10 Nostalgic Electronic Toys

Kids today might be used to various electronic toys and gadgets, but electronic toys are hardly new. There are plenty of retro electronic toys out there, and some are even making a comeback. They might not be as advanced as some more modern electronic toys but when growing up, they were every bit as fun.

From nostalgic video game systems to electronic dolls and stuffed animals, let’s take a look at ten retro toys that came before today’s electronic playthings. They’re listed in alphabetical order.

1. Atari

The Atari is one of the original video game systems that ultimately led to the popular consoles you know and love today. I still play some of these old games through emulators on my PC. What’s your favorite old Atari game?

Atari – Credit: mrbill (via Flickr)

2. Gameboy

The original Gameboy was Nintendo’s first handheld video game system. Looking at it now, it’s hard to believe we used to think of that as advanced game technology.

Gameboy – Credit: wwarby (via Flickr)

3. Glo Worm

Glo Worms were popular dolls in the 1980s. When you squeeze them they light up and play a lullaby. There was also a Glo Friends TV show.

Glow Worms
Glow Worms – Credit: queercatkitten (via Flickr)

4. Lite Brite

This simple but clever toy involves a light board that you put pegs into. You can put a black pattern sheet on top of the board that tells you which color pegs go where. It lets kids create lit works of art.

Lite Brite
Lite Brite – Credit: PhillyFn (via Flickr)

5. My First Sony

My First Sony was a precursor to modern day mp3 players. For many kids, this sturdy cassette player was their first portable music player.

My First Sony
My First Sony – Credit: Joost J. Bakker IJmuiden (via Flickr)

6. NES

Who could forget the original Nintendo Entertainment System? It brought us video game classics like Super Mario Brothers and Zelda, which continue to thrive with new releases on newer video game systems.

NES - Nintendo Entertainment System
NES – Credit: crazyoctopus (via Flickr)

7. Simon

This was one of the more popular electronic toys back in the day, modeled after the game Simon Says. The goal is to tap the colored lights in the correct succession after a pattern is played for you.

Simon – Credit: axeldeviaje (via Flickr)

8. Speak and Spell

This educational toy let kids insert different cartridges to learn about spelling or play spelling-related games (similar to hangman). It was originally released in the late 1970s, but I remember playing this while growing up in the 1980s.

Speak and Spell
Speak and Spell – Credit: susanreynolds (via Flickr)

9. Star Projector

Another retro toy was the star projector. There were several different brands available (and even more advanced models today), allowing kids to enjoy a home-based version of a planetarium.

star projector
Star Projector – Credit: distar97 (via Flickr)

10. Teddy Ruxpin

Teddy Ruxpin was one of the first animatronic toys around — a toy bear that could tell stories to kids. The image below is of a more recent version released when Teddy Ruxpin made a comeback. The original used cassette tapes to play different stories.

Teddy Ruxpin
Teddy Ruxpin – Credit: ryanrocketship

These retro electronic toys might not be as advanced as some of today’s gadgets, but you can’t deny that many of them were fun. And some were so loved that they’ve seen a resurgence in recent years.

Do you have any favorite electronic toys from when you were a kid? Share your favorite electronic retro toys in the comments below.

Written by
Jennifer Mattern
Join the discussion

  • Nice article, but the Game Boy was not Nintendo’s first handheld system. First one to use removable media, sure, but there other single-game systems before that. (Game&Watch as well as others)

    • You’re absolutely right that they offered other handheld games. I’d argue the idea of calling them “video game systems” though. To me a game system by it’s very definition would be separate and capable of playing multiple games. A single handheld game is really just a game with the capability to play it anywhere. In the end it’s just semantics. Thanks for adding another retro electronic toy to the list. 🙂

  • Here’s one for you. Does anyone remember 2XL? That was the robot looking 8-track player from the late 1970’s that did quizes with the acompanying 8-tracks. Of course, you could have it play whatever you wanted since it was just a straight 8-track player in reality. I remember cranking the 1st Van Halen album from a kick on it. Hi-hi!!!