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

 


Award
Wooden Dinosaur Models
(B.C. Bones $20 Score:) Kids who are wild about dinosaurs --will often spout off the dinosaur's long names and how big they grew--but how big is that compared to the living room-say or the block you live on? Kids can use a traditional yard stick, tape measures or they can count how many steps they need to take to measure 3 feet. Another choice is to measure off 10 feet of string. If the Allosaurus model they are building was 36 feet in real life --have them compare that to the house you live in…how many car length could that be? Other dinosaurs in books can be compared the same way. By the way, wooden dinosaur models (B.C. Bones $30 & up depending on size) requires working in a step by step way-translating directions from paper to real thing. Kids also need to use spatial relationships and a far amount of patience. New smaller kits with paint did not test well: "way too confusing, would be great with clearer directions." New architectural landmark kits looked stunning but were not ready for testing. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2001 Awards
Castles
(Lego Systems, Inc. $89.99 Score:) Lego's latest King Leo's Castle with 524 pieces ($89.99) is geared to dramas of good vs. evil with trap doors, catapults, and secret hiding places. They've added a warrior princess but this, like Playmobil's King Large Castle, will likely appeal to boys, while Playmobil's Fairy Tale Castle is gender-specific lavender. 7 & up. Lego (800) 453-4652.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2001 Awards
Block-N-Roll
(Taurus Toys $19.99 Score:) A new twist on marble runs, this engrossing multipiece set (60 & 100) has blocks with grooves, drop-through slots, ramps, and turns that link together to make an endless variety of runways. New for 2001, they have added new twists with Loop-D-Loops ($4.95).

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2001.

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2002 Award
K'nex Screamin'Serpent Roller Coaster
(KNEX $89.99 Score:) Our test family raved about the 1280 piece set that stands 6 feet by 3 feet when built! They said their child was so "thrilled with the results that it was a bigger hit than Disney World!" That said, they reported that it took over 36 hours to build and is truly for dedicated K'nex builders. The Trampoline (scored a four) was also a multiday project that our 10 year old builder thought was "neat" but only for those with lots of patience. The set also required some "jerryrigging" to get all the parts working smoothly.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2002 Award
Knex Missions in Space Sets
(KNEX $29.99 Score:) Builders continue to report that they need more finger strength for K'nex than for Legos. Fans of K'nex gave high scores to the new Apollo 15 Lunar Lander($2999/501 pieces) that comes with an astronaut and neat sound effects. The Jack Knife Big Rig Race Transport($16.99/296 pieces) Also scored a solid four.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2002.

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2003 Award
Ello
(Mattel $19.95 Score:) Designed to attract girls to construction toys, this is an innovative building system with panels and Matisse-inspired cutout disks that can be joined with square and circular connectors, string and slender sticks for adding extra flair. Research has indicated that playing with blocks and building sets help to develop important spatial relations and math skills needed for later achievement in math, engineering and science. Unfortunately too many sets on the market are geared only for boys. We particularly liked the look of the Ello-opolis set, which has a modern art feel, or the underwater Ello Aquaria set. (Imagine Matisse or Calder designing a construction set!) They have an engaging color palette (refreshingly not all pink!) and have interesting building pieces that lend themselves for open-ended play.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
Lego Bionicle
(Lego Systems, Inc. $7.99 Score:) Our testers enjoyed these futuristic robots that have become a hot collectible. Not the Lego toys you remember, but not too dark or menacing-and they're easy to put together.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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2003 Award
K'nex Downhill Thrill
(KNEX $19.99 Score:) Our extreme sports fans at first gave a mediocre rating to this new 3'-tall ramp that you build for a street luge racer because they could not make him go through the finish line properly. But once they adjusted the position of the finish line, the rating shot up way up! A good playdate toy. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2003.

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Erector Vehicles
(Brio $32 Score:) One tester told us that the starter set was hard but "awesome" while another said it was "way too frustrating." That's how it is with Erector sets—you either love 'em or you don't. That said, your best bet is to try a smaller "starter" set. Design Set 1 builds three different motorcycles and tested better than last year’s small models. New for this year, Design Radio Controlled 4x4 Truck ($100/618 pieces) is the first remote-controlled Erector vehicle. Builds three models with a 9.6V motor. For advanced builders, Renault Formula 1 Car ($200/809 pieces). Both looked promising, but were not ready for testing. 10 & up. (888) 274-6869.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: .

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2004 Award
Empire State Building
(B.C. Bones $44.99 Score:) Our office is decorated with these stunning wooden structures that include the Eiffel Tower and Golden Gate Bridge. Our complaint with these beautiful sets is that there are no clear directions. The company insists that they make "puzzles," not construction sets. The company promises to post a cheat sheet up on their website. Still recommended, their Wooden Prehistoric Animal Models ($30 & up). Good parent-child projects. 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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