Smart toys for grown-ups with back-to-school blues


Toys for grown ups

It’s almost back-to-school time, again. Rats. Whether you’re heading to the hallowed halls of college, shoving your kids out the door or just gearing up for the cubicle after a long lazy summer, you deserve a little something to make the transition easier.
Here are our picks to keep your inner child happy, including a May-December romance vehicle and a killer kit for desk warfare.

Lego Architecture Studio

Many an architect built the foundation of his or her career with Legos, now the Danish toymaker tops its architecture series with a new kit especially for the grown-ups. The Lego Architecture Studio comes with 1,200 components plus a manual penned by architecture luminaries including Sou Fujimoto, Ma Yansong and Moshe Safdie. Lego suggests making your own masterpiece, from the Eiffel Tower to the Trevi Fountain.
When you do, send us the pics.

Dream Toy

This handmade porcelain “art toy” hails from a studio in Sydney called Egg Picnic. The simple, elegant design of the Dream Toy harks back to the Aboriginal myths and legends tracing the origins of native animals and the evolution of their appearance and behavior. We just think it looks cool.

iSpy Tank

Roll out the hijinks with this tank that you can control with your iPhone, iPad, iPod via Wi-Fi. The iSpy Tank comes equipped with a built-in mic and live video camera function. It just might jumpstart your YouTube career, depending on how telegenic your grumpy cat is.

Mini Ballista Kit

Yeah, desk warfare. I can attest from the number of pens and other stuff lobbed between the Macs here in the Cult offices that it is an actual thing. That’s why I can’t wait to put together a tiny replica of this Roman artillery weapon. It’s got interlocking parts, a simple, reliable trigger, high-strength cordage and lightweight projectiles. So, you know, watch it, guys.


This cardboard Foosball table gives you all the wrist-wrenching drama of the game minus the heft of having to transport it for your next picnic. It comes with two full teams and one ball and, low-fi as it is, still sports a built-in iPhone speaker for your winning jams. Best part? You can personalize the faces of the players from the Kartoni website.


Get yourself together with this sturdy catchall for all of the things that inevitably end up flying around your apartment or studio: books, CDs, iPad, magazines. The Giffo comes to you in a whimsical giraffe design in 17 pieces of double-reinforced cardboard, so once you’ve assembled it, you can actually tell people you *made* something.


Vespa 946

This is the official ride for your December - May romance. Piaggio’s Vespa 946 costs a hefty $9,946, so you have to be of a certain age to afford it. I’m told by the patient mechanic of my aging LX150 that driving it offers an immediate boost to one’s spirit. Only 3,600 of these red-leather seated, 4-stroke air-cooled engine beauties are going to roll out worldwide. One thing’s for sure: Audrey Hepburn never had it this good.