14 Classic Toys That Still Rock
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Classic toys like jack in the box, etch a sketch, play doh, sock monkeys, cars, or kaleidoscopes send us into bouts of nostalgia, and honestly, some of these toys still can’t be beat after all this time. Your old collectibles and your favorite playsets might be the perfect gift for your little one.
More: 12 Awesome Toys Made in The USA
If you’re stumped for gift ideas and you're wondering what the best toys are, forget about all the new toys on the market. Instead, put some tunes on your retro record player and consider one of these classic toys.
Our Top Picks
- Best for Creative Play: Playskool Mr. Potato Head at Amazon
- Best for Outdoor Play: Radio Flyer Classic Retro Red Dual Deck Tricycle at Amazon
- Best for Math and Early Learning: Elefun and Friends Barrel of Monkeys Game at Amazon
- Most Classic Toy Ever: Melissa & Doug Standard Unit Blocks at Amazon
- Best Building Toy: LINCOLN LOGS –100th Anniversary Tin at Amazon
- A Good Choice for Toy Cars: MATCHBOX GIFT PACK Assortment at Amazon
- A Toy to Get You Moving on a Rainy Day: Winning Moves Games Classic Twister at Amazon
- Best Toy for a Car Trip: PlayMonster Magnetic Personalities - Original Wooly Willy at Amazon
- Best for Whole Family Fun: Simon Electronic Memory Game at Amazon
- A Good Choice for Your Little Tinkerer: K'NEX TINKERTOY - Classic Building Tin - 100 Parts at Amazon
- A Game to Learn About the Human Body: Classic Operation Game at Amazon
- Best Choice for the Art Lover: Spirograph Original Deluxe Art Set at Amazon
- Best Play Farm: Fisher-Price Little People Caring for Animals Farm at Amazon
- Best Drawing Toy: Etch A Sketch, Classic Red Drawing Retro Toy with Magic Screen at Amazon
Best for Creative Play
When Mr. Potato Head debuted, it was nothing more than a collection of plastic facial features. You actually had to supply the potato. Over the years, Mr. Potato Head has gone through some changes: he married, had little spuds, and eventually gained a plastic body. And although he's spun himself off into software, books, and a starring role in the Toy Story series, his charm remains the same.
For a new spin on Mr. Potato Head, check out the Mr Potato Head Goes Green Toy.
Best for Outdoor Play
If you had one of these collectibles -- or if your parents had one of these -- chances are, it's still in the basement somewhere. That's because the metal frame and solid construction means this bike never dies. This is a great way to scoot around the neighborhood. It's easy to steer and looks great with a little bell on the handle bars!
For a modern alternative, check out this balance bike.
Best for Math and Early Learning
It was a simple, but endlessly frustrating concept: A bunch of monkeys lived in a barrel and could be hooked onto each other. Could you hook them all together without breaking the chain? Nope, you couldn't. All the monkeys hooked together were taller than you, after all. But what a great way to practice patience and hand-eye coordination! Today's monkeys come in a larger size than you remember – just right for small hands.
For a toy that does actually stay linked, try YUYUSO 100 Piece Plastic C-Clips Hooks Chain Links.
Most Classic Toy Ever
Seriously, what could be more classic? Sure, a good set of wooden blocks can be expensive, but think back to the complex structures you built as a kid, with secret rooms, soaring towers, and daring bridges. Childhood just isn't the same without those feats of architectural bravado. Blocks stand the test of time, too, keeping your child interested from the toddler years through grade school.
Create even more possibilities for building with PicassoTiles 100 Piece Set.
Best Building Toy
Continuing on a theme, this is another great building toy. Remember all the fences, walls and...well...log cabins you put together with these? You could make entire towns for your action figures and garages for your Hot Wheels cars.
Take building up a notch today with LUKAT Gears Building Toys for Kids.
A Good Choice for Toy Cars
And speaking of these little metal cars, remember racing these hot wheels along those little orange tracks? You'd build them over the couch and down the stairs to see who's car could go the fastest? Well, they're still around, orange tracks and all! There are thousands of cars to choose from, and they come in all kinds of multi-packs of collectibles. Grab some track sets and you're good to go!
Today’s car lover can also drive their own car with oh-so-popular ride-on toys like this one.
A Toy to Get You Moving on a Rainy Day
Get you kids' wiggles out with this classic game. Let them twist and turn until their ready for bed! And why not jump in and play, too? Now that you're bigger, the colors are a lot easier to reach!
A new and super fun game mixes the two award-winning classics, Twister and Scrabble, making the Mashups Twister Scrabble Game.
Best Toy for a Car Trip
Got a car trip in the future? Don't want to hand over your phone to keep the kids occupied. Throw a couple of these in the car and let your younger kids have fun giving Wooly Willy hair on his head, his chin and... in his nose? Come on, you know you did it, too!
For a new female version, check out PlayMonster Magnetic Personalities - Hair-Do Harriet.
Best for Whole Family Fun
Follow the lights and sounds and do what Simon says! Yup, this game is still around. It's not only a great ‘80s classic, it also teaches colors, patterns and hand-eye coordination. So, you're not just getting a toy you can sneak after the kids go to bed. You're getting something educational!
For an updated version that’s even more fun and even more educational, try Flashing Cube Brain & Memory Game for Kids – 4-in-1 Electronic Handheld Games for Kids.
A Good Choice for Your Little Tinkerer
Talk about a classic toy! Tinker Toys were created in 1914. They've been used to make everything from simple structures to complex machines, and even a tic-tac-toe-playing computer. Think of all the things your brilliant kid could make with these!
Kids who loved to tinker back in the day will love to code today. Try this coding toy for a more modern update.
A Game to Learn about the Human Body
Remember all the near-heart attacks you got when you touched the edges and heard that buzz? Gift your child the same gift of total shock! The organs have changed a bit from when you were a kid, but the game is still the same!
Also try Educational Board Game - Scabs and Guts - The Medical Fact Based Board Game.
Best Choice for the Art Lover
This is a fun, creative toy that lets kids explore shapes, patterns and design. They can use it to make cards for friends and family, or just goof around with different spiraling shapes. You may even find yourself stealing this one to relive your own childhood.
Also try: Jar Melo Marbling Painting Kit.
Best Play Farm Play Set
This award-winning farm playset might be retro but your little one will love it just as much as you did! The Fisher Price classic farm just doesn't get old.
If you do want something more modern but still beautiful, consider this dollhouse.
Best Drawing Toy
The Etch a Sketch was always a best seller and it still is! You can draw anything and then erase it one slide.
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Elisa is a well-known parenting writer who is passionate about providing research-based content to help parents make the best decisions for their families.