COMMENTARY: Kids Getting Older Younger—Or Younger Older?

Everyone always talks about how kids are getting older younger. Kids as young as 8 years old are swapping their Barbie dolls and Transformers for iPods and tablets—but this isn’t the case for everyone. There are big kids everywhere, and toys have a funny little habit of bringing an adult’s inner-child giggling wildly to the surface.

Nostalgia is a huge trend in toys today—classic properties such as The Smurfs, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Pac-Man have resurfaced and are engaging a whole new generation. Traditional toys, such as Hasbro’s Easy Bake Oven, Kahootz’s Spirograph, and POOF-Slinky’s Slinky, all still appeal to young kids the same way they did decades ago. However, adults and older kids will find just as much fun in new products primarily targeted toward youngsters, too.

RainbowLoom.Butterfly Blossom braceletThis weekend, I was loomed. A family friend’s daughter, Karli, had her wrist covered in the colorful rubber bracelets that are a product of Rainbow Loom, from Choon’s Designs. A huge craze among kids, I was enamored by the bracelets and begged her to teach me how to make one. She did, and of course, hers came out better. I’ve been staring at it on my wrist every day since she made it for me, and I was extremely tempted to purchase my own loom when I went into a Michael’s craft store and saw the enormous display (but I thought to myself: “You’re 23 years old, Marissa! Taking home product samples is one thing, but you cannot justify BUYING a toy!”).

skwooshi activity setI’ve written about Skwooshi a few times before, but I can’t tell you how much big kids love it. Dough play is traditionally a little kids’ game, but I have put Irwin Toy‘s Skwooshi in the hands of many adults, teens, and twentysomethings, and they all have the same reaction: “OH. MY. GOD. Can I have this??” It has its advantages for adults too— all of the editors at The Toy Book keep some Skwooshi by our desks, and it helps work out our hands and wrists after long days of typing.

The Original World's Softest_Teddy Bear_Techno SourceI do not care if you are 2 years old or 92 years old, everyone loves a good stuffed animal. The softer, the better. We may hide the Pillow Pets in the closet when guests come over, but anyone can appreciate an adorable puppy face with soft puppy ears and cute little sad puppy eyes. The Original World’s Softest Brand Plush, from Techno Source, is the perfect plush for anyone—and everyone. They’ve got traditional teddies, pink and purple ponies that would make even Agnes swoon (they’re so fluffy, you could die), and floppy-eared puppies galore. Perfect for snuggling, these stuffed animals are of unmatched quality.

ClassicSorry_300dpiRGBSome games will never get old: Monopoly, Catch Phrase, Scattergories, Apples to Apples. Games can liven up even the dullest party, and adults and teens enjoy them just as much—if not more—than young kids. There are plenty new party games geared specifically for adults, but there are also some great ones that span generations. Classic Sorry!, from Winning Moves Games, is a perfect example. A simple game to learn and play, adults will have just as much fun as kids bumping each other off the board and sliding into their home space. Uno, from Mattel, is another classic game that is simple to learn and fun to play, and you can get young kids involved as well as adults, without anyone getting too bored to want to finish playing.

And, last but not least, definitive proof that big kids exist and still love toys (and costumes): New York Comic-Con. This year’s Con will take place from October 10 to 13 at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. With huge toy companies, including DC Collectibles, Hasbro, Funko, and (much) more, displaying the latest and greatest action figures and other collectibles on the shelves, fans come from far and wide to get a sneak peak at what’s to come. They even have hundreds of NYCC exclusive products—and the long lines for these toys show that adults and teens can be more eager than little kids to get their hands on some of the coolest toys around. Mega Bloks and Lego have huge build ups on display, and last year, The Power Rangers and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles made guest appearances—with adults waiting in line to get their photo taken with the classic heroes.

It’s true: Toys are primarily for kids and some kids are growing out of them early. But we all always come back to the toy shelves eventually, whether for the new kids in our lives or just to get a glance back into our own childhood. Face it, embrace it: We’re all kids at heart.

For more commentary from Marissa, check back often. Views expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Toy Book as a whole. We hope that you will share your comments and feedback below. Until next time!