Christmas memories: Waldo the Rabbit remembers the Sears Wishbook

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When I was a kid growing up in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, the search for what I wanted for Christmas did not come from the internet–  it started with the Sears Wish Book.

When the annual Sears Wish Book arrived, you knew Christmas was right around the corner.  Anything you could imagine was found in those pages.  For me, it was the toys!

In those days, toys were inspiring, and inventive.  They challenged me physically and intellectually– they took me away to another time– or even into outer space.

Space exploration was huge when I was a kid.  Robots, rockets, and astronauts were hot items.  Spy stuff was cool too– like the James Bond action figures, or this camera that transformed into a gun.  Toy guns were very popular, and in 1966 Sears dedicated seven pages to toy guns, but 1969 the guns were all missing in action.  They weren’t there.

Some of my favorite toys, like Mattel’s Verti-bird, Billy Blast-off, Major Matt Mason, Evil Knievil, Big Jim, and the Six Million Dollar Man, did not last the test of time.  But some of the toys I grew up with are still being made for kids today, like Legos, the Magic 8 Ball, Silly Putty and the Big Wheel.

By far the most popular toy for girls was the Barbie doll.  Not only did she have accessories for her clothes, she had a boyfriend, Ken, plus cars, vans, and even an Olympic ski jump.  There were lots of dolls for girls.  Dolls that would talk, walk, wet their pants and grow hair. There was the Easy Bake oven that really cooked, kitchen sets and dinner ware, and of course doll houses.

I like looking at the things I got– and the things I didn’t get– like the talking GI Joe Astronaut and Space Capsule.  The price for both in 1970 would have been around $13. That was a lot of money back then.  In 2012, I bought them used for $200.  Long lost toys go up in value, not to mention the price of the catalogs themselves.  In good condition you can pay $75 -$100 for an old Sears Wish Book. They were free when I was a kid.

I love reminiscing through these old catalogs– evidence that times have changed.   Just remember, as long as you have your childhood memories and a good imagination, you’re never too old to enjoy toys.