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The best toy, as you know, is one that teaches, one that is reusable, one that enables a child to be creative, one that is different every time, one that promotes story telling.

If you are looking for a toy like with these qualities for kids under 10, especially boys, I recommend Bionicles. For those who haven’t heard of them, they are made by Lego (also an excellent toy with many of these traits) and my boys continue to want to expand their collection.

They are robots (humanoid, monsters, insects) that a child can follow instructions to put together out of small pieces.

There are several different kinds and have a range of prices (say, from 5 dollars to 60) so they work on their own. But they all fit together. Our children have put together four foot tall snake creatures. They have also built very tall robots which stand up.

One possible problem – If you don’t like kids to pretend with weapons, you might have some reason for offense. Our kids love shooting them. I don’t know, have them pretend that instead of missiles, they’re shooting medical equipment to those in need. Also, some of them look a little scary. If this bothers you, encourage your children to give them a pleasant personality – the helpful but misunderstood (because people shun him, you know, like Shrek) ugly big robot.

Another positive trait they have, (and here I am reaching, but I think it true nevertheless) is that they teach a little about Biology. They have ball and socket joints for example. And knees and elbows and such like. And with the insectoids, you can teach them about exoskeletons.

My son Carl is reading this as I type and he wants me to state that the insect kinds are called Vizarak (sp?) He also suggests that I tell you where you can get them. We have found them at Walmart, Target, and at Toy Stores. Anything Else, Carl?

Nope, he says I covered pretty much everything. Go and buy one for the seven year old kid you know for his birthday.

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August 2007