A Catalog Wish

There are no calling birds to be found on this fourth day of the twelve Joe A Days of Christmas, but there is a calling from a simpler time–1984, to be exact. From a childhood tome of toy wishes, and its aged pages come memories of the Real American Hero’s less remembered product.

We’ll never see the likes of the old  Christmas catalogs again. All of the major stores of the past have either discontinued their catalog ordering system in favor of online sales or disappeared completely. The Montgomery Wards and Service Merchandise of the world are gone forever, and with them a quaint old way of doing business. When I was a kid, I waited eagerly for each year’s holiday catalog come September, expecting to see the latest toy offerings.

Along with the toys came the ancillary merchandise, which was usually interspersed throughout the catalog in the appropriate sections. Of course, most of the non-toy sections of the Christmas catalogs were passed over by me. However, sometimes a few items would catch my eye. The Wards catalog of 1984 changes things up a bit by presenting each toy line’s other merchandise on the facing page. A nice marketing strategy, I think, and a way to better sell some of the crazier offerings of the time.

On this page, we’ve got a decent selection of role play and indoor camp-out items. The kid tent and sleeping bag were a staple of the times, and the Joe items fare pretty well in terms of the graphics. The sleeping bag in particular has some cool depictions of Grunt and Flash, two of my early figure favorites. The roof of the tent features the iconic cover to Marvel Comics issue #1. I’d love to have both of these items for the JAD Man Cave, but my feet would most likely stick out.

If ride-ons were your thing, the GI Joe snowmobile and Power Cycle (come on, it’s a Big Wheel) would have kept you busy in the driveway throughout the year. I never had, or knew anyone who had one of the snowmobiles, so I can’t attest to its prowess in the snow, but it sure looks cool. A Polar Battle Bear deco would have been ever better, but alas, one can only dream.

Finally, Joe fans got a plethora of walkie-talkies. From headsets to a field phone, and the traditional hand held sets, you and your friends could stay in touch on the battlefield. That field phone bears a remarkable resemblance to Firefly’s famous phone. And hey, they’re all FCC approved!

For a final jolt of nostalgia, and in case you’re curious how modern prices stack up to the old stuff in regards to inflation, check out the prices at the bottom of the page. Man, I want a $19.97 Skystriker! Now,  where did I park my DeLorean?



  • I still have that walkie talkie set and I lusted over that snow mobile. Those catalogs were the best!

  • I remember having the Mobile Field Unit set, but I got mine much later than ’84. I think the JC Penney Christmas Catalog or Sears Wish Book were selling them several years later.

  • Wish i had a Delorian. I’d use it to win money on horse races. Dont know where i got that idea from?

    I get great enjoyment out of looking at the Transformers pages in these catalouges. You can almost play a drinking game with them. Take a swig evertime you see a figure mistransformed.

  • My cousin has a DeLorean and he loves that car like his own children. Takes it to shows on Sundays and has won awards for it. He never messes with my toy collecting nor does he criticize it, since he’s also into tropical fish, aviaries, old typewriters, and football memorabilia. We’ve always gotten along thanks to that.

    I had one of those plastic water bottles which you hung on your bike. Thing was, (much like Zap) I didn’t ride a bike! But I wish I could have taken that snowmobile for a spin during my Chicago days. Funny how most of the 1984 catalog merchandise shown here still featured the Original Thirteen from two years earlier. The artwork on that tent and sleeping bag is awesome! Wish somebody would come up with “retro” versions sized for us adult collectors!

  • The “Mobile strike force” bike featured in the 1986 movie “The Boy Who Could Fly” along with a lot of G.I.JOE’s stuff!

  • “Man, I want a $19.97 Skystriker! ”

    That’s how much I paid for two of my three 30th Anniversary versions. Thank you Zeller’s. 🙂

  • This does take you back. . . Man I miss being a kid in those days, it was all about your imagination then!

  • Man look at the prices, I would kill for pricing like that, $22.44 for a hovercraft.

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