Play Stuff Blog

Outdoor Fun: Toys You Throw  

I love to throw things and always have. Softballs, paper airplanes, Frisbees, water balloons, you name it—if it can be thrown, tossed, or side-armed, I’m there. Sometimes I like to throw for distance and speed, other times for accuracy. Trajectory, body mechanics, kinetic energy, and velocity are part of the formula. Those factors (combined with other variables) determine how far you can throw something, what direction it will take, and how fast it will go. Sometimes I just like to wind my arm up with good range of motion and let chance and physics take it from there.

When it comes to having a good fling, flying discs rank among my favorites. No wonder the Frisbee holds a place of honor in the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong. In the early 1980s, I discovered the Aerobie, a different sort of non-Frisbee flying ring with rubberized edges. One summer, I spent hours with my neighbor in her backyard throwing it back and forth. Sometimes if you threw the Aerobie just right, you could get it to come back to you. Eventually, my Aerobie landed high in one of her trees; we never did get it down.

For low cost, creativity, and variety, you can’t beat paper airplanes. As a kid, I enjoyed making different types and then testing them for their soaring ability. I had standard versions that I used and then customized in an effort to improve their aerodynamics. However, I also loved going to the local five and dime store where I always headed directly to the display of balsa gliders, all neatly packaged in plastic. The balsa gliders cost barely more than a paper airplane and assembled in seconds. Unfortunately, they also came apart easily and, if they crashed, well, they didn’t fly properly afterwards.

In more recent years, I discovered the X-zylo Ultra, a cylindrical flying gyroscope that requires a lot of space. Parks and beaches make ideal locations for this toy, which can travel well over 100 yards. The X-zylo Ultra is lightweight and compact and you throw it like a football. I’m also fond of the Vortex, a football-shaped toy with a rocket-shaped tail made out of dense foam. Just to make your lob more dramatic, the Vortex even comes in a “whistling” version that adds sound effects to your pitch.

Whether for sport or recreational fun, I find satisfaction in throwing a ball, a Frisbee, or a paper airplane. I always enjoy being outside on a beautiful day, savoring the sense of freedom in releasing my flying toy into the air, watching it soar, and then landing near (with a little luck, skill, and awareness of aerodynamics) the intended destination. So grab your favorite throwing toy and head outdoors for one of the pleasures of summer.