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.
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.