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Product Type: Toys
Age: Late Elementary School Years

 

Sweet Satin Music Box
(Creativity for Kids $18 Score:) We usually love wind up music jewelry boxes. Kids love winding the key to activate the music -- this is usually a memorable first jewelry box. This kit is marked 6 and up but we found the craft steps too difficult for this age range. While the kit is marked no sewing, kids are required to thread the tulle to make a skirt with the included pink thread. Kids are then instructed to add sequin flowers which are very pretty. The problem for our testers is that they had problems separating the two parts of the brad that secure the flowers on the tulle. One parent tester also thought that the directions were not clear enough. The steps for making the skirt should be marked "do this first" since it is really the first step. There was also no picture for adding the second piece of sequined ribbon. Bottom line: you will end up doing a good portion of this kit with a younger child.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Fashion Angels Fashion Design Studio Set
(Fashion Angels Enterprises $24.95 Score:) If you have a future "fashion designer" in your house, this design studio will be a huge hit. There are three pre-printed pads that come with a template (a whole Fashion Angel form, a foot and a purse). There is a wonderful Style Guide that details the difference between such things as palazzo pants and jodhpurs. Designers can add their own designs with the set of included color pencils and markers. Refill pads can be purchased for $4.95 each.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Explorer Ops Binoculars
(Wild Planet Toys $9.99 Score:) Taking a nature walk in your own neigbhorhood or going on a trip? Take along this pair of binoculars for a better view of the world around them. They come with 6x20 magnification and an adjustable focus knob and eyepiece. Store in the included carrying case.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2007 Award
Pirate Dig Kit
(GeoCentral $10.99 Score:) One you unearth the skeleton of your pirate from the 7" gypsum block, you can string the pieces together to assembly an 11" pirate. Our testers needed help with the stringing stage. While some may find it kind of creepy, our testers loved that it combined both their love of dig toys and pirates! (We'd suggest adding safety glasses, they are not included in the kit.)

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2007.

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2008 Award
American Girls Julie and Ivy
(American Girl $87 Score:) In the American Girl collection of dolls, each comes with a book that introduces girls to a bit of history through stories. Julie is a nine-year-old of the '70s, meaning she is caught up in the women’s rights movement, Title IX, the Bicentennial and oh, yes, her parents' divorce. Talk about hitting all bases—this does it. Julie is about to move from her house in San Francisco, near Chinatown and her best friend Ivy ($87). Both dolls are being launched simultaneously with six books about them, authored by two well known writers, Megan McDonald and Lisa Yee. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Bump n Chuck R/C Bumper Cars
(Kid Galaxy $35 Score:) Despite the dubious name, we all stopped and played with these fun vehicles. Your set comes with two radio controllers and two bumper cars with figures. Drive your vehicle defensively or go for it. If you bump your opponent his play figure pops out! The vehicles are easy to manipulate and drive forward, reverse, left and right. 5 & up. Also good fun, Scoop 'n' Shoot R/C Basketball ($40), two basketball shoe vehicles that scoop up small basketballs in the front end of the shoes and shoot a ball into the two backboards with nets. A bit harder to manipulate successfully than the Bumper cars. 7 & up.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
KNEX Serpents Spiral Coaster
(KNEX $59.99 Score:) The latest in the big builds from the K'nex roller coaster line, it has a five-foot-tall tower with a motorized chain lift that takes two cars to the top—where they zoom down and around the loops and spiral turns. Comes with instructions for 3 different models. Our expert teen builders laughed at the 8 & up age label, "Your parent will be doing most of this," but they were quick to admit that it was cool. "Some of the smaller rods hurt your fingers when you work with them," but the directions “were much better this year." Another tester wrote: "You will need to fix" the chain position from time to time since it does jam. 8 & up.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
KNEX Double Ferris Wheel
(KNEX $29.99 Score:) We have to own up to our own love of ferris wheels. So we were delighted when both Lego and KNEX released new versions this year. While we are giving PLATINUM AWARDS to both the Lego Creator Ferris Wheel ($69.99/1063 pieces) and KNEX Double Ferris Wheel ($29.99/977 pieces), please note that the age label of 8 & up on both toys is ridiculous if you’re talking about independent building. On the other hand, these are both great parent-child projects that will be memorable. The Lego Ferris Wheel will sit nicely on a desk after it’s built. The motor will make the wheel turn in either direction. There are some steps where two sets of hands are a must. The KNEX Double Ferris wheel is huge (three feet tall) and you can have the wheels turning in different directions, very neat. Our testers thought that the initial directions for building the tower were the toughest in terms of spatial relations, but once you "got past that, it was a lot of repetitive building and not that complicated." Both the Lego and KNEX come with two other models to build with the same pieces.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Digital Arts and Crafts Studio
(Fisher-Price $50 Score:) This tablet allows kids to do lots of different arts and crafts projects. The layout of the board eliminates the complicated menus that past craft software had. The stylus makes it easy to draw and color. Kids can make arts and crafts projects like paper flowers, jumping frogs, and greeting cards. Kids can also color in pictures and fill in dot to dots. As with other computer plug-ins by Fisher-Price, kids cannot exit the software without a password, which the parent sets, so the kids can’t access any part of the computer that they shouldn't.

Age: Early School Years,Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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2008 Award
Restoration Hardware Badminton Set
(Restoration Hardware $69 Score:) Badminton is always a crowd pleaser for backyard summer fun- especially if you have a multi-generational crowd. This set includes the net (poles), 4 racquets, 6 feather birdies, rules (always good!) and it all zips up into a canvas bag.

Age: Later School Years. Award Year: 2008.

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