As technology continues to develop at a rapid rate, it can be fun to glance backwards at the gadgets that came from simpler times, especially as many of those gizmos have been updated to fit into the modern age.
If you’d like to take a nostalgic trip and visit the toys you played with as a kid, or you’re interested in how items like the vinyl player or Polaroid camera have been adapted to modern standards, look no further than our pick of the best retro gadgets below.
For more tech inspiration take a look at our list of cool gadgets.
Best retro gadgets to buy in 2021
3D metal pin art desktop toy
A classic staple of 80s desk gadgets, the 3D metal pin art toy lets you create a shape by pushing an item into the back of the pins, then watch it come to life in metal form on the other side.
Made from thousands of metal pins as opposed to some of its plastic rivals, the makers of this version claim it to be more durable and sturdy as a result, allowing you to play with it longer. They also say it can be used as a relaxing sensory experience as you play with the pins to create various shapes.
Suitable as a fun gift or something to keep for yourself – either way, it will definitely make an impression…
Casio CA-53W-1ER calculator watch
Never be left without basic arithmetic again, with this iconic calculator watch, part of Casio’s Vintage collection. As worn by Marty McFly in the classic Back to the Future, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with futuristic features that include a calendar and stopwatch.
Made from resin glass which should be resistant against breaking, and with a five-year battery life, you can keep the past alive well into the future, and look stylish while you do it.
SONY PS-LX310BT Bluetooth turntable
As modern turntables have continued to rise in popularity the options for a reliable, throwback player have broadened and we think the SONY PS-LX310BT is a serious contender.
Connect the turntable to your Bluetooth speakers, set the tonearm to the vinyl and you’ll be able to relive the classics, or play one of your modern favourites that have been released in vinyl form.
This turntable is fully automatic which means once the LP has played out, the tonearm will return to its support, and the set comes with a transparent cover so you can protect it from dust, preserving the life span of the needle.
Mathmos Astro lava lamp
Nothing quite says retro décor like a classic lava lamp, which are still made to this day by Mathmos, a company that was founded by Edward Craven Walker, the inventor of the original lava lamp.
Made in Britain, they claim these lamps are not only the original, but the highest quality, lasting longer than other designs due to its unique formula which boasts a brighter and clearer effect.
Available in a range of groovy colours, they include a halogen bulb that’s specifically designed for their own brand of products, which claim to direct heat into the lava and away from the base.
Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots
If you never quite got your revenge for a rock ’em sock ’em fight you lost back in the day, or you’d like to try out the classic toy for the first time with a friend, pick a colour and pick a fight, with this retro toy from Mattel Games.
Bash the buttons and be the first to knock your opponent’s head off, before they come for yours.
Perixx PERIBOARD-106M keyboard
If modern keyboards are a bit too lightweight for you, and you miss the chunky keys of an old school classic, we’ve got some good news for you. This keyboard has been based on the Model M, designed and created by IBM in the 80s and boasts an ergonomic curved design which means the keys are at different heights so you can type comfortably for long periods of time.
Polaroid OneStep instant camera
A classic Polaroid camera with a modern twist, the OneStep instant camera features built-in Bluetooth and an impressive USB charged battery life that claims to last up to 60 days.
You can use both iType film or 600 polaroid film which means you can choose between an authentic and retro black and white look, or take modern, colourful snaps. With additional features that include a built-in strobe flash and 12 second timer, you can take portraits or group photos with this handy camera that combines digital and film.
Roberts Revival iStream internet smart radio
A retro styled speaker mixed with modern technology, the Roberts Revival iStream radio can connect to the internet to access your favourite shows and stations. It can also connect via Bluetooth which means you can play your favourite Spotify playlists, and use your phone as the remote control.
Made with a handcrafted wooden cabinet, Roberts boasts a warm depth of sound and says you can adjust the tones to meet your preference with the bass and treble controls.
Nintendo Classic Mini
Return to your gaming favourites with the Nintendo Classic Mini, a compact version of the original entertainment system. Small enough to fit in your hand, it still packs a wide array of classic games, with over 30 titles to choose from including: Pac Man, The Legend of Zelda, and of course the Super Mario Bros series.
The kit includes a USB cable to power the console, as well as a control pad so you can begin playing right away.
If you’re looking to limit your screen time and simplify your phone, the Nokia 6310 may be exactly what you need.
A throwback to the original and notoriously indestructible phone from the early 2000s, the modern incarnation includes some up to date features like the curved 2.8 inch display design and improved readability, while retaining classic elements such as Snake and wireless FM radio.