Top 10 Reasons Mechanical Toys Are Better Than Video Games

Toys are really 3D: not like that bogus one which comes with new computer screens

Mechanical Fish Toy
Maybe the little fish would prefer video games
Photo by Manuel Faisco

10. Mechanical Toys Are Stylish

While you can't touch and see a video game anywhere except on the screen, the toys have very real appearance. And with the retro ones it's usually very stylish. In the era of cheap-everything-plastic old fashioned mechanical toys look like a product of art. Well, at least most of them.


9. They Encourage Activity

While playing with toys isn't like playing basketball, it's usually more active than playing a video game. People and especially kids move all over the room, go on the ground, follow the toy, walk with it... Buying a retro toy often means you need to get out and go to the shop. If you want to exchange it with someone you can't just send it over Skype too, you need to meet in person.

Playing some toys like the cam toys and crank toys really require you keep motion, sometimes until you sweat :)

8. Retro Toys Are Non-addictive

Well, that's not entirely true because a lot of fans are addicted to mechanical toys. But that's not the same sick (sorry, true) addiction that many gamers have to video games. You will not see someone, even a kid or teen to play with retro toys for 48 hours forgetting to sleep, drink and eat. Playing with toys usually isn't even an obstacle to the study unlike playing games on the PC.

This is so most probably because the toys aren't as obsessive over your time and don't force you to be there exactly at any given moment. Even if you play with someone else (the alternative to network games), you can always exit the game for few minutes.

7. You Can See What's Inside

No kidding, this is a good reason for curios fans. I wish I could see all the logic controlling the video games but only a good hacker can do it to some extent. While if you want to see how your mechanical toy functions, you can do it by dismounting it.

Of course I give no guarantees that you will be able to assemble it successfully after that :)

6. Retro Toys Are Eco-friendlier

Many retro toys are made of wood or other natural materials. But video games are made of bytes so they don't even use any physical resources, no? It's true, but only to some extent. In fact video games win even better at production and distribution time because they can be downloaded with almost no ecological expenses.

But what happens when you start playing them? Powerful computers and big monitors consume energy for every minute you play! Now compare that to winding up your tin robot: you can do it as much as you wish without using any electrical power.

5. Mechanical Toys Are Affordable

Most of them cost $5 - $20. Even these great wind-up toys stay within this range. Video games easily exceed $40 - $50, unless you chose to pirate them. Of course there are expensive mechanical toys like this tin dragon but well, it's unique and exceptional.

Besides that retro toys don't tease you all the time to buy the new version!

4. You Can Make Them Yourself

This is my favorite reason. Making toys yourself is great, amazing and rewarding activity. There are many simple mechanical toys that are not hard to make and can be done from stuff on hands. It's not something that you need to study for years like programming video games is. And unless you are really geeky, programming is much less fun.

Here are some good ideas how to start designing automata and mechanical toys.

3. They Are Educational

Education is in their nature. Just the fact that they are moving so nicely driven by simple cams and gears can fire every young person's imagination and curiosity. And the distance from curiosity to knowledge and education is very small.

Kids who play with mechanical toys easily develop interest into plysics, mechanics and even math.

2. Retro Toys Attract Parents and Kids Play Together

Very few parents will play video games together with their kids. And even when this happens, you usually have to play one agains the another. Shooting each other to death isn't the best way to establish friendship with your children :)

On the other hand, playing together with old fashioned automata can be a lot more cooperative. You can discuss the toys and the way they work, you can choose new toys together, or you can just enjoy the game. Priceless.

1. Mechanical Toys Can Be a Great Gift

Being stylish and cute, old fashioned toys make great gifts for kids and adults. They are real and one can feel them. It's not like saying "I bought you the latest version of that shooter you wanted, the download link is in your email". You can physically pack and give this toy to your kid or your friend.

When given to kids mechanical toys are usually valued high and kept for long time. Do you see your kids playing video games that you bought them 3 years ago? That's a rhetorical question.

When given to adults, a retro toy will stand out from the cosmetics-household-nonsense he or she will receive from most others. If you doubt that, buy a tin mechanical airplane for the next birthday of your friend or collegue and watch who will be the star at the party.

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