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Product Type: Toys
Award: Platinum
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2013

 


2013 Award
LEGO STAR WARS Headhunter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

One of the intermediate builds from the new Star Wars collection for 2013, the Headhunter got high marks from our testers even though it's not from a major scene or have a famous minifig. Our tester reported: "We've built a number of the starships and most of them are not sturdy and the wings fall off and need rebuilding when you play with them. This one is impressive and sturdy." The build comes in four bags. Our tester loved that three of the bags included a minifig - keeping the interest going as the build progressed. Comes with a Jedi who has 4 arms and 2 double lightsabers. This is not your father's Star Wars!

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

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2013 Award
LEGO City Grand Prix Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

While Star Wars often gets the lionshare of requests from our LEGO builders, some of their more traditional trucks got rave reviews from our testers. This Grand Prix Truck received high marks because it was an interesting build. The truck opens in different ways to make room for the Gran Prix car (which "you also get!!").  With 315 pieces this is a satisfying challenge for a beginning builder. The box says 5 & up -- most fives will need assistance, which is fine.  In addition to the truck and the racing car, the set comes with three minifigures so there's lots of room here for pretend play after the building is complete.

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

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2013 Award
Demolition Lab Triple Blast Warehouse
(SmartLab $39.99 Score:) We had some disagreement about this toy with such strong opinions on both sides.  So if it sounds silly to have a toy that you build only to then blow apart - then know we hear you.  On the other hand, it is really fun and actually a hands-on physics lesson (energy, momentum and don't forget gravity). The kit also requires a great deal of building and patience for that very brief moment of glory in pushing the button that brings down your structure. In an age of videos, we imagine that kids will not only love building the warehouse, but videotapping the take down.  Comes with 100 pieces for building the warehouse however you feel on a particular day.

 

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

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2013 Award
Corolle Les Cheries Cecile A La Tour Eiffel
(Corolle $51.99 Score:)

We want to be Cecile when we grow up - down to her two-toned Chanel-inspired ballet slippers. Ready to tour all the sights in Paris, Cecile is the latest addition to this Platinum Award winning line of 13" dolls that celebrate girls (not girls dressed up as women). There are additional dolls and clothes in this collection (happily, they can all share the same wardrobe).  Each comes with an all vinyl body and the signature scent of vanilla. Tre joile!

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

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2013 Award
LEGO Kings Castle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

We love that in the land of licensed lines, LEGO still makes an old-fashion Castle complete with draw bridge, towers, king's throne, collapsing wall, and most appealing to our testers a hidden escape door. Comes with seven mini figures including the King and the White Knight. The game play focuses on keeping the castle safe from the evil Dragon warriors. The build is done in sections -making the castle more manageable for younger builders. The castle is a great parent-child opportunity.

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

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2013 Award
LEGO Creator Thunder Wings
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Our LEGO testers consistently love builds from the Creator series since they include three builds from the same set. With this set you can make a jet, a robot, or a futuristic car. With only 235 pieces this is a very good place to start with beginner builders.  

 

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

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2013 Award
Swish Junior
(ThinkFun $12.99 Score:)

One of the most elegant card games we tested this year. Swish Junior comes with 45 transulcent cards that have shapes (a diamond, star, circle) placed on different locations on the cards. A "swish" is made when you can stack up two cards so that the images line up.  Sometimes this requires that you turn the card and to line up a solid circle with an open-circle- calling for great visual discrimination skills.  They say 5 & up, we'd say this a great parent-child game at the younger range. Players can then graduate to the more advanced original game of Swish.

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

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2013 Award
Laser Maze
(ThinkFun $29.99 Score:)

From the folks that brought us Rush Hour, here's a new brainteaser for the 21st century. The idea is to bounce the laser off the mirrors on the other game pieces to hit the end piece. As with their other games, the challenges (there are 60) get progressively more difficult. Our testers loved the idea of the laser game piece. Laser Maze requires problem-solving skills and the ability to think several steps ahead. Very cool.

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

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2013 Award
Cirplexed
(MindWare $29.99 Score:)

Our game day testers loved this game that requires a careful eye for detail. Each player starts with a certain number of tiles that each have a different color on each corner. As players pull more tiles from the bag the goal is to make circles where all four quarters are of the same color. The player with the most matches at the end of the round is the winner. You can play individually or if you have younger kids we'd recommend playing in teams.  The pace of this game is lovely since you're working on your own board (or team's board) rather than competiting on one board against other players.

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

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2013 Award
LEGO The Lord of the Rings Pirate Ship Ambush
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

"You're kidding!" was the response we got from our die-hard LORs fans when we told them that LEGO was now doing builds inspired from the trilogy. The Pirates Ambush gives fans the opportunity to build a LEGO version of Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas surprise the Orcs with the Army of the Dead. We have a feeling there will be many teens and adults eager to help with this set!  Comes with a satisfying 9 mini-figures. With 756 pieces, this is a good parent-child build or an independent build for more advanced builders.

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

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