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Official Article

All I Want for Christmas…

By: MissM

… is Mattel! Christmas catalogs have always been exciting. The Sears catalog. Service Merchandise. Best. Toysrus. There was nothing more exciting than a splashy catalog full of all kinds of items to fuel my imagination. At times it felt like just being able to look at the catalog was more than enough, and in many ways it had to be. I had an all encompassing collecting mindset as a kid, and that did not translate well when I was younger because I had no job (who was gonna hire a five year old? This wasn’t the early 1900’s) and though my parents like to think my brother and I were spoiled, they really did a great job raising us into sane and (mostly) rational human beings. There’s only so much rationality one can have when they have more She-Ra action dolls than friends.

 

Anyways, my grandmother has lived down the street from my parents since I was born and around Christmas time she would get the haul of our lives with catalogs. She’d always place them in a special cabinet in the living room and when my brother and I would visit we’d just peruse the catalogs and sit there in shock and awe over all the items. It was magical. Worlds of wonderment were right at our fingertips.

 

Since I have such an affinity for collecting just about anything, I have managed to come across, and in some cases, purchase special catalogs. I always tell folks, “People will buy anything, even old catalogs. I am living proof.” With that said, there are practical purposes to purchasing catalogs. They sometimes contain information on certain items that one may have forgotten about or help give someone a reason to add yet another awesome item to their collection.

 

All I Want for Christmas is… Mattel is a little mini catalog that came out in 1983. I came across it on eBay for a few dollars and I had no other choice but to pick it up. The seller only had a few images of the pages inside, and needless to say, I was intrigued! So let’s crack this catalog open and get our 1983 wish lists together!

 

The first page is for the girls. Some items I think are the bee’s knees are the Dream Vette and the Malibu house. When I was little I thought that going on a date would mean dressing up in a fancy gown and riding around in a pink corvette. It just seemed like a very normal and casual experience! Who wouldn’t want to drive around in the Dream Vette?

 

The next page features more Barbie products and some really cool play sets. I love the Dream House. The Barbie houses that came out in the late 70’s and early 80’s were some of my favorite styles. I never had them but my friend did and I remember just being astounded at the size of the house. One must also love the McDonald's play set too. I loved the cross promotional product placement. The 80’s was simply a magical time.

 

Poochie! This is one of my favorite pages in the entire catalog. I lived for Poochie. Growing up we weren’t animal people. I had a puppy for six days but we had to find a new home for her because she got sick with diarrhea and it was just awful. A crime scene could not even begin to explain what those six days were like. So for me, Poochie became the perfect dog. She had pink ears and I was able to hold onto those Poochie items for more than six days.

 

I forgot how popular Garfield once was. For awhile Garfield was all over the place for much of the 80’s and 90’s. I know he got revitalized thanks to the movies, but I remember there being so much Garfield goodness everywhere. These toys are very interesting as are the Herself the Elf dolls. They have a resemblance to Strawberry Shortcake and Rose Petal Place. I like the play sets too.

 

Up next are the toys for the younger set. See ‘N Says were amazing. I spent many days playing with those things. The Smurf toys are fantastic too, and it is nice to see that not much has changed with Smurf toys. Everyone loves little mini Smurf figures and their mushroom homes. I also get such a kick out of the mash up of Loony Tunes, Disney, and the Smurfs with those Chapter Chums.

 

Other younger items from Mattel feature toys for the crib, blocks, a train set, and some Tuff Stuff. I don’t have much to say about these items, except that I did have a Tuff Stuff shopping cart. I loved that thing. Oh my goodness, can I just say, I would put everything in it and just pretend I was shopping. Honestly, I’m not all about shopping and consumerism, but goodness it is a lot of fun isn’t it?

 

Baby dolls are next. For all my love for Barbie dolls and other kinds of dolls, I never really got the point of baby dolls. As a kid I was always like, “I’m too young to play with a baby doll.” I thought it was something I would grow into, but I just never did.

 

Here we have an exciting page! Masters of the Universe! What else can I say? For all my love towards many toy lines, for me, when I think of the 80’s the first thing that always comes to my mind are the He-Man and She-Ra toy lines. Nothing can beat it, but there are many things that come close.

 

We’re getting close to the end of the catalog. While the catalog opened with one of Mattel’s heavy hitters (Barbie) the other Mattel heavy hitter (Hot Wheels) closes it out. I’m not a big Hot Wheels fan, I do have some cars (like when they make a Wonder Woman car or something) but for the most part I have always been an observer of Hot Wheels. What I can observe about this page is just how far Hot Wheels have come. The play sets had a natural simplicity to them.

 

The last page features some cars with cool trick features. I like the coloring for these two pages. The previous side is all the blues and this page has browns and oranges. The design that goes into catalogs is interesting. The Baja Backroads Set looks pretty cool though and looks like it’d make for some fun backdrops.

Finally we have the back of the catalog. An offer for some rebates takes up most of the page but at the very top there are some learning computers for sale. This is so interesting to me. The majority of this catalog contains toys and just a tiny little section of electronic items. How crazy is it that towards the end of the 80’s that would change? Nowadays it seems like electronic toys rule the roost. It is funny how things change, or at least appear to change.

 

Not for this dorky girl though, I love it all and I hope to keep sharing and talking about all this retro goodness with you all. Does anyone else have a fondness for catalogs? Let me know! Hope all is well, take care everybody.

 

  

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MissM Posted on Dec 01, 2013 at 06:59 AM

I know! I love that McDonalds play set, especially because something like that would just never be found in stores today. And the Herself the Elf toys really do look like Strawberry Shortcake, I'm glad I'm not the only one.

I was like you and your sister, I would just cut out or draw on things to make them homes for people and stuff. lol

I had some MOTU stuff growing up, but I mostly had the POP stuff. The toy lines were just so amazing. I'm glad you were also able to recognize and share some memories of these items.

I also am glad you have an affinity for catalogs! I don't collect a lot of them, but I do have some. It is crazy because some catalogs can get really pricey! Just unbelievable.

I hope you had a really nice Thanksgiving Vaporman! Talk to you later!

Vaporman87 Posted on Nov 29, 2013 at 03:24 PM

First, I really love the McDonalds Barbie play set. Imagine the outcry over such a thing being on the market in this day and age!

Next, I was so absolutely sure that those Herself The Elf toys were Strawberry Shortcake toys at first glance. Also, loving the Garfield items.



My sister and I had several of the Smurf figurines, but none of the houses and such. We simply crafted our own out of cardboard, scissors, and markers.

MOTU!!! I had everything you see there on that page when I was a kid. But, sadly, it was all eventually sold off in yard sales. Later in life, I started picking up those same toys off Ebay. I have a used Attack Trak and Point Dread now. The adventure book I kept from my childhood. Those things were so much fun (hence the addition of the Read-Along Adventures section of the site).

I didn't have any Power Devils, but I did own several Stompers (which Tonka produced, I think) which were basically the same concept. It was always a blast running them over the bridges and obstacles that you could purchase.

I do have an affinity for old catalogs, but have not invested in any to date. I have perused several online that have been uploaded in PDF form. And you can indeed find the occasional toy that never made it to final production (Trendmasters Doom Island Godzilla line comes to mind).

Thanks for this Miss M! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.

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