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Product Type: Toys
Award: Gold
Age: Late Elementary School Years
Review Year: 2012

 


2012 Award
Laser Peg Bot
(Laser Pegs $19.95 Score:)

Want a fun introduction to circuits?  This intro set from Laser Pegs comes with instructions for 6 different models, but our testers loved treating this as an open-ended set. Make the connection between the pieces and they light up.  The low watts come from the 3 AA batteries (not included).  The company makes more extensive (and expensive kits)-- one of our favorites was last year's award winning 3D Light board.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years, Tweens. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego Friends Heartlake Dog Show
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

A good place to start with this new collection. It includes Mia, 2 puppies, a podium with runway as well as a grooming area. And what would a dog show be without a trophy stand? Our tester liked all the small details: camera, bows, brushes, plate, bones, flowers, see saw, hurdle and flags. Building is just the first part of the fun. Our tester really liked using the props for pretend play. 183 pieces. Marked 5-12. We also had positive reviews for another smaller starter set, Andrea's Stage ($9.99/87 pieces). 5 & up.

As we always note with LEGO sets, it's always better to start off with smaller sets. These allow your child to get used to the step-by-step instructions and build their sense of confidence as they go along. While it may be tempting to buy the "big box" - hold off.  We have found this also is true with these sets. In other words, we found no real difference between boys and girls in this regard.  Our testers, many building for the first time, enjoyed the experience of these smaller sets-and were eager to move to other builds.

Note: Our first reaction to this gender specific product was negative. After a lot of reflection, it's still not our preference, but we have to share that our testers generally loved the kits. The most important piece of feedback we received, is that girls that were not building (many had left LEGO behind after DUPLO) were now building, enjoying the experience and asking for more sets. So if pink is the only way to get girls building then--bring it on. Girls have traditionally been left behind in fields that involve spatial relationships and math that are built in to toys for boys that typically play with building sets. We still think that girls could and should build with the same primary colored bricks that boys use, but if this will encourage them, we would rather have them building than not. At least LEGO has tried to expand on ideas of what will interest school-aged girls by offering a vet set, an inventor's kit and a cafe. It's not about the mall and shopping which was the emphasis of "girl's building kits" in the '90s.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
LEGO Friends Heartlake Vet
(Lego Systems, Inc. $39.99 Score:)

After building this set our test builder asked for more of the Friends collection for her birthday! She wants the Dog Show next. First step is building the office veterinary office run by Vet Sophie and her helper Mia. The buildings are interchangeable and have movable pieces so the building can be designed and redesigned. The set includes Mia, Sophie, a horse, dog, and hedgehog. It includes aquarium, examination table, mailbox, horse pen, hedgehog cage, x-ray and scale. Our tester especially loved all the small details, as well: a thermometer, clipboard, ice pack, stethoscope, spoon, syringe, registration chart and flower accessory pack with 3x4 flowers, 4 butterflies and 4 ladybirds. 343 pieces. 6-12

Note: Our first reaction to this gender specific product was negative. After a lot of reflection, it's still not our preference, but we have to share that our testers generally loved the kits. The most important piece
of feedback we received, is that girls that were not building (many had left LEGO behind after DUPLO) were now building, enjoying the experience andasking for more sets. So if pink is the only way to get girls building then--bring it on. Girls have traditionally been left behind in fields that involve spatial relationships and math that are built in to toys for boys that typically play with building sets. We still think that girls could and should build with the same primary colored bricks that boys use, but if this will encourage them, we would rather have them building than not. At least LEGO has tried to expand on ideas of what will interest school-aged girls by offering a vet set, an inventor's kit and a cafe. It's not about the mall and shopping which was the emphasis of "girl's building kits" in the '90s.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
LEGO Creator Propeller Adventures
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

Take your choice and build one of three different models or build one and then take it apart and try the other two. This features a handsome propeller plane with working props and landing gear that fold up and down for landing and take-off. After playing with that gets tired, convert the prop plane into a sleek stealth-like fighter plane or reuse the bricks and props for making a powerful looking hovercraft. Three challenging builds with clear directions and the need for plenty of attention to details. 241 pieces. Designed for 7-12.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego Ultimate Race Set
(Lego Systems, Inc. $26 Score:)

Based on the Disney Pixar, Cars, this racing car set features Raoul CaRoule, the world's greatest rally car that is about to race his biggest rivals, Lightning McQueen and Max Schnell. Can Raoul win the race or will he be our maneuvered? First players have to assemble the cars and slammers. There are three separate building plan booklets that show step by step how to build the racing pieces. Hit the slammers to see who is the fastest! Includes the following vehicles: Lightning McQueen, Max Schnell, Raoul CaRoule and Raoul's pittie. This is the kind of set that does more than gather dust on a shelf. It's a fun setting to play with when the building part is done. It's marked 6-12 but kids at the younger edge will need help with the building.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City Garbage Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $24 Score:)

Part of the easy start modular build kits, this new garbage truck is bright green and white and assembles with 208 pieces. It includes two play figures, a lifting rear loader, two trash bins, shovel, brush and some plastic garbage, i.e. a fish and banana. The truck measures over 8" and will add to the city scene.  Others in the collection this season include an ambulance and firetruck. We know kids at the younger end of this will need help with the plans and small pieces. 5-12

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City Town Ambulance
(Lego Systems, Inc. $23 Score:)

Call 911! There's an emergency. We need an ambulance! This set includes the makings for a 6" long ambulance with opening rear door, a removable stretcher, movable roof, and three minifigures--2 doctors and a patient. There is also a bicycle, helmet, trash bin and doctor's equipment. Like the City Fire Truck and Garbage Truck, this is marked and easy start modular build for 5-12. We know kids at the younger end of this will need help with the plans and small pieces.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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2012 Award
Lego City 4X4 Fire Truck
(Lego Systems, Inc. $19.99 Score:)

There's a tree on fire in Lego City! Quick! Go to the rescue with this 243-piece set that includes the makings for a 5" long firetruck with a rotating water cannon and big storage compartments. There's a firefighter with an axe and of course, a tree. Marked as an easy start modular build for 5-12. Others in the collection this season include a garbage truck and ambulance. We think kids on the younger end will still need help with following the plans.

Age: Early School Years, Later School Years. Award Year: 2012. Click here to purchase the product on Amazon.com.

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