The last two holiday seasons’ Retro Gift Guide were unqualified successes. So much so that I felt compelled to do one for 2011 (plus it is fun to go through online sites looking for retro stuff that I want). Now I know you all have that special person in your life who constantly plays games on their Atari 2600 or NES and prefers the crack and hiss of vinyl to digital sound. These people love things retro and although they might seem difficult to shop for, thanks to the internet their are 100s of holiday gift ideas for them. Here are a few of my favorite item that are sure to please. You can scroll down or jump to a section by picking a category.
Retro Toys and Gadgets
While some of these toys and gadgets might make a kid smile, they have been chosen more for older kids trying to recapture childhood moments.
Remember those fuzzy little worms that danced and wriggled around your house back in the 1970s? Of course you do, but do you remember their name? They were Squirmles and you can still get them today. Now they look a little different from the ones I remember, but they seemed to have made them available in more colors and even in their updated form they still get their squirmmy job done.
The Original Slinky
Nothing says fun like the spring-based toys that goes down stairs (alone or in pairs). I had many Slinkys throughout my life, both plastic and metal. I much preferred the metal ones, even though they were easier to damage when you bend them. I still have not lived my dream of using a Slinky on an escalator, but I still got a lot of years left to make that happen.
Duncan Imperial Yo-Yo
You are stuck at a train station, snowed in for hours and the batteries on all of your high techery have failed. What do you do to entertain yourself? Read a book? Nope, you just finished your book and this place has no magazine or newspapers. Now what hotshot? Why don’t you just take a seat and let this imperial Yo-Yo master show you a thing or two? Around the world? Walk the dog? I can do them all? How does it work? I have no idea, so I will have to assume magic. How did I become so good? I always keep my trust Duncan Yo-Yo handy for just such and occasion and I like to hang out at snowed in train depots. Now that you know that and see how awesome I am you know what you got to do. So pick up an Imperial Duncan Yo-Yo for you and yours and you will never be bored again.
During the last year I have been tinkering with and learning to play a Stylophone that I received as a present (and talked about on the site). I am horrible at it since I have no musical ability, but that has not dampened my enthusiasm for the this musical wizard. I do not think I will be packing music halls anytime soon, but I am on my way and you could be as well. The Stylophone is tiny and easy to get started using, with lots of music on load for you to download. Like music or just noise? Pick up a Stylophone this holiday season.
What would a Holiday season be without a Rubik’s Cube. Every Christmas, I get some Rubik related and I have developed quite a collection of cubes. So many that I have begun work on a new a invention. The Rubik’s Wall. The catchphrase for it will be, “a lifetime to build…impossible to master”. I guess what I am trying to say is, people stop buying ME Rubik’s Cubes. Did you forget that this is the 5th year in a row you bought one for me? Sigh. If you don’t know me and you have a puzzle fan in your life (who does not have 80 of them already), I suggest you pick them up a classic Rubik’s Cube.
The Victoria Nostalgic Internet Radio
A few short months ago I picked up my very own Victoria Nostalgic Internet Radio. I had wanted an internet radio device and wanted it to be interesting looking and the Victoria Nostalgic fit the bill perfectly. You can stream music from services like Pandora, tune to online radio stations, listen to podcasts and much more. Plus it is all handled through an online control panel, so you do not need to mess around with the radios limited (no keyboard) control panel. I wake up to mine everyday. So if you have someone who loves digital audio and retro styling why not take a look at the Victoria Nostalgic or any of Grace Digital’s other fine products.
A lot of people will tell you that Lego are the best building toy. While others might claim the Erector Set or good ol’ blocks are the height of fun. When I was a kid, I had Lego and I had blocks. I even had access to an Erector Set, but time and again I went back to the seemingly forgotten building toy, Tinkey Toys. So this Xmas, why not treat your kids (or yourself) to Tinker Toys and tell them “to build them to the sky!”
The Classic Rubber Chicken
Watching Magnum PI on a regular basis, two things dawn on me. First is the obvious one, not enough people in the age have mustaches. Two, and this one is a lot less obvious, people do not have rubber chickens. Is this because people are not exposed to them early enough? Maybe? I am grasping at straws really because I don’t have a close. What I do know is that Rubber Chickens are HILARIOUS. So if you have someone over 8 in your family, why not introduce them to the height of funny and stuff their stocking with a rubber chicken today.
Retro Video Games
Sometimes even with modern technology, it is nice to take a step back and play a classic game. So why not get the gamer in your life something retro this year that goes beep boop beep.
Retron 3 NES/SNES/Genesis Triple System in Candy-like Vector Red
A lot of modernized retro systems out there, but if you are like me and subscribe to the more is better philosophy, with the Retron Triple System you can play many of you favorite NES, SNES and Genesis all in one delicious candy red system. Just do yourself a favor and investigate some new controllers, because the IR controllers that come with it — not so great. Still look at it..its so…red. You know you cannot resist so order a Retron 3 NES/SNES/Genesis Triple System – Vector Red today.
USB Atari VCS Joystick
Sometimes the retro gamer in your life just does not have the time to maintain their hardware or the gaming hobby is just too expensive to them. When this happens they will often turn towards emulating. Their are a lot of great emulators for the Atari 2600 out there, but once you fire them up, the experience can often feel hollow as you pound away on the keyboard or with a modern joystick. Well it doesn’t have to be that way because you can pick a replica Atari controller that plus right into your USB port and play the games they were meant to be played.
Atari 2600 Cartridge Magnets
Atari Age made these very cool Atari 2600 magnets available at their booth. According to their store, these cartridges feature various prototype and rare Atari 2600 games, and the labels came out great! We removed the game board from the carts and replaced them with quite powerful magnets. They’ll stick very well to refrigerator, car, computer hard drive, and other metal surfaces. Pick them up at the Atari Age store.
Meggy Jr RGB
What is more satisfying then playing a video game? Clearing it? Mastering it? Mere child’s play when compared with the joy you will get when you put together your own system and design your own games on the Meggy Jr RGB. This kit from Mad Scientist Labs has a decent following and while it might look simple, mastering it will take you a lot longer then anything you might try and mast on current era consoles.
8 Bit Weapon: A Chiptune Odyssey
For those interested in making their own video game styled music….Set the wayback machine to the golden age of gaming with 8 Bit Weapon: A Chiptune Odyssey, a massive collection powered up with vintage low-bit sounds coaxed from the most venerated micro-computers and game consoles of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Accept no imitations! Chiptune is the real thing—all the gritty lo-fi basslines, whirling computer arpeggios, bleepy synth solos, cosmic FX, and squishy drum patterns you’ve come to know and love. For your pixilated pleasure, each royalty-free sample has been energized with modern-day metadata to ensure seamless playback in your DAW of choice. With over 1,000 building blocks to choose from, you’ll have all the pieces you need to build your own chiptune masterpiece. Now get to work, and don’t forget to save the princess!
ANESthetized for the Amazon Kindle Edition
ANESthetized was written by the Retroist’s very own Doug McCoy. It is a Kindle book that celebrates the technology and memories of the Nintendo Entertainment System. It makes for a wonderful digital stocking stuff for the kindle owner in your life who wants an engrossing and informative book to enjoy this holiday season. ANESthetized is available exclusively through Amazon for the Kindle. (Look to The Retroist for news on Doug’s upcoming new book!)
Retro Movies and TV
Nothing says holidays like the classic movies and TV from our youth. Be they Holiday related or not, they bring us comfort during the cold winter months. Here are some that I think are great.
M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series
M.A.S.K. is one of those shows I watched as a kid and enjoyed when I caught it on the Cartoon Express. When it came out on DVD, I thought it would be a good opportunity to check it out again and I fell in love with the series. Having only caught episodes here and there, I had not idea this show was an epic 65 episodes long and that it was so well written. You can order M.A.S.K.: The Complete Series on DVD through Amazon or if you want to get a bonus M.A.S.K Iron On (yeah I said Iron on), you can pick up a copy directly from Shout! Factory.
Thundarr The Barbarian: The Complete Series
In the early 1980s an amazing animated Sci-Fi fantasy series ran called Thundarr The Barbarian. The show was well animated and well written, but sadly it could not be sustained and was canceled almost as quickly as it began. For those who watched it, they would always be left wanting, since the show was never fully released on home video. It would take nearly 30 years, but this year, the Warner Archive finally released the show on DVD and my Saturday mornings have been a much richer experience. If you are a fan or have a fan in your life, pick up a copy today and enjoy this overlooked classic.
Rankin/Bass’ ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (Blu-Ray)
The Year without a Santa Claus and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
are holiday classics that everyone should own, but their are other lesser know Rankin/Bass classics that are available as well. One of the one’s I think would make a great addition to you collection is Twas the Night Before Christmas. In this holiday special, for some unexplained reason, letters to Santa Claus are being returned to the children of Junctionville. It seems some resident has angered St. Nick, calling Christmas “a fraudulent myth!” Skeptical Albert Mouse has to be brought to his senses “and let up a little on the wonder why.” How Albert is persuaded to change his tune paves the way for Santa’s jolly return to town – and the joyous finale of the animated fable inspired by Clement Moore’s poem.
The Goonies (25th Anniversary Edition) on Blu-ray
From the imagination of Steven Spielberg, The Goonies plunges a band of small heroes into a swashbuckling surprise-around-every corner quest beyond their wildest dreams! Following a mysterious treasure map into a spectacular underground realm of twisting passages, outrageous booby-traps and a long-lost pirate ship full of golden doubloons, the kids race to stay one step ahead of a family of bumbling bad guys…and a mild mannered monster with a face only a mother could love. This Anniversary Edition is filled with extras and will make an excellent addition to anyone’s movie collection.
Classic TV Christmas Collection
The Classic TV Collection is one of those discs that I look forward to finding each holiday season. The set is four disc set that has the Christmas episode from 10 different TV shows (some classic — some not) for your holiday watching entertainment. The shows included are: DVD Includes: Dr. Kildare, The Courtship of Eddie’s Father, CHiPs, Eight is Enough, Welcome Back, Kotter, Alice, Perfect Strangers, Mama’s Family, Veronica’s Closet and Suddenly Susan. A long evening of holiday entertainment aways you with the Classic TV Christmas Collection.
JEM And The Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series
If the chorus from the JEM theme song is not tattooed on your brain, your probably did not grow up in the 1980s. It was a milestone in 80s TV animation and surprisingly generated a cross gender audience that is still loyal to the sow today. Which I was surprised that the show was not available on DVD for so long and than thrilled when Shout! Factory announced that they were releasing the show. This is a high quality release of a truly outrageous show. The DVD presentation is a completist’s dream and a must own for fans of 1980s cartoon. Everyone this holiday season will want, JEM And The Holograms: The Truly Outrageous Complete Series on DVD
The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray
This is the release of The Rocketeer that we have all been waiting for. The image is glorious and it sounds great. The only problem is, that is is not loaded with extras (it has just one). Still if you have Rocketeer fan in your family, and everybody has at least one, this should be under their tree or in their stocking this Holiday season. So strap on your rocket pack and pick up The Rocketeer: 20th Anniversary Edition on Blu-Ray today.