Christmas is coming up quickly, 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.
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, and I want to share some of them with you in this edition of Retro Ramblings.
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 toothcare 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.
This rock tumbler is still my holy grail of never gotten Christmas gifts. I circled this thing in every Wish Book from as far back as I can remember all the way up through the early nineties. Never once did I find it waiting for me under the tree at Christmas. I had all these dreams about using it to start a profitable business making gemstone jewelry and price gouging the other kids at school. Just yesterday I was out doing a little shopping and had to make a stop at Hobby Lobby. I’m browsing the aisles and minding my own business when I turn a corner and BAM! There’s a display full of Rock Tumblers! I couldn’t believe my luck. After all these years I could finally have one of my very own. But then I saw the price tag. $119.99. Are they serious? How is anyone supposed to turn a profit on cheap gemstone jewelry with overhead like that? Not this old boy, no sir. I’ll just have to continue to circle this thing in every catalog I come across hoping one day to be gifted one.
Slot-less “Slot” Car Track
Now here we go! I am an old slot car fiend from way back, and this track just looks awesome. Now I know it doesn’t have all the cool twists, turns, loops, and the other bells and whistles that various other slot car tracks have, but it has one feature that one-ups all of those. Do you see any actual slots on this track? Nope, not a single one. That’s because you have to steer these cars yourself. There’s no slot to guide you on your way or to keep you from slamming into your opponent. You have to have the skill to avoid, or ram, your opponent yourself. That makes this track set so awesome. I can totally see myself mimicking “The Intimidator” Dale Earnhardt and “rattling some cages’ to put other racers in the wall….or cheap plastic guard rail as the case may be here.
Now while I never did get an awesome slot-less track, I DID actually get the slot car track above. It was a pretty badass track in its own right though. I thought the lap counter was just the coolest feature I had seen on a track before. You could set it to however many laps you wanted to run (up to 50 I think), and then the first car to clock that many laps would have a little winner’s flag pop up on their timer. I’m pretty sure I got the track for Christmas ’88, so there is a very good chance it was ordered from this very catalog.
LEGO was really my cup of tea throughout my whole childhood. Heck, my kids still play with all my old LEGOs even today. Luckily, it was one of the toys my Mom kept for all those years. Some of the pieces still in my childhood collection come from that Hospital pictured at the top of the page. It was a pretty cool set as it gave you a building to add to your LEGO city.
But while that was cool, it’s the bottom two sets that really get my motor running. First of all, that Truck Stop is just dripping with manliness. If you had this set as a kid, you probably grew chest hair before all you’re friends who didn’t have it. With two rigs and a big rig wrecker, you were ready for some heavy hauling. And when the hours got too long, you could pull into the truck stop itself for a hot cup of Joe. Life couldn’t be much sweeter. Since my Dad drove some big trucks like these, this thing was on my list for a couple of years. I had to make do with creating my own versions though. Since I never had it, it’s going on my list again.
To finish it off, there is the Super Speedway. My old man picked me up the small version of this one at some point. It had only one base plate though instead of two, and only two race cars instead of the four pictured here. My small set was super fun, so I can only imagine how much fun this mammoth set would have been.
How could any self-respecting kid not just circle the entire page? Do you see the selection of games just ready for the taking? And this is only one of a two-page spread! Even though a kid can’t restrain themselves, as an adult, I can. That, and I don’t have the space or time right now to write about every game on the page, so I just circled a select few.
A couple of my absolute favorite games featured on this page are Castlevania 2: Simon’s Quest and Pro Wrestling! I had gotten Pro Wrestling the night I got my Nintendo, and I saved my allowance for what felt like forever and bought Simon’s Quest. So to narrow this list down a little further, let’s just go with the rest. There’s RC Pro-Am, Rad Racer, Ghosts and Goblins, and the legendary Legend of Zelda. Those are some hall of fame titles right there. And I’m sure every game on the page has its hardcore fans, making this a page with probably more circles than any other in the whole catalog. Back in this time period, if you were a kid whose parents had any means whatsoever, you generally found a new Nintendo game under your tree. I know I was fortunate enough to find one most years, and any of these games I had circled would have entertained me for the rest of Christmas break.
Now from this page, I’ve circled several of the ones I really want. You’ve got the all-time classics Contra and ExciteBike, the much-adored Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out, and the underrated Goonies II. But the one on this page that would really pique my interest is Tag Team Wrestling. Pro Wrestling is one of my all-time favorite games for the console, so I really want to give this game a go.
You really couldn’t go wrong getting any of the games on either of these pages for Christmas. Let’s face it, a Christmas day spent playing a new Nintendo game was going to be one hell of a day regardless of what the title was.
Merlin the Magician Magic Kit
I’ve probably talked about it before on here somewhere, but I’ve been fascinated with magic ever since I saw Lance Campbell perform in the 4th-grade talent show at school. Matter of fact, a lot of the tricks he performed can be found in this very set. They may even be a good chance that this is the set he used in the show.
Regardless, this thing is full of cool tricks that would amaze your friends. That is if your friends are eight years old. But if I had this thing, I’d force my kids to sit on the couch and pretend to be amazed at the astounding acts of magic I was performing.
When the movie Willow hit, I was all about it. Even though I never saw it in the theater, I was hooked by the trailers alone. Well, that and those cool Willow Magicups that came in Wendy’s kid’s meals as part of the promotion for the movie.
Even though I hadn’t seen the movie at the time, I would have LOVED to have all of these toys. I’m a sucker for fantasy realms and their toys, so these look like they’re right up my alley. The only problem I see with them is that they don’t appear to be articulated. I still like the idea of setting them up in battle settings, but it would be even cooler if you could “play” with them.
Micro Machines Toys
If you know anything about me at all, then you should know that I simply adore Micro Machines. I have ever since the day Marcus Callis showed up at school with a pocket full of the little things. It only took a few moments of marveling over them to know that I wanted some of my own. And while I had my fair share of the cars, I was always enamored with the play sets that were available for them. There are a couple of the small playsets pictured at the top of the page, and those were the ones that you could connect together to make much larger sets, construction a whole town or small city if you had enough of them. Let’s go ahead and put both of those on my list.
There’s also the Micro Machines Transport Truck pictured. I had it once upon a time, and it was great as a carrying case that you could also play with. It would hold 11 cars, so it was a nice option to tote along when I was heading to Grandma’s house for the day.
Oh, how I loved Playmobil toys. Especially their western-themed sets like this. It seemed like I only ever got Playmobil toys at Christmas, and usually only from aunts and uncles at the annual family Christmas party. I had a lot of the cowboys and Indian-themed sets, and the toys shown above just go right along with them.
That train would be awesome, but it came with a very hefty $219.99 price tag. That’s $462.00 in today’s money! That sucker was one expensive toy. But it does look really cool, and I know from experience that Playmobil toys were as durable as they came.
Besides the train, there is the Western Station which comes with 8 figures! It has a big price tag on it too though. Anyway, I’m going to just circle this entire page and hope for the best.
Marvel Comics Pack
You’d always find listings like these every year in the wish books for things like comics, baseball cards, stamps, and other collectibles, but this collection right here looks astounding! This pack is brimming with cool 80’s properties. I can see ALF, Willow, GI Joe, Silver Hawks, and even Transformers comics. Those alone would probably make the pack worth the price of admission, but then you throw in the classic Marvel titles like Avengers, Hulk, Thor, Spider-man, Fantastic Four, and Iron Man and you’ve got yourself a super fun way to spend a few afternoons.
PXL 2000 Deluxe Video Camera
And this my friends, is one of the coolest Christmas gifts I ever received. This thing was a real, honest-to-goodness, video camera designed for kids. But the really unique thing was that this camera recorded onto cassette tapes. Don’t ask me how. The description says it records a unique black-and-white image called Pixelvision, with sound. I remember it having decent quality on playback, and the whole thing was really easy to set up and use. I sure wish I still had the tapes I recorded with it, as I would set it up and record myself dancing to 1989 hip-hop tracks. I’m sure that would be a sight to see today.
Whew. That just covered a lot of ground, but in truth, I could fill this blog with nothing but things I want from this 1988 catalog. We better cut it off here before I overload the server.