Back-to-Basic Toys Bring Families Together for Classic, Multi-Generational Fun

August 20, 2014 | This Grandparents’ Day, which will be celebrated across the country on September 9, 2014, families eager to come together for unplugged, multi-generational play will find a plethora of “back-to-basic” toys and games to enjoy.

Low-tech toys may conjure nostalgic memories for parents and grandparents, but they are not a thing of the past: traditional playthings continue to be among the top sellers on the market. According to The NPD Group, arts & crafts kits and traditional games rank the highest among play products bought this past year by parents with children ages 2 to 12 years old, each purchased by 37% and 36% of parents, respectively. (App games came in at 31%.)

To help encourage and facilitate multi-generational play, TIA experts have compiled a list of useful play tips for grandparents on, TIA’s website for families.    

“Caregivers continue to crave a balance between back-to-basic and tech toys that gives their kids a well-rounded play experience,” said Adrienne Appell, trend specialist for the Toy Industry Association (TIA). “From classic playthings with modern twists to retro toys reminiscent of parent’s and grandparents’ own childhoods, store shelves are packed with low-tech toys that are great for engaging the whole family in some good old classic fun.”

In honor of Grandparents’ Day, TIA has gathered some examples of traditional playthings that family members of all ages will enjoy. Many of the toys listed here were first spotted at TIA’s 111th North American International Toy Fair in New York City and categorized under the “Retro / Back-to-Basics” trend for 2014

Disney Junior Super Stretchy Game (Wonder Forge)

Great for getting the family up and active, the Disney Junior Super Stretchy Game has players stretching to touch as many shapes, colors, and characters as they can on the Disney Jr.-themed play mat, which features favorite characters from Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, and Sofia the First.

Wackytivities Kinetic Sand Beach Box Set (Spin Master)
Pack it, pull it, shape it and love it, Kinetic Sand is so incredible you can’t put it down. It’s kinetic – meaning it sticks to itself and not to you. It flows through your fingers like a slow-moving liquid, but leaves them completely dry. The Beach Box Set comes with four molds, a sand box and 1lb of Kinetic Sand so families can bring home the fun of the beach!

Lite-Brite (Bridge Direct)
Lite-Brite lets kids create images with light. This classic toy now has fresh new features, including new character-shaped pegs and reusable templates. Great for endless creative fun. Includes 200 pegs, six reusable templates and a detachable storage container.

Reverse Charades (USAopoly)
Reverse Charades is a hilarious twist on the classic game of charades. Instead of one person acting out a clue for a team to guess, a team acts out clues for one person to guess. In 60 seconds, teams attempt to guess as many words or phrases as they can. The team with the most correct guesses wins. Perfect for family fun, parties and team building.

RingStix (Systems Enterprise)
RingStix is an easily learned outdoor activity that gets players up and moving. It can be played in a pair, in a group, or solo. Pass the ring back and forth, using the sticks to launch and catch. Perfect for the park, backyard, and beach.

Simon Swipe Game (Hasbro)
Swipe the lights to conquer the colors in this challenging Simon Swipe game. To be the champion swiper, just tap when you see one light, swipe when there are two, and swipe and reverse when the lights move clockwise and then go back. The game starts out easy and then builds to 16 blazing levels. Play solo or challenge a friend.

Spirograph 3D (Kahootz)
The Original Spirograph 3D design set combines the classic creativity of Spirograph with the fun of 3D. With this set, kids and their families can create dazzling designs with the Spirograph wheels, rings and rack, and then put on the 3D glasses to see their art pop right off the paper!

Tic Stac Toe (Pressman Toy)
The world’s favorite game of X’s and O’s goes extreme in this exciting version, where four in a row on any level wins. Place one of your pieces on the game base or on top of any piece that’s already been played. Stay alert for opportunities to win vertically, horizontally or diagonally. Features 66 high-quality 2-inch playing pieces.

These are just a few examples of the many back-to-basic playthings that are trending right now. For more information about toy trends and play, regularly check TIA’s website.

TIA members that would like their toys featured on are invited to consult the
Editorial Calendar and submit product information to TIA’s Jackie Retzer.