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.




  • Amazing you still have that HQ. Merry Christmas Joe A Day family!

  • Its the 25th down here. Today, “Santa” got me a Doc, Torpeedo, Gung ho [dress uniform], Cobra Commander [Fred], Cobra commander [91], Voltar, Raptor, Monkey wrench and Robotech’s Minmai[i dont know how she wound up in the box] I havnt had that many Joes for x-mas in twenty years or more.

    Also, i hate to sound like i’m copying the fine people at Retroblasting but the Return of the Jedi action figure line was quite bad. Most of it composes of obscure background aliens and Ewoks [which are most if not all armed with spears]

  • Ah, wish books! I was surprised to get so much ’83 GIJoe stuff when most of my wish books were out of date showing the ’82 lineup. Wanted the MOBAT, but I got a remote tank similar to the one pictured here (but even worse; you couldn’t put a figure in it). Never get tired of seeing those old dioramas. Happy Holidays!

  • A little bit earlier, I realized (at least for those who were into Joe for a 2nd+ year), Christmas with GI Joe wasn’t so much for the figures as it was for the vehicles, especially the larger ones which supposedly came out around late summer to fall (the old Bugg box I had, had a production stamp on the side, 8/16/88 or something close to that IIRC). By that time, most figures were out for about 10 months, so unless there were some elusive figures, the figures seemed like they would be the kind I saw in old Christmas photos, lower priority figures (for me, it was Dial-Tone & Iceberg, Sneak Peek & can’t make it out, can’t tell in any other years). Anyone else remember what figures or vehicles they got as kids for Christmas or can see in the photos? (granted, it’s a lot easier of the photos were scanned into a computer and even there, film resolution can be not that good for cardbacks. Boxed TF figures, by contrast, are much easier to identify).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.