Monday, 5 December 2016

Nostalgic for my childhood - Christmas and catalogues

"Christmas is coming!"
Me, Christmas 1976 - Action Man helicopter, Batman, Six Million Dollar Man, Planet Of The Apes annual and a gun that shot darts with rubber tips!  Seriously, how much more excited could a 7-year-old kid look?
Well, it's still a little while away but you get my drift.  Growing up in the 70s and 80s, one of our pre-Christmas treats was going through the toy pages in various catalogues (the Kays one Mum always seemed to have, Argos, toy manufacturers) and deciding which items we wanted to add to our list.  When Dude was younger, my Mum used to get an Argos catalogue just so he and his little cousins could go through it with a marker pen to highlight what they wanted, thus continuing the tradition that me and my sister Tracy enjoyed.

So here's a nostalgic look back to catalogues of days past - did you want any of these?  I know I did...

Argos - Autumn 1976
I had the Six Million Dollar Man action figure (though not the repair station) and Ricochet Racers (which I loved, though it never shot as well in real life as it did on the advert)
Argos - Autumn 1977
Fairly slim pickings for my sister TJ, though she loved Sindy.
Argos - Autumn 1977
The 'Eagle Eye' Action Man from Palitoy was a must-have (and I was lucky enough to get one).  The equipment for him was very expensive though, but luckily the Cherilea Toys vehicles fitted him perfectly.  I had a Palitoy helicopter and the Cherilea motorbike-and-sidecar, both of which I loved and played with all the time.  Unfortunately, they - and my Action Men - have long since been lost to the sands of time...
Corgi - 1977
Top image - I was a big Batman fan and had the Batmobile, the Batcopter and really wanted the Batboat.  I was also a Bond fan and thought the Lotus was the coolest car ever (I think I still do...)
Bottom image - I still have the fire engine 1143 (and Dude loved it when I introduced him to it), though I don't think I've ever seen that design in real life
Matchbox 1978
I really liked this line, which was a tie-in with 2000AD comic at the time (another of my favourites), though I only ever had K-2002 (which reminded me of the Joe 90 car) and K-2003.  I still have them both (in 'played with' condition) but mint-in-box versions are going for silly prices nowadays.
Argos - Autumn 1978
Star Wars doesn't feature in the catalogue at all, even though Palitoy had started to produce the toys during 1978.  It's good to see the Six Million Dollar Man still flying high, along with Batman and Star Trek (which had last been made as TV series in the 60s), whilst Superman would be released in the UK in December.
Action Man (Palitoy) 1978
Taken from the 1978 Action Man "Official Equipment Manual", this shows the helicopter (which, as mentioned above, I had) plus the fantastic Turbocopter (which I also had).  You'd strap it onto Action Man's back (with thin lengths of elastic) and then, holding him, press the orange button on the left side (which you can see here) and that would make the rotor go around.  Fantastic fun - I wish I still had it...
Corgi - 1979
Top - I so wanted that set of "The Spy Who Loved Me" vehicles - over the years since I've picked up the helicopter and Jaws van to go with my Lotus but haven't been able to put my hands on the Cortina and boat.
Bottom - The Muppets were new in town!  I was lucky enough to have the Saint's Jaguar and Bodie's Capri (plus the figures!)
Palitoy 1979
Ah, Star Wars.  From this line-up, I got Han Solo, the Death Star Commander (both of whom still stand on my book shelf today) and Luke.  Since then, I've picked up the droids, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Princess Leia and a LOT of Stormtroopers...
Argos - Autumn 1979
Ah, the joy of board games.  Give or take a few exceptions (the Jaws game is still around, it just goes under a different title now), re-designs and upgrades, these aren't too dissimilar to what you'd find in an Argos catalogue today, 37 years later.
Argos - Autumn 1980
The girls section - TJ loved Sindy and had a Girls World but never really got into Barbie, as I recall.
Argos - Autumn 1980
"Wait, you mean there's a thing we can plug into the telly and we can play games on it?  Really?  How is that possible?
(slight pause as 11-year-old me absorbs the information).  Dad?  Dad!  Dad, can we get one?"
To my Mum & Dad's credit, we got the Binatone system (top left, on the right hand page) - I loved the 'tennis' and target practise games
Argos - Spring/Summer 1985
"Wait a minute, you can buy this thing called a Walkman and play your own tapes and listen as you walk around and do stuff?  Really?  Wow, the future is here."  I was 15 going on 16 when this was published, can you imagine how I'd have reacted to a modern mobile phone, which performs the task of items on several pages of the Argos book.
On the Walkman front, Back To The Future (which came out at the end of the year) made them seem even cooler... 
Argos - Autumn 1985
By now I was sixteen, so I'd moved on from checking out the toys in the Christmas catalogues.  But I've included this because for my birthday in 1985 I got the Kodak Disc camera (item 1) here and the pouch (item 5) to protect it.  As an upgrade from my old camera (which used 127 film!), I thought it was terrific - though the images, it turned out, were much grainier.  But the freedom the camera gave me was amazing and I began taking A LOT of photographs...
Argos - Autumn 1986
Now 17, I'd  started work (at Hunters Foods) so I suddenly had my own funds to buy the things I wanted - and one of those was a Swatch watch.  To me, at the time, Swatch was one of the coolest brands around and I was the proud owner of item 12 (which, at £24, was pretty expensive back then).  But just look at this page and those colours, it couldn't be anything other than the mid-80s, could it?  Glorious! 


Thanks to Retrosmash for the Argos scans.  Action Man and Corgi catalogue scans from my own collection.

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