Search Results for -
Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Categories: Construction Toys

 


2015 Award
LEGO Jurassic World T. Rex Tracker
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Thanks in large part to the Jurassic World movie, 2015 is the year of the dino in toyland! LEGO has a line that delivers settings that are fun to build and have lots of scary "dino" moments built in. The particular set comes with 520 pieces including a pretty mean looking T. rex. Comes with Hoskins, Acu and Vet (characters from the movie). We also liked the interesting vehicle build that carries the cage for the T. rex if you're lucky enough to capture him. Comes with a motorcycle (as if that's ever a good idea around a T. rex!).

For an even bigger set, there's the Indominus rex Breakout (comes with 1156 pieces!) including Dr. Wu, Zach, Vet and Acu. The structure has lots of moving pieces including the doors that are supposed to keep the dino trapped, a helicopter and fun ball (holding one of the characters) that can be propelled away from the structure and offer some protection from the dinosaur. Fans of the collection, will most likely want to collect all five dinosaurs.

Two smaller sets are also fun: Raptor Rampage (324 pieces) comes with two really scary Raptors (when are raptors anything but scary?), Claire, Acu and Owen, a Vet Unit Vehicle and a motorcycle--for the money this has a lot of pretend play built into it. The other is Dilophosaurus Ambush (with 248 pieces) comes with one dinosaur, a small jeep, Gray, Acu and an enclosed ball where one character can roll away from the dinosaur.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO ELVES The Elves Treetop Hideaway
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

Our LEGO FRIENDS builders were very excited to try the new Elves sets that are also geared at girls. If you have a child that loves both fantasy and building, this collection will be a hit. As with the Friends line, Elves features a multi-cultural cast including Emily Jones who enters the magical world of elves. The Treehouse comes with some moving pieces (a moving basket to the top, a "magical" ladder) and two structures. We wish these sets were more than 6" high - that said they have lots of pretend play value once built which as been one of the appeals of the LEGO FRIENDS. Two smaller sets in the Elves line: Naida's Epic Adventure Ship (312 pieces) and Azari and the Magical Bakery (324 pieces).  We do like that there is always one boy elf in the mix. LEGO has a story line for all of these characters-- but we're sure that kids will spin their own elfen adventures.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO FRIENDS Heartlake Lighthouse
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:)

Our testers loved this unusual and fun Heartlake Lighthouse that comes with a battery-operated "light" and a place to buy ice-cream! The lighthouse has a pink and white tower attached to a building (where you pick up your favorite scoop of ice-cream) - and even more fun it comes with a pink row boat. The small pieces (binoculars, camera, seal on a small "rock")  add to the pretend play value of the set once it's built. A great set for summer fun. Comes with Friends characters Stephanie and Kate. Two other smaller new sets for 2015 that are also fun: LEGO FRIENDS Vet Clinic (with 192 pieces) and LEGO FRIENDS Heartlake Got Air Balloon (254 pieces and comes with Andrea and Noah). As far as we can recall, this is the first LEGO hot air balloon!

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2015 Award
LEGO FRIENDS Emma's House
(Lego Systems, Inc. $69.99 Score:)

Fans of LEGO FRIENDS will love this multi-level house to build. With 706 pieces, this is a build for more advanced builders. The attention to detail will likely be a hit with builders - it includes a easel for painting, a grill, a birdbath and garden, flower boxes, flat-screen tv,  furntiure - you get the idea. Comes with Emma, Charlotte and Luis. The instructions come with variations on the build. We were intrigued by the three-story build.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2015. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Roominate Chateau
(Roominate $49.99 Score:)

Newest in this award winning construction set, all the makings for building a chateau with pieces for creating a spiral staircase, bunk beds and more. It has a motor and light circuits for running elevators, lamps, and windmills. The 131-piece set has walls, wheels, axles, and more. Along with ideas in the box there is a website with even more creative ideas for making the chateau run. This is more about building and less about typical dollhouse pretending. For future engineers, scientists and architects, this is the dollhouse of choice.

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
Playmobil City Action Crane
(Playmobil $118 Score:)


Talk about big--this is stands almost a yard tall and can be operated with a hand-held remote control. The Crane can move from side to side and the trolley goes forward, back, up and down. There is a construction worker who fits into the cab. There's a forklift for lifting loads up to the construction site. An amazing 32-piece set with step by step directions for assembling. Younger kids are going to need adult help to do this. Once it's put together, it will be a fun prop for moving toy blocks. Takes 6 AA batteries that are not provided in the package. 5 & 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 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. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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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. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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