Hidden away in basements and attics, childhood toys rarely see the light of day after they're retired. But that doesn't mean they can't come back as modern—and mature—takes on nostalgia-provoking classics. "I tell a story with products," says Jan Habraken, designer of Kikkerland's battleship-shaped ice-cube tray, which turns the tale of an imagined sea skirmish into the story of a real-life cocktail party.
Soldier candleholder 
"By putting the candle where the grenade is, it becomes a beacon of light rather than something violent," says designer Chris Collicott. It's quite the update to the childhood classic—both in size and message. "My whole thing," Collicott says, "is to force people to look at things in a different way." ($36, kikkerland.com)
Railroad plate 
Eating while playing with wooden trains—what could be better? Carsten Rosenbohm came up with the idea for the setting when his son steered a toy train around his dinner plate. "It adds a surprising function," he says. "That's what makes people smile." ($24, designspray.de)
Mini stereo dock 
Though this Lego doesn't hold any value as a pocket-size building block, it does function as a legitimate boom box. The tiny speaker boosts the volume on your iPod from pocket-size squeaks to room-filling levels. ($22, pylones-usa.com)
Slap watch 
Pylones's slap watch brings back both the slap bracelet and the wristwatch in one fun, snappy band. Without a finicky buckle, it's sure to fit wrists both small and large. ($28, pylones-usa.com)
Battleship ice-cube tray 
While designing a collection of ice-cube trays for Kikkerland, Habraken didn't mean to tap into nostalgia, but it happened anyway. "My cousins and nieces immediately started playing with it," he says. The battleship follows his design ethos: "I try to find logic in a product to make it tongue-in-cheek." ($10, kikkerland.com)
A version of this article appeared in the September 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.