Cataloging Nostalgia in Wishbooks

The holiday seasons is coming up and while I was typing up both of my G.I. JOE-centric posts (Deep Six w/ Killer Whale – Auction Miss! & Big Lob Makes His Move! Yo Joe!) it got me thinking about what has to now be considered a semi-unique experience that kids my age had that probably isn’t as prevalent today, at least in the exact form. I know you can surf the web and find anything on a whim and a click, enlarge, magnify, and even throw it in a gallery or flickr and claim it as your own, but when I think about my childhood and Christmas, catalogs played a big part in the build up. In particular, the Sears Christmas Wish Book.

The “experience” may have been even more weighted for me because much of my childhood was spent overseas, so flipping through pages of catalogs really was a young boy’s – in many cases exclusive – look at any American toys, much less new toys. I’m guessing now that the ceiling on the average age that toys remain an enthusiasm has gone down with the coming of video games (sweet, I remember when – the week – that Nintendo changed the world!). When I was a kid toys weren’t an enthusiasm or even a passion, it was an obsession.I remember being lucky enough in having really awesome parents, and being able to bank on getting at least one of the gems in these pages I thumbed through memorized as if they were dogma. I remember working my way up to the G.I. Joe pages, savoring them, and never being disappointed after (sounds a bit like the effect of some other publications when you become a little more older) even the 100th examination. I imagined how different choices would fit in my collection, which ones were more or less likely to be my parent’s choices, how either Hawk or Cobra Commander would integrate the new recruits or vehicles in their arsenals. Sometimes you get pleasantly surprised. One of my greatest Christmas memories was being floored when getting the Cobra Hyrdofoil.



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