT. Did we mention that the tracks will light up in the dark from the LED lights? Our testers loved both leaving LED on all the way--this lit up the entire inside of the track or putting the LED lights on pulse...which left a broken pattern on the track. Either way - this is another big hit. The tracks go together well and come with suction cups so that you can make two ramps and race the cars. Use this dual track set alone or combine it with last years car set and they are ready for amazing tract time. The company tells us that there is a patent pending, we just know this is sooo much fun. 6 & up

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Global Girl Doll Collection
(Global Girl Dolls $89.99 Score:)

Older girls may have put away their baby dolls, but they often still long for one last doll to treasure and this collection certainly fits the bill. These are 21" dolls each dressed and styled for a specific country. These are nothing like your mother's or grandmother's foreign doll collection with traditional costumes. Tatiana from Russia, Vivienne from France, Mei Ling from China, Marcela from Argentina, Amahle from South Africa, and Tiffany from New York wear stylish and current sophisticated outfits. Each doll was made with a unique face mold and coloring that reflects the world of today's girls. The soft-bodied dolls are poseable and can sit as well as stand. They come dressed with underwear, pierced earrings, coats and hats or lighter outer wear, and casual sports outfits. Each has shoes, handbags, and a beautiful head of hair to style and re-style. A book ($9.99) is sold separately for each doll and features both fiction and non-fiction to acquaint the reader with life styles for differing cultures. They are so new, they are only sold on line through globalgirl.com.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2014.

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