This year, SPY’s gifting experts named the top trending gifts of the season. And alongside pickleball sets and new gadgets from Apple, we predicted that retro toys and games would be a big hit this year. Now, as the holiday shopping season ramps up, you can find classic 80s and 90s toys on sale. At Walmart, you can save $50 on the Ultimate Easy-Bake Oven, while Amazon has classic games like Bop-It, Super NES Classic and The Original Slinky.
What was old is new again when it comes to gaming and toys. Not every classic toy from generations past is going to make a big comeback, but there are those classic toys that are just timeless. Parents who remember them from their youth bring them home for the kids, and voila — the whole family’s having a great time. Put it this way, your kids have a much better shot at enjoying or Pac-Man than you do at playing Elden Ring.
Lately, SPY editors have been re-discovering some of our favorite childhood toys, and we highly recommend it. Classic retro toys like Lite-Brite and Chia Pet can also be perfect gifts for coworkers, siblings or Secret Santa.
SPY’s gifting experts predicted that retro toys and games were going to be all the rage this holiday season, and so far we’ve been proven right. So if you’re still finishing up your Christmas shopping, then we’ve gathered 13 great throwback games and toys that will be guaranteed to bridge the generation gap.
From the best 90s toys to popular games from the 80s and 70s, check out our favorite retro toys you can still buy today and prepare for a night of fun for the entire family.
Lite-Brite Classic Retro Toy
We seriously considered going with the vastly underrated Spirograph as the best retro artistic toy, but there’s just something so enchanting about the original Lite-Brite. SPY recently ordered this toy while researching Christmas gifts, and we found our enthusiasm for this retro toy hasn’t diminished at all since childhood.
The classic Lite-Brite has been slightly updated and improved — instead of the old-fashioned lightbulb, it’s now illuminated by LED lights. Other than that? Same templates, same colorful plastic pegs (definitely do not forget your refill templates and pegs) and same wholesome family fun. Not only is Lite-Brite perfect for a Gen Z teen obsessed with all things retro or an elder millennial who loves nostalgia-inspired gifts, but it’s also on sale and extremely affordable.
Star Wars The Child Chia Pet
OLD MEETS NEW
You remember Chia Pet, don’t you? Chia Pets were some of the best 90s toys, and you might remember the commercials that played on channels like Nickelodeon back in the day. This modern Chia Pet is inspired by The Child from the Disney+ series The Mandalorian, and it’s a highly giftable toy for all ages. Buy it as a desk toy for your husband or as a bedside accessory for your Star Wars-loving kids.
Ahead of the holidays, this Amazon Exclusive toy is also on sale.
Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven
Recently, Netflix launched an Easy-Bake Oven-inspired cooking competition show, which has introduced this beloved toy to a new generation of fans. While you might have thought these ovens went extinct in the Aughts, they’re still available. Take a trip back to your childhood or embark on a fun baking project with your own kids with the Easy-Bake Ultimate Oven, which comes with recipes to make cookies and other fun treats.
For holiday shoppers, this Easy-Bake bundle is on sale via Walmart, where you can save $50. Walmart also has a more affordable version of the classic Easy-Bake, if you’re looking for the best gifts under $50.
The Original Slinky
We recently included the Original Slinky in our guides to the Best Stocking Stuffers and the 101 Best Christmas Gifts of 2022. It’s a classic retro toy, and with a $4 price tag, a great stocking stuffer for all ages. As it turns out, even after all this time, everyone really does love a Slinky.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
BEST OLD-SCHOOL BRAWLING
What is the ultimate retro toy? There’s really no one answer to that question, but Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots absolutely has to be in the conversation. It doesn’t get simpler than this: Pick a robot, grab the control, and throw haymakers until you knock your opponent’s block off — literally. Then push the head back down and go another few rounds. It’s old-school, loud-clacking fun, and it’s highly addictive, so don’t blame us for your sore thumbs.
The Rubik’s Cube is the Eighties personified in 54 maddening colored tiles. Yes, this is the same Rubik’s Cube that took the world by storm 40 years ago. No, it has not gotten any easier. Solve one side, then two, maybe three, then…..uh-oh. Fun fact? This iconic puzzle toy also makes a truly great fidget object. Just keep it out of camera range during those long awful work meetings on Zoom.
Hasbro Gaming Trivial Pursuit Game: Classic Edition
BEST BOARD GAME
Eggheads and trivia nerds of the world, unite! Bar trivia nights, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, and basically every other trivia craze can be traced directly back to the days when Trivial Pursuit ruled the gaming world. Play as individuals or form teams, and have at it in six different categories. Fill your pie and move to the center for one last question to win. This game spawned a million spinoff versions, like this 2010-2020 version, but this is the classic edition.
Hasbro Gaming Bop It!
You do remember the Bop It!, right? It’s the rapid-fire Simon Says-type game powered by three seemingly simple commands. But when the speed turns up, it’s anything but easy. How cool can you stay under pressure? This awesome handheld game is fun solo and a true riot in multiplayer mode for a party. Speaking of which — and you did not hear this from us — when the kids go to bed, the Bop It! makes for a hellacious drinking game.
View Master Marine Life Bundle
No blue light, no downloads, no batteries — handheld educational visuals used to come courtesy of the timeless View Master. All you need is a View Master disk and a light source, and you’re treated to very cool 3D images with informative captions. You’ll be stunned at how well this goes over as a road trip or long-flight source of amusement with the little ones. And there is still a near-endless supply or refill discs available online. Start with this Marine Life bundle from Discovery Kids, which comes with carrying cases for the discs and the View Master itself, and a set of cool sea-creature discs that encourage curiosity and learning.
BEST PRIMITIVE LIFE FORM
If you’re of a certain age, the comic-book ads for Sea-Monkeys are burned into your brain. The drawing of the “cute” (ahem) Sea-Monkey family, and all those promises: they do tricks! They live for years! Sea-Monkeys are, in fact, tiny living creatures. But they look nothing like the picture, and no, they do not do tricks. They’re brine shrimp delivered in freeze-dried egg form, and they hatch more or less instantly in water when the “special water purifier” (basically, salt) is added. Basically, they’re harmless fun. And don’t tell the kids, but if you have marine fish, they love brine shrimp.
Super NES Classic
BEST NES-ERA GAMING CONSOLE
Today, retro gaming emulators are all the rage among tech-savvy nerds, but this is the actual Super NES Classic, rebuilt for modern audiences and with 21 games built into the console. If you grew up with Mario, Yoshi and Star Fox, then you’ll love this console. Perfect as a gift (either for yourself or a gaming-obsessed friend), this console is often hard to find around the Christmas holidays, so be careful to make sure your order will arrive before Christmas.
TV Games Atari Emulator
ALMOST SOLD OUT!
Wind the clock back another decade from the NES and you’re back in the days when the Atari 2600 ruled the home gaming world. One joystick and one button was all you need to tackle Atari’s versions of Centipede, Missile Command, and many more. Ten of those games are captured here in this simple plug-and-play emulator — no console or software required. The controller is a duplicate of the Atari 2600 joystick. Like the Retro Classic Game Console, you will need either an AV input port on your TV or an AV-to-HDMI converter.
Arcade1Up Pac-Man Head-to-Head Arcade Table
BEST ARCADE THROWBACK
SPY’s Mike Fazioli recently tested out this old-school arcade table in his home, and he found that despite the retro vibes, it was fun enough to capture the attention of his teenage children. Better yet, this retro gaming arcade table is on sale for holiday shoppers. In addition to Pac-Man, this gaming unit comes with 12 other classic arcade games.