Retro Gifts That Kids Will Love
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29 Retro Gifts That Kids Will Still Love Today

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Retro Gifts That Kids Will Love
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BLASTS FROM THE PAST

While some toys are obvious fads from the start, others have a more lasting appeal, attributable to everything from adorable design to an exciting concept that can engage children in any era. To get creative with your gift-giving for young children, skip this year's fads in favor of classic toys. (Note: Prices and availability are subject to change.)

Slinkys
Courtesy of amazon.com

SLINKY

Price: $3 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented in the early '40s, the Slinky has been occupying restless hands far longer than, say, the fidget spinner with its number of "tricks," like falling end over end downstairs with a single push to start -- not as easy as it sounds. There are dozens of colorful or themed variations like the Slinky Dog, but even the simple (and cheap) steel original is good for hours of idle entertainment. Slinkys are among the shrinking number of toys still made in America.

ViewMaster Boxed Set
Courtesy of amazon.com

VIEW-MASTER

Price: $17 | Buy It on Amazon
View-Masters are stereoscopes that come with corresponding "reels" containing images that appear in striking 3-D through the peepholes. Most reels contain images of animals or natural or historic sites from around the world. Though a virtual reality version has hit the market, the low-tech original is still as fun as ever.

Lincoln Logs
Courtesy of amazon.com

LINCOLN LOGS

Price: $36 | Buy It on Amazon
Lincoln Logs give children the chance to build, but whether they rely on the accompanying instructions or their own imagination is up to them. Given the toy's structural nature, it's no surprise they were invented about a century ago by John Lloyd Wright, the son of famous architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

Transformers: The Last Knight
Courtesy of amazon.com

TRANSFORMERS

Price: $20 | Buy It on Amazon
Even if there weren't a major motion picture franchise still promoting this line of Hasbro products started in 1984, they would probably still be popular for having such an enticing toy concept: mechanical robots that fold up into everyday objects. The quality of the movies may be questionable, but the Transformers themselves are still inexpensive fun.

Tinkertoy Basic Building Kit
Courtesy of amazon.com

TINKERTOYS

Price: $25 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented in 1914, Tinkertoys are like many other enduring toys in that they empower children to build things without imposing too much structure on them. Parents can also rest assured knowing the appealingly old-fashioned set of wooden spools and connecting pieces helps children develop fine-motor skills and spatial awareness.

Toysmith Jacob's Ladder
Courtesy of amazon.com

JACOB'S LADDER

Price: $4.44 | Buy It on Amazon
A "folk toy" with uncertain origins, Jacob's Ladder consists of a string of flat wooden blocks connected by interlaced ribbons that allow the blocks to change order and cascade over one another in an optical illusion fascinating for adults as well as children.

Originial TEDCO Gyroscope Twin Pak
Courtesy of amazon.com

GYROSCOPE

Price: $10 | Buy It on Amazon
Gyroscopes are spinning wheels with a myriad of scientific uses, and since 1917, they've also made entertaining toys, similar to but more visually stimulating than the average spinning top. The classic version, perfect for placing atop a desk to occupy idle hands, is still for sale today through Amazon and other sellers.

Spirograph Design Tin Set
Courtesy of amazon.com

SPIROGRAPH

Price: $14 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented in the late 19th century, the Spirograph is a drawing tool that lets anyone create hypnotic mandala-like designs. Modern Spirograph sets include multiple sizes of drawing wheels and different colored pens that allow children or adults to get creative with this uniquely mathematical design toy.

Toysmith Retro Magic Rail Twirler
Courtesy of amazon.com

RAIL TWIRLER

Price: $5 | Buy It on Amazon
Though not quite as versatile as the yo-yo, the retro rail-twirling toy is still about strategically keeping a spinning wheel in perpetual motion, in this case using a wire frame to keep it going. The toy is incredibly cheap, mesmerizing and can provide hours of play for children with otherwise idle hands.

Rhode Island Novelty Pin Point Impressions Metal Pin Art
Courtesy of amazon.com

PINSCREEN

Price: $11 | Buy It on Amazon
An executive toy as much as a children's one, a Pinscreen lets the user create a three-dimensional image from crowded metal pins by pushing them from the other side, potentially creating a cast of one's handprint or face. It's a simple, creative gadget that can also help children with sensory processing difficulties.

Polly Pocket
Courtesy of amazon.com

POLLY POCKET

Price: $13.50 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented by a father for his daughter in 1983, Polly Pockets differ from other doll lines in that they're unusually small—usually 2 to 3 inches tall, with proportional clothing accessories and playhouses to match. Subsequent updates by Mattel have made Polly dolls larger and more fashion-oriented with clothes that can either stretch onto the dolls or attach magnetically.

The Bridge Direct Lite Brite Magic Screen
Courtesy of amazon.com

LITE-BRITE

Price: $15 | Buy It on Amazon
Children use colored pegs to create vibrant glowing images from templates or on freeform sheets on the Lite-Brite. The toy invented in 1967 has managed to stay relevant because it encourages children's creativity and often includes templates inspired by popular children's franchises like My Little Pony.

Hasbro Connect 4 Game
Courtesy of amazon.com

CONNECT 4

Price: $14.50 | Buy It on Amazon
A little like a more-involved, gravity-based form of tic-tac-toe, Connect 4 is a cheap, portable two-player game that's simple enough for young children, yet involves enough strategy to engage adults too. There are many versions produced today of the 1974 Milton Bradley original, including a "Twist and Turn" version.

Simon Electronic Memory Game
Courtesy of amazon.com

SIMON

Price: $20 | Buy It on Amazon
Simon is an electronic memory-based game in which players try to remember and repeat an increasingly long sequence of flashing lights and tones. Though it's no longer the pop-culture phenomenon it was in the late '70s and early '80s, Simon remains a simple yet challengingly effective form of entertainment for anyone older than 7.

Haktoys Playful and Educational Penguin Slide Race Set
Courtesy of amazon.com

PENGUIN RACE

Price: $15 | Buy It on Amazon
Miniature penguins scale an icy staircase before swirling around an ice slide back to the bottom in this adorable electronic playset. The flashing lights, constant motion, and cute figurines together can entertain children for quite a while, which is why newer models of Penguin Race have quieter mechanics and an on-off switch for the accompanying music.

Kahootz Fashion Plates Deluxe Kit
Courtesy of amazon.com

FASHION PLATES

Price: $25 | Buy It on Amazon
Originally popular in the '70s and '80s, Fashion Plates are the creative toy to get for any young aspiring fashionista, allowing children to design unique outfits in one self-contained set featuring an idea guide to get started. By mixing and matching rubbing plates featuring different garments, they build outfits and then color them in using the include crayons and colored pencils.

Tupperware Shape-O Toy
Courtesy of tupperware.com

TUPPERWARE SHAPE-O TOY

Price: $29 | Buy It from Tupperware
Most children probably grew up with something like this rattling ball toy from Tupperware, which has yellow geometric pieces that fit through cutout spaces. Infants and children from 6 months to 6 years can work on identifying shapes and increasing dexterity while playing, then store the pieces within the ball so they aren't immediately lost.

MAGICYOYO Responsive YoYo K1-Plus
Courtesy of amazon.com

YO-YO

Price: $10 | Buy It on Amazon
Though the modern yo-yo gained popularity in the '20s, this deceptively simple toy has survived for centuries in various forms and in various cultures, most prominently in Japan. Today it's easy to find cheap simple yo-yos as well as "professional" versions including specialized gloves, replacement strings, carrying cases, and sometimes books teaching tricks.

Mattel Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots Game
Courtesy of amazon.com

ROCK 'EM SOCK 'EM ROBOTS

Price: $14 | Buy It on Amazon
This miniaturized boxing match has been a childhood classic since 1964, allowing two players to operate fighting robots until one knocks the other's head off to end the game. The toy of today is slightly smaller and features a few altered sound effects, but otherwise remains unaltered.

GP NextX Magnetic Drawing Board
Courtesy of amazon.com

MAGNA DOODLE

Price: $19 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented in 1974, the ever-popular Magna Doodle consists of a display panel where children can make temporary illustrations of tiny magnetic powder using a magnet-tipped stylus, similar to but easier to use than an Etch a Sketch. Newer versions include multicolored magnetic powders as well as stamps.

Radio Flyer My 1st Wagon
Courtesy of amazon.com

RADIO FLYER WAGON

Price: $26 | Buy It on Amazon
First produced in 1923, Radio Flyer's red wagon became an icon of American childhood for a simple reason: It encourages kids to get outside, whether they're riding in the wagon or hauling it around themselves. Today there are different models to suit different ages, like the toy version above, the full-fledged original ($78), and a more rugged all-terrain variation ($134).

PlayMonster Original Wooly Willy
Courtesy of amazon.com

WOOLY WILLY

Price: $3 | Buy It on Amazon
First produced in 1955, this simple but classic toy uses a magnetic wand to move metal fillings like hair follicles around a bald cartoon face. Inspiring several knockoffs, Wooly Willy survives as a toy today because it's creative, entertaining from a young age onward, and still wonderfully cheap.

Easy Bake Oven
Courtesy of amazon.com

EASY-BAKE OVEN

Price: $62 | Buy It on Amazon
This working toy oven has been letting children safely bake cookies and miniature cakes since 1963. Though the design may be far more futuristic-looking, Easy-Bake Ovens are still made by Hasbro today to give kids the joy of cooking without the worrying risk of a real oven.

Fun Central Glow Hula Hoop
Courtesy of amazon.com

HULA HOOP

Price: $12 | Buy It on Amazon
Like many of the best toys, the perfectly simple hula hoop encourages children to have fun through exercise, so they've become popular with adults for the same reason. The modern version made of plastic tubing was invented in 1958, but people have been twirling, rolling and even hulaing in hoops from rawer materials for far longer than that.

Basic Fun Fisher Price Classic Chatter Phone
Courtesy of amazon.com

FISHER PRICE CHATTER PHONE

Price: $14 | Buy It on Amazon
This beloved rolling toy still has the same old-fashioned rotary dial as it did upon its initial release in 1962, having undergone a short-lived update to push buttons in 2000. The design is no longer modernized, but young toddlers around 2 years of age still enjoy the chatter phone's flashing lights, ringing noises, and moving eyes.

Schylling Classic Tin Kaleidoscope
Courtesy of amazon.com

KALEIDOSCOPE

Price: $10 | Buy It on Amazon
The kaleidoscope relies upon repeated refraction of light to create an infinity of visual patterns, and it's been around in some form or another since at least the 16th century. These inexpensive toys can still be quite captivating for adults and especially children.

Hasbro Classic Operation Game
Courtesy of amazon.com

OPERATION

Price: $16.49 | Buy It on Amazon
A variation on a buzzing carnival game invented in 1964, most children who grew up playing Operation probably had no idea it was testing their eye coordination and fine motor skills the entire time. The toy, which is best for ages 6 to 14, is still easily found online and in stores today, often in themed versions where the patient is Shrek, Homer Simpson, and other characters.

Rubik's Snake
Courtesy of jet.com

RUBIK'S SNAKE

Price: $14 | Buy It on Jet
A phenomenon among adults as much as kids upon its release in 1980, the Rubik's Cube ($10) may be a little heady for most children, while the shapeable Rubik's Snake isn't quite as challenging but just as stimulating.

Hasbro Twister Moves Skip-It
Courtesy of amazon.com

SKIP-IT

Price: $23 | Buy It on Amazon
Invented in the '80s but based on an earlier toy from the '60s, the Skip-It is an anklet that encourages exercise, with an attached ball meant to be spun around one leg while the other jumps over it upon each revolution. Today many versions come with built-in counters to monitor how many hops you can manage without losing momentum.