By Jessica Sly
Popular Christmas toys have morphed through the generations, from Slinkys, Top Trumps and Rubik’s Cubes, to Beanie Babies, yo-yos and Furbies. With young people, it seems there’s always a new fad.
So what’s popular among kids this holiday season? Mostly electronic entertainment, but there are a few toys that harken back to the “old school” trends.
A traditional Japanese toy, a kendama is likened to the ball-and-cup game, where a ball and cup are attached by a string and one must toss the ball up and catch it in the cup.
A kendama consists of two cups placed on a spike, which has another cup at the base, all of which are referred to as the “ken.” A ball with a hole through the center, the “tama,” is attached to the ken by a string.
The object of the game is simple: catch either the ken or the tama with the other.
It is small, portable and can be quite addicting. In fact, there are competitions solely for the kendama.
The diabolo consists of two cups or discs that meet to form a thin axle. It is spun on a string connected to two sticks.
The diaboloist can manipulate the diabolo by pulling on the string any which way and performing tricks such as a variety of throws, spins and complex interactions with the string, sticks or body.
Professionals get even more complicated and spin more than one diabolo at a time.
Diabolos originated from the Chinese yo-yo, which got its start in the 12th century. The name was derived from the Greek dia bolo, which roughly translates to “throw across.” They have been made from a wide range of material, from bamboo to rubber, plastic and metal.
Also known as devil sticks, flower sticks or gravity sticks, juggling sticks can be manipulated in a form of gyroscopic juggling, which is defined as an object spinning on an axis or series of axes.
Believed to have originated in China, they consist of a main baton (usually 20 to 30 inches long) and two shorter handles. The baton is hit or “tossed” back and forth between the handles.
The juggler can twirl the baton around the handles, lifting, spinning, striking and stroking the baton to form a radical show. Because of this, stick jugglers thrive in the circus.
Those daring enough can try elaborate tricks, bouncing the baton off their limbs or adding more than one baton.