NAPPA 2006: Toys for Ages 8 and Up

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By Ellen Metrick
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TD width=85>Nappa Gold Winners Play is the language of children. It helps them develop skills they'll use throughout life and lets them escape from reality. When we think back to our own youth, we fondly remember toys that made us think, made us laugh, or sparked special interests that we've carried into adulthood. This year's Gold Award winners are sure to be enjoyed by your children and, who knows, they might even trigger a lifelong passion.

Gold Award Winners

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TD>Fly Pentop Computer; $24.95; LeapFrog. This technologically advanced pen has a built-in computer, speaker and camera. Using special paper, children can play games, learn geography and improve their math and cognitive skills. To access the menu, the child just draws an "M" and circles it: the pen then states the menu options. Children can do simple activities, such as making a calculator by drawing a box with numbers 0-9 and math symbols that the Fly then recognizes. You have to see it to believe it!

Go to Press! A Grammar Game; $21.95; Learning Resources. This board game challenges and rewards children's grammar skills as they assume the guise of a newspaper reporter. Visit each of the five departments, "proofreading" and correcting headlines, using punctuation, spelling, verb tense, capitalization and grammar.

Lego Mindstorms NXT; $249.99; LEGO Systems; for ages 10 and up. This highly sophisticated toy enables kids and adults to build and program robots. Sensors pick up sound, touch and light, and use ultrasound to gauge distance. The robot is programmed using the NXT brick - an autonomous 32-bit microprocessor that can be programmed using a PC or Mac computer. The programs can be transferred to the robot using a USB cable or Bluetooth technology, enabling the robot to be controlled remotely with a cell phone or PDA.

Lonpos 101 Pyramid and Rectangle Game; $16.99; Mic-O-Mic Americas. This pocket-size puzzle game contains 12 "pentominoes" pieces that can be placed in different configurations on the board to complete a rectangle. Advanced play uses the same 12 pieces to solve three-dimensional puzzles. Thousands of puzzles are possible.

Sudoku 5x5; $9.99; ThinkFun. Handsomely presented in an easy-to-use magnetic box, this challenging game of numbers stands out from the rest. There are 48 cards, three levels of difficulty and a 25-square grid. Following the partial pattern shown on a card, players place magnetic numbered discs (numbered 1 to 5) in each square, without repeating the same digit in any given row or column.

Honors Award Winners

3D5, Outset Media Games; $19.99; This five-layer tic-tac-toe game challenges players to get five marbles in a row on one level or use all five levels.

Cogno Code Breaker, DoubleStar; $19.95; A matching memory game that enables players to write their own secret codes on the backs of the cards to identify the pictures for future turns.

Harry's Grand Slam Baseball Game, Out of the Box; $14.99;  A reproduction of the classic 1962 card game that simulates managing teams and playing a real baseball game.

JabberJot, Morning Star Games; $29.99; ; for ages 10 and up. Take 90 seconds to write a story using the chosen pictures and words; take turns picking the winner.

KEVA Planks Construction Set, KEVA Planks; $59.95; Surprisingly simple, yet intriguingly unique. Wooden building planks are all identical in size and shape, and lend themselves to successfully designing simple buildings and complex architectural creations.

LEGO Revvin' Riders, LEGO Systems; $19.99; Use LEGO bricks to construct one of eight motorcycles. Set includes an FX sound brick that simulates a revving engine.

Nerdy Wordy, Briarpatch; $14.99; Two players alternate turns while using the selected letter cubes to create words in their own crossword trays.

Rok Works Start Set, Rokenbok Toy Co.; $99.99; This expandable construction set has a radio-controlled vehicle to maneuver. The control center can accommodate up to four controllers (one is included) and each controller can operate eight vehicles (one is included).

Roll 'n' Multiply, Emines; $24.99; Roll the dice, multiply the numbers and place that numbered chip on the board. Be the first to get four chips in a row.

Ruckus, Funstreet; $9.99; The whimsical illustrations in this simple card game of making matches and stealing opponents' matches add to the amusement of the game.

Squint Jr., Out of the Box; $16.99;  Using transparent cards with line drawings on each, layer one on top of the other to recreate the picture seen on the playing card while players guess the object.
Test Tube Adventures, Be Amazing!; $14.99; Use oversized plastic test tubes to execute more than 15 intriguing activities, such as making worms, touchable bubbles and disappearing ink.
Wit's End Junior Edition, Game Development Group; $21.99; Advance around the board by answering questions in four categories: riddles, sequence, what's different and miscellaneous. Double-sided cards allow older and younger kids to play simultaneously.
Word Spin Deluxe Family Game, Geospace International; $29.99; Spin and form words using some or all of the magnetic, lettered disks. Several game options accommodate solitary or group play.
You're Pulling My Leg Junior, Morning Star Games; $24.99; A quick-witted card game to determine whether players are making up the story or telling the truth.

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