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Toys Unplugged: 10 Classic Toys to Gift Your Kids

Classic holiday toys and games that never go out of style. Commissions may be paid for purchases made through links in this post.

You’ve got your list, you’ve checked it twice… And how about some gifts that don’t require screens? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Evel Knievel Stune Cycle

Most of the items on your list are probably high-tech gadgets such as cell phones, tablets and video games.

However, you might be surprised that many of the toys you played with as a kid are still relevant and engaging for children today. They also provide a creative outlet that doesn’t require an electrical outlet or internet connection.

If you’re looking to wrap up your holiday gift-giving with some unique classic toys and games, look no further than these 10 gift ideas to round out your shopping list.

The Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle Is Back

If you were a child growing up in the ’70s, chances are Evel Knievel was one of your heroes. There was nothing more exciting than tuning in to ABC’s Wide World of Sports on a Saturday afternoon to watch the man in red, white and blue attempt one of his death-defying jumps.

Throughout his illustrious career, Knievel attempted 170 jumps, wrecked 19 times and broke over 40 bones in his body. All of this spectacle inspired a lot of marketing opportunities.

The daredevil’s high flying ways led to the development of one of the most popular toys of all time – a toy stunt cycle you could wind up and launch over just about anything in the house; or harass the family pet.

I’m happy to report that the 70’s jumping sensation is back with an updated version of the infamous Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle. Regardless of whether your children have ever heard of Evel Knievel or watched one of his jumps, they (or you) will enjoy hours of fun with this nostalgic toy.

Learn more about Evel’s legacy at the Evel Knievel Museum located in Topeka, Kansas, and adjacent to Topeka’s Historic Harley-Davidson store.

Simon Says Have Fun & Learn

When Simon launched in 1978, it quickly became a top Christmas toy, and it’s never really left pop culture since. There have been many iterations of the game, but the original game of lights and sounds remains the classic.

I just picked one up for my kids and am delighted to see that what used to be a big clunky thing that required several D-size batteries is now smaller, lighter, and only takes three AAA’s.

I can’t wait until they open it so we can play. As parents, we’re always looking for ways to keep our kids off screens – even on car trips!

This pure and simple screen-free game will appeal to kids’ competitive nature and you’ll join in to see if you can beat your childhood record.

That’s a bit of a stretch

Who remembers getting with a friend and seeing how far you could stretch the blonde, muscular man in short shorts? Stretch Armstong first surfaced in the late ’70s and has persevered for over four decades.

The stretchable wonder is still a consistent favorite among toy action figures. Grab hold and stretch his arms, legs and torso up to four times his original size.

You can stretch him, tie him in knots and he will always go back to his original shape (unless of course, you try to wrap him around a tree or the exterior of your house).

Just Tinkertoy-ing around

TINKERTOY has been a staple in children’s homes since 1914. A bunch of pieces that fit together in different ways… what else could you ask for?!

My siblings and I had a bin full of these that we’d empty onto the carpet to make, well, whatever we needed.
A car with too many wheels, a house for Smurf figurines, a system of roads, or an assortment of random structures our action figures did stunts on and around. (Always so many unnecessary flips, right?) My kids and their cousins still play with the set at my parents’ house. But if your parents didn’t keep yours, you’re in luck – K’NEX still makes them.

In this set, they’ve replaced the wood pieces with plastic, but the possibilities that come inside its vintage storage tin remain the same! Plus, you gotta love that it’s made in the USA.

How to become a Pogo Bal master

Who could forget this Gex X childhood staple?

Way back when kneepads were a style choice and not a safety feature, parents could pick up one of these fully assembled on a store shelf.

Even though your best bet now is buying online, you can still show your kids and the neighbors that you’re a Pogo Bal master. Or even better, pull up a lawn chair and supervise the kids as they jump until they drop from exhaustion.

For the littles, there’s a version with a weight limit of 105 pounds. This update of a childhood classic features two electronic game modes to keep kids motivated.

Slightly bigger kids will appreciate this version with more color options and an increased 160-pound weight limit.

Snoopy & Snowcones

Heir to the Easy-Bake Oven in the culinary toy genre, the Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine was introduced by Hasbro in 1979. By this time, Charles Schulz’s Peanuts had become a worldwide phenomenon.

Based on America’s favorite beagle, the slushie creator was named one of the 100 best toys in history by TIME magazine. Kids learned the value of hard work by hand-cranking their very own flavored ice shavings.

In 2012, Cra-Z-Art took over the license and made a near-identical Snoopy Sno-Cone with only a few exceptions, including a hand crank that’s easier to use and a clamp to secure the machine to a table.

Rings go up, down & all around

If you saw the Waterfuls Classic handheld water game sitting on a coffee table, wouldn’t you pick it up and have a go?

It’s so simple. Some little balls in a handheld water tank that you “swirl, shoot, and score”.

This version features a single plunger button, balls and cradles, but there are other variations out there. Another favorite version of the toy features rings you land on a dolphin’s bottlenose. If you’re a Spongebob fan, they even have a version for you.

No screen, no sound effects, and no batteries to charge?? Yes, please.

Lego: If you build it, they will come

There’s a reason versatile toys like LEGO have never gone out of style.

Well before they broke into Hollywood and robotics, LEGO blocks were basic but versatile enough to translate kids’ imaginations into three dimensions.

Since the 60’s, we’ve been making our own castles, cars, and futuristic weapons systems with whatever we could find in our jumbled-up collection of blocks.

Today, LEGO is getting back to basics, releasing their Classic sets in several different block amounts. The opportunities for family building night are endless.

For the more sophisticated builder, LEGO offers an imaginative 3D alternative to puzzles with their Architecture collection.

View-Master: Put the world at your fingertips

Enjoyed by both kids and adults alike, View-Master was introduced at the 1939 New York World’s Fair by Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services, and fellow camera buff William Gruber.

Graves visited the Oregon Caves National Monument in 1938 and saw Gruber using two cameras strapped together. Gruber told Graves he was planning to update the stereoscopes common in 19th-century drawing rooms by producing three-dimensional color slides and a new hand-held viewer. By the next morning, they’d made a deal.

Over the years, the slide reels have ranged from scenic attractions around the country to virtually every major kids’ show and motion picture. Several manufacturers have produced View-Master, including Fisher-Price and Tyco Toys.

Spirographing Out of Control

Even though there are tons of apps and computer programs for creating illustrations and designs, there is still something uniquely gratifying about creating by hand.

With its distinctive interlocking gears and wheels, Spirograph makes it easy for children to create interesting shapes and elegant, spiraling designs.

Introduced in 1965, Spirograph makes it possible for aspiring artists of all ages to create beautifully intricate designs. It was originally developed as a drafting tool, by a mechanical engineer named Denys Fisher.

The distinctive wheels and rings cleverly combine the principles of art and mathematics in a way that has inspired and delighted kids of all generations.

So if you’ve been longing to take a break from Zoom meetings, virtual learning, and doom scrolling, grab a few of these classic toys that will help you and your kids unplug – and maybe even reconnect, together.