What are the top ten coolest toys for boys ever invented? Forget about your Playstation or Nintendo games, those games are time wasters that require no imagination. I have compiled a list here of the top ten coolest toys for boys of all time, toys that my brothers and I spent countless hours playing with back in the day, toys that are super fun to play with and that actually stimulate the imagination. Some of these toys, sadly, are not made any more. Others, happily, are still sold in the major toy stores. Without further ado, here are my top ten coolest toys (for boys) of all time…
1) Action figures: Let’s get this straight right now — action figures are not dolls. Dolls are for girls and action figures are for boys. The very first action figure I ever owned was the Action Jackson figure from the 1970s. My Action Jackson was clean shaven and my brother’s Action Jackson figure had a beard. The T.V commercial for these Action Jackson toys featured a theme song which proclaimed “Action Jackson is his name… bold adventure is his game.” Cool! We were sold. My favorite action figures of all time, though, were the super-cool Planet of the Apes action figures from the 1970s which featured characters from the Planet of the Apes movies and the short-lived T.V. series. I especially loved the soldier apes (uniformed gorilla soldiers with M-16 rifles) and my goal was to have my own private army of 50 soldier apes… sadly I only collected four of them, but my brothers and I spent countless hours playing with our Planet of the Apes action figures and they currently reside in a box somewhere in my parents’ attic. Nowadays, action figures are still very popular with boys of all ages and rightly so. Look in any toy store and you will find scores of cool action figures. It seems that for every movie or television show made these days they create action figures for the characters. Once again: action figures are not dolls!
2) Little Green Army Men: I’m talking the little green G.I. Joe army men figures that come 24 or so figures in a bag. There would be five or six different types of army men in different poses and they were an awful lot of fun to play “war” with. You could also buy plastic army jeeps, trucks and tanks that worked well with these little figures. My brothers and I used to play war games by setting our army men up in the shag carpet in the living room and we would shoot rubber bands at each other’s men. Our rule was that your army’s size was the number of figures you owned multiplied by ten and that for every three army men knocked down by a rubber band, one would be killed and two would be wounded. I, of course, had the largest army and I usually won these combat situations as I was pretty handy with a rubber band.
3) Wooden blocks: I don’t know if they still make or sell these things, wooden blocks (I’m sure they do somewhere), but I gotta say that the wooden blocks we had in my family were the coolest. You know, these are actual wooden blocks — made out of real wood, not plastic — that came in different shapes and sizes and were painted all sorts of colors. You build things with these wooden blocks, see, like forts for your army soldiers (see #2), or skyscrapers, houses, forests, pyramids, shopping malls… the only limit to what you can build with wooden blocks is your imagination!
4) Hot Wheels Cars: Hot Wheels are one of the most popular toys for boys ever. I mean, what young lad doesn’t like these cool looking cars with the slicks and cool paint jobs? And if you collect these Hot Wheels cars then you also must have the Hot Wheels tracks to race ’em with, you know, those orange pieces of track that joined together. Cool! As a lad my brothers and I spent countless hours racing our cars down these Hot Wheels tracks, making jumps for them and everything. And yes, we even used our wooden blocks (see #3) to build ramps and tunnels for our Hot Wheels tracks. Our influence for the time was, of course, the Speed Racer cartoon and my personal favorite Hot Wheels car was a purple Barracuda.
5) Stuffed animals: Stuffed animals are not just for girls, boys love ’em too. I know I did, as a youth. My brothers and I all had large collections of stuffed animals and each animal had a proper name and a unique personality, even a unique voice (yeah, our stuffed animals talked!) We pretended we all lived in a small town called “Petville” with our stuffed animals and we had a whole lot of fun with these things. My favorite stuffed animal was my very first Teddy Bear, of course. I don’t know what happened to my “Little Bear” but the rest of my old stuffed animals now reside in a box in my parents’ attic, and it always brings back good memories when I occasionally dig them out and look at ’em.
6) Handheld Electronic games: I’m talking old school electronic hand held games here, you know — the football, basketball and car racing games that went “blip blip blip” as you played them. These games were all the rage when I was a kid and I freaking loved the football game so much I actually kept statistics on my games just like they do in the NFL. I’ve got notebooks full of these statistics somewhere in my parents’ attic, that’s how obsessed I was. Nowadays the kids have hand held Nintendo games with ultra-slick graphics and what not, but I still prefer the simplicity of those old school “blip blip blip” games. They still make all sorts of cheap hand held “blip blip blip” electronic games these days, you can find ’em in any toy store.
7) the Casio keyboard: The Casio keyboard is much more than a toy, it is an actual musical instrument. The Casio is regarded as the cheapest of the cheap when it comes to keyboards (and rightly so) but the fun thing about Casio keyboards is you do not have to be a musician or know how to play piano to have fun with one. These things are pre-programmed with all sorts of crazy sounds and are loads of fun to experiment with. I myself started out as a youth with a cheap Casio keyboard and later on in life — as I actually became a “real” musician — moved on to professional synthesizers. Casio keyboards are a swell toy for girls and boys of all ages and the cheapest models cost under 50 bucks or so.
8) the Yo-Yo: The yo-yo was a lot of fun to play with as a kid. I never did get very good with these things — probably because I never owned the “pro” models — but it was (and still is) very impressive to see someone “walk the dog,” “rock the cradle,” go “around the world,” or perform any of the other classic yo-yo tricks. The cool thing about yo-yos is that you can carry ’em around in your pocket and practice the craft of yo-yo’ing anywhere. The Duncan Yo-Yo is a classic toy and I believe they are still produced and sold even in these times of Nintendo and Playstation.
9) the Slinky: I dunno… the Slinky only really does one thing — you start at the top of a flight of stairs and set it in motion to slink it’s way down the stairs. That’s pretty much all a Slinky does, but I gotta say… it’s freaking cool watching a Slinky slink down a flight of stairs! It’s like some weird alien robot! I couldn’t get enough of the Slinky as a kid, and what the heck, even when it’s not slinking down a flight of stairs you can play with the thing in your hands. I believe the Slinky is still produced and sold even today, as it should be.
10) Monopoly board game: I gotta include at least one board game on my “top ten coolest toys” list, and when it comes to board games Monopoly has got to be the number one game of all time. This is the board game my brothers and I would always play to while away the hours and it’s a lot of fun. I mean, you’re dealing with hoarding money and property here, this game actually taught me a lot about finances and saving money, I kid you not. Monopoly is simple to play, educational, and a lotta fun… I always insisted on getting the dog for my game piece.
There you have it… the top ten coolest toys for boys of all time. I’d also like to add as runner-ups the great Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots, Creepy Crawlers, and Nerf footballs. As I said, some of these classic toys are not produced any more but can be found on Ebay, but others are still sold in the major toy stores.