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

 


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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2004 Award
Musical Ferris Wheel
(KNEX $49.99 Score:)

This product has been DISCONTINUED. Our 11-year old female tester raved about this ferris wheel that plays music as it spins. It took her a good part of a Saturday morning to finish. She found the directions to be clear and was even thinking about taking it apart to try the other two models you can build with the same pieces. The ferris wheel is a satisfying 3 feet tall when fully built. As with all building kits, if you have a beginner, this is not the place to start! However, this would be a fun parent child project for a cold winter's day.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2004.

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2005 Award
Prehistoric Creatures
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:) The large red T-Rex that you can build with this set is "amazing looking" according to our 11 year old testers. But our experienced builders warn: "it's very delicate and could break easily--keep your younger brothers away!" Set comes with instructions for 10 creatures. Marked 7 & up, but we'd say more like 9 & up. Also Titan XP from the same series, our testers wrote "wow, there are a lot of pieces!" (782 to be exact) Builds a 14" tall creatures that swivels at the waist--but he too is very fragile.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Geomag
(Ekos $20 Score:) We love these open-ended magnetic sets. Put one on the coffee table and everyone will take a turn. Geomag comes with straight magnetic rods in different colors and steel balls. The rods are not tapered like the competing Supermag sets (although our testers judged them to be equally enjoyable to use.) Geomag Panel kits were interesting at first, but not as open-ended as the classic sets. (888) 450-9858.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
KNEX Big Air Ball Tower
(KNEX $99.99 Score:) The wow-wee set of the season, this ball run is over five feet tall when completed (which will require some adult assistance). Comes with more than 1350 pieces, so not for the meek builders! Four D batteries power the fan that propels the plastic balls through a maze of tubing, and traditional Knex pieces! A fun parent–child project for those who love to build.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
Nano Case Vehicles
(Mega Bloks $5.99 Score:) You need dexterity, patience and good visual skills to assemble these small vehicles with working parts. Some come with sound chips and all come in sleek cases that convert into play platforms. Collect them and link their roadways together. If you need a lot of not too pricey gifts for birthdays and holidays these sets are a classy choice-but only if the child at the other end loves the challenge of building and the staying power to get the job done. They say 7 and up- we ‘d say that only some 7’s will be able to do this without help. (800) 465-6342.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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2005 Award
WEBZ 108
(Progressive Trading Inc. $49.95 Score:) Another generation of magnetic connectors and steel balls have arrived in time for the holiday season. This amazing set has 48 gem-toned transparent web plates in three different sizes and 60 steel balls to create a never-ending variety of constructions. This set includes 3, 4,and 5-armed pieces that can be combined with bars and balls. There is no right or wrong way to do this, but lots of ways to experiment with creating domes, towers and other inventive creations. A smaller set, Webz 54 ($24.95)is fun but not nearly as versatile as the larger set. Both sets are compatible with Magz X and Skrooz- the original rod and magnet sets we have reviewed in the past.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2005.

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