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The OTHER Good Thing About October

With most people, Fall brings on a lot of nostalgic memories.  Most of those memories are dominated by Halloween which comes at the end of October.  But for a few of us, there are memories of something else that are as strong as those of Halloween.  With the arrival of colder weather, the thoughts of some of us bypass Halloween (not completely) and go straight on to Christmas!


Back in the "good ole days", October also meant is was time for the yearly Sears Christmas Wish Book to arrive!  I remember anxiously checking the mail box every afternoon after coming in from school, hoping that was the day that it had arrived.  Most days of the month were a disappointment, but somewhere around the 20th - 25th, it would finally arrive.  For that whole evening, Halloween was just a distant thought, and the Wish Book dominated the night as I made my first scans of it's hallowed pages looking at that year's offerings.  

What would follow would be days upon days of going over each and every page thoroughly, circling items that I wanted, and making notes in the margins of the pages that I hoped my parents would follow without deviance.  As the weeks to Christmas dwindled, you could be sure that I was still pouring over that catalog on a daily basis, making changes every week.  Some years I got more of the things I wanted, and other years I didn't.  But those years of not having those lists fulfilled never deterred me from trying again the following year.

So for this article, I thought I'd take a trip back in time to October 1986, and share a few pages of the Wish Book with you.  I hope you enjoy it.:  


What better way to stay warm in the coming winter than with a sweater showing your support for your favorite NFL football team?  I imagine these looked nice back in their day, but I can also see the word "tacky" written all over them in the mid-90's.  But these days, they have a cool retro look and I would happily parade around town sporting one of these.  Add this to my list this year honey.  Let me get a 49ers one in XL.


Boy, did my parents ever regret getting me a drum set like this.  For probably 12 solid hours after getting it for Christmas, I banged away on it.  But unfortunately for me, the quality of the drum faces were just thick paper, and I busted all of them within two days of getting the set for Christmas.  Honey, add this to the list as well so I can relive those glory days.


Quite a while back, I wrote an article lamenting things I wanted as a kid but never had.  On that list was a chemistry set, as well as that sweet rock tumbler pictured there.  Every year I included these two items on my wish list, but never got them.  To this day, I still want to mix chemicals and see what happens.  Unfortunately for me, that consists of mixing amonia with window cleaner to make it stronger :-(.  Let's just go ahead and circle both of these items too.


Back in the day, I saw these sets listed year after year, and while I thought they looked kinda cool, I just had so much other stuff to put on my list that I skipped them.  Nowadays, with wood work being my passion and a source of income, I wish I had put these on those lists years ago.  We'll just circle them and get them on the list for this year.



I guess the Karate excitement created by the Karate Kid in 1984 was still high even in '86.  I had the white set in the top photo, and used them as pajamas most of the time.  But when I was out of the bed and running around in this, I was king of the basement.  I could use a new set of pj's, so let's circle this one too.



Now we're getting to the good stuff!  Here a while back, I posed a question in the forum describing a truck toy that I had as a good kid, and Vaporman suggested that it may have been from the Tonka Steel Monsters line. I did a little research and found him to be exactly right!  I had that Destroyer dump truck pictured above and used it as a G.I. War Machine during many battles with Cobra.  Now that I remember what I missed, let's go ahead and circle this one too!


Oh my goodness!  Oh my goodness!  Look at those killer graphics!  Look at all the titles available!  It even has a gun!  I want this Nintendo thing and I want it bad!  That was 1986 me...and you know what, 2015 me still feels the same way.  Just circle the entire page.



Lego was a big part of my childhood, and it seemed like the sets featured in the yearly wish book were never readily found on store shelves in my area.  I always circled sets from the Castle sets, and later on from the pirate sets.  Never got them, so let's just circle that Castle featured here.  And might as well circle that Shell Station too.


Just circle the entire page right now!  As a lot of you may already know, G.I. Joe is my all time #1 favorite toy.  I was fortunate enough to get the Terror Drome, the Tomahawk, and the Dreadnox Swampfire for Christmas '86.  But since those are long gone from my life, again I say, just circle the entire page right now!


Before G.I. Joe and Cobra battled for my heart, Masters of the Universe ruled my bedroom.  But by '86, the shine had worn off, and a lot of that may have to do with the selection available this late in the toy's run.  Let's just skip this page for this year.  :.-(


Transformers were never really on my radar, but my cousin (who was also my neighbor) was big into them, so I messed with them a little.  I'm sure he would have circled several things on this page.  I was intrigued back in the day by the Insecticons, but that was about it.  But lets circle some random things here for my cousin.



Now here's some more stuff I can add to the list!  I'll take that WWF Superstars Ring, the MUSCLE Ring, and thrown in that Cpl. Kirchner action figure too.


I grew up loving slot car tracks, and would get one for Christmas about every other year.  I had #3 pictured above, but didn't get it in this season.  Must have been a later one.  Let's just add all of these to the list and create one huge mega track and race the afternoon away.

Well, we're at the end of this highly abbreviated look at a Sear Christmas Wish Book from the 80's.  It's been a lot of fun looking back into the past at something I used to look so forward to.  Thanks for joining me on the journey.

Mickey Yarber


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Hoju Koolander Posted on Oct 29, 2015 at 11:56 PM

It was crazy to realize that from the Nintendo page on down, I had at least one item featured on every page at some point in my youth. Now most of it came second hand from garage sales as opposed to Christmas morning, but I totally played with most everything featured. My favorite was definitely the WWF toys, owning that ring was a dream come true. I love that there was a generic carrying case for the Masters of the Universe figures, like Sears wouldn't splurge to carry the official one.

GoonieGirl Posted on Oct 29, 2015 at 07:49 PM

I remember pouring over the doll houses and spending hours picking out mini furniture and accessories... Oh, unrequited childhood dreams!
Not to make you too jealous, but I totally had that sweet rock tumbler. Unfortunately it turned out to be LOUD (tumbling rocks is loud. Imagine that.) so whenever I turned it on, no matter where in the house I "hid" it, someone always found it and turned it off. I'd have been better off with a nice quiet doll house.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 24, 2015 at 01:21 PM

Mine tell me what they want that very second, then I have to say no and make sure to make a note of it while I'm dealing with the backlash.

mickyarber Posted on Oct 24, 2015 at 05:55 AM

I absolutely agree about having to listen for what the kids want. Fortunately (or unfortunately), my kids tell me exactly what they want for Christmas.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 23, 2015 at 06:47 PM

Also, that first picture now has the jingle for "My Buddy" stuck in my head.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 23, 2015 at 04:41 PM

Not only that, but it really made life easy for the parent. The Wish Book had so much in it that an entire Christmas haul could be listed and checked off in one book. That made putting together the list for "Santa" so much easier. Now, at least for me and my wife, we have to keep an ear open for ideas, be sure to make a note of it (in our phones usually), and do that all through the late Summer and Fall. It sucks.

mickyarber Posted on Oct 23, 2015 at 04:20 PM

I flipped through every page of the catalog before writing this, and wanted to include so much more. The yearly Wish Book was definitely the "Amazon" of my generations youth. There was always so much stuff packed into that thing, you could get just about anything your heart desired from Sears.

I'll probably do another one of these featuring a later year...most likely the year Super Nintendo came out. Put a few years between this one and the next one to get a look at how much toys were changing in that period.

Vaporman87 Posted on Oct 23, 2015 at 03:17 PM

Ahhh! Great read. I see so many things here that I either had or wanted, and a few things that I had and didn't remember until just now that I did! Like some of those Rock Lords and that space shuttle/pterodactyl Transformer. Ahhh, sooo much great stuff in here. I circled EVERYTHING!!!

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