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Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue
December 9, 2010 11:14 AM   Subscribe

Vintage British Argos 1985 Catalogue

Your daily dose of nostalgia. I have to confess, I did exactly what I'd have done in 1985, which is to turn to the pages with the toys in them. Note - according to The National Archives £1 in 1985 = £2.01 in 2010.
posted by chill (39 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Ah yes, I know it well. I think I looked at the toy sections of these enough to memorise them.
posted by Artw at 11:20 AM on December 9, 2010 [3 favorites]


There is something profoundly depressing about this, but I can't work out what.
posted by unSane at 11:22 AM on December 9, 2010


There is something profoundly depressing about this, but I can't work out what.

1985 average : £1 = $1.29
2010 average : £1 = $1.54
posted by Joe Beese at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2010


The Laminated Book of Dreams!
posted by capnsue at 11:24 AM on December 9, 2010 [4 favorites]


I am skeptical of that currency conversion. Anyhow, the correct price for all those items was "beyond your wildest dreams".
posted by Artw at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


There is something profoundly depressing about this, but I can't work out what.
1985 average : £1 = $1.29
2010 average : £1 = $1.54


Yeah, tell me about it, I want the halcyon days of 2006 back, when it was £1 = $2.
posted by metaxa at 11:27 AM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Four pages of typewriters, two computers (Commodore 64 and Sinclair Spectrum), and a couple of cheap Walkman-style cassette players. I don't know when I first bought one of the latter, but it was probably around that time.
posted by nja at 11:28 AM on December 9, 2010


Also, the caption on the Flickr page reads "Take a look back to a more funky time."

I have travelled here from 1985 England to tell you that was officially the least funky 12 months in the history of mankind.
posted by unSane at 11:29 AM on December 9, 2010 [8 favorites]


I'm fairly certain that my 1985 self would have gone looking for the bras, only to frustratingly noticed that Argos don't sell bras and then finally settle on toys. I seem to remember a lot more catalogue bra studying that was probably healthy.

Anyway.. as is so often the case I've digressed into underwear.

My 1985 Xmas gift was (I think) number 9 on this page. My brother got the corrosponding Castle Grayskull set the same year.

At £34.95 your conversion rate suggests £70.25 for my "main" present. For comparison my daughter (roughly same age now as I was then) is getting a Nintendo DS XL which cost me £137.

Not sure what this says. Could be that I'm the embodiment of the Xmas spirit and am showering generous gifts on loved ones. Could be that my mind has been warped by evil adverts. Could be that I'm buying the present I want and sticking a spongebob sticker on it so I can claim I've been a good dad.

We'll never know for sure.
posted by samworm at 11:31 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


I am skeptical of that currency conversion.

1. Go here.
2. Set starting date to 01/01/85. Set ending date to 12/31/85.
3. In first window, select "British Pound - GBP". In second window, select "US Dollar - USD".
4. Click Get Table button. Consult "Average" number at bottom.

Repeat, setting starting date to 01/01/10 and ending date to 12/09/10.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2010


1985 was a bad year for the pound. Kicked off January at $1.14,
posted by unSane at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2010


I'm fairly certain that my 1985 self would have gone looking for the bras, only to frustratingly noticed that Argos don't sell bras and then finally settle on toys.

The American equivalent would be the Sunday magazine supplement to The New York Times.

Woody Allen put a joke in Manhattan (1979) referencing its reliability as a source for lingerie advertising.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2010


Battle Cat was easily the top of all my toys for a while. It seemed such a deluxe item, but now I see it only cost £4.95! Man, I wish I'd had a job when I was four.
posted by chorltonmeateater at 11:49 AM on December 9, 2010


There is something profoundly depressing about this, but I can't work out what.

Mid-80s graphic design, perhaps? But look! It's got a grid! That means it's technical. But not so technical that this lady in a skirt and comfortable loafers can't operate it! This lady clearly has boobs, though, so, NO LAWNEDGER FOR HER.
posted by katillathehun at 11:50 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


For my fellow Americans who may be don't know (I only learned a year or so ago): Argos is a catalog showroom store, sorta like Service Merchandise was.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 11:51 AM on December 9, 2010


They still had the east german Zeiss 8x30 Binoculars for just £39.99 (including real leather case & lifetime guarantee) an absolute bargain - see what the equivalent costs now.
posted by Lanark at 11:55 AM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]




The National Archives £1 in 1985 = £2.01 in 2010.

I remember buying a pint in a pub in 1986 and it 68p.... now it's like 3 quid. A paperback book was like 2 quid (I've just pulled one of my shelf from back then) and now the're what a fiver? but there was the net book agreement putting prices up back then, you did'nt get Amazon bargins...
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:20 PM on December 9, 2010


I'm pretty sure I bought '3' on this page (probably a couple of years later when I was at uni)... not bought a watch in years now, just use my phone for the time (my younger self would have been mind blown at that)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:30 PM on December 9, 2010


1985 is "vintage?" This is what it's like getting old, isn't it?
posted by maxwelton at 1:12 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know how 1990 was 20 years ago?
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


The highest tech object in the catalog has to be the Casio programmable pocket computer/calculator, with a whole 1k of battery backed RAM. It's amazing to think I was actually "online" in 1985 on BBSes at something like 300 to 1200 bps.

It's interesting to note how all the consumer electronics are absolutely buried behind pages and pages of cheap gold plated costume jewelry and other crap, placed right next to the toys. I remember being frustrated by that as a kid, observing that it seemed like retailers had no idea what to do with them or what they even were. Major catalog retailers in the US like Best or Service Merchandise used to do the same thing. So did Sears, Wards and JC Penny.

I wanted to shake them by their cruddy oversized stay-pressed polyester lapels and spray "You obviously don't understand. Computers aren't a fad or a toy! They're going to change the whole world! Just you wait!" in their faces.

I also remember various "durable consumer goods" being utter crap in 1985. Cheaply made and badly designed. More than half of those lawn and garden devices and many of the grooming tools look like they'd just as soon maim you as they would trim the grass or body hair. Same goes for many of the cooking/kitchen gadgets.

Also vaguely depressing. I think it's the avocado and burnt orange colorways. But, hey! Digital watches!
posted by loquacious at 1:52 PM on December 9, 2010




Oh, Lord, those are my mother's saucepans too.

I can remember every six months there would be some kind of fucking pilgrimage to the Argos in Milton Keynes to get another pile of total shit. I think they came back with nylon sheets once. The horror. The horror.
posted by unSane at 2:25 PM on December 9, 2010 [2 favorites]


Classic Space Lego! WANT.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:58 PM on December 9, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh God, the Eternal Beau china set. I'm also trying to figure out why these pages are so bloody depressing. I was happy in 1985!
posted by ceri richard at 5:01 PM on December 9, 2010


You know how 1990 was 20 years ago?

If you've watched the video for Bowling For Soup's "1985," there is no way the woman in the video was high school in 1985 (even when the video was made in 2004). Viewing again now, she looks like she might have been conceived in 1985.
posted by maxwelton at 7:29 PM on December 9, 2010


Good grief. I must have stared at the toy section of that particular Argos catalogue A LOT. It's like seeing an old friend.
posted by zemblamatic at 2:26 AM on December 10, 2010


Robot game watch! I wonder how much one of those would be worth to one of those hipster people? Of course I had #22, a more practical option. Lacking the fourth button that denoted a really serious watch of caliber, but a good watch which served me well.
Ninja throwing clocks? Well, the 80's were all about the ninjas!
We had some of the Vision pans, kind of fun, but also not very good.
posted by asok at 2:36 AM on December 10, 2010


CHiPs helmet set!
posted by asok at 2:47 AM on December 10, 2010


I think I had #8 Casio Calculator... may have been a slightly different model as I'd have bought it a couple of years before. But it saw me through O Levels, A Levels, my degree and then intermittent use for years later until I finally had to ditch it when they stopped making batteries that fit it.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:16 AM on December 10, 2010


Oh hello Lan-Bar Step Stool (6). I used to balance you on top of a chest of drawers at the top of our stairs so that I could get the Christmas tree down from the loft. You fit quite nicely on top of the polished wood surface, your legs just millimeters from the edge of the abyss...
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 3:39 AM on December 10, 2010


This issue is a little to early for me - I'd love to see an Argos (or Index*) catalogue from somewhere in 1988-1992. Like Artw I think I'd realise I had the entire toy section memorised.

*This was basically identical to Argos but closed down a while back.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 3:40 AM on December 10, 2010


A paperback book was like 2 quid (I've just pulled one of my shelf from back then) and now the're what a fiver?

Pft! Closer to a tenner.
posted by ninebelow at 6:22 AM on December 10, 2010


Yeah a pretty standard paperback became like £7.99 (RRP) about 5 years ago.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:27 AM on December 10, 2010


So 1985 must have been before the clowns and ragdolls arrived in jewellery? (Links not to the Argos shop - I can't find them on their site, although they were definitely in the last catalogue I had). I wonder when they arrived.

I sometimes think that the ultimate male pendant from Argos would be Jesus with the head of a bulldog, crucified on the Union Jack, wearing boxing gloves, and with DAD graven on his chest. And if they made it, I would demand it from my daughter, and wear it happily.
posted by fizban at 6:48 AM on December 10, 2010 [2 favorites]


Pft! Closer to a tenner.

Yeah a pretty standard paperback became like £7.99 (RRP) about 5 years ago.


Most books are heavily discounted now, unlike back then where you had no choice but paying the cover price due to the Net Book Agreement - unless you bought second hand.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 6:49 AM on December 10, 2010


Good grief. Teasmades were *expensive*, especially in 1985 money. Not to mention kind of crap.
posted by yellowcandy at 9:47 AM on December 10, 2010


Oh God, the Eternal Beau china set.

Yep, I went straight to that page to check it out. I used to be in awe of it in my reading-the-Argos-catalogue-cover-to-cover days. I mean, you could even get toasters and kettles with it on. Your entire kitchen could be Eternal Beau if you wanted. Sigh.
posted by penguin pie at 12:40 PM on December 10, 2010


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