One of the best parts of being a parent is getting to share toys that you loved growing up with your kids ... and, sometimes, finally getting your mitts on the toys your parents never bought you -- despite your desperate pleas. Check out 21 serious blast from the past toys that you might, if they're lucky, let your kids play with ...
1960s and 1970s
Lite Brite: Yes, they still have these, in some super fun variations -- and, of course, the ever-important travel version, too.
Speak and Spell: Do you remember this one? It was the hottest toy of the late 1970s and actually did help us learn to spell. You can find a Speak and Spell (and its companions, Speak and Read and Speak and Math) on eBay if you're feeling nostalgic for its robotic voice and simple games.
Baby Alive: Yes, this was around when I was a kid, and yes, 30 years later, you can get your little girl one too! I really did love mine and the updated version is just so much cooler than what I had.
Easy-Bake Oven: This came out in the '60s and generations of little girls have wanted one ever since. And this is no longer your mama's Easy-Bake Oven! They've even gotten rid of the light bulb that used to "bake" things. Now it heats up like an actual oven.
Weebles: Much like Baby Alive and Little People, Weebles have been redesigned in a way that I think does them no favors, but they do still wobble and won't fall down!
Merlin: This was another early forerunner of handheld computer games, and as unbelievably low-tech as they seem now, it had iPad levels of coolness back in the day. And now there's a reissued Merlin -- you can play Blackjack 13, compose a song, and do a bunch more fun games. Or, you know, your kids can.
Simon: Merlin's simpler cousin, this game looked a bit like a Roomba and used a series of lights and sounds that you have to follow in order and can be used by one to four people. This mini Simon clips to a backpack and would be great for the car.
Smurfs: Ignore the movie, which I couldn't bare to see. However, these little blue guys (and one girl) of Smurfville still have some coolness cachet; this 1980s Smurf pack has some of the ones you remember.
Beanie Babies: They're baaaacccccckkkkk ... and not just in the attic of that one weird aunt that was going to finance her retirement with her Beanie Baby sales (does everyone have one of those?). They're called Beanie Boos now, and they are just as cute.
Koosh Ball: They look something like a porcupine but are soft, colorful, easy to catch even for klutzes, and great for anyone from babies up through adults.
Drinking Bird: This cute little fellow (pictured up top) dips his beak and "drinks" from a cup and explains the law of thermodynamics. How? I don't know, but it would make a fun addition to the kitchen counter anyway.
Lincoln Logs: Build a replica of Lincoln's boyhood home or, really, almost anything else out of Lincoln Logs. Plus, they are happily still made from wood.
TinkerToys: Few people seem to remember TinkerToys as fondly as they do Lincoln Logs, but they are way cooler and way more versatile. Hours and hours and hours of fun.
Sock Monkey: The DIY craft movement has made these cool again. You can find them ready-made or make your own monkey.
Pot Holder Loom: The coolness factor has not extended to the pot holder loom, but it should ... it is a perfect craft and fills kids with a sense of accomplishment -- especially when mom and dad use it in the kitchen. Handmade pot holders and dishcloths for all!
Slinky Dog: Your kids know him from his heroism in the Toy Story movies, we remember how much fun it was to "walk" Slinky Dog and watch him stretch.
Magic 8 Ball: I have one of these on my desk and have yet to find the kid who isn't fascinated with it ... and adults still dig asking the Magic 8-Ball questions.
Kaleidoscope: The shifting patterns are pretty and there's some educational value here as well, since a kaleidoscope can teach about colors, shapes, mirrors and light refraction.
Wooly Willy: Do you have a long trip planned? Next time the kids complain that you put the wrong movie on the iPhone for them to watch, show them the classic travel game of our day, Wooly Willy. A magnet-tipped stylus, metal shavings, and a bald guy to groom -- what's not to love? And of course, there's an app for that.
Magnetic Gyro Wheel: This is just a magnetic wheel you roll up and down a wire loop and change its speed by squeezing the sides ... sounds simple, but it is AWESOME.
Radio Flyer Trike: You almost certainly have a childhood photo of you riding a tricycle like this, and they're still great. My kids have had one of these for years and it still looks really nice ... and did you see the bell?
Do you have a favorite retro toy you've shared with your kids?
Pens, pencils, markers, etc.