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Christmas Cheer Toys

Classic Toys For Christmas? 1085

waterwheel asks: "Christmas is coming, and it's time to start planning our online shopping list for future Slashdot readers. This year I'm having a look at some of the more classic toys - and am finding that not only are some of the classic toys still around - but they are still educational and fun. Two good examples of this are the Rubik's Cube and the time honored gyroscope. The cube has been around for about 20 years, the gyroscope it seems for almost a 100. Both will be under the tree this year. Both of these toys are able to compete with video games - a true test of staying power. This begs the question - what other classic toys do you remember from your youth that are still fun enough that kids will play with them today?"
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Classic Toys For Christmas?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:51PM (#10798809)
    Now I know what's under the Christmas tree! Not to hurt your feelings, but I really do like the video games. When you're not looking, I'll just move the stickers on the Rubik's Cube.

    Oh, and mom hates it when you use "begs the question" on Slashdot. It just starts a whole "that's not the meaning" discussion that no one cares about.
    • twist a top 9 box about 20 degrees,
      now counter a side 9box, and apply a little pressure- POP! goes the corner..

      remove all pieces except the axes center pieces, and reassemble, along the way, study the fascinating mechanism that is a rubiks cube...

    • by eclectro ( 227083 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:56PM (#10799861)
      Oh, and mom hates it when you use "begs the question" on Slashdot.

      I suggest that it might be time to move out mom's basement when mom starts caring about what's on slashdot.
  • by Red Weasel ( 166333 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:51PM (#10798817) Homepage
    Nuff Said
  • Legos (Score:4, Insightful)

    by tech_guru5182 ( 577981 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:52PM (#10798824)
    I remember playing with legos, and still see them on the market today.
    • Re:Legos (Score:5, Informative)

      by seanellis ( 302682 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:01PM (#10799036) Homepage Journal
      In Europe, of course, the plural of Lego is Lego. Like sheep.

      But they are, I agree, an absolute must for kids of all ages, in order to instil a properly reductionist mindset :-)
      • Re:Legos (Score:5, Funny)

        by ArsonSmith ( 13997 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:57PM (#10799878) Journal
        The plural of sheep is lego in Europe? You guys are wierd.
  • Classic toy (Score:4, Funny)

    by Indy Media Watch ( 823624 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:52PM (#10798825) Homepage
    What other classic toys do you remember from your youth that are still fun enough that kids will play with them today?


  • LightBright (Score:3, Informative)

    by SlongNY ( 766017 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:52PM (#10798838) Homepage
    LightBright Pwns.
  • Slinky and Superball (Score:3, Interesting)

    by akweboa164 ( 629425 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:52PM (#10798839) Homepage

    The slinky was one of my favorite toys growing up.

    Also, the superball was awesome as well. I usually could be found with a superball in my pocket all the time and would be constantly bouncing it off walls, annoying my parents and everyone around me in the process!!! LOL, good times.

  • by JamesD_UK ( 721413 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:53PM (#10798842) Homepage
    This doesn't beg the question, it raises the question. See here [].
  • Legos (Score:5, Insightful)

    by genkael ( 102983 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:53PM (#10798852)
    You have to love Legos. Not only are they fun, but they teach creativity, mechanical engineering, and design. If you are playing with someone else, they teach teamwork and sharing. Not to mention you can build some cool guns and spaceships.

    On this topic, I'm not a big fan of the premade Lego sets for Star Wars or Harry Potter or whatever. Kids need the generic box of bricks and plates.

    • Pre-Mades are OK (Score:5, Informative)

      by Black-Man ( 198831 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:56PM (#10798915)
      Because, at least with my kids, the end in the huge box along with the other sets and are re-used with their own creations.

      I've always just bought the packaged sets. I kinda wish they had those when I was a kid.

    • Not only are Legos an ideal gift for kids, but dad will still enjoy them as well, at least Slashdot dads. I have fond memories of the monstrosities I created with Legos as a kid, mostly of the How-Baroque-a-Car-Can-I-Make-And-Still-Have-It-Gl i de? variety. Lots of odds and ends sticking every which way, yet always coming down to the same level as the rest and with a wheel underneath. Both those things were ugly -- I loved 'em!

      Put me in a room with Legos to this day and you know what? I'm gonna play.

      • by TiggertheMad ( 556308 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:32PM (#10799537) Homepage Journal
        I am an AFOL (Adult Fan of Lego), and I think that they are the coolist thing ever. Check out some of the more interesting LEGO sites on the net: [] A massive gallery of uber cool models made by AFOLs. There are some really amazing models posted here. [] A lego set refrence that has just about every lego set ever made. Want to get a list of every classic space set made in 1978? This is the place. [] Want 150 tan 1x3 bricks? Buy them individually from fellow collectors all over the world. [] LUGNET is the Lego User Group. It has an interface to all all of the Lego USENET groups, and is an easy way to keep on top of all the relevant lego news. [] Of course there is LEGOs homepage. Online shopping, and all sorts of other interesting stuff. They just released a program on the lego site that allows you to build virtual lego models. That isn't really amazing, since LEGO cad programs have existed for years. However, they seem to be ramping up to allow people to build virtual models, and then order the parts to build them online! Every lego fan's dream come true...

        There is much more, but that is a quick rundown of some of the major sites. Indulge yourself, you know you want to....
        • by AKAImBatman ( 238306 ) * <akaimbatman&gmail,com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:39PM (#10799611) Homepage Journal
          Do you still get those catalogs every year that showed off the new model selections? I loved getting those in the mail. As soon as it showed up, I'd flip straight to the "Space" section, and look for the latest base or 10 guy moon rover. (The Lego characters never build anything small! ;-))

          It was a sad day the year they switched from building with flat plates and blocks to the large "hull" pieces for ships, castles, and bases. They canceled the $100 monorail at the same time, so I missed my chance at ever getting a Lego train set.
    • by borkus ( 179118 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:06PM (#10799122) Homepage
      If you like Legos, this would be a good year to include Lego on your shoppng list []. Sales for Lego have fallen over 25% in the last two years and the company is looking at a record setting loss for this year.
  • by VE3ECM ( 818278 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:54PM (#10798873)
    Don't forget your plain old Lego.

    Ignore all that fancy "Harry Potter" type themed Legos that are 3 times the price of basic blocks. You can buy a huge tub of basic Lego for around 20 bucks at Toys R Us or any Lego Store.

    You can get a MASSIVE amount of plain lego that's great for stimulating a kid's imagination at a fraction of the cost of some of that "themed" Lego junk.

    If that's not "creative" enough, find some Technics Lego. That stuff is neat to play with, too!

    • by Japong ( 793982 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:04PM (#10799087)
      And not just for kids either... this has been seen on slashdot before, but the things people can do with Lego Mindstorms [] is simply amazing. [] An expensive set to be sure, but it's a toy that will scale up as the child grows older, and it's probably the most user friendly robotics set ever created. Of course, for $179.99 US (MSRP) you might want to just get one for yourself and ignore the kids altogether.

    • Along that line of the "Technics" legos -- how about the old Erector [] sets (or the equivelant Meccano [] sets)?
      I used to play with those a lot -- mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, physics, gear/pulley ratios, etc. Although Techics Legos are cool, I think that Erector sets are much more time tested.
    • If that's not "creative" enough, find some Technics Lego. That stuff is neat to play with, too!

      I have to second the call for Lego Technic. I had much fun with those when I was younger. Even if the kid (does need to be at least about 8-9 to deal with them properly) just follows the directions and doesn't make anything new, he'll get to see how basic mechanics work up close without any danger of working with "real" fanbelts and motors and such. You can learn a great deal building a Technic car or motoroc
  • I hate the cube (Score:4, Interesting)

    by thered ( 256861 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:54PM (#10798874)
    I've got a PhD in Mechanical Engineering - I can't do it, I can't stand it.

    Sure there's a bunch of steps you can follow, but where's the challenge in that.

    I can only stand in awe of anyone who independently is able to solve the Rubic's Cube.
  • My 2 1/2 year old... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by asdfasdfasdfasdf ( 211581 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:54PM (#10798875)
    ...will be getting some lincoln logs this year. He's already way ahead of the game thanks to educational TV, electronics, and two voracious readers as parents, so we're looking to give him something to inspire good old fasioned fine motor skills and 3d perception..

    I never liked those big fat legos-- I'll wait until he can manipulate the "real" ones before I get him into legos...
    • Man, I always loved Lincoln Logs but I never had any of my own. I remember going to a friend's house for the night and turning down video games in favor of Lincoln Logs. His mom kept saying, "Why can't you be more like lukewarmfusion?"*

      * No, that's not my real name. My parents weren't that cruel.
  • by ArmenTanzarian ( 210418 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:54PM (#10798877) Homepage Journal
    This game [] entertained me well into High School for no apparent reason. There's really no skill to it, but trash talk and rematches kept it going for hours on end.
  • Legos Legos Legos! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blueZhift ( 652272 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:55PM (#10798890) Homepage Journal
    I played with these every chance I got when I was a kid. And now my own kids can make literally anything out of legos. Currently their favorite creations are Sonic, Knuckles, and Tails!
  • Fridgets (Score:4, Interesting)

    by FatRatBastard ( 7583 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:55PM (#10798892) Homepage
    I'll go with Fridgets []. I don't know if they're considered "classic" in terms of age (I'd never seen them before a few years ago), but I think of them as "classic" in the sense that they're simple, creative, low-tech and a lot of fun to play with. And all the rug-rats in my neighborhood love 'em.
  • by esilva ( 196628 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:55PM (#10798893)
    Depending on the age of your kid but as far as my 2 yr old is concerned, he still enjoys the big empty cardboard boxes. You can make castles, tunnels, houses.. And I like it this way ;)
  • Lawn Darts (Score:5, Funny)

    by hAkron ( 448427 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:55PM (#10798894)
    Not the plastic tipped ones either...
  • by ralf1 ( 718128 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:55PM (#10798900)
    Give the kid the box. He'll make a fort and have hours of fun, and you get yours too.
  • by Drunken_Jackass ( 325938 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:56PM (#10798913) Homepage
    I mean really, how many times can your re-wrap the string, yank it and hold it in your palm (i'm talking 'bout the gyroscope you perv)?

    I'd rather have something that makes use of the stupid gyroscope. Where are all of the fun toys that use the gyroscope? Where's the home segway kit? Why doesn't someone make more toys that USE these classic toys instead of leaving someone uninspired and wanting more?
    • by Torontoman ( 829262 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @04:05PM (#10801381)
      I had a die-cast metal gyroscope when I was a kid. One day I wound 15 feet of fishing line onto it, tied the end to a door knob and ran accross the room. I no sooner had put it on the floor when it started making this freakish humm - before I could reflect on the drawbacks of overclocking my Gyroscope it shattered and the spokes shot off in all directions - including two into my lower legs drawing blood. Some stuck into a pine bench accross the room, and some into the wall. Awesome - I'll never forget that. I think it must have been like starting the first nuclear chain reaction... "how high can we rev this sucker?"
  • Rubik's Cube... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bje2 ( 533276 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:56PM (#10798925)
    "The cube has been around for about 20 years"

    Actually, the cube has been around exactly 30 years [] (this year)...i have one sitting in my cube (no pun intended) as we speak...
  • Playmobile (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Phixxr ( 794883 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:57PM (#10798935)
    I'm going to have to say Playmobil. Just simply action figures and such, but so very very detailed. Expensive, as those european toys always are, but well worth it in my opinion. []


  • My favorites (Score:5, Interesting)

    by acvh ( 120205 ) <> on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:57PM (#10798940) Homepage
    Tinkertoys - I got one of my creations published in the Tinkertoy magazine.

    Lego - the rectangular block kind. None of this Star Wars/Pirate/Bionicle nonsense.

    Anything else that fosters imaginative thinking: PlayDoh, Etch-a-sketch, and the like.
  • by ajiva ( 156759 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:57PM (#10798944)
    When my family moved to the United States the first toy my parents bought me and my brother were a set of *metal* Tonka Trucks! Those things were industructable! We would smash them, throw them, hit them with hammers, basically do kid things with them. And those trucks still held on...
  • by Eviljay ( 764249 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @12:59PM (#10798995)
    Can't..... resist..... desire... too... strong

    When i was a kid all i got for christmas was a lump of coal and a kick up the arse. Then for dinner our mother and our father would kill us with a breadknife and dance on our graves singing Hallelujah.

    You tell that to kids today and they won't believe you
    • Luxury.

      You were lucky.

      I used to have to get up half and hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, head off to work at the coal mine and pay for the luxury of working there, come home 2 hours after I went to sleep, and THEN father would cut us in two with a breadknife and dance on our graves singing Hallelujah.

      And you tell kids these days about how they have it so easy, and they don't believe you...
  • by VE3ECM ( 818278 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:00PM (#10799000)
    Stratego was (and still is) a fun game to play that doesn't require the sometimes hours and hours it takes to play Risk.

    Easy enough for a kid to learn, but strategies are so varied, it's hard to ever master it against another good player...

    As an aside, I loved throwing a few Major and Colonels at the front with all my scouts and a couple of Miners and decimating my opponents' lower ranks... that gambit usually only works once or twice on them... unless they're slow to adapt.

  • Classic (Score:3, Insightful)

    by blackmonday ( 607916 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:01PM (#10799029) Homepage
    The Classic Football [] handheld. Fun, cheap, nostalgic.

  • by Moby Cock ( 771358 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:02PM (#10799058) Homepage
    LEGO is a great toy except it costs a friggin' mint these days. The old style stuff that was all blocks and some smaller specialty pieces is the best. The stuff today is too specific for many different projects. So I guess I am recommending LEGO from 15 years ago.

    When I was kid I had Mecano, which was like Lego, except it used little nuts and bolts and pieces of thin sheet metal. I could make a car with it. It was really cool. Is that still available?
  • School House Rock (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eaddict ( 148006 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:03PM (#10799064)
    I just ordered a copy of School House Rock [] for my ... me.
    I am also looking at the multi purpose electronics kits and an erector set [] for my oldest daughter.
    I can't seem to get enough of the older toys and neither can my kids. They are so tired of plastic.
  • by Swamii ( 594522 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:03PM (#10799074) Homepage
    What other classic toys do you remember from your youth that are still fun enough that kids will play with them today?

    Coal. You insensitive clod.
  • Electric Trains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Samlind1 ( 667119 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:04PM (#10799084)
    Believe it or not, Lionel is still in business.

    Coincidently, Tom Hank's Christmas movie (why not, he's done everything else) - the Polar Express opened Wed. Lionel got the in on the act, and they have the official toy for the movie and are expecting to double their best year in the last 20. They are probably right.

    Electric trains are still fun, I still remember the one I had at age 5.

  • Capsella and more (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dead sun ( 104217 ) <aranach AT gmail DOT com> on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:04PM (#10799090) Homepage Journal
    I think Capsella (if that's the right spelling) were pretty amusing given the number of things that could be done with simple reconfiguration.

    Also interesting and undermentioned is Erector sets. They aren't as easy to configre as Capsella, but certainly give you more freedom to do what you want. I got some good milage out of those as a kid.

    Lego is already mentioned a billion times, but I'd recommend the old school bricks as opposed to the recent specialty bricks that aren't nearly as configurable.

    Tinker Toys and Construx were good fun, though I haven't seen either around recently. I also haven't really looked.

    If you have aspiring artists consider some honest to god nice drawing pencils, some high quality paper, and a good eraser. There's about an endless number of things one can draw.

    Board games are up on my list too. Consider a nice chess set if there isn't one around the house. That's a game that's stood the test of time.

  • Meccano (Score:3, Interesting)

    by fiannaFailMan ( 702447 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:05PM (#10799105) Journal
    I loved my big Meccano [] kit.
  • by mr_z_beeblebrox ( 591077 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:06PM (#10799111) Journal
    what other classic toys do you remember from your youth that are still fun enough that kids will play with them today?

    Power outlets, broken glass and matches.
  • How about... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:07PM (#10799132) Homepage Journal
    A bicycle?
    A tree house?
    Lincon Logs.
    Estes Model rockets.
    Cox Control line airplanes.
    Any of the new RC airplanes.
    Rubber band powered planes.
    Swing set and slide?
    Anything to get them out of the house and moving in the sun shine and fresh are and not sitting in front of the TV/Monitor.
    I have to say that toys that invole the real world beat the heck heck out of video games. I have to wonder what we are teaching our kids. Even the coolest Slashdot stories tend to involve things like making your own roller coaster in your backyard. A battle meck tree house. Or a full scale space ship in your back yard. Not sitting in front of Doom3 day after day.
  • by cbdavis ( 114685 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:07PM (#10799134)
    My favorite Xmas toy. But, I would guess that the PC police has outlawed this. Way too much fun if you are nerdy. Hey, you even get chlorine gas from clorox if you work it right.
  • toys are evil (Score:5, Interesting)

    by theMerovingian ( 722983 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:08PM (#10799165) Journal

    Toys represent everything that's wrong with modern western civilization. They enforce the notion that there is a difference between "work" and "play".

    Toys are an artificial construct popularized by the Rockefeller and Carnegie foundations in the late 1800's. The inherent psychological principle is that if you mentally dissociate your job from the context of your normal life, then you are willing to put up with a constant low level of dissatisfaction in exchange for a reward of "play time" or "toys".

    Thus, by encouraging your children to "play", you are psychologically destroying them and reducing their future potential to that of an assembly line worker. People endure 40-60 hours of pure crap every week of their lives with the dubious reward of "vacation", or a nice car, or time to watch TV as their only reward. Toys simply lay the groundwork for this type of pathological motivation.

    What's the solution for this madness? Teach your children to enjoy working hard to accomplish their independent goals. Learning and discovery and adventure are rewarding without the need for false constructs. Hard work and proportional reward are the foundations of our country, and the entrepreneurial spirit should be encouraged at a very early age. Teach your children to live and enjoy life, rather than to simply endure it.

    But, failing all that, buy them a Nintendo 64 and Goldeneye... that game rocks my face off.

  • Simon rules! (Score:5, Informative)

    by static0verdrive ( 776495 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:11PM (#10799209) Homepage Journal
    Anyone else remember Simon, the (highly addictive)electronic game where you have to repeat the beeping light tone sequences? Fun, great for toddlers to get into memory games and build ... ya know, character I guess. I loved it, and not only can you find it on Ebay but they apparently still sell it (albeit smaller now, and with a transparent plastic body to jive it up for the 90's...)
  • Capsula (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ann Coulter ( 614889 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:12PM (#10799221) Journal
    If they still make Capsula sets, try getting one. They are modular units that allow one to create mechanical devices and vehicles. I don't know if they are still being made, but I used to love them when I was a kid.
  • Magnifying glass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by drdanny_orig ( 585847 ) * on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:15PM (#10799292)
    It's a known fact: boys from 7 to 70 _love_ to play with a big magnifying glass, say 4" or larger diameter. Remember looking in the mirror with one huge eye? Discovering you can project images onto a wall? Or best of all, frying ants on the front sidewalk? It's all still fun!
  • by nautical9 ( 469723 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:22PM (#10799400) Homepage
    I toy I absolutely loved as a kid was the 200-in-1 Electronics Lab []. It's basically just a bunch of raw electronics bits (diodes, transistors, resistors, a small numerical display, etc) all hookup up to little springs, a whole bunch of wires to connect pieces together, and a huge book with simple projects and diagrams on how to create little "apps".

    Hours of fun playing around with basic-level electronics, and you get to learn some stuff too!

    You used to see them all the time at Radio Shack and other stores, but I haven't seen one in person in over a decade. There are also different "sizes", but I can't recall what they are.

  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:27PM (#10799470) Homepage Journal
    My list would have to include things that can be enjoyed on many levels, and are assured of a longer useful life:
    • Baseball, glove, and wooden bat. Instructions and lesson for care of same, including the esoterics of neatsfoot oil and pine tar.

    • Large box of generic legos. Forget the little men, just give in bulk, including the long pieces. Instructions and lesson for use and care of same, including the esoterics of planning the project before building it, so as not to run out of the aforementioned long pieces.

    • Pocket knife and sharpening stone. Instructions and lesson for use and care of same, including the esoterics of blade oil (and keeping it off aforementioned stone).

    • Estes Rocket. Instructions and lesson for use and care of same, including the esoterics of making it go faster through the use of pin striping and how to use a power strip as an ignition switch without causing electrocution.

    • Microscope. Instructions and lesson for use of same, including the esoterics of what's in saliva.

    • 50-in-1 electronic project kit. Instructions and lesson for use of same, including the esoterics of using the FM transmitter project to override the sibling's favorite FM station.

  • Not A Classic but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by FJ ( 18034 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @01:49PM (#10799766)
    I got my son a Chaos Tower [] this Christmas. He is still too young to do it himself, but he loves these kinds of toys. It definitely isn't cheap, but it isn't as mind numbing as a video game either.

    I know what I'll be building Christmas morning...
  • Lego Bricks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by devphaeton ( 695736 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @02:04PM (#10799989)
    You can never go wrong with Lego.

    Rule of thumb.

    Besides, they're in dire financial straits and we need to help them out. Maybe they'll bring back just plain ole bricks vs. specialised or licensed stuff.

    check out their online store:
  • by StefanJ ( 88986 ) on Friday November 12, 2004 @03:08PM (#10800776) Homepage Journal
    Kids today are far too coddled. They need to play in weed-infested vacant lots where they can get a chance to play with rusty pieces of metal, weathered 2x4s with nails in them, and construction debris.

    I remember dog crap playing a big part in street play in my childhood. No one picked up after their dogs back then, nor leashed them. Dog crap could be hurled at other kids, or rubbed into item which were then handed, all innocent-like, to other kids. At the Fourth of July, toys loaded with both fireworks and dog crap were a source of excitement and an incentive to great speed and agility.

    To heck with your Gameboy Advances and LEGO Star Wars Episode VII sets. An old washing machine can with a little imagination serve as a time machine, and a discarded refrigerator makes a SWELL gas chamber for the final scene in Cops n' Robbers games and that actually kind of works for real!


Competence, like truth, beauty, and contact lenses, is in the eye of the beholder. -- Dr. Laurence J. Peter