Here’s a list of the many neat things I’ve liked from the past few years, most of which aren’t well-known so I want to show them off here. These can be gift suggestions or something you might enjoy,
1. Retro-Bit Super Retro-Cade (left). This plug-and-play console is my daily driver for older retro games. It has 100+ games built-in, two controllers, HDMI output, and an SD Card slot. I love it because it’s easy to use, easy to add games to, and is just a solid all-round machine. I’ve wrestled with a few Raspberry Pi consoles in the past, and the Super Retro-Cade was a walk in the park to use. Highly recommended.
2. LDK Game (right). This was the first of many Chinese handhelds that have come out in the past 18 months, and it’s been another daily driver for me when I hit the road. It’s easy to pocket, and adding games over USB is a breeze. My one complaint: only about 3 hours of battery life. There are many other handhelds with analog sticks and wider form factors, but I mostly play 8-bit and 16-bit games so this is perfect for me. If I had to get a system with analog controls, it would be an Anbernic handheld (the 350M, 350P, or 351).
3. Tiny Arcade DIY Kit (left). I don’t own this but it is very cool device! You put the whole thing together and load it up with freeware games (like Tiny Tetris and Tiny Invaders). A perfect project for kids or adults who like to tinker with stuff. They are about the size of those Super Impulse Tiny Arcade toys which have been popular for a few years now.
4. Haynes Retro Arcade Kit (right). Another kit that you build yourself, the end result is a PONG game with a screen made up of LED bulbs. Requires soldering of wires, so it’s not exactly for kids. If you would prefer something that is already built, Arcade1UP is releasing a Mini PONG Jr in the near future too.
5. Apples To Pears (top left). Not a specific toy, but the company Apples To Pears releases gift sets that come in tin containers. My favorite is the train set. They have many different sets for girls and boys.
6. Mario Kart Live (top right). Everyone knows about this toy, but I am so darn impressed with Nintendo’s use of Augmented Reality that I’m really excited about what they do next. A flying drone for Star Fox?
7. Hot Wheels Slot Car Track (bottom right). This tiny electric slot car track folds up into a carrying case, which is very clever and convenient. Reminds me of their Sto & Go sets from the 1980’s. Sadly it runs on batteries, would be nice if it used external power, or better yet, hand-cranks to power the cars (which has been done in other mini sets).
8. Numskull. This company came out of nowhere in the past few years, and were widely known for making 1/4 scale replica arcade cabinets. Nowadays they make other neat merchandise, including these Ghostbusters and Jurassic Park desk lamps (which are awesome and inexpensive). They recently unveiled a neat Ghostbusters ghost trap incense burner as well.
Arcade1UP has released a lot of awesome arcade cabinets this year, and very recently started selling a driving cabinet for SEGA’s Out Run. Their 4-player cabinets for NBA Jam and TMNT are also must-haves (friends not included).
ATGames have released several new products for their “Legends Arcade” line, ranging from a full-size arcade cabinet to a PCB board you can drop into an existing cabinet. They also have a virtual pinball machine coming soon. Definitely worth checking out.
Lionel Lionchief Train Sets. I’m extremely impressed by these train sets from Lionel, particularly their Polar Express and Hogwarts editions. They include lights, sounds, and some action figures too. Imagine if they made a BTTF train set? I’d be all over that.
1986 is back in fashion! Hasbro just started releasing Studio Series figures based on the animated Transformers film from 1986, and they are amazing (they will go nicely with the massive new Unicron figure as well). G.I. JOE just got a new toyline called Classified, the first one in over a decade? The Joes are also getting classic reissues too. Micro Machines are also back, and with a new Van City to boot. Most of The Real Ghostbusters toys have been reissued this past year. And lastly Mattel just released Masters of the Universe Origins, which is a modern update of their classic He-Man toyline (She-Ra included); they even have a Castle Greyskull set coming out this Xmas.
Tiny Impulse is miniaturizing your entire childhood. The company is making mini Hot Wheels, Barbie, He-Man, Transformers, G.I. JOE, and so much more. You should check out their wares, including all their tiny arcade cabinets.
My Arcade has been hit-or-miss these past few years, but their new “premium” mini arcade cabinets for Space Invaders, Street Fighter II, and Contra are worth a look. These guys make neat stuff, but most of their other products fall short in one way or the other.
Micro Center is an american chain that’s been releasing exclusive Atari products lately, including a very nice 2-player arcade fight stick with a trackball (called the Atari Dual Fight Stick). It is a very sweet product that comes with 100+ Atari games.
And that is all I can think of for now! Sorry for the lack of links, that’s a technical issue I am trying to resolve. You’ll have to Google whatever sounds interesting.