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Planes, Trains & Automobiles

Planes, trains, trucks, and cars for the pilots & drivers on your holiday list.

Catch That Train!
Ages: All Ages
Festival Five Records, $15.00 (CD)   

Former Del Fuegos' lead singer Dan Zanes adds to his string of heart-happy family recordings with another idiosyncratic collection of irresistible songs in the folk tradition. Joined by his own young daughter, the Blind Boys of Alabama, the Kronos Quartet, Natalie Merchant and other stellar contributors, Zanes imagines a train ride where "in every car of the train there's music being made," as well as laughter, jokes, day-dreaming, and above all, the warmth of human connection, the foundation of all of Zanes' work in the genre he has embraced with enthusiasm and integrity.

CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck
Ages: 1 & Up
MEGA Brands, Inc., $39.99

Toddler truck and construction enthusiasts are sure to enjoy the CAT 3-in-1 Dump Truck. The unique design of this durable dump truck allows kids to play with it in three ways: they can push it around and play with it as a standard dump truck, lift the dumping bin to reveal a seat to use it as a ride-on, or stand behind the truck and use the handle on the dumping bin to walk behind it, making it a unique "walker" for toddlers taking their first steps. In either position, the truck is solid and sturdy.

Extra Large Super Recycling Truck by Viking Extra Large Super Recycling Truck by Viking
Ages: 1 & Up
International Playthings, Inc., $34.99

The truck features heavy duty rubber tires, a large "recycling" dumping area and an attached trash can that can be dumped into the back of the truck. The top of the truck opens to reveal the main dumping area, which is large enough to hold lots of "recycled" goodies. The dumping bin lifts and the back of the truck opens to dispense the load. Two people figures are included.

Play 'N Go Recycle Truck Play 'N Go Recycle Truck
Ages: 1 & Up
MEGA Brands, Inc., $19.99

Little hands-and ecofriendly imaginations -- will enjoy this two-in-one set that starts as a large bright green recycle truck then is easily converted into a recycling station. The set includes a driver, a dog, four MegaBloks bricks, and a sticker sheet to label each block as paper, bottles, and plastic recyclables.

My First Railway My First Railway
Ages: 1 & Up
Brio Corporation, $35.00

This classic beginner's train set has much to commend it. Eight curved track segments form a complete circle. Or, by reversing one or two of them, a non-connecting serpentine pathway can be formed. Ramps are provided to attach to the unfinished track ends so kids can push the train and its three magnetic cars from the floor onto the tracks and back to the floor again for more expansive travel.

Bob the Builder On Site Roads & Bridges Bob the Builder On Site Roads & Bridges
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Andrea Blain Public Relations Inc., $14.98 (DVD)   

"Bob's World Meets The Real World!" The unbeatable combination of Bob the Builder's animated characters and footage of real construction equipment at work captivates kids. Younger viewers who love Bob's "cast" will enjoy seeing snippets of them integrated with Bob's narrative of how their real-life counterparts go about building roads and bridges. Bob explains the importance of project planning, from surveying and modeling before the first bit of earth gets turned. Educational, fun, and certainly child-centered, this is fun family viewing.

Also look for Bob the Builder: On Site Houses and Playgrounds

Thomas & Friends Engines and Escapades Thomas & Friends Engines and Escapades
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Andrea Blain Public Relations Inc., $14.98 (DVD)   

The latest Thomas and Friends DVD offers a series of short stories about the trains living and working on the Narrow Gauge railway on the Island of Sodor. Through the characters adventures and misadventures, they learn valuable life lessons. Stories include "Duncan Does It All" about the importance of finishing what you started, "Sir Handel In Charge" about the importance of listening, and "Cool Truckings" about the importance of being responsible.

Thomas & Friends: Milkshake Muddle Thomas & Friends: Milkshake Muddle
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
HIT Entertainment/ New York, $14.98 (DVD)   

The little tank engine keeps rolling on with four episodes from the Thomas and Friends 2005 season. The episodes include "Thomas' New Trucks," "Duncan and the Old Mine," "Thomas and the Milkshake Muddle" and "Mighty Mac." The DVD also includes little matching games and quizzes between episodes.

TrainStop TrainStop
Ages: 3 - 5 yrs.
Author: Barbara Lehman  
Houghton Mifflin/Walter Lorraine Books, $16.00 (Hard Cover)   

The long horizontal format of this wordless picture book is perfect for a story about a train, especially one that includes a journey into an imaginary world and back again. Readers first encounter the book's young heroine and her parents on the title page striding briskly towards a set of stairs descending through the pavement to an as yet unknown destination. As it turns out, they are headed into an underground train station. As the train emerges from a tunnel, the scene through the window suddenly changes to an emerald and azure landscape dotted with apple tress, windmills, hot air balloons, and more. A flagman stops the train, and as the other passengers doze in what has to be an enchanted sleep, the adventure begins.

Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel...and Three More Stories About Trucks Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel...and Three More Stories About Trucks
Ages: 3 - 7 yrs.
Scholastic Entertainment, $14.95 (DVD)   

The story my parents enjoyed as children is still entertaining my 21st century kids and their friends, even though Virginia Lee Burton's 1939 illustrations aren't the latest in 3-D computer animation, and buildings are no longer heated by coal or steam. Stories include Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Kate and Jim McMullan's 2002 picture book I Stink, paired with Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha's 1999 Trashy Town. Dot the Fire Dog (2001) by Lisa Desimini tells the story of fire hall life through the eyes of Dot the Dalmatian and The Remarkable Riderless Runaway Tricycle based on Bruce McMillan's book is included as a bonus feature.

Andy Meets the Blue Angels Andy Meets the Blue Angels
Ages: 3 - 8 yrs.
Entity Agency, Entity Agency, $14.99 (DVD)   

This is the first installment in a planned series of animated aeronautic adventures featuring Andy and his best friend, a ferret named Yaygrr. In each 30-minute show, Andy learns about a specific airplane. Here, the plane is the F-18 Hornet, the classic craft flown by the legendary Blue Angels of the US Navy. During Andy's adventure, he also learns about aircraft carriers, navy lingo, and how the famous pilots work together. Andy's relationships with adults and other kids during the show also convey important information about how to treat others.The animation is quite well-done, the music is catchy, the pace is brisk and the information genuinely interesting.

Automoblox A9 Compact Automoblox A9 Compact
Ages: 3 & Up
Automoblox Co., LLC, $40.00

These well-crafted wooden puzzles on wheels have a design that is both retro and futuristic. The sleek look of the vehicles is contrasted with the simplicity of a classic toy car. Each is constructed of solid maple accessorized with vibrant plastic details. All 2005 Automoblox models have interchangeable parts that allow children (yes girls and boys) to play with several at once, mix their parts, and invent a brand new model.

Also available: M9 Sportsvan, X9 Sport Utility

Build A Road Build A Road
Ages: 3 & Up
International Playthings, Inc., $29.99

Build-A-Road includes over 15 feet of track that can be constructed an infinite number of ways! It includes 2 battery operated cars, multi-directional connectors and elevation bumps. This fun toddler toy also includes a suspension bridge. Easy to build - no tools required! Product Description

Ages: 3 & Up
HABA, $38.00

Thirty square wood tiles fit into an 8"x 10" tray. Each shows a picture, or part of a picture, in some way related to travel. For example, six tiles can be assembled to show a locomotive together with the engineer. Other groupings show a helicopter, tractor, and truck. When all the tiles are removed from the tray, a countryside is revealed with roads, plantings, and cute little animals. This landscape is magnetized, and magnetic backings for the tiles are included if children want to add those images to the scene.

Road & Rail Play Set - Railway Station Road & Rail Play Set - Railway Station
Ages: 3 & Up
PlanToys, Inc., $210.00

All aboard! The wooden carry box of this Road & Rail Set (cleverly modeled after the exterior traditional train station) unfolds into a world of fun complete with rail tracks, train, and cars. Made from organic rubberwood, it's also safe, sturdy, nontoxic, and environmentally friendly. Makes a terrific gift for any young train enthusiast!

Superstructs Makin' Tracks Superstructs Makin' Tracks
Ages: 3 & Up
WABA Fun, LLC, $44.95

Build an off-road vehicle to explore the backcountry, a freight train to transport cargo, a dragster, or a tow truck to take the vehicles in for maintenance. Durable plastic and soft foam pieces (160 in all) make this colorful 21st century version of Tinker Toys&#trade; a highway of fun and playful learning.

Thomas Great Race Game Thomas Great Race Game
Ages: 3 & Up
Briarpatch, $24.99

In the Thomas Great Race game, the game "board" is composed of two plastic pieces that fit together to form a hill. Train pieces slide into the tracks and start at the bottom of one side of the hill with the objective of reaching the top of the hill to roll down the opposite side to the finish line. Each of the train pieces represents a different member of the Thomas crew. For young children learning to count, this is both educational and entertaining. But the unique train track setup of this game is the added appeal that makes this fun for kids and adults alike. This charming game is a terrific choice for a family game night with young children.

Roadwork! Roadwork!
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Sally Sutton   Illustrator: Brian Lovelock  
Candlewick Press, $15.99 (Hard Cover)   

Sally Sutton taps into preschooler's inherent interest in roads and construction in her new picture book, Roadwork. Besides highlighting the equipment used in road projects, Sutton also traces one project from beginning to end, putting it into perspective for her young audience. A helpful glossary of "machine facts" tells more about the vehicles used. Brian Lovelock's ink illustrations are appropriately colorful, rich with safety yellow and blue skies. This book is made for reading--and rereading--with truck-loving preschoolers.

Roy Makes a Car Roy Makes a Car
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Mary Lyons   Illustrator: Terry Widener   Stories By: Zora Neale Hurston  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Atheneum Books for Young Readers, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

This is a book for kids who love cars and good stories. Roy is one of those men who can fix anything and becomes bored with an auto mechanic's ordinary repair work. So, he decides to make a car safe enough for the dangerous hairpin turns in his county. Inspector Gadgets' car has nothing on the car Roy goes on to build. Diverse characters and good use of vernacular (writin' like folks talk) make this a book many will love.

6187 Lego Road Construction Set 6187 Lego Road Construction Set
Ages: 4 & Up
The LEGO Group, $19.99

Build a truck, a front loader, a steamroller and much more with this exciting construction set!Includes 1 minifigure! Product Description

Foam Gliders
Ages: 4 & Up
Klutz, $9.95

The five colorful, punch-out, easy-to-assemble foam gliders with plastic nose cones and decorative stickers take the gliders to an atmosphere above paper airplanes. The foam holds up surprisingly well.

Jet Plane Jet Plane
Ages: 4 & Up
Playmobil USA, Inc., $49.99

With age-appropriate assembly, there is fun - and satisfaction. Our young aviation enthusiasts asked, and learned about, parts of the plane, airports, and air travel. With compartments for people and cargo, the play scenarios included Mom's business trip, "Grandpa's coming for my birthday" and going to China to get a baby panda. The passenger doors open and close realistically, and yes, there is a lavatory.

Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch Owney, the Mail-Pouch Pooch
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: Mona Kerby   Illustrator: Lynne Barasch  
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Children will love this fascinating fictionalized account of Owney, a stray mongrel terrier, who, in 1888, was adopted by the postmen of Albany, New York, and who later went on to fame (if not fortune) riding mail trains around the United States and collecting postal tags from every stop along the way. Incarcerated in Montreal by the local dogcatchers, the postmen of Albany paid his fine and brought him home again. Near the end of his train-hopping career, he was ushered aboard the steamship Victoria sailing out of Tacoma, Washington, on an international run that took him (and his human companions) to Japan, China, Hong Kong, and up the Suez Canal to Algiers.

7739 Patrol Boat & Tower 7739 Patrol Boat & Tower
Ages: 5 & Up
The LEGO Group, $59.99

The LEGO City Coast Guard Patrol and Tower offers kids hours of seafaring fun both during and after construction. The 444-piece kit contains a large floating patrol boat with controls accessible through the roof, a lifeguard tower with crane on a rock base, mini figures and lots of accessories. But it's the detailed accessories included with this set that really steal the show, including a miniature life ring, life jackets for the figures to wear, spotlights and radar on the tower, and scuba gear for the divers such as flippers, binoculars and "chainsaws." This particular LEGO product has the added benefit of being a functional bathtub or pool toy once complete.

Little Labs: Cars Little Labs: Cars
Ages: 5 & Up
Thames & Kosmos, $15.95

Experiment with wheels, gear ratios, and energy transmission by building tricycles, bicycles, cars, and motors. This includes a 16-page color guidebook.

The Magic School Bus - Soaring Into Flight The Magic School Bus - Soaring Into Flight
Ages: 5 & Up
The Young Scientists Club, $19.99

As the title indicates, this kit focuses on the aerodynamics of flight. Included in the kit are goggles, paper tape measure, string, elastic bands, clothespin, rocket launcher, directions for making a paper airplane, ping pong balls and most everything else you need to try 12 experiments. The experiments are presented as questions, and ask children to supply the hypothesis. Cartoon school kids adorn each page, with further questions appearing in speech bubbles. Each page is lively and full of eye-catching graphics, lots of color and a variety of sights and shapes. At the end of the 20-page booklet answers are provided.

7994 Port of LEGO City 7994 Port of LEGO City
Ages: 6 & Up
The LEGO Group, $89.99

This set of a large cargo ship with containers, trucks, figures and cranes--all part of life at a busy port--has many medium-size blocks that are easy for younger children to manipulate, as well as many moving parts in the finished product that allow you to continue to play with it after the building is through.

Gary Gadget: Building Cars Gary Gadget: Building Cars
Ages: 6 & Up
Viva Media, $29.99

Future mechanics might get a jumpstart out of this game that begins with nothing more than a car frame, battery, gearbox and brakes, and then asks players to create their own unique cars from junkyard leftovers. Piecing together gadgetry, engine parts, old sofas and wheels from the dump enables kids to design, assemble and try to drive their oddball vehicles right out of Gary Gadget's garage. When the car's finished, players can even snap a "photo" that stores on the computer as a digital keepsake.

ArtLab Car Design Studio ArtLab Car Design Studio
Ages: 7 & Up
SmartLab, $22.99

This all-inclusive art kit puts young gearheads behind the wheel of their dream car! Kids will learn how to illustrate customized cars using a light table, colored pencils, acetate overlays printed with simple traceable outlines of car silhouettes and 95 traceable "cling" accessory add-ons. Includes instructions for creating 10 customized cars, but that's just the beginning! Product Description

The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes The Klutz Book of Paper Airplanes
Ages: 7 & Up
Klutz, $16.95

Clearly written, step-by-step instructions and detailed illustrations teach the reader how to make and fly ten different models of paper airplanes. A difficulty rating (scale of 1-5) for construction and tells how many folds are necessary to complete each plane. Forty sheets of colorful, flight-worthy paper, tips for achieving the best flight, troubleshooting, and games to play with paper airplanes are included in this fun way to learn about aerodynamics, wind speed, thrust, gravity, and precision.

8635 Mobile Command Center 8635 Mobile Command Center
Ages: 8 & Up
The LEGO Group, $89.99

The evil Dr. Inferno makes his first-ever LEGO appearance in the Mobile Command Center, a 1,154-piece Lego Agents building set that features a spy base command station along with smaller vehicles to transport additional spies and secret agents. In its "undercover" closed mode, the command station appears to be a large truck, but its interior is fully-equipped with all the requisite spy gear including computer docks, walkie-talkies, phones, a tool shop, loading crane and even a coffee center. Smaller support vehicles include a mini jet, a hover jet, a jet ski, a car and an ATV.

RACE 07: Official WTCC Game RACE 07: Official WTCC Game
Ages: 8 & Up
Viva Media, $29.99

Real racing is what it's all about in RACE 07. Enjoy 9 different racing classes, each with its own distinctive character. From the prestigious World Touring Car Championship to the insane speed of the F3000 class. These are just a few of the many cars and classes featured in this ultimate racing sensation. Features the option of choosing between an offline and online version when the player installs the game. Product Description

Ticket to Ride
Ages: 8 & Up
Days of Wonder, $39.95

In this cross-country train adventure, players travel by rail on a beautifully laid-out game board map that shows train routes connecting major cities in the United States and Southern Canada. Players draw cards, attempting to collect enough of the same color "tracks" to "claim" any route of a matching color. Placing one's miniature colored train playing pieces on the tracks establishes one's ownership of the route.

Top Speed
Ages: 8 & Up
Gamewright, $5.99

This fast-paced game will have minds revving as players race to rid their hand of cards. Players must call on swift and precise visual discrimination and hand-eye coordination skills to keep from matching any car parts or colors in a row. Sound easy? Start your engines and see how quickly and proficiently you can race to the finish line.

Car Design Workshop Car Design Workshop
Ages: 9 & Up
HearthSong, $19.95

If you could design your own car, what would it look like? Classic? Compact? Futuristic? A truck? Design these vehicles and more with the cool components tucked in this handsome blue portfolio. Included are 10 pages of different car and truck bodies to trace, 2 pages of accessories (tires, mirrors, steering wheels, roof racks), 2 pages of stickers (numbers, racing stripes, and other ultra-cool finishing touches), 12 colored pencils, an eraser, heavy vellum paper, and helpful instructions.

The World Record Paper Airplane Book The World Record Paper Airplane Book
Ages: 9 & Up
Author: Ken Blackburn   Author: Jeff Lammers  
Workman Publishing, $15.95 (Hard Cover)   

This revised new edition of the popular paper-airplane book soars with 112 ready-to-crease airplanes based on 20 very cool and colorful designs - all of them easy enough for young paper-plane pilots to cut out of the book, fold according to directions and toss into the air. The co-authors are gurus in the world of amateur aerodynamics.They share folding and tossing secrets that will make anyone into a paper-airplane connoisseur. Learn some basic aerodynamics. Even find out why paper airplanes crash.

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