Trompo Magic

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“Sorry guys.  We can’t buy that because we’ll be moving to Spain soon and don’t want to pay to put it in storage.  Why don’t you save your money for when we get there?”

I must have said these words every month for the year leading up to our move abroad.  Every time our boys received money for a birthday or holiday we’d go through the routine of establishing how much they would put to savings, how much to donate, and their remaining spending money.  Much to their chagrin, their savings and spending buckets had become one for the better part of a year.

I was eager to arrive to see what kind of toys kids their age played with in our new country.  It wasn’t until the first week of school that we found out.  And man, were they everywhere!  Most boys over age 8 (and a few girls as well) could be found with the magic Trompo.


A Trompo is a spinning top that gyrates on a single axis after you wing it from a string.  From there, it can spin on the ground (or on your hand, head, the string, etc) and you can proceed to do different tricks with it…not all that unlike a yo-yo.

We have a rule that there is no trompo-ing in the house.  This is strictly an outdoor thing and makes a disturbing sound each time one is spun from hand-height as it crashes down onto a cobblestone or granite plaza floor.  The noise is similar to the crack of someone’s cell phone falling onto the ground.  In the early days I could be found swinging my head around trying to see who needed to replace their mobile only to be duped and seeing kids gleefully handling their spinning top.


I’ve never seen these in the States and am considering opening up my own shop.  I have no idea why it hasn’t caught on – maybe safety concerns with flying objects and sharp tips?  I know it is big in Latin America and some places in Asia.  Some visitors of ours that grew up in India immediately recognized these toys and reminisced about their childhood.

Most modern day Trompos are plastic or metal (many made in Mexico) but the old school ones were turned from wood.  An elderly neighbor of ours noticed the boys trompo-ing in the lane between our houses.  Before introducing himself, he went back into his home and returned a few minutes later.  In his hands was a beautiful antique wood Trompo that he said had been in a closet in his house for as long as he could remember.  He ended up giving it to our boys.

New vs Old
New vs Old

It’s been by far the best money we’ve spent.  The kids love to get together in different plazas around town “to trompo” while the adults socialize nearby over beers and tapas.  Win-win.

Here’s a quick amateur video I put together to practice my editing skills.  I was impressed my son landed this trick on the first take.

9 thoughts on “Trompo Magic”

      1. We found that yesterday. They wanted to blow some cash on toys. We told them to skip the $23 Monster High doll and persuaded them to go for the $5 hula hoop, the $13 skateboard, and the $3 backpack instead. Same price in total, but way more enjoyable, and they can actually play outside with this stuff instead of having 27 barbie-ish dolls (instead of 26).

    1. Don’t get me wrong, they still get their allocation of screen time, but we’ve been please to have found some other activities that actually, you know, get them out of the house and interacting with others.

  1. So nice to see kids actually enjoying playtime. Don’t you just love how neighbors take such an interest in sharing? I miss that.

    1. Yeah, another neighbor from the States who owns a place here said we hit the “neighborhood jackpot” based on where we ended up. I’m now starting to understand what he meant.

  2. I think it is great for kids to find a toy that’s so simple that they can master with their own tricks. As for children getting outside, I’ve found that once a few
    start playing, others in the neighborhood want to join them. It becomes contagious, and certainly more healthy for all.

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