BE KIND REWIND - 1983 Sears Wishbook
There is a reason why Kirsten Dunst is smiling! No, it's not because her doll house is taller than she is. She is thrilled because another Be Kind Rewind is here, and is yet another Christmas Catalog, because it's the gift that keeps on giving. This time we take a look at the wishfull wares that graced the pages of the 1983 Sears Wishbook Catalog. So let's jump right in...
In 1983 home video game systems were coming into their own and more and more companies were stepping into the "game" with varied strategies for gaining a foothold in this lucrative new industry. Some systems focused on computing while others focused on gaming. One such unit with an interesting approach is the Vectrix. Unlike most other systems of the time the Vectrex was a self-contained system. It's claim was that since the games were designed specifically for the embedded display the graphics rivaled those experienced in the arcade. The screen is a 9" diagonal that was probably black and white. Swappable cartridges came with specifically designed screen overlays that recall arcade styling and added a tint of color to the graphics. The detachable control panel houses joystick and action buttons. The unit comes with the Mine Storm game preloaded. I was surprised to see this unit offered Berserk, as it was one of my favorite games on the Atari 2600. Collectable today, the Vectrex unit was originally $199.99 it is cut to $99.99 in this catalog.
These Mini Arcade style machines by Coleco offered hugely popular titles like Donkey Kong, Pac Man, Mrs. Pac Man, and Q-bert. These cost about $45.00 dollars each with the exception of the Q-bert machine which was $56.99.
This curious celebrirty endorsement capatailzed on the populartity of WKRP after the once popular show had already ended. The "Big Guy" was the nickname of the character played by Gordon Jump. Oddly enough, this is the same year Gordon Jump guest starred as the "bicycle man" in a very special episode of Diff'rent Stokes. In that controversial episode he portrays a bicycle shop owner and pedophile. In the Big Guy Game, you can be a sports announcer, comedian, and talk show host. During someone else's turm you become the audience.
One of the coolest toys of the Eighties is this huge (roughly 1/18th scale) GI Joe fighter jet. It was based on the timelessly cool F-14 Tomcat fighter jet design. In the real thing, the computer controlled wing sweep varies from 20 to 68 degrees to constantly maintain optimal lift to drag ratios. The toy emulated this feature with movable wings. Today, it is a collector piece in it's own right, but some subgenre collectors utilize available sticker sheets to make the jets look like Transformers jets. You can get these stickers at toyhax.com for $35 a set. At nearly 2 feet long, this sustantial toy only cost $17.99.
These once perennial favorites have all but disappeared, even around Christmas time. It's fair to say that those who enjoyed them and traditionally set them out for loved ones to enjoy are "no longer with us". To be fair, most of these candies, while lovely to look at, were not very appetizing. Many were filled with some "curious" fillings. Others were so called "ribbon" candies. When placed in a bowl they had the tendency to stick together and become one singular unit. So while it warms my heart and recalls memories of Christmas past to see these once again, I'm glad I don't have to eat one.
This is something else I distinctly remember from Christmastime while growing up. These Christmas lights had clear plastic reflectors on the end that were meant to enhance the twinkle. We had these on our Christmas Tree and much like tinsel, you would find these pieces of plastic around the house well into next year. They were a particular nuisance if the way you find it is to step on one barefoot. As always seemed to be the way.
This electric fireplace forgoes the traditional box mantle in favor a modern, if non Santa-friendly, design. This freestanding conical decorative fireplace's "chimney" adjusts to fit 7 to 10 foot ceilings and comes in Red or Brown. The unit cost $229.98 while the heater log provides a fire effect and working heater for an extra $69.99.
Browsing through these old catalogs, one is bound to see something one remembers fondly from his or her own life. Such is the case with these Crane figurines. My Grandmother had these proudly displayed in her house in Clearwater, Florida.
Destined for the man cave before the phrase was coined, these novelty clocks cost $39.99. Sadly, within this collection there is no "Miller Time" offering.
Nestled among these kitchen gadgets is a curious curio, a phone compartment for your modern phone designed to look like a old time phone. This was an interesting idea, a great gift for someone who likes antiques and has everything. This "phony" antique only cost $14.99.
Looking more like a child's toy, this phone's keypad might have been visible from space. Each big bold button is 1-3/4 inches wide. Placed in a modern setting it's eye friendly digits could serve double duty as a pop or novelty design. This phone cost a whopping $174.99.
Before cell phones, the world had to make do when cords were cut on our land line phones. This model goes a step further by pushing the limits of how compact these phones could be for the time. At $199.99, the technology was not cheap. It featured a built in intercom, paging, and a 700ft operating range.
"Nothing so smart was ever so simple" This early home computer from Timex/Sinclair featured a now laughable 48k memory and could be connected to your television. You could use it to track your familie's budget and for tax preparation. The unit taught basic computer programming language and delivers "endless fun" with mind boggling color games. Timex says it was designed as a computer first rather than a video game console. It claims to be "all the computing power you may ever need for only $179.99" It utilizes 8 vivid colors and 4 simultaneous sounds. There are expansion capabilities via cassette and cartridge programs like pinball, flight simulator, and also spreadsheet and budgeting software. Timex's foray into personal computers was short lived and they exited the market in February 1984.
This Sharp PC-1270 was, for a time, a common form of early computer. It's brain was a detachable "computer" that looked and performed more like a calculator. The pocket computer could be mounted on a student computer kit which was like a base station. It featured 2k memory, full range of math functions, printer, and microcassette unit. The book sized computer work station facilitated data storage on microcassettes. There were available plug in software modules in General Statistics, Electrical Engineering, and Business Finance. Together, the pocket computer and expansion kit cost $229.99.
This Television utilized a unique approach to projection imaging, rather than a ceiling mounted projector, the unit was housed in it's own cabinet that could be closed when not in use. It's 50 inch diagonal screen turns your living room into a movie theatre. The screen is washable.
In a sea of wood cladded cabinet TVs this model comes off as decidedly clean and modern. However at $660.00 you would expect actual stereo sound not "simulated".
This Pac-Man AM radio by Tiger required a power pill (battery) to play music or talk radio with or without headphones. It looks as though the speaker is located inside his mouth that opens and closes. In case you are wondering what number 4 is, it is suposed to be a Jumping Bean.
For less then nine dollars you could have an Am Radio hidden in plain sight.
BMX began in the 1970s and became known as a style of bike used for dirt racing. It had a smaller frame that could be manipulated by the rider in tricks or for better control over hills. They were easily customized for better handling and performance and it wasn't long before this style of bike overtook the banana seat style and classic road racing bike (generally called Ten Speeds in my neighborhood) as the most popular style of bikes for young boys. This style too, would later would be overcome by mountain bikes, which were like a combination of BMX and road racers. Note the helmets, gloves, and custom wheels that were available. The brand Free Spirit was a Sears exclusive brand. The bikes were actually made by Huffy or Murray depending on the model.
Made for 20 inch tires, these cool colored 4 spoke custom wheels would have been a great way to customize your BMX bike. Each wheel cost around $30 or less and the tires were $8.
Looking awkward, apparently was part of growing up in the Eighties as this photo proves. Of course, how could one not look awkward going through puberty wearing tucked in tee-shirts, short shorts, and striped knee high socks. Metal swing sets like these were becoming more and more popular then and I can remember spending hours swinging as high as I can testing the limits of it's engineering. This rather basic set cost around $130.
Behold Rub a Dub Doggie, he shakes his head and ears after his bath and comes with a foam bone.
This is another toy I remember having . Like Rub a Dub Doggie this is another bath toy. Hasbro called it Squirt, Squirt, Squirt, the Animals. Use your squirting Dolphin to hit the targets and the animals move around in fun ways.
A cuddly little grub. The huggable Glow Worm glimmers with happiness every time your child lovingly squeezes his tummy. A back zipper housed the child proof battery pack. Made by Hasbro.
Playmobil was an extensive collection of imagination encouringing toys. Although not a construction toy like Lego the toys required assembly. There were various sets, many of which are historical in nature. Here we see a modern collection: a race car, speed boat with car and trailer, and bi-wing airplane. Playmobil is still going strong today with a formula that is relatively unchanged. Note: the spoiler appears to be placed backwards on the race car.
This 6-volt Volkswagen Rabbit Cabriolet cost only $75.00 and went about 2-1/2 mph. It features a battery operated horn and opening hood. The Cabriolet was a TV star car, while not as well known as Knight Rider, the A-Team Van or the General Lee, the plucky little convertible appeared weekly on the popular show Remington Steele although Laura Holt drove a white example on the show.
From left to right these Big wheels cost 17, 20, and then up to 30 dollars for the E.T. version. Big Wheels were manufactured by Marx and Empire and the original Big Wheel website is still in business selling these things to this day and they are made in the USA!
Educational, computerized, pioneer and Pop icon for the 80s, these Texas Instruments toys were wildly popular. They existed from 1978 to 1992 and cost 40 bucks. This year, the Wishbook catalog offered an E.T. movie module that includes an activity book, poster and iron on tee shirt decal.
Considering the size of a Barbie doll, this Barbie Cruise ship must have been huge.
Ranging in price from $39.99 to $64.99 these dolls were not meant to be played with. You had Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, Groucho Marx, Florence Nightingale, Betsy Ross, Mark Twain, Marilyn Monroe and Huckleberry Finn to choose from.
This Rock Tumbler lets you make beautiful jewelry or transform ordinary rocks into gem like stones. This old favorite cost 20 bucks, refill kit is $7.99.
Stompers were simple but charmingly entertaining motorized vehicles. While most were meant to off road, these Semis with trailers could really haul. The Semis cost $14 while the truck with motorcycle was $7. I still remember the synthetically sweet smell of the squishy foam rubber tires.
This red Sears branded Camaro was my first RC car.
For less then twenty dollars Eighties girls could be anything they wanted to be as long as it was pretty.
Much as we are obsessed with the Eighties now, we were similarly obsessed with the 50's in the 80's. From movies like Dirty Dancing, sometimes nostalgic musical acts like Billy Joel, to commercials like Hi-C soft drinks that featured a fifties inspired jingles. High schools even commonly hosted sock hops in the 80's. There was a fad explosion of 50's styled diners and Fifties cars like the 57 Chevy Bel Air and Ford Thunderbird was a design element seen everywhere from clocks and coffee cups to tee shirts and toys.
Sleeping bags for kids emblazoned with product placement were a common item in the Eighties. Sleepover style!
The makers of Care Bears were smartly able to market and sell both plush animals and plastic figures of their characters complete with playsets and vehicles.
This is another example of a fad gift from the Eighties. I don't know if it started with Garfield but he's was certainly one of the first and most popular character slippers. Then there were several.
Shipped direct from the Forests of Endor, these cuddly Ewoks from 1983's Star Wars Return of the Jedi could be yours.
E.T was a hugely popular movie so there was bound to be some licensed products associated with the film. This clock was styled like the bathrobe-clad lovable alien and featured a glowing heart and finger.
Is it me or does the guy on the right looks really pissed, like the chick with the Dorothy Hamill haircut is his wife and he's just interrupted something.
Here are four watches featuring arcade games that you can actually play! There is also an modern, asymmetrical designed, early voice recording watch from Seiko.
Leg warmers are another iconic yet ridiculous symbol of the Eighties.
This stereo record player was aimed at kids or teenagers and was covered in a simulated blue denim.
This collection of generic Hot Wheels styled cars featured quite an eclectic mix of old and (then) new cars. The ones that stand out are the malaise era Ford Thunderbird, the DeLorean, and the 57 Chevy. I'm not even sure what the yellow one is with the open door in the back left is supposed to be.
One of the definitive examples of lucrative licensing, a room full of Star Wars was available.
This Star Wars themed game appears to have a 3-D game board that allowed you to relive the exciting "Battle at Sarlacc Pit" scene.
A handy guide for spotting eighties mom butts.
This creepy clown's eyes never blink as they watch you sleep. The horror film Poltergeist which included a scene where a clown doll attacks a child came out just a year before. Sweet Dreams.
Huddles were a hugely popular line of licensed NFL clothing featuring kid friendly mascot designs. I'm not a football fan but seeing these definitely brings back the warm fuzzies because they were so common for a time and are designed with a certain charm and innocence. They could only exist in the Eighties.
So there you have it, another look back in time to the year 1983 through the pages of a dusty old Sears Wishbook Catalog.