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Catalogs of Horror
December 19, 2010 5:07 PM   Subscribe


 
Whoa, is it just me, or do far too many of those male Penney's models look like Chad Everett? Also, that first image of the woman reacting with horror at the spectacle of a snowman corpse in her freezer is unspeakably disturbing.
posted by kinnakeet at 5:16 PM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Not being from a particularly well-off family; looking through the catalogs and circling the toys I wanted, reading and re-reading them, imagining what it would be like to actually play with them, marveling at the kids in the ads and wondering what their lives must have been like to have everything in the catalog was half the fun.

The other half of the fun was wishing that Grandpa's hands wouldn't hurt, just for Christmas, and that Santa would bring him some sticks for the hot-glue gun, so that he could fix my favorite broken toys.

And as G-d as my witness, Santa delivered on that second half.
posted by Hiding From Goro at 5:17 PM on December 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Little girls love fashion play lingerie! Um?
posted by oinopaponton at 5:20 PM on December 19, 2010


Suddenly I'm feeling an intense pang of regret for the fact that I let my parents sell all my G.I. Joe and He-Man toys at a yard sale years ago.
posted by Rangeboy at 5:21 PM on December 19, 2010


Here's my thought process as the "heinousness inside" picture loaded: "What's so heinous? That's a perfectly fine shirt, sure the lapels are a bit wide OH MY GOD THOSE PANTS OH MY EYES THEY BURN OH JEBUS STRIKE ME BLIND SO I MAY STOP SEEING"
posted by Kattullus at 5:31 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Curse you, I could spend hours looking through these. These catalogs go for decent money ($40-$50) on the secondary market. They're invaluable reference tools for toy collectors.

This is what I'm talking about (and what my user name's about).

And Catalog of Horrors? No way! Check out the One-Man Rescue Helicopter.
posted by marxchivist at 5:32 PM on December 19, 2010


*drools*
posted by marxchivist at 5:35 PM on December 19, 2010


I spent many hours flipping through the 1992 wish book looking at the pirate and castle Lego blocks... and then one year we got an actual Lego catalog. One of the cruelest ironies of childhood is that once you have money to buy all the Lego you want it's no longer socially acceptable.
posted by codacorolla at 5:39 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's my thought process as the "heinousness inside" picture loaded: "What's so heinous? That's a perfectly fine shirt, sure the lapels are a bit wide OH MY GOD THOSE PANTS OH MY EYES THEY BURN OH JEBUS STRIKE ME BLIND SO I MAY STOP SEEING"

There's the pants, and then there's the fact that the model on the right seems to have made some sort of pact with dark forces where his face stays eternally youthful, but he has the left hand of a 200-year-old.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:52 PM on December 19, 2010


Oh. Wow.
posted by drjimmy11 at 5:54 PM on December 19, 2010




Jump straight to the back, look at the games. I was just talking with my coworkers at lunch about the "Wishbook" ritual I used to go through every Christmas as a kid. The younger guys gave me blank stares.

Thanks for the memories!
posted by pashdown at 6:03 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Also, that first image of the woman reacting with horror at the spectacle of a snowman corpse in her freezer is unspeakably disturbing.


Note also the children's clothing scattered amongst pools of dark liquid on the floor, while in the background the wall is covered is crazed drawings scrawled in something red. catalogs of horror indeed....
posted by ennui.bz at 6:06 PM on December 19, 2010


Boy I miss those days!.

But, I guess that's why we all have to be fondled at the airport now... we misspent our childhood lusting after guns.
posted by HuronBob at 6:13 PM on December 19, 2010


A quick look, one thing that impresses me again, is how stuff was often very expensive and often crappy compared to what we have today. A $50 guitar in 1977 Sears catalog was a real piece of shit, and would cost about $175 in today's money. The cheapest Sears TV in 1957 cost over $1000 in today's money. And are these pistols really from the 1930s? If so, the cheapest .22 on that page, listed at $60, would be over $1000 today. The nicer model over $1200!
posted by 2N2222 at 6:16 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Barbie, year of the Moon landing, at the apex of American pop culture and empire, etc. Be sure to check out the set with Ken and his black friend, Brad, in outfits including "Breakfast at 7" and "Guruvy (catalog spelling) Formal."
posted by raysmj at 6:29 PM on December 19, 2010


Penney's used to sell water pipes?!?
posted by Daddy-O at 6:33 PM on December 19, 2010


2N2222: I'm guessing its the effect of cheap imports and trade agreements, etc. TVs were vastly pricier in the early 1980s as well.
posted by raysmj at 6:47 PM on December 19, 2010


Also, there weren't any "category killer" stores, and no Wal-Marts, no Amazon.coms or online stores for competition then.
posted by raysmj at 6:48 PM on December 19, 2010


Yeah, everything looks fairly normal for several pages, then suddenly....hello, ladies.
posted by gimonca at 6:58 PM on December 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


raysmj: "Barbie, year of the Moon landing, at the apex of American pop culture and empire, etc. Be sure to check out the set with Ken and his black friend, Brad, in outfits including "Breakfast at 7" and "Guruvy (catalog spelling) Formal.""

Compare those Barbies with one from this year's catalog.
posted by gman at 7:06 PM on December 19, 2010 [5 favorites]


I remember my parents getting their first color TV in 1974 and it cost something like $350 which would be $1671.33 in today's dollars. We're pretty spoiled by cheap stuff these days.
posted by octothorpe at 7:09 PM on December 19, 2010


Seriously 1970's, what the fuck?
posted by Cyrano at 7:15 PM on December 19, 2010


He must be around my age, judging from the scans of "Bona Drag".

Jaysus Mary and Joseph, tempus fugit.
posted by everichon at 7:44 PM on December 19, 2010


One man's heinousness is another man's beauty.
posted by Mael Oui at 7:48 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I love looking back at all this - and feeling happy that I will never have to wear any of that 70sclothing from my childhood ever again. Ugh. (Yes, I happily avoid lots of the retrowear - I already did my time, thanks.)

I do miss looking at the toy catalogs though. Our neighbors' kids used to get them and we'd spend hours debating the merits of various toys.
posted by batgrlHG at 8:54 PM on December 19, 2010


A $50 guitar in 1977 Sears catalog was a real piece of shit, and would cost about $175 in today's money.

Or $350 on Ebay.
posted by swift at 9:38 PM on December 19, 2010 [1 favorite]




Remember you'd beg for that special something and your parents would just laugh and laugh?
posted by orme at 12:17 AM on December 20, 2010


I went straight to the 1976 catalogue, the same stuff I remember from when I was the age my oldest boy is now. I noticed the water pipe too! Also, pong. I've still got one of the featured blenders in my cupboard (I scavenged it from the drawer of unused stuff when I left home and it still works. I think my crockpot is the same vintage). The clothes are just about as ugly as I remembered. My nostalgia gland is becoming happily engorged. When I get to the toy section I'll probably just fall over and die.
posted by h00py at 1:51 AM on December 20, 2010


Man, 1983 was a fine time to be a young geek. You could buy D&D, Traveler, and Star Fleet Battles at Sears. Also: Vectrex!
posted by Sauce Trough at 1:58 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


As an individual who spent her formative years growing up in very-small-town Central PA, the hours spent dreaming over these catalogs was highlight 1 of Christmas. Highlight 2 was going to the hardware store to drool over their annual shipment of toys. Before the age of ten, it was the only place you could buy toys, and only at Christmas.

codacorolla, you are never too old for Legos. I happen to very, very proud of my running-towards-middle-age Lego collection.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 5:41 AM on December 20, 2010


Not everything in the old catalogs was horrible. See the dress with the red skirt in the middle? I had that dress. I loved that dress -- the skirt was velvet! -- and was sad when I outgrew it. And I looked cute as all hell in it too.

I also had the "scrambled egg" puzzle and the puzzle pack (number 6). And they were hours of fun!
posted by JanetLand at 6:16 AM on December 20, 2010


Note how few toys have movie or TV tie-ins. Very, very, few.


Sigh...

I wish life could be as simple as it was, in the days when I was pouring through those catalogues as a small kid...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 10:34 AM on December 20, 2010


I can't get over Santa selling cigarettes !
posted by deborah at 2:47 AM on December 21, 2010


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