The lists of hot holiday toys for 2012 came out with a vengeance this week and indeed, the latest from K'Nex is pretty cool and I like to see light-up globes making many of the lists. However, I'm a firm believer that some of the classic toys we grew up with are still the best, along with the large cardboard box which is still a kid favorite.
Here are five retro toys that I recommend for every kid. (And most grown ups.)
Spin-Art â€“ Usually, battery-operated toys are my least preferred, but I will make an exception for this paint-whirling machine. The concept is simple: you secure a piece of paper or cardboard to the platform â€“ it will have to be a specific size to fit properly â€“ and then you turn it on (some have different speeds, some don't) and the platform holding the canvas starts rotating. Then, you squirt paint droplets onto the canvas while it's spinning and let centrifugal forces do their thing. The results are always different and cool. We use our finished Spin Art creations for gift cards, and I particularly like this art form because, like all art forms, you don't have to outgrow it. I still get stoked seeing the end result of my creation after it stops rotating.
Easy-Bake Oven â€“ Invented in 1963, the Easy-Bake Oven, which is a working toy oven, has gone through 11 different models. We have a '70s version of the oven, which is still my favorite. It's rectangular and red and implements a push-through system and a light bulb to make the little round cakes. (More modern ovens have an electric stove-top or look more like a microwave and a heating element instead of the light bulb). The oven comes with cake mix, but you can use any cake mix / batter. The key is to spray or grease the pans (you really need the original pans for best results) and not to overfill otherwise the light bulb method of cooking doesn't work. Like many beloved retro toys, there have been plenty of recalls and injuries with the ol' Easy-Bake, so be sure to hang around when the kids are cookin'.
Chess â€“ Chess isn't really retro, it's more timeless, however, all of the cliche statements about the merits of chess are true: the game improves concentration, logical thinking, math skills and the ability to foresee consequences of actions. Kids "get it" right away and it's truly an all-ages game. Come to think of it, I really should have played more chess in my twenties. I could have used a little more of that ability to foresee consequences of actions and checked off a few mates. Meh, live and learn.
Magic 8-Ball â€“ During my childhood, the Magic 8 Ball made many of my decisions and doled out plenty of advice. I consulted with it on all sorts of things, like whether or not I should clean my room or if that boy in gym class liked me. I'm not sure my sons have as much faith in the black ball filled with blue liquid as I did, but they definitely like shaking it. Just don't ask it a question that's not yes/no otherwise the "advice" â€“ which includes "you may rely on it" and "my reply is no" â€“ might not cut it.
Etch-A-Sketch â€“ Sorry, Magnadoodle, but you are not the same. This classic drawing toy is still the best, but it's not easy to master. Any seven-year-old schmo can create lots of right-angled letters and designs, but to conquer the art of using both white knobs at once and creating diagonal, even rounded lines, is a true challenge. The only annoying aspect of this toy is sometimes the screen got cloudy and then you couldn't see your black lines as well. I think there's some kind of aluminum powder inside the Etch, but I don't really understand how it works. Maybe I'll ask the Magic 8-Ball. Oh wait, that's not a yes-or-no question.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Molly Snyder
Published April 25, 2017
According to a sign on the door, G-Daddy's BBC, 2022 E. North Ave., is closed.
Published April 24, 2017
After recording with And DiFranco in New Orleans, Milwaukee's Peter Mulvey is ready to release his 17th album on Saturday, April 29 in The Back Room at Colectivo Coffee.
Published April 21, 2017
After 10 years in business, the Oakcrest Tavern in Shorewood is closed.
Published April 20, 2017
If and when marijuana is legalized in Wisconsin, what does this mean for Wisconsin - specifically the beloved beer industry?
Published April 19, 2017
Abby Walker loved wearing high heels, but did not dig the foot pain that went with it. So, she invented an insole that she says allows women to wear high heels four times longer than usual. Her company is called Vivian Lou Insolia.
Published April 14, 2017
Let's get New Age-y and math-y for a minute and find out the numerology of "414" on 414 Day!
Published April 14, 2017
In 1937, Alfred Woelbing began making Carmex by hand, pouring the lip balm into the familiar yellow-capped jars in his Milwaukee kitchen. Today the company is based in Franklin and owned by Woelbing's grandson who says, despite rumors, the product is not addictive.
Published April 14, 2017
Milwaukee needed a new toast for the city that was even more Milwaukee. After weeks of voting, you selected "414, Let's Have One More!" and Mayor Tom Barrett joined us to unveil it on Friday, April 14, which, of course, is "Milwaukee Day."
Published April 13, 2017
To celebrate 150 years of family brewing tradition, the Leinenkugels are throwing a party - and you're invited.
Published April 12, 2017
Make the perfect grilled cheese for National Grilled Cheese Day - and every day!