Be Kind Rewind: 1989 Sears Wishbook
For this "Be Kind Rewind", We going to try to be as kind as we can while taking a look back at a relic from the past. Here is a 1989 Sears Wishbook. For children of the 80's this was the ultimate resource for tots deciding what Santa will bring them on Christmas morn. The catalog business and the Sears Wishbook are gone (since 1992), so now these old catalogs serve, as collectibles and time capsules. Lets see whats inside! But first, check out the cover, is that Cybill Shepherd?
Around the holidays, its nice to think about the old traditions. Fruit cakes are things passive aggressive people used to give to others they generally disliked. Sears offers them in three varieties; Masterpiece, which has more fruit and nuts; Butter Batter, which has more cake batter, and Grandma's, which has rum, bourbon, and brandy in it. Because grandma liked her liquor! They were available in 2 or 3 pound sizes.
For lovers of spiced meats, this 1989 Sears catalog offers a surprisingly extensive array of gift-able cheeses, mustards, and beef sticks. Ranging from a miserly $12.50 collection to the $50.00 family sampler that contains three kinds of meat sausages a variety of cheeses, candies, cakes, tea, and a nonalcoholic champagne, sorry Grandma.
The 1989 Sears catalog offers fresh cut Christmas trees to be delivered right to your door. Can you imagine the Griswalds doing this?
The California Raisins were still quite popular in 1989 as evidenced by this "hysterical" novelty sweatshirt. They first danced and sang their way into Americas hearts in 1986 in a commercial from the California Raisin Board featuring the hit Marvin Gaye song " I heard it through the Grapevine." This success in marketing was followed by two other commercials, one featuring Ray Charles and another with a "raisinized" and a "claymationized" Micheal Jackson. In it Micheal Jackson provides his spoken voice, but does not sing due to contract stipulations. He received $25,000 to appear in the commercial which he donated to charity. In 1987 they were part of the Claymation Christmas Celebration special followed by two of their own Television Specials. The California Raisins actually released four studio albums and had their own video game.
It's surprising enough that they Kenner made a line of children's toys based on the ultraviolet R-rated RoboCop films, but here we see this mechanized antihero on a shirt intended for toddlers, no kidding.
Barbie has owned a lot of cars over the years. Her first car was actually not a Corvette but a 1962 Austin Healey convertible in pink, of course. Since then she has probably owned hundreds of corvettes, pink of course. Both of those cars however are purely two seaters and not very practical if you want four people to go to the beach or the mall. Here we see Barbie in a car that allows three friends to tag along. A classic 57' Chevy Bel Air with a pink interior, of course. The 57 Chevy was a popular car in the eighties, almost an icon for the popular nostalgia of the fifties and used often in toys and in other imagery. Ken seems to think it's his car.
Its totally cool Jazzie!, Barbie's teen cousin. She is the coolest teenager yet and she has lots of friends. They wear the latest teenage fashions and hang out in the hottest spots like... Burger King? The crazy teenager in the Volkswagen must have misunderstood the concept of a drive-thru as she appears to have driven into the dining area of the restaurant. The male doll does not have a name unless his name is "high school dude" and the Burger King does not come with any employees so they best to get steppin' with a hairnet and fry up some fries or flame broil those Whoppers if they want to eat today. In this world Burger King needs to change their slogan from "have it your way" to "make it your damn self."
The 1989 Sears Wishbook Catalog offered a wide variety of licensed Disney plush companions. Can you name them all? Here is a hint: there are eight Disney films represented by this plush assembly.
This is a Baloo plush from the jungle book movie. I actually bought this character on Ebay for my son. Below is a photo of my son ignoring Baloo. Perhaps he will enjoy him more as he gets older.
Of all of the Disney plushes this dismal interpretation of Robin Hood is the worst. It looks like the trim athletic fox from the movie now has type II diabetes.
Pee Wee Herman's talking chair named Chairy was a available as a child's sized chair that a kid could actually sit in. I would pay extra if Chairy would provide me with the word of the day, and embrace my midsection with her "arms" and giggle whenever I took a seat.
Uh oh! someone left the barn door open! I was surprised to see this Fisher Price Farm playset in a 1989 catalog because I remember playing with this set and this being one of the first toys I ever had. Turns out this playset had a long run with no changes and first came out in 1968.
Take a trip to Disney World any time you choose with this Disney Town Square replica. It even comes with a spray bottle so you can simulate Orlando's smothering humidity. The set was first offered in the 1988 catalog where the base set was 40 dollars. Here they seem to be pushing the leftovers as the price is half that of the original and quantities are limited. For additional dough you could add Disney figures, interior furniture, a trolley and a light kit! Gone are the working train and lighted Christmas tree options that were available in the previous years catalog. The clear weak point of this set is the lame two dimensional cardboard cutout representing Cinderella's castle.
Behold the Lego Metro Park and Service Tower included 5 mini figures cost $52.92 sponsored by Shell. A rare oil company, toy company collaboration.
This radio control motorcycle was made by JRL, a company I had not heard of before. I found no information when researching this toy. It looks cool, and like it may have been a fun at the relatively steep cost of $55.10.
One of the more unexpected titles among this collection of predominantly super hero based comic books was the Alf comic. Alf of course is the character based on the sitcom that ran from 1986 to 1990. Included perhaps for comic relief, it was part of a Marvel Value Pack that contained titles from Alf, Indiana Jones, GI Joe, X-Men and Spiderman, among others.
This is the Jaws video game for the Nintendo Entertainment System, it appears to have been influenced by the most recent and least liked of all the Jaws movies, 197's Jaws 4 the Revenge. The game features a sailboat, small airplane, and a tiny little submarine, which were all elements of that movie. The lame ending for the game is stolen from the lame ending from the movie. Even as a huge Jaws fan, I cannot imagine paying forty bucks for this steamer.
Introducing the Gameboy! Nintendo action in the palm of your hand! The first handheld game system that allowed you to swap out game cartridges. You could own one of these for $89.47, games were about twenty bucks. This hugely popular system came with simplistic classic Tetris, annnnd now the song is stuck in my head! I owned one of these but I think Tetris was the only cartridge I had.
The Power Wheels company began in 1984. These Corvettes were large toy cars that kids could drive around in. They featured realistic styling, (kinda) opening doors and hood. Power Wheels is now owned by Fisher Price and Mattel. In keeping with tradition, and America's love of the Corvette, they have just released a new Power Wheels based on the newly redesigned 2014 Corvette.
One of the more expensive toys in this catalog were these go carts built by Action Products Inc. These were gas powered and capable of 18 miles per hour you could get a classic 57 Chevy body or a futuristic concept Corvette body both were $900.00!
As seen in the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story" the worlds most famous BB gun has returned to shoot out a whole new generation of eyes. The Gun comes with a 1939 Red Ryder comic book.
Here are some sleeping bags featuring timeless and beloved characters like Luigi and Steve Gutenberg.
Here are two "laptop computers that cost over one thousand dollars, boast weighing only 8 pounds, and are beige. By today's standard the memory in either of these early laptops are just minute fractions of just gigabyte. Compare that to the hundreds of gigs you commonly find your modern smartphone.
This versatile stereo system supports three different recorded music formats Records, CDs, and Cassettes.
I was surprised to see that even in 1989 most of the television sets were in a wood furniture style housing, like this one. Incidentally, this television was made by Zenith, a company synonymous with television sets in the 80's. The company actually still exists and is owned by LG, but no longer makes televisions wearing the famous lighting bolt logo.
Electronic organizers became popular in the late eighties with professionals, techie nerds, and those who had everything. It would still be several years before the cell phone, and eventually the smartphone would come along and make them obsolete.
A cassette player for your bike allows you to combine your love of bike riding with your love of listening to music on cassette tapes! I hope it is waterproof.
I owned this watch, or one very similar, it allowed you to customize the color of the band and the trim ring. It was like getting 25 watches for the price of one!
Novelty character watches featuring Snoopy, Mrs. Piggy, Kermit, Pee Wee Herman, and Crayola. Besides having adorable characters on them many of these watches featured clever ways that the watch display was revealed at the touch of a button or lift of a flap.
The eighties may have been a more commercialized decade then any that has yet to follow, embodied here in these licensed watches emblazoned with characters and company logos.
Here we have a mix of generic and licensed game watches . Major League Baseball and Pac-Man join "Soccer" and an unnamed racing game. They are each under twenty bucks.
Two of Nintendo's blockbusters, The legend of Zelda was introduced in 1986 while the original "Mario Brothers" was released in 1983. These devices are attractive to game and watch collectors alike and are sought after today.
There was only a 4 dollar difference between the pedestrian black Casio DBC-610 DataBank watch and the fancier $47.95 metallic version. Both could memorize 50 phone numbers. The odd Databank with a traditional analog watch face could hold 20 phone numbers on the tiny display below, it cost $39.96. Entering those numbers must have been a chore. And finally a basic $19.96 calculator watch rounded out this group of "so geeky they're cool" Casio watches.
The Epilady is a revolutionary new way to remove hair from the root! According to the text in the catalog, The rotating coil gently grasps hairs and removes it from below the skins surface! Although not mentioned by name this device was spoofed hilariously by the brilliant television show "Cheers" in 1990. In the episode Rebecca Howe complains about how the depilatory device, the "Lady Baldy", ripped up her legs. She convinced a local consumer advocate television program to let her speak out about the product. Along with a written letter, she took a piece of stationary and smacked it against her bloody, mangled legs and sent that to the show's producers as proof of her claims. Woody, while prepping her for her appearance grills her, "you knew the device removed hair from the roots, so you would have to be a complete idiot not to expect some discomfort or irritation." When she actually appears on the show "Consumer Patrol" they uncover and reveal that the company that makes the Lady Baldy happens to be owned by a company that is owned by Rebecca's love interest Robin Colcord. Upon hearing this, she changes her tune instantly and says the product is great! She even demonstrates the Lady Baldy on the air and her voice cracks and she fights back tears of pain as the device chews on her legs.
This is something people just don't seem to need anymore, but there was a time when people could add-on a spa mechanism to their ill equipped bathtubs. I'm just not sure how relaxed I would be with an electrical device so close to the tub. I've seen Groundhog Day.
The 1989 Sears Wishbook features the latest styling trends, like these European style mom jeans that featured 6 pockets. The jeans were tailored with an extremely high waist allowing the wearist to place a lovely brown leather belt just below her breasts.
Besides poaching eggs this device from Conair presses neat designs into your hair. This looks like something the Lubbuck babes would have owned and used before a hot date.
No this woman wasn't dared by malevolent peers to inch her face ever close to an oscillating fan. Its the Windmere Curly Top! This device solves the problem of what do you do if you want to dry your hair, but the said hair is curly and you want it to stay that way. It works great on mullets too. (see inset)
These were a thing for a while. Trouble is, despite what they could do for moms hair, they looked and acted just like bendy toys and most likely ended up in the bottom of a Timmy's toy bin if they were ever recovered again. Incidentally, why does the gal in the top photo look like shes awaiting the results of her home pregnancy test?
Its the age old first world question. What do you give the man who has everything? Something utterly ridiculous having to do with ties of course. What, he already has a motorized tie rack? A novelty light up tie for the company Christmas party? Ok, how about a mini retractable screen disguised as a tie clip that can be pulled down for eating like a pig without his tie experiencing consequences. His shirts is on it's own. Why do I feel like Patrick Bateman the killer from American Psycho would have had one of these. In fact it might have given him the idea for the blood splatter plastic suits he wore.
This boy is suffering from a particularly bad haircut called "lightbulbhead". I recognize it well because, I too was given this haircut throughout most of my adolescence causing a plethora of social and emotional problems I'm still dealing with today. The good news is he just needs a little "product".
Amy Grant made an appearance in the 1989 Sears Wishbook Catalog to model for her line of young christian miss clothing.
Whitney Houston, not to be outdone by Miss Grant shows off pieces from her clothing line "Everywoman".
The Girls clothing section seemed to have some sort of endorsement with ABC. That networks' Full House was in its second season and extremely popular. To capitalize on this, the catalog featured several of the young stars of the show. here Jodi Sweetin who plays Stephanie Tanner models some cold weather outerwear.
Andrea Barber who portrayed the smelly Kimmie Gibler models a lovely pink sweater vest.
Even Michelle Tanner is here to model a lovely pink onesie with a duckling on the front. I cannot tell if this is Mary Kate or Ashley Olsen though, sorry.
This woman cant remember if shes modeling a blouse or headache medicine.
The soap star workout allowed you, through the magic of home video to work out with some of the hottest soap stars and Mr. Sheffield. The video cassette begins with the host introducing the titular "Soap Stars". They are: Jackie Zeman from ABC's "General Hospital", Holly Gagnier from "One Life to Live" and Charles Shaughnessy from NBC's "Days of Our Lives". The stars awkwardly turn and look at the screen to enthusiastically welcome us to work out with them as they appear on a monitor over the left shoulder of the host. Then in a silly, fake moment of contrived spontaneity Jackie Zeman pops back on the screen and excitedly reports that Ken Shriner of "General Hospital" is here and will join in. He pops up on the screen and explains that he has never done aerobics before but is excited to try it. The women, being soap stars in the eighties look right at home in the aerobics class environment. The men however look really clumsy and silly.
Angela Lansbury's positive moves is a workout video for older people who want to stay looking and feeling young. It is not focused so much on an exhausting aerobic workout but instead a guide for golden girls to stay in tune with their bodies. In fact this video forces you to think about Angela Lansbury's body more that you ever thought you would. We see her rubbing lotion on herself, taking a bath, stretching on the floor, there is even an alleged masturbation scene. If you want some good old fashioned scatological fun try not to laugh as you or a friend makes "fart" noises especially as she is stretching and twisting on the floor. Go on, there is a video below, I dare you.
Larry "Bud" Melman was a lovable, quirky character seen on the late show with David Letterman. He became quite popular for a time and was portrayed by Calvert DeForest. Here you see a rare vehicle featuring the character on his own. Not sure if this is a real workout or meant for comic entertainment. Check out some excerpts and judge for yourself.
Well, there you have it, a look through the pages of the 1989 Sears Wishbook catalog. Check back for more Be Kind Rewinds and we will go back in time looking at old catalogs, old movie reviews and more! This site will also be the home to stories about pop culture, technology, and automotive stuff!