1983 Wish Book Memories
Christmas catalogs are long gone, and paging through old copies, be they physical or scanned copies, serves as a reminder of a time in toy history that will most likely not come again. We live in an age in which most any purchase lies within our digital grasp, thanks to the likes of eBay and Amazon. If you have the money to spend, you can get practically anything you want. In that sense, the catalogs of old are true marketing dinosaurs.
1983 was the first big GI Joe Christmas for me, and the Sears Wish Book played a big part in it. Since September of that year, I had been poring over its pages, imagining how much of its contents I would add to my Christmas list. GI Joe had become a fast favorite, and would soon eclipse Star Wars as the focus of my toy collecting world. In fact, my childhood collection of Return of the Jedi toys was quite sparse thanks to the Real American Hero.
Figures were a high priority, as I only had a few at the time. The catalogs often offered multi-packs that would allow for quick troop build up. Typically, I would get a few figures here and there from family shopping trips. But the holidays and birthdays were the occasions to ask for bigger ticket items, and I populated my seasonal wish list with items like the Skystriker, HISS Tank and the Cobra Missile Command HQ. To my delight, I received all three on Christmas Eve, along with both of the three-figure packs pictured on this page.
I still have my original Missile Command HQ, minus the missile and platform thanks to an unfortunate basement flooding incident during the 1990s. Even though the playset is in partial condition and quite rough shape, it still sits on a shelf, a solid reminder of a wonderful Christmas past.