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Are the toys that today's parents played with when they were children making a comeback?

Are the toys that today's parents played with when they were children making a comeback?

The simple answer to that question is "yes". Whether parents are motivated by a desire to rekindle comforting childhood memories, a sense of responsibility towards the environment - hence a trend towards green, organic toys - or purely economic issues, the fact remains that the nostalgic toys of yesteryear are making a comeback. Basic toys are always en vogue in uncertain economic times but many perennial favourites, either in their original form, or with a 21st century twist, will be gracing youngsters' Christmas stockings once again this year.

Nostalgic & Retro Toys

While high price tag gifts, such as video games consoles - the Microsoft Xbox 360, the Sony Playstation 3 and the Nintendo Wii, for example - are likely to be well received, many parents are mindful of their bank balances during the recession. Many apparently less sophisticated and certainly less expensive toys become "classics" because they are nonetheless fun and engaging and have intrinsic play value. This is why toys such as the Slinky, the walking spring toy and the hula hoop, some of which date back to the Forties and Fifties, continue to sell well. Classic board games such as Monopoly and Cluedo also have proven track records along with other toys familiar to parents, such as Barbie. Another "retro" toy, LEGO, has some new licensed sets this year, including Star Wars and Toy Story and is likely to prove as popular as ever.

Other favourites from more recent years are also back again this year. The Original Tickle MeT Elmo, the lovable furry red monster of Sesame Street fame returns 10 years after he first spread contagious laughter to youngsters and the legendary Bop It!, a brightly-coloured bopping, pulling and twisting game is also back, complete with microphone in its latest incarnation. For toddlers with places to go, the perennial Cosy Coupe ride on toy is available in a 30th anniversary edition, complete with a high-backed seat, working horn and working roof light.

There is also a huge range of toys that fall into the green or organic category, or both, some of which have been around for a very long time. Wooden building blocks, baby walkers, pull-along toys, etc. are of course nothing new, but are available, nowadays, in reused or renewable wood from sustainable sources. The natural texture of wooden toys is more stimulating to the touch than plastic toys and wooden toys are safer in terms of chemicals and toxins; not only that, but wooden toys require no batteries but, nevertheless, tend to inspire creative, imaginative play. It is not difficult to see why their appeal endures. Traditional teddy bears and other soft toys have received a similar environmentally friendly revision, with some made entirely from recycled plastic PET bottles: each toy effectively prevents 10 or more plastic bottles from becoming landfill, so it is easy to see why they appeal to parents as well as children.

In one sense, perhaps the recession is not altogether a bad thing because it forces parents to reassess the play value of the toys that they buy for their children, rather than just splashing out on the latest, invariably high price tag, "craze" item. Crazes come and go - remember the Cabbage Patch Kids - but the true test of a classic toy is its ability to keep generation after generation of children interested by providing a familiar yet novel play experience each time.