In Christmas Past, children would be spending these holidays from school playing their new games: tiddlywinks, pickup sticks and board games of all sorts.
Batteries and computer chips have made much of kid’s play an electronic spectator sport today, but there are signs of some pushback.
Baby boomers are seeking out the toys they remember fondly — puzzles, board games, marbles — and retailers are happy to oblige, coming out with new “vintage” games with retro package designs, cardboard or tin boxes, muted colors and early 20th-century-style lithography.
Here are some ways to ride the wayback machine and snuggle in with the kids on a long winter’s night.
Ridley’s collection, including marbles, jacks and tumbling blocks, are available at Burkedecor.com.
Hasbro teamed up with Target to offer classic board games in wooden boxes, including Life, Clue, Risk and Scrabble.
If you’re interested in the actual, original board games you played as a kid, you’ll find sources online. Prices are often surprisingly modest, in the $20 range.
Los Angeles-based game collector Desi Scarpone has been an aficionado of board games since he was young, and rues the day he let his mom get rid of his old ones.
Scarpone, author of “Board Games” and “More Board Games,” sells games from the 1940s through the 1990s at his website, 4gamesgoneby.com. They include some rare ones like 1951’s “Space Pilot,” 1967’s “The Monkees,” 1939’s “Pinocchio” and a copy of the only Beatles game ever made, “Flip Your Wig.”
“The children of my generation have children of their own, and they want them to feel the same joy and excitement they originally felt when playing these games,” Scarpone said.
While today’s game graphics tend to scream for attention, “People respond to the innocence of the artwork they remember in a vintage game,” he said.
At Vintagegameworld.com, there’s a comprehensive array of midcentury games, and browsing can be a visit back in time. There are old faves like Aggravation, Monopoly, Hi-Q and Careers, but also Easy Money, Acquire and Stock Market (“Anyone can make a million!”).
Before there were Gears of War or Battlefield, you could play “Tobruk,” a war strategy game based in World War II North Africa, or “Arab-Israeli Wars,” where you re-enact tank battles, or the classic Risk.
The site’s also got games that exploited TV culture of the ’60s and ’70s: “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Happy Days,” “I Spy” and “Six Million Dollar Man.”
If you’re lucky enough to still own an old favorite but misplaced some parts, they’ve got a substantial inventory. And if your instructions are long lost, you may find them here, too.