Home / Features / Christmas Gift Guide 2021: 15 retro gadget gift ideas for nostalgic nerds

Christmas Gift Guide 2021: 15 retro gadget gift ideas for nostalgic nerds

Have yourself an old-school Yule

Sick to death of the C word? Stick this retro tech on your wish list to wind back the clock and pretend the pandemic never happened.

Sure, celebrating like its Christmas past means no streaming 4K flicks and no using your smartphone as a shield against unmasked relatives – but with this haul of throwback goodies to unwrap, you’ll be too far down memory lane to care.

From instant cameras with old-school style to gaming revivals right out of your childhood, this vintage kit is sure to be a hit with any nostalgic recipient. Especially if you catch their reaction with that camcorder from the attic.

Fujifilm Mini 40

Candid snaps might seem like a sentimental Christmas treat, but no-one wants their practised gratitude captured in high resolution. Mask the phoney smiles with analogue grain. Fujifilm’s old-school shooter sorts out the exposure, focus and flash by itself, leaving you free to frame up whichever visiting relative looks least pleased with their presents. Pint-sized prints appear 90 seconds after you push the button, with all the deep contrast, warm fuzz and awkward expressions you’d expect.

Marshall Motif ANC

Before ANC, cotton wool had cornered the market for noise-cancelling. Unlike a small ball of fibres, Marshall’s in-ears are fluff-free and feature a Transparency mode, so you can control exactly how much background sound gets in. They’re also blessed with the legendary amp brand’s signature look, from textured stems to a faux leather case. Need to drown out a festive feud? Instead of stuffing tufts in your lugs, tap on the Marshall smartphone app to dial ANC up to 11.

Nikon Z fc

Think photography’s too easy these days, what with all the Wi-Fi and live-streams instead of fiddly reels and chemical baths? Shoot like its the Eighties with Nikon’s throwback snapper. A tribute to the FM2, the Z fc apes its analogue ancestor in every way – from the textured shell to the LCD aperture readout. Well, every way apart from what’s underneath. Don’t tell your mates at film photography club: there’s a very modern mirrorless camera hiding inside. Perfect for pretending you still like the old ways, while quietly admitting that digital isn’t the death of creativity.

SEGA Mega Drive Control Pad

Buy the SEGA Mega Drive Control Pad from Nintendo

Ninty’s detachable Switch sticks make it easy to play in different ways. But who wants modular controls when you can mash buttons on a Mega Drive gamepad? Launched alongside a reborn Nintendo 64 controller, the plastic fantastic pad is exclusive to Nintendo Switch Online subscribers. So you’ll need to shell out some extra chocolate coins for the privilege of pushing A, B and C. At least signing up gets you access to 14 Sega classics, including the second instalments of Sonic and Streets of Rage.

Swatch 1984 Reloaded Rouge & Noir

Buy the Swatch 1984 Reloaded Rouge & Noir here from Swatch

Not an Orwellian take on horology, this throwback ticker commemorates the year that Swatch hit it big. So big, in fact, that the watchmaker draped a 13-ton timepiece over a bank in Frankfurt. Reviving five funky designs from that fateful annum, the 1984 series brings each one back in Bioceramic – an eco material combining ceramic and bio-sourced plastic. This Rouge & Noire number was already retro in its heyday, aping the shades of Piet Mondrian.

Gearbox Automatic Turntable MkII

Buy the Gearbox Automatic Turntable MkII here from Gearbox

No retro setup is complete without a record player – and if mid-century chic is what piques your interest, this transparent turntable should put you in a spin. Inspired by the iconically industrial Braun PC3-SV, the second edition of the Gearbox Automatic is further proof that functional form can look fantastic. Equipped with a valve phono stage for plugging straight into a suitably old-school amp, drop a Drifters disc on top for the ultimate Fifties finish.

Lego Classic TV Series Batman Cowl

Buy the Lego Classic TV Series Batman Cowl here from Lego

Nothing says old-school like a crime-fighting duo dressed as a lycra-clad bat and, err, a sidekick who forgot his trousers. Celebrate all that was hammy about the classic Batman TV series with this brick-built version of Bruce Wayne’s legendary vizard (complete with drawn-on eyebrows). Smaller and edgier than the original, the 372-piece set ships with a display stand and dinky information plaque – in case visiting villains don’t instantly recognise the Caped Crusader’s headgear, circa 1966.

Bubble Bobble Quarter Scale Arcade Cabinet

Buy the Numskull Bubble Bobble Quarter Scale Arcade Cabinet here from Just Geek

Building a miniature arcade for Santa’s little helpers? This faithful replica of a Bubble Bobble cabinet is scaled-down to quarter size – ideal for elves (or retro gamers without room for a full-height machine). It’s fully playable too, so those with dinky digits can direct tiny dinosaurs around the emulated Eighties display. Coin slots and an original livery add to the dwarfed authenticity, plus you can stick it in a cupboard when the grown-ups come over.

Nintendo Game & Watch: The Legend of Zelda

Come Christmas morning in 1980, many young gamers woke to find Nintendo’s Game & Watch waiting under the tree. Forefather to the Gameboy, DS and Switch, its 4-bit CPU ran just a single pre-programmed title. Reissued last year with Super Mario Bros pre-installed, the heritage handheld is back again with an equally legendary inhabitant. As rectangular as the Eighties original and now equipped with a colour screen, its green rim should be all the hint you need that you’re heading for Hyrule. Three classic Zelda titles are installed, plus an updated version of Vermin with Link as a playable character.

Roberts Revival Petite

Long gone is the time when clan crowded round the wireless to hear the Queen’s Christmas Message crackle over the airwaves. Revive the days of radio past this compact noise box from Roberts. With tactile style that channels all 90 years of the company’s audio heritage, it ships in six vibrant hues to add pop to your parlour. Besides Bluetooth, it supports DAB, DAB+ and FM, so you’ll be able to receive Her Majesty’s festive wisdom any way you want.

Rymek Mechanical Keyboard

Missing the rat-a-tat-ping which once drove office drones to distraction? Strangely, nobody makes throwback laptops the size of suitcases, so you’ll need a peripheral if you want vintage vibes while you hammer out email replies. Getting a typewriter to work with a tablet is tricky, but this backlit tapper gets the job done using Bluetooth. It works with PC, Mac, iOS and Android, plus its gold keys should artfully match your Art Deco drinks cabinet.

Elago W7 Airtag Case

Despite the clear convenience of keeping your MP3 catalogue on a fob, Apple never stuck its Shuffle on a keyring. Wonder what might have been with this Airtag case. Styled like the final iteration of the littlest iPod, it sadly doesn’t feature the clip which made the original so distinctive. Nor will it surprise you with bangers buried at the bottom of forgotten playlists. But unlike the screen-free original, it should at least help you find what you’re looking for.

Amazfit Neo

With OLED touchscreens and built-in GPS, most modern smartwatches still feel pretty futuristic, especially next to timepieces from twenty years ago. Not the Neo: styled like a classic Casio, you’d have trouble picking Amazfit’s ticker out of a nostalgic Nineties line-up. Yet it still features a heart-rate monitor, sleep-tracking smarts and smartphone notifications. And thanks to its old-school LCD display, the battery lasts 28 days.

Klipsch Heritage Groove

The Emperor’s groove is no longer new, but this Klipsch speaker proves old-school is still cool enough to move you. Mid-century modernism in miniature, its real wood veneers wouldn’t look out of place in a Madison Avenue martini joint. Wire-free and fit to receive your tunes by Bluetooth, it’s good for eight hours on a single charge, while a 3in driver delivers those good vibrations. Simply pick a finish and stick on some Nina Simone.

Evercade VS

Emulators might revive your retro favourites, but the real throwback is blowing dust to get the games going. Compatible with Evercade’s expanding catalogue of Cartridges, this modern vintage machine takes two inserts simultaneously for twice the slice of D-Pad action. Up to four mates can plug in via USB, with more than 260 licensed title available to play in 1080p. Built-in Wi-Fi won’t let you battle it out online, but it will make updates easier.