Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys
Subcategories: Open Ended: Blocks: Plastic Blocks

 


2013 Award
MindWare Q-BA-MAZE 2.0
(MindWare $39.99 & up Score:)

We hade some totally amazing marble maze toys this season. This one made a huge hit with older builders. The plastic translucent pieces can be connected both vertically and horizontally and joined with bendable tubes to create complex pathways for the steel marbles to run through. The rushing marbles make a nice sound as they move through the maze. These are not magnetic marbles, but you will need to keep them out of the reach of kids who are still mouthing their toys. Start with the big box set ($39.99) or you can go straight to the Mega Stunt set ($79.99)  that includes along with a good supply of colorful cubes, a pivot trampoline, marble vortex, coaster tubes, stilts and 30 marbles. This is the kind of toy that builds dexterity, patience, and problem solving. It's a playful introduction to physics as well as pushing those creative buttons. They say 6 & up. We think most 6 year olds will need help. This is probably a better bet for mixed ages, parent and child or for older kids who will enjoy it independently. New for 2014, is a Starter Stunt Set ($49.95).

 

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2013. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
LiteBrix Lumi-Port
(Cra-z-Art $54.99 Score:)

Build a control tower and a jet plane that light up and flash when you make the right circuitry connections. This is one of a new series of construction sets that comes with a battery pack and lots of challenges to dexterity and problem solving. Marked six and up but wed say it's more like an 8 and up, up, up kit. Younger builders are going to need parental help to learn how to install the plug in ports and figure out the less than clear directions, that the company says they hope to improve in the future. That said, the end results are showy and fun for dramatic play. This is the smaller kit and there are several still smaller ones (which might be a good way to try it out) as well as one big wow of a kit called Extreme City Lights ($99 ). Once built these will be fun to use for dramatic play with Lego and Playmobil settings. Kids can also use the components to create their own structures with the multiple building pieces. 8 & up.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2011 Award
Laser Pegs 3D Lite Board
(Laser Pegs $99.95 Score:)

Our testers enjoyed playing with this construction toy both in an open-ended manner and by following the instructions for building the 21 suggested models.  The set comes with a light board and 115 laser pegs (a satisifying amount).  The board comes with a AC adapter but can also be run on 3 AA batteries. To make the laser pegs light up, you need to make complete the electrical circuit by making the proper connection (the pieces have male/female receptors)-- so there's some science involved here.  The real fun comes when you turn off the lights and see your build aglow!  Our eight and ten year old testers found the instructions easy to follow.  Pricey--but well worth it!  We also recommend the company's new Bug kits. The company has signed a verification form complying with our safety requirements.  We did not independently test this toy in a lab.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2011. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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Awards
Lego System Classic Building Sets
(Lego Systems, Inc. $3.99 Score:) Lego, the granddaddy of plastic building blocks, is a must-have for this age group. Unlike the themed models in the line these open-ended sets with a mix of bricks, wheels, doors, and mini-figures allow kids to build and design their own creations. Also a great value, Lego Classic Play Desk ($19) comes with 225 pieces. 57.

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

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