Toys Games

Standard Unit Blocks

I’ve always found it strange that in most relatively nice homes with soft fabrics and natural materials, you walk into a play area for the kids and it feels like you’ve been transported into an alternative universe where only oddly colored plastic is permitted. Not that there’s anything wrong with plastic stuff for kids (I’m certainly no expert on the subject), but why not add in some regular wooden blocks, just to offset the crazy colors and random imagery? Maybe with a little less visual input, a child’s imagination will have to work a bit harder. One would hope so. If you’re a new godmother/father, bookmark this for a gift idea when the little one is 3+.
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Purchase Information:

Price: $69.99
Available from: Melissa & Doug

Helveticards Playing Cards

For all you minimalists, type-ophiles, and design dorks; combine your love of Helvetica with your addictive card-playing habits. Finally!

Purchase Information:

Price: $10.00
Availability: Buy Helveticards Playing Cards here

Source: Design Milk

President Block Set

Have a safe and happy Independence Day!

Shown above: 45 piece President Block Set, $98.00
Each cube shows the face, name, nickname, lifespan, party affiliation, term and number of forty-four U.S. Presidents.

Purchase Information:

Price: $98.00
Available from: UncommonGoods

Crystal Crayons

These are too aesthetically pleasing to pass up, even if you’ve not made crayon art for years. Actually, if you’ve not picked up crayons in years, now’s definitely the time to bring it back, with these lovely gems as motivation.

Diamond cut wax crayons.
Set of 6

Purchase Information:

Price: $8.00
Available from: Kikkerland

Source: Design For Mankind

Green Science Weather Station

I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this kit, but kids (and adults) would do well to try it out. With a weathervane, a wind gauge (anemometer), a rain gauge (pluviometer) and a thermometer, you (or your kids) will be able to observe and learn about your local climate while trying your hand at forecasting the weather. There’s also space for a small terrarium in a bottle to see how the greenhouse effect works.
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Purchase Information:

Price: $9.99
Available from: incrediblescience.com

Balancing Blocks from Fort Standard

Don’t think for a minute anyone is too old for balancing blocks. It would do many of us some good to spend a little time concentrating on something other than regular work, even if it is only for just a few moments (and even if it does just use a tiny portion of your brain). Of course, they’d make an excellent kid’s gift as well.

Hand made in Red Hook Brooklyn from repurposed hardwood scrap collected from local furniture shops.
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Purchase Information:

Price: $70.00
Available from: Fort Standard

Cardboard Chess by Londji

You might remember a cardboard chess set featured here before (see NewWave Chessboard), but I’ll take a chance in saying this one is a bit more refined with the black and white color scheme. However, it’s worth pointing out that the other might be handier for travel purposes as you don’t need to assemble the pieces each time.

Purchase Information:

Price: €16.50
Available from: Wannekes.com

EZC playing cards

These playing cards have large 1-1/4″ numbers that can be easily read by visually impaired individuals. I’d be tempted to buy them just for their graphic appeal; a few in a frame would make a satisfying black/white/red wall art.

Purchase Information:

Price: $14.61
Available from: RehabMart

Source: HI + LOW

Simus the Rhino and Hattie the Elephant

From our archives (originally published February 23, 2010), for your gift list consideration… to see more, visit our Gift Guide.

You don’t have to be a kid to appreciate these posable animals. Their hardwood frames and elastic-band muscles will remain durable whether it’s you or a two year old playing around with them. Available for pre-order, with a ship date of around 5/15/2010.

Designer: David Weeks
Material: Sustainably Harvested Beech Wood

Hattie the Elephant, 17 x 8 x 6 inches, $125.00
Simus the Rhino, 12 x 5.5 x 4 inches, $110.00

Purchase Information:

Price: $110.00
Available from: Areaware

Modern Chess Set

From our archives (originally published on September 1, 2010), for your gift list consideration… to see more, visit our Gift Guide.

Designed by Lanier Graham, this modern chess set is notable for its minimal interpretation on traditional pieces. The shape of each piece mirrors its function (Knights have L shapes, Bishops slope diagonally, etc.) and the scale indicates importance. All pieces interlock neatly into a rectangular puzzle for storage.

Purchase Information:

Price: $65.00
Available from: MoMA Store

Eames House of Cards

From our archives (originally published October 2, 2007), for your gift list consideration… to see more, visit our Gift Guide.

I’ve been a fan of Charles and Ray ever since I first saw their designs. And, man, if you even like the Eames’ a little bit, you should take a look at the film ‘901: after 45 years of working‘ that their son, Eames Demetiros, did of their workshop being packed up for the Library of Congress. It’s pretty amazing.

Small Cards, $25.00
Medium Cards, $45.00
Giant, $50.00
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Purchase Information:

Price: $50.00
Availability: Buy Eames House of Cards here

NewWave Chessboard

From our archives (originally published July 15, 2008), for your gift list consideration… to see more, visit our Gift Guide.

This is super smart and so inexpensive it’s ridiculous.

Daniel Young, a New York-based inventor / designer…discovered that simply by cutting slits into the fluting of corrugated board he could harness its extraordinary capacity to hold and release inserted flat objects, like chess or checkers pieces. New Wave Chess comes with a carrying case and pouches for the pieces.

$12 plus shipping, from Paradoxy Products.

Purchase Information:

Price: $12.00
Availability: Buy NewWave Chessboard here

Slingshot by Christopher Jarratt

What do you get the person who has everything? Well, a $75 handmade slingshot by Christopher Jarratt, of course*. 5 different distinct colors were chosen exclusively for (the-ever-so-exclusive) Moss, and each slingshot is made from a found tree branch in Epping Forest, England.

From a numbered and signed limited edition of 30 slingshots.

*(duh)

Purchase Information:

Price: $75.00
Available from: moss

Chalk Chess

Fans of chess can now draw up their own chess board wherever they want, thanks to this Chalk Chess set by SUCK UK. Each piece is regulation sized, though obviously once you draw enough boards, your pieces will change slightly as you use them (but that won’t matter, will it?).

Also available through SUCK UK’s shop for £10.00 and Useful Thingsfor $19.95
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Purchase Information:

Price: $15.00
Available from: UMA

Naef Colorem Cubes

I know I posted the Optical Mixer by Naef Toys last week, but I can’t help but feature these varnished blackboard paint cubes as well. 5 water-soluable chalk crayons enable kids (or yourself) to decorate the cubes with imaginative artwork, with only a quick wipe of a wet sponge to make them ready for another memory game or masterpiece.

12 piece set: $59.99
25 piece set: $99.44

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Purchase Information:

Price: $59.99
Available from: Naef Toys