Batteries not included: Low-tech toys delight at Christmas

According to the experts, old is gold when it comes to toys.

Toy store owners have analog gift suggestions for kids and kids at heart

Lego building blocks are a low-tech favourite. (woodleywonderworks/Flickr)

With four days 'till Christmas and nary a Hatchimal in sight, what's a gift giver to do? According to the experts — toy store owners — go old school.

Lee Richmond, who owns the Kaboodles toy store chain in Metro Vancouver, says classic retro toys like the slinky, rubber chickens and Spirographs are just as fun as the Hatchimal — the hot toy this year.

"People keep coming back for that type of product because they had it when they were children," she said. "Things of good quality that last."

The slinky — a coiled spring — was invented in the early 1940s. (Clare Black/Flickr)

Richmond said her customers are looking for toys that can be played with over and over again.

"It's important to have toys that open children up to their creativity and things that can be used in many different ways."

Al Read, who owns the Big Smiles Kids Store in Smithers, B.C., said toys like Playmobil and Lego, games and puzzles are his bestsellers.

He said they're also easy on the wallet.

"I did a little bit of research on those Hatchimals and if you can find one, they're selling for $200-$400 online. That's an incredible amount of money," he said. "If you go to your local toy store and just dig around, the kinds of things you could get for that kind of money is crazy."

Stikbots are robot toys with suction cups on their hands and feet that can be connected to a smartphone to create stop-motion videos. (Stikbot/Twitter)

That's not to say all tech is out the window.

Lee Richmond says some of her most popular toys combine a tactile toy with a tech component like the Stikbot. Kids can use the tiny robot with suction hands and feet to star in stop-motion videos using a smart phone and tripod, she explained.

The bottom line, Read said, is to put a little thought into it.

"Sometimes the best gifts are the tiniest, most unassuming gifts."

Toy store owner Lee Richmond demonstrates a rainbow twirler — a simple device that can be swirled to create different patterns. (CBC)

With files from The Early Edition and Daybreak North

To listen to the audio segment, click on the link labelled Low tech toys delight at Christmas and
Will the Hatchimals craze last? We talk to a toy store about what makes a classic


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