Surprise Saturday is upon us again, time for something different. As vdubyajohn has discovered, I own a time machine, and I go back now and then to pick up a few castings (gotta be discreet). I’ve also picked up some Christmas catalogs - something those of a certain age will fondly remember. These are an interesting historical snapshot of what was on the market at a given time, and how it was marketed. Pricing is also interesting - seems steep, but these catalogs were generally just slightly more expensive than a normal local discount retailer.
First, JCPenney, Christmas 1982:
As one can see, HW and Matchbox had diverse offerings that year - cars, trucks, playsets. This was probably the zenith of Dukes of Hazzard products. There are also some other brands.
Here’s the 1982 spread from Montgomery Ward, a once-defunct and reorganized (now catalog-only, I think) retailer I vividly remember from my childhood. A diverse selection of brands:
Stompers were a big new thing that year:
These Ertl sets are interesting, I like the Smokey and the Bandit II themed one:
And of course, venerable Sears had a wide assortment in 1982. Everything from Stompers to Roadmates (some look like MBX and Tomica copies and maybe Zee or Playart?) and everything inbetween:
Speaking of Dukes of Hazzard, here are illustrations from various catalogs of the Dukes of Hazzard Big Wheels offered in the early 80s. I had one of these, and I loved it:
On to 1983. This is probably the first Christmas I clearly remember in terms of gifts received, and I remember we had a lot of snow that year.
Including this as I had the Air Jammer Bug Scrammer (pump powered, runs on compressed air) and the Knight Rider set shown below:
Montgomery Ward, 1984:
Including this as I had an RC Camaro like the one shown, and those 3-wheelers seem cool. Mass market catalogs like these didn’t have the cool fancy Japanese RC vehicles:
Back some years, to the Montgomery Ward 1976 Christmas selection. I was hoping to see the rare final run redlines, but this was it - some seemingly expensive MBX and others:
I have yet to see Tomica or Siku in any period Christmas catalogs.
And back a long time, FAO Schwarz, 1958. The cover looks like this (not my pic, from pinterest):
This catalog along with some older ones (with HW content) resides at my mom’s house, I took this pic some years ago. This is their 1958 Matchbox selection. The various varieties of the 8 car ‘Presentation Set’ are a Matchbox holy grail:
The vehicles aren’t the rarity, it is the special outer box. They look like this (from the Nick Jones Matchbox site):
Mint in mint box, these would bring $5000 or much more today, per set of 8 vehicles. As far as I know, a complete set of 6 sets of 8 vehicles does not exist today, and some sets are unknown.
I only have the one pic from the 1958 catalog, I will take more pics of this and some of the other catalogs when I visit my mother in a couple weeks, maybe for a Christmas installment next year.
That is all.