One of the questions that gets asked a lot in our house is: "What on earth did you guys do for fun when you were kids?” Admittedly, it's usually the follow-up question after a comment like: "When we were your age we didn't have iPads/mobile phones/Netflix/Roblox/more than four TV channels."
To my seven-year-old, being a kid in the "olden days" sounded super boring. But he soon changed his mind when I showed him some of the retro and vintage toys we used to play with. And in fact, a lot of the stuff he is into right now is just an upscale version of what we had back then.
MORE: Top toys for Christmas 2020: Amazon predicts these will be the most popular on Santa's wish lists
RELATED: The 12 best Amazon bargains on Christmas toys right now: from L.O.L to Paw Patrol, Monopoly and more
But nothing beats the joy of growing your own Tamagotchi pet from its egg – or speaking "Furbish” while you hang out with your Furby.
Where to buy vintage toys
The best news is most of the coolest retro toys are still around today on retailers like eBay and Amazon – and they're a great choice as an original Christmas gift for hard-to-buy-for children who have everything. And not just for little ones - the big kids in your life will love these too.
Join us for a trip down memory lane and check out the best vintage and retro toys you can still buy today.
We would live in fear of teachers finding our Tamagotchis – the digital pet you had to hatch from the egg and nurture, giving it food, attention, or medicine if it got sick. If its incessant beep disturbed class, they would be confiscated and killed. Oh the horror! The 1997 generation one and two models are still available on eBay, so kids of today can experience the rollercoaster of rearing their own.
Bandai Tamagotchi, £16.99, eBay
If you have a little more to spend and you want the next gen Tamagotchi experience, it’s got to be the Tamagotchi On. The digital pet has gone from black and white to full colour and has lots of new-fangled upgrades. You can now open an app to visit your friends’ pets, and you can marry off your creature to create a new generation.
Tamagotchi On, £51.80, eBay
If you’re willing to do a bit of browsing the Furby selection on eBay, you can pick up a real bargain – many of the bids start from as little as £9.99 and there are buy it now options starting from £10.00. Of course, be careful to read the seller's description to see which model you’re getting and what condition it’s in. If you want a boxed new version, check Amazon for the Furby Connect – which also interacts via an app as well as doing all the weird stuff with its eyes and ears and speaking away in Furbish.
Furby Connect, From £39.99, Amazon
WATCH: Take a look at the Furby Connect in action
Sea monkeys were billed as the world’s only instant pets – all you had to do was add water. It was truly mind-blowing to see the little creatures – which were in fact a hybrid breed of brine shrimp – appear seemingly out of nowhere. Well, the vintage toy is still up for grabs on eBay – and in theory, they can last forever if you care for them correctly. Their life expectancy is two years, but they reproduce a lot so you’ll soon see baby ones swimming around the aquarium!
Sea Monkeys ocean zoo, £10.52, eBay
RELATED: 22 best advent calendars for kids: Disney, toys, chocolate and more options to get children excited
MORE: Best Christmas decorations you can buy on eBay
There really is nothing as satisfying as rolling out your own Spirograph picture – and unlike most crafting activity they don’t require a lot of kit. The 30 piece set even comes with paper and some bright felt pens. The design possibilities are literally endless and you can reuse them forever.
The Original Spirograph Design set, £18.99, eBay
There’s also a version for little kids, ages three and up which has easy-to-use jumbo gears and washable markers.
Spirograph junior, £28.99, Amazon
These days it might be all about PS5 and Xbox S, but back in the day we were all obsessed with Sonic the hedgehog – and the game, in all its 16-bit glory, is still as addictive as it ever was. The Sega Mega Drive mini lets kids play Sonic, and 41 other vintage games including Ecco the Dolphin, Castlevania, Golden Axe, and Streets of Rage 2.
Sega Mega Drive mini, £59.99, eBay
Or if you were more of a Nintendo kid, this mini Super NES comes with a whopping 621 classic games including Super Mario Bros 1, 2 and 3 and Donkey Kong, Double dragon and Tetris.
Super Mini SFC HDMI S NES, £24.99, eBay
Did you spend hours trying to munch your way to victory and avoid those pesky ghosts in PAC-MAN? You can relive the experience with this handheld game
My arcade PAC-MAN pocket player, £18, eBay
Was there anything more satisfying than popping that dice? The classic and frustrating board game is still around today, and there are versions themed around Pixar movie Cars and Paw Patrol up for grabs.
Hasbro Trouble board game, £30.86, Amazon
They were launched in 1981 but Care Bears are still going strong today. Each bear has his own special message and mission, from Love a lot bear, who works hard to make sure others have a good time, to Wish Bear – who makes wishes come true.
Care Bear plush, £15.90, eBay
HELLO!'s selection is editorial and independently chosen – we only feature items our editors love and approve of. HELLO! may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. To find out more visit our FAQ page.