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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 


2014 Award
LEGO Creator 3-in-1 Roaring Power
(Lego Systems, Inc. $29.99 Score:)

Newest in the clever 3-in-1 builds the 374-piece set gives kids instructions for a roaring race-car, a T-Rex, and a sea plane. A mid-size kit that shows kids they can use the same pieces for new constructions.

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
LEGO STAR WARS Droid Gunship
(Lego Systems, Inc. $49.99 Score:)

The grey and blue Droid Gunship is an intermediate build with 439 pieces. If your Star Wars fan is building his fleet from the cartoon show (as opposed to the movies), this is a fine addition. Comes with a spring-loaded shooter, Chewbacca, Super Battle Droid, Battle Droid and 41st Elite Corps Trooper. We find that the included minifigs are a big part of the collectability appeal of the line for fans of the line. 8-14.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens, Teens, Adult. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO STAR WARS V-Wing Starfighter
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24.99 Score:)

STAR WARS fans will love building this small red and grey spaceship. With 201 pieces this is a good place to start if you have a beginning LEGO/STAR WARS fan. Set comes with a V-Wing Pilot and an Astromech Droid. Also new this year and in the same level of building experiences: the yellow and grey Jedi Interceptor ($24.99 with 223 pieces and comes with Anakin Skywalker and R2-D2) and the blue/grey Vulture Droid ($24.99 with 205 pieces and comes with Buzz Droid, Pilot Battle Droid and Neimoidian Warrior). All marked 7-12. All come with new spring-loaded shooters which need some supervision.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Mudpuppy Shadow Puppets, Monster Mania
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Eight laser cut monster faced shadow puppets on sticks come in this set that invites kids to explore the science of making shadows and the ancient art form of storytelling with those shadows. These come with no premade story. Cast the shadow on a light or white wall with a flashlight and let the action begin. Try using them to dance to spooky monsterous sounding music or tell a story of three monsters, a la Three Bears or create a totally original story. There is also a set of premade Madeline shadow puppets for younger players. They are marked 3 & up, but this is really a toy that is more appropriate for school aged players.

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
Mudpuppy Shadow Puppets, Madeline
(Mudpuppy Press $16.99 Score:)

Eight laser-cut shadow puppets on sticks are ready to lights and action as kids retell some of their favorite Madeline tales or make up their own stories based on thie classic adventures of young Madeline. The puppets give kids a chance to explore the science of making shadows and the ancient art form of storytelling with those shadows. We were surprised not to find all those girls in a long straight line as one of the puppets, but this set does include Madeline, the Eifel Tower, a house all covered with vines, Miss Clavel, and several of Madeline’s friends and pooch. Older kids will enjoy the Monster Mania set in the same line. Marked for 3 & up, we think older 4 and 5 year olds would be better able to make this happen.

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
LEGO CREATOR Turbo Quad
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24.99 Score:)

The 3-in-1 series is always a hit with our testers who love the ability to take their models apart and try their hand at another two builds. This one has instructions for the Turbo Quad, a Monster Truck or a Buggy. With 186 pieces, this is a beginning/ intermediate build for kids 7-12. Also new in this line this year, the Twinblade Adventure (models also include making a biplane or helicopter). For even smaller builds, look at Red Thunder (66 pieces) and Power Digger (64 pieces) - ideal for stocking stuffers.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
LEGO CITY Monster Truck and Race Car
(Lego Systems, Inc. $9.99 Score:)

Both of these small builds are a great place to start with LEGO builds. The truck comes with 78 pieces, the race car with 100 pieces. Quite affordable for birthday party presents—especially when the parties come in rapid succession! 5-12

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2014 Award
Seedling French Knitting Spool
(Seedling $15.99 Score:)

A classic spool to knit long cords that can be stitched together to make doll clothes or bracelets or whatever young designers fancy. The wooden spool is painted like a white and red spotted mushroom and has good-sized loops to wrap the yarn around. It comes with a generous amount of yarn for initial designs, though, kids who get into this craft, will soon be asking you for more wool! Our package had lavender yarn, but the colors may vary. Knitter’s scrap wool is ideal for multicolored projects. 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
Bananagrams Go Wild
(Bananagrams $14.99 Score:)

Like other Bananagrams word games, this is played with letter tiles but without a scrabble type board. Each player takes the correct number (depending on the number of players) and tries to be the first to use them horizontally and vertically. The game comes with six wild tiles that can be used for any letter. Our testers thought this newest game was going to take forever until they got going. As soon as one player uses up all of her tiles she must draw from the slush pile and so must everyone else. The game ends when there are fewer tiles than the number of people playing. Our testers liked this one and agreed that it was a game for older players. The package says 7 & up, but they thought this was more like a good choice for 9 & up.

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014.

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2014 Award
LEGO THE LEGO MOVIE Benny's Spaceship, Spaceship, SPACESHIP
(Lego Systems, Inc. $99.99 Score:)

Benny has been begging to build a spaceship throughout the movie--and finally he's given permission. This is that super spaceship with lots of moving parts including the cockpit cover and some missiles to launch. It also comes with three other smaller space vehicles for the other characters to fly. This is a big build with 940 pieces that also includes Astro Kitty, Benny, Space Wyldstyle, Robo Emmet, and Robo Pilot. Younger builders can enjoy playing with it, but adults will have to do a good part of the building. Somehow a 7-year old tester received this (in error) and his dad reports that he loved it so much he slept with the box the first night it arrived. His dad plans to have his son help with a rebuild so that he can have a sense of accomplishment in the construction as well as in having a toy for dramatic play. Marked 9-12

Age: Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2014. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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