The Latest Toys for High-Tech Trendsetters

You don't have to be a Star Wars fan or a hard-core gamer to enjoy Star Wars Droidworks, an enterprising new educational toy disguised as a computer game.

Lucas Learning has come up with a pleasantly intuitive concept. Your job is to choose from 87 robot parts to construct a robot with the capabilities required for any one of 27 missions. One mission, for example, might require arm strength, communications capabilities and a specified maximum weight.

Once the robot is built, you can test it before setting out to sabotage the evil Empire's robot factory. One warning: The educational component is not always well-integrated with the game playing. Players, for example, are encouraged to occasionally stop and consult an interactive guide that illustrates basic scientific principles to help solve the various puzzles.

Still, the robots are fun to manipulate through the Star Wars-style environment. And there is no sex and violence, a rare feature in a game for this age group. Star Wars Droidworks is aimed at ages 10 to 14. It's available on Windows 95/98 and Macintosh PowerPC and retails for $39.

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