The Weirdest Toys You Didn’t Get Your Kids This Holiday Season

Stories from Travel + Leisure
Dec. 24 2011 8:05 AM

The World’s Strangest Toys

The weird stuff you could have given your kids this holiday season.

lgLaunch_strangestToys

This piece is reprinted from Travel + Leisure

A plush chunk of talking bacon may not be exactly what your kids hope to find under the Christmas tree. But consider this: Instead of jousting to snag the latest video game or Barbie—and furnishing your children with the same stuff as their friends—you can give them a huggable doll shaped like breakfast meat.

Sure, it may seem counterintuitive, but as anyone who grew up playing with a Slinky, a Squirmle, or Silly Putty can attest, it’s often the strangest toys, the ones that freak us out or make us squeal, that become our childhood favorites. They also allow kids to explore a culture through its toys, bringing the sense of discovery that comes with traveling right into your living room.

Advertisement

Indeed, there are toy manufacturers and home-crafters across the globe that cater to kids’ taste for the bizarre. A few of the odder toys out there seem geared to kids from certain cultures. An American child, for instance, might not feel particularly inspired to play with a platter of crocheted sushi rolls, while a Japanese or Muslim child might be baffled or even horrified by that talking slab of bacon.

More often than not, though, strange toys have universal appeal. What child, for instance, wouldn’t enjoy turning an ordinary bathtub into a cauldron of neon-bright, popcorn-scented goo? Or morphing a boring old toothbrush into a whirring bristled robot beastie? (Parents, start planning your oral-hygiene play dates now.)

The truth is, it’s not just kids who get a kick out of weird playthings; some toys have just as many fans among adults. The Hexbugs series of robotic insects, for instance—which includes a freakily authentic spider that scuttles and swivels its head—are collected by parents as well as children. Other toys are so grossly humorous that almost anyone with a base sense of humor can appreciate them.

“I’ve played it with over a thousand kids and adults,” says David Norman, whose U.K.-based company Goliath Games makes a hugely popular poop-and-scoop game called Doggy Doo (more than 1 million have been sold this year alone). “The inherent funniness of hearing a dog pass gas and poop is a riot for all ages.”

TODAY IN SLATE

History

Slate Plus Early Read: The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada. Now, Journalists Can’t Even Say Her Name.

Mitt Romney May Be Weighing a 2016 Run. That Would Be a Big Mistake.

Amazing Photos From Hong Kong’s Umbrella Revolution

Transparent Is the Fall’s Only Great New Show

The XX Factor

Rehtaeh Parsons Was the Most Famous Victim in Canada

Now, journalists can't even say her name.

Doublex

Lena Dunham, the Book

More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.

What a Juicy New Book About Diane Sawyer and Katie Couric Fails to Tell Us About the TV News Business

Does Your Child Have Sluggish Cognitive Tempo? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

  News & Politics
History
Sept. 29 2014 11:45 PM The Self-Made Man The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 29 2014 7:01 PM We May Never Know If Larry Ellison Flew a Fighter Jet Under the Golden Gate Bridge
  Life
Dear Prudence
Sept. 30 2014 6:00 AM Drive-By Bounty Prudie advises a woman whose boyfriend demands she flash truckers on the highway.
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 29 2014 11:43 PM Lena Dunham, the Book More shtick than honesty in Not That Kind of Girl.
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 29 2014 8:45 AM Slate Isn’t Too Liberal, but … What readers said about the magazine’s bias and balance.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 29 2014 9:06 PM Paul Thomas Anderson’s Inherent Vice Looks Like a Comic Masterpiece
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 29 2014 11:56 PM Innovation Starvation, the Next Generation Humankind has lots of great ideas for the future. We need people to carry them out.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 29 2014 11:32 PM The Daydream Disorder Is sluggish cognitive tempo a disease or disease mongering?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 28 2014 8:30 PM NFL Players Die Young. Or Maybe They Live Long Lives. Why it’s so hard to pin down the effects of football on players’ lives.