10 Classic Toys (That Kids Actually Play With for Years)

Looking for some classic toys to give to your children, grandchildren, or a special kid in your life?

Are you also looking for something with a bit of nostalgia, something perhaps from your own childhood?

And, most importantly, are you looking for a toy gift that kids will actually play with?

We’ve got the perfect list for you.

Here are ten truly classic toys, ideal for gifts, that kids will play with for years to come.

10 Truly Classic Toys

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1. Lego

Lego bricks are fun for all ages. Before Minecraft capitalized on a virtual version of the concept, Lego was the way that kids explored building structures, vehicles, spaceships, and landscapes.

Nowadays, you can get anything and everything in Lego.

Pop culture icons like Marvel, Star Wars, and Harry Potter. Replicas of real-life race cars, NASA space ships, and architectural landmarks. Heck, you can even get the apartment from the TV show Friends.

Just about any set will be well-played-with throughout the years. But to start with, you can’t go wrong with this massive box of bricks.

Related: Lego Architecture: The Complete List of Every Single Set Ever Made

2. Tonka Truck

The classic boy toy. Boys love toodling around in the dirt, be it mud or sand, filling and dumping this sturdy steel truck.

But the sturdy, durable Tonka truck is not just for boys.

Every kid, at some point in their lives, enjoys the experience of turning an area of dirt into their very own imaginative world of roads, pits, mudhouses, rivers, and valleys.

Our son played with his Tonka truck for years, and very often his sister joined in the fun. Any kid with even the slightest enjoyment of the outdoors will play with their dump truck for years.

And if they don’t enjoy the outdoors? Maybe they just need a truck and a push out the door.

3. American Girl Doll

For many families, a girl’s first and most treasured doll is an American Girl Doll.

These dolls are very well made, and come in a wide assortment of hair styles, skin tones, eye and cheekbone shapes, etc. Each one is a character with a name and a full backstory, including books that often come with the dolls.

American Girl Dolls are fun, long-lasting gifts that they may very well pass on to their own daughters.

4. Radio Flyer Wagon

What kid wouldn’t want this iconic red wagon?

They can haul around their stuff, take dolls or stuffed animals or action figures for rides, have mom & dad pull them on a walk, and so much more with the classic Radio Flyer Wagon.

If you want something a little more updated for contemporary times (with better functionality, too) Radio Flyer has a range of newer models with large all-terrain wheels, higher sides, and more here.

5. Tools

Yes, that’s a real tool set. No, it’s not designed for kids.

Feel free to disagree, but I’ve found that some of the things my kids play with the most is real, adult stuff.

Here’s a short list of things my kids get hours of fun out of:

  • Screwdrivers (and an old toy/electronic device to take apart)
  • Shovels (digging holes in the backyard)
  • Rope (lots of fun, some trouble)
  • Binoculars (birds are just plain interesting)
  • Photoshop (virtual tools still count)
  • On that note, a 2007-style digital camera that can take photos and videos but with no wifi – this has probably given them the biggest chunk of creative play as they’ve made movies, explained concepts or fandoms to imaginary YouTube audiences, or just filmed themselves doing silly, fun, and active things

So check out our article on this topic – Real Tools for Kids: A Gift Guide. Or just give them that basic tool set shown above, plus an assortment of screws, nails, leftover chunks of wood, and so on.

6. Lincoln Logs

Kids love building these old-school log cabins.

At just about any age, when you pour out a tub of these red-hued maple sticks, everyone gets down on the floor and starts a’ building.

For a gift that your kids will set out for their grandkids, go with Lincoln Logs.

7. Swing

If you have a tree in your yard, don’t waste it. Set up some sort of rope swing – tire swing, classic belt/seat swing, or a disc swing.

If you don’t, well, a manufactured swing and playground set is quite the investment, but it would be worth it.

If neither of those options work, consider a hammock. It won’t be the same “active play” thing as a swing, but it’s still fun, easy to set up, and it will get your kids out of doors.

8. Nerf Blasters

Give the kids in your life the gift of blasting each other with foam darts.

They’ll love it, they’ll make memories, and they’ll play with them for hours.

Get one for each child, and you also might want to get (or make) some targets too. (My kids would draw paper targets, but mostly they would just set up Lego guys on a windowsill.)

9. Etch-A-Sketch

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The classic drawing toy! Give your kids an Etch-A-Sketch, and they’ll use it for years.

You won’t just experience a wave of nostalgia when you hold this thing in your hands – you’ll probably have to fight off your own children for a chance to use it.

10. Spirograph

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The other classic drawing toy. I remember using these things for hours, and it wasn’t even my set.

Your kids will return to the weird, wonderful world of artistic patterns created by their Spirograph set for many, many years.

More Classic Toys for Long-Lasting Play

You might add more, and depending on the personalities of your kids and your unique home environment, your mileage may vary.

But by and large, you can’t go wrong with any of these classic toys that every child should experience.

Read next: These Nostalgic 90s Toys Are Perfect Gifts for Kids These Days (Or Adults)

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Classic Toy Gifts for Kids

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Daniel Szczesniak

Daniel launched All Gifts Considered in 2013 to help people find the best gift ideas for anyone and any occasion. He has worked for Northwest Gifts, an online gift shop based in Oregon specializing in American-made and personalized gifts, for...

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