Family car trips are part of everyone’s summer, and while many family vehicles now have built-in dvd players, consider taking along some of these classics as alternatives when even watching a movie gets boring.
Etch-a-Sketch [5yrs-up] was originally developed by a French auto mechanic, Arthur Granjean, who introduced his invention at the 1959 Toy Fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Only Ohio Art Company had the foresight to invest $25,000 for the license- at the time an unheard of sum. However, in 1998 Etch-a-Sketch was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame, which recognizes toys whose popularity has lasted over generations.
View Master [3yrs-up] was the brainchild of Harold Graves, president of Sawyer’s Photographic Services and a camera buff named William Gruber. They introduced “View Master”, an updated version of the 19th centruy stereoscopes at the 1939 World’s Fair. The company initially sold views of scenic attractions around the US, but in 1951 they acquired their main competitor, Tru View, and the license to all the Disney characters, Disneyland/World scenes and movies. View Master was inducted into the Toy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Rubik’s Cube [5-up]. Amazingly, this classic has not been recognized by the Toy Hall of Fame (however, anyone can nominate a toy at the website). The inventor, Erno Rubik, was born in Budapest, Hungary. He studied sculpture and architecture and wanted to answer the question, “How could blocks move independently without falling apart?” He developed the puzzle cube in the spring of 1974 and applied for an Hungarian patent in 1975. The first cubes appeared in 1977. Rubik was one of the first self made millionaires of the communist era.The goal of the puzzle is to get all colors to match on all 6 sides. After years of group competitions, experts have learned to solve it in 24-28 moves. When introducing the cube to kids, a parent may want to stress that very few people really spend the time to get the ultimate solution in a few moves. The fun is in the trying.
Similar to Rubik’s Cube is the Classic 15 Puzzle [8-up] where the player slides tiles to get numbers 1-15 into correct order. Developed as “Imp” in 1880’s, the idea was introduced in it’s present form in 1933.
Kaleidoscope [3-up] is a tube containing a circle of mirrors and loose colored beads, plastic, or bits of glass that form brilliantly colored patterns. Originally developed in 1814 by David Brewster for experiments on light polarization. It was patented as a science tool in 1816, but was later copied as a children’s toy.
Finally, the Magic 8 Ball [8-up] the black and white plastic fortune teller can help while away auto tedium. The ball contains 20 possible answers: 10 are affirmative, 5 are negative and 5 non-committal. Wikipedia states that it takes approximately 72 questions for all 20 answers to turn up. How that translates into play hours is anyone’s guess.
All of these toys are under $20, easy to pack since they consist of one main part and can be used alone or shared with others.
If you’re looking for something to do this summer, check out the website of the Atlanta Convention and Visitor’s Bureau for a list of 50 things to do in the Atlanta area.