Category: Highlights

Highlights From a Johnson Smith Company Ad

While the name may not ring a bell to everyone, I’m sure you grew up seeing these ads in comic books and marveling at the wonders they promised. Let’s check out some of the items offered that intrigue me.

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These ads changed through the years as new products were introduced, but I don’t think they ever really discontinued many items. I would assume everything was pretty much always available because I seem to remember actual bound catalogs being available at some point. I always wanted things I saw in these ads, but could never save any of my allowances on weekends long enough to get a money order to get anything with. So let’s look at some of the things I found interesting through my young years in this ad.

X-Ray Vision Glasses

Ok. So what red-blooded pre-teen boy wouldn’t want something like this? It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what we would have in mind when ordering these. That little line there about being able to see-through clothes probably sold more pairs of these than anything else. But according to the fabulous book, Mail-Order Mysteries, these were just an optical illusion created by feather-like things between two pieces of cardboard with little holes in them. What a bummer. I wish I had never ready that, as I had spent my whole life wondering “what if?”.

Pocket Spy Telescope

Now this is a cool little gadget. Imagine carrying around a telescope in your shirt pocket. I know it couldn’t possibly magnify things too much, but for something that small that fits in your pocket, it had to magnify enough to make it cool. It could have been the start of a budding spy career.

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Highlights From a 1989 KayBee Toys Ad

I love sifting through old catalogs and sale papers from the ’80s and early ’90s. They’re filled with so much nostalgia with so many toys I had, and those I didn’t have but wanted gracing every page. Today I’m going to highlight a few cool things I found in a KayBee Toys sale paper from 1989.

Nintendo Games!

I’ve already documented my love for all things Nintendo here on the blog, and this ad for games is certainly in line with my love for all things Nintendo. Featured in the top left is my favorite game for the system, Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest. I also see some of my other favorites including Bionic Commando and WWF Wrestlemania. I could sit and look through old game ads all day and continue to drool over just how awesome we had it with our game systems back in the day.

Play-Doh Make-a-Meal Spaghetti Factory!

Play-Doh was never really a top toy in my book unless I had a cool playset like this for it. There was just so much you could do with sets like these with all the various presses and cutting tools. Besides making plates of spaghetti and meatballs like the set intended, you could do other things with them. Like make your own cool monsters with long stringy hair. The various playsets offered almost limited play that other toys couldn’t.

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Highlights From the 1988 Sears Christmas Wish Book

Well, Christmas is coming up quick, so I thought it would be a good time to open up an old Sears Christmas Wish Book and relive some great old memories from the past.   I’m going back in time to 1988 with that year’s edition of the Wish Book to pick out some of the cool toys I wanted and thought I’d share them with you. 

I was 10 years old in 1988, so it was right at that perfect time of still being into toys, but at the same time, starting to have an eye towards some gifts that were a little more “grown-up”.  The 1988 edition of the Wish Book was loaded with so much cool stuff, I don’t think I’m going to be able to cover them all this time out, so I’ll probably stop at ten or so things for now, and hopefully do more later.  Let’s get to it! 

G.I. Joe Locker Bag Kit

Oh my goodness!  If you’ve got to start a personal grooming habit as a young man, what better way to do it than with G.I. Joe?!?  This kit has everything a 10 year old young man would need too.  G.I. Joe approved toothbrush and toothpaste (ADA be damned), mini soap with its own case to keep it from getting all slimy, a brush and comb for whatever stylish ‘do you are sporting, and a cup to go along with that tooth care set.  To top it all off, there is a small pocket size pack of tissue to take with you wherever you go, and a cool ass locker bag to store it all in.  You would be the envy of your fellow gym mates if you walked into a locker room with that bag slung over your shoulder.  And on top of all of that, how cool would it be to see this puppy hanging up in your bathroom at home.  It would almost make coming in from playing outside to get cleaned up enjoyable.  Almost. 

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Five Highlights From a 1988 Toys ‘R’ Us Sale Paper

On this week’s episode of The Retro Network Podcast, Jason and I scoured through an old Toys ‘R’ Us sale paper from 1988. Even at just sixteen pages, the thing was loaded with all kinds of cool toys from the past. You can listen to us salivate over everything in the ad on the show, but here are five things from it that I want to highlight.

Army Gear Playsets from Galoob

Until we recorded the show, I was completely unaware of the existence of these incredible looking toys. They’re kind of like Transformers in that they’re two distinct toys in one. Like the M-16…you could play with it as a machine gun while running around chasing the neighbor kids, but you could also open it up into a playset for the Combat Troops.

Besides the M-16, it looks like there was also a flashlight that transformed into an air defense station, a watch that transformed into some kind of missile base, and a pistol that turned into a 3-level silo…and they had sounds!

Not to mention the combat troops themselves which you would obviously need to ramp up the fun with the playsets. And for just $3.99 you got ten good guys and ten bad guys to battle it out. This is a line I’m going to have to look into further.

Bone Age from Kenner

Way back when, well I guess in 1988 as it turns out, I saw commercials for what I thought were pretty cool looking toys. I never ended up having any of them, and they gradually slipped from my mind until just a few years ago. I searched high and low for a name for the toy line with no luck. Then I did what I should have done in the first place. I turned to Twitter for the answer and got it pretty quickly. Bone Age.

I had been enamoured with the “vehicles” and the like from the line, and still am today. So when we flipped the page in the sale paper and happened upon these things, I was ecstatic. These aren’t even the best representations of the toys in the line. It wouldn’t fit this post if I started adding in images from other sources, so you’ll just have to google them yourselves.

But the gist is that you’ve got these big skeleton dinosaurs and the cave men that ride on them I guess. But some of the other toys in the line are net launchers and other such fancy weapons. Maybe the coolest thing about them were that you got to put the dinosaur skeletons together before you played with them, adding another layer of fun to the toy.

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