Christmas is nearly here and children's dreams, like visions conjured up by Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite, are all of toys. Each child has a special dream, and the toys in it identify both dream and child. Everyone knows the little Technician, that youngster who likes to take things apart—and sometimes even puts them back together again; the Purist, that active child who is the outdoor sportsman; and surely the junior Status Seeker is readily identifiable. Here, as a guide to the all-inclusive category of present seekers, is a classified glance at a few of the new toys and games for Christmas 1960.
This is an article from the Nov. 28, 1960 issue
Construction toys, which have traditionally been made of wood, finally have caught up to the plastic age, thanks to a canny mechanical engineer-designer named Don Gellert. Gellert's invention, called Poly Rods (below), consists of hollow polyethylene tubes, wood rods and plastic-snap connectors—a variety of multi-holed, multi-nibbed sliding rings, fitting tips and wheels which offer new dimensions of mobility and 13 different ways of putting two parts together. Poly Rods, a Modular Fabrications, Inc. product, are available in three sizes (120, 180 and 300 pieces) at $2.98, $4.98 and $9.98.
The very young speedster will be able to roar down the sidewalk in the new Louis Marx & Co. 37-inch, battery-powered racer called the Marx-A-Kart. Authentically styled in brightly colored (for easy parental spot checks), high-impact plastic and mounted on a steel frame and rubber tires, this little Kart has a bucket seat, foot accelerator and hand brake. A safety helmet and goggles come with it. The Kart costs $18.88 (battery units are $4.49 each).
The Pilot Trainer, an F.A.O. Schwarz (745 Fifth Ave., New York City) import, is a compact technical toy sure to be of interest to the future jet set. A small control panel enables the pilot to start inboard and outboard engines of a 10-inch model airliner. As the control wheel on the panel is pulled back, the plane rises on a post while, at the same time, a moving runway gives the impression of forward motion. The wheels retract on take-off and let down on landing. The price is $10.95, batteries included.
For the more advanced technician, interested in the fundamentals of radio signal reception, F.A.O. Schwarz also has a Transistor Diode Radio kit, complete with earphone and a plastic cabinet, that costs $9.95. A printed circuit board and solderless connectors make it easy to assemble.
Among the newest of the many portable laboratories on the market is one called the Science of Photography Lab. Put out by the Science Materials Center, the set includes professional equipment and two illustrated manuals to help the juvenile experimenter put theory—of lenses, filters, focusing, developing and printing—into actual practice. It costs $19.95.
An ideal gift that the young but self-respecting fresh-water fisherman will cherish is a Spin-Cast Pak Traveler (right). Beautifully packaged by Abercrombie & Fitch in an easy-to-find red plastic case no bigger than a lunch box, the Spin-Cast Pak is filled with hooks, lines, sinkers, swivels and cutting clippers. It also has a cork-handled, telescoping rod of beryllium copper and a closed-face Banty spinning reel which promises a backlash free cast on the first try. The price is $30.95.
To go with this handy Pak, A & F also has a new 13-inch creel (below), fitted with an adjustable web harness, that is made entirely of easy-to-clean plastic. A special import from France, the creel costs $6.50.
The Gong Bell Mfg. Co.'s Big Fightin' Fish set, consisting of an 11-inch plastic fish with wind-up fins, that fights on land or in water when hooked, and a plastic rod and reel, line and metal lure, is sure to meet the approval of the pint-size aspirant. The price, $4.68, will certainly please the parents.
Young sailors will be delighted with a new 16-inch toy catamaran, made in West Germany. The twin hulls, styled in light blue plastic, are decked with natural wood and carry a dark blue or white mainsail and jib. Called the Sea Rover, it costs $14.98 at Bloomingdale's (Lexington Ave. and 59th St., New York City). For the sailor who thinks in terms of single hulls, Saks Fifth Avenue Toy Shop in New York City, has a full-sail racing yacht with a birch hull, measuring about four feet from bowsprit to stern. The yacht itself is 4½ feet high. An exclusive French import, it costs $79.95.
Robert D. Kronenberg, an experienced small-boat racer, has a perfect gift for the young small-boat owner: a chrome-plated, plastic-sailed fleet of six 2-inch scale models of any one of the popular one-design classes (Lightning, Snipe, Thistle, etc.). Three racecourse buoys, a committee boat and directional arrows to show current and tide come with the set. Originally designed as an official protest kit, it provides a graphic aid to racing plans and discussions. The price is $11.95, and the kit can only be purchased by mail (108 East 81 St., New York City).
The young nature lover will find F.A.O. Schwarz's exclusive Forest Tree House an intriguing, albeit expensive ($75), indoor toy. Built like a hollow tree stump (14 x 27 inches), with a hinged door, it includes a miniature bear family and a dozen other woodland animals.
THE STATUS SEEKER
The horse-loving status seeker will find his ego immeasurably bolstered by F.A.O. Schwarz's exclusive, $8.95 Horse and Tack Room Set (below). The chestnut-colored horse, which stands 7½ inches high, is cleverly jointed so that a little pressure on his back makes him walk, and a tug on the reins brings a quick response from his head. Schwarz also has an imported Wooden Horse Van that comes with four 4-inch flocked horses. This set costs $13.95.
A most unusual gift whose modern design would add beauty to any miniature status seeker's shelf is a Swiss-made, hand-carved Noah's Ark. The ark, which measures 22 inches in length, is set on hidden wheels and has 10 pairs of animals and birds on board, made of natural wood, with touches of light natural tints. The roof is removable. Described by Bloomingdale's as "an heirloom gift," it costs $59.95.