Monday, December 4, 2023

Dreams of Yesteryear

 When I was a kid in the 60s, one of the most satisfying tasks leading up to Christmas was the shopping trip through the Sears Christmas Wishbook! Pen in hand, we would scour the pages for the treasures we wanted to see on Christmas morning. A circle here and a circle there, and our Christmas list was done!

This week we have the first in a two part post on that wonderful book! You see, years ago (1997 to be exact) a book was published that contains every Sears Christmas Wishbook from 1951 to 1969! Now, unfortunately, they only included the boys toys, but since I fall into that catagory it certainly works for me. Here it is!

I purchased mine in 1997 and it's now looking a bit worn. At least I never took a pen to it! However, I looked on Amazon and the book is still in print and can be purchased for 49.95. 

Now this book is fairly huge, so we're not going to look at all of it. Still, a few pages this week and next week might be fun. So, let's start way back in 1951, shall we?

The cover of the 1951 book is a great example of Christmas cheer. That Santa's got the goods- and he wants to share!

Cowboys were big in the early 50s! Really big! That's why Walt's park had a huge Frontierland. This is just one of many pages that offered cowboy (and Indian) toys!

I shared this page just because of the Howdy Doody puppet.

Tin toys were big as well. I always wanted one of those tin roller coasters but I never got one. Oh well, maybe next Christmas!

Trains were gaining in popularity, and would continue to do so for years to come. There are several pages dedicated to the dream layout.

Farm toys? Sure! Rural life was still a large part of the American experience, so kids could own a farm just like Dad's!

Now we'll zoom to the other end of the book and check out 1969! Unlike the 1951 book, I was alive and well at this point (I was born in 1962). So, let's dive in!

Ok, the 1969 cover isn't quite as festive. In fsct, we're not even in the house! Still, there's good stuff in there, so let's jump in!

Yep, these are the toys I really remember! GI Joe! The space capsule! I'm pretty sure mine came from Sears.

I still have my Hot Wheels Hazard Hill set, although it's in really rough shape. That thin blow molded plastic didn't age well. Still, it was fun at the time!

I had a Zeroids robot, but I can't remember which one. They go for big bucks now, so unless I fall into a fortune I'm not getting a new one!

Major Matt Mason was popular at this time too. He was a rubber "bendy" figure with a lot of cool accesories. It's hard to find one now that has intact wires.

Billy Blastoff was a rival to MMM. I had the Major, not Billy 

Ah, the creme del a creme of toy cars: Corgi! Just look at those cars! The Batmobile! The Black Beauty! Chitty Chitty Bang Bang! All with working features!

And finally, we have the holy grail for a lot of Disney toy collectors: the Marx Disneyland playset! 

That's it for this week! How are we going to top it next week? Well, actually 1968 is the best year for the catalog...So good, in fact, that they actually came out with TWO! 

Until next time, keep searching for treasure!


  1. The Sears Wishbooks were such a big deal when I was a kid - I know my brother and I pored over each one, wishing that we could have about 200 things, and maybe being lucky to get one or two.

    My era would have been more the mid-1960s, or really the late 60s, though I do remember seeing a lot of 1966 Batman stuff in one catalog. We were so into that show!

    For a brief while I did like cowboy stuff, though I was not really familiar with Howdy Doody, except for perhaps the theme song. I never had a toy train either, though I sure wanted one. Somebody up the street had a layout on a 4 X 8 sheet of plywood that they could pull up into the rafters of their garage to get it out of the way. Brilliant.

    Oh boy, there we go, 1969, that’s my jam! Even now I want all that stuff. Hot Wheels were a favorite of my brother and me. My brother says that we had a Matt Mason, though I don’t remember him.

    I think part of me wanted that Marx Disneyland set, and part of me knew (as a young nerd) that it wasn’t 100% accurate, which I demanded! I didn’t get one anyway, so it’s all moot.

    Thanks, Stu!

    1. Yeah I included 1951 just as a starting point. I really don't have much connection to it (other than wanting that silly tin roller coaster). I really thing my memory of all things "toy" starts about 1965, which would have put me at three.
      I do know that we lived through the golden age of toys, though! The fact that we didn't have electronics made it all the more magic. Great memories!

  2. I would've LOVED that Disneyland play set, as a kid! Heck, I'd LOVE it now!

    I enjoy looking at the old catalogs. I picked up a Montgomery Ward's one from Christmas 1968, on eBay, a couple years back. Not only did I enjoy it and remember seeing all those toy pages in my childhood, but I recognized quite a few regular items that we had around our house, in 1968 and after. And there were 3 items [from that same catalog] that I still have.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your 1968 catalog pages.
    Thanks, Stu.

    1. I have a feeling those playsets go for more than I'm willing to fork over, but yeah I'd take one now!
      I just published 1968!

  3. I loved looking through the Sears Wishbook! What kid wouldn't love looking at that huge selection of toys? Miraculously, my mom saved two of the catalogs, and I still have them. One of them is that 1969 one with the wreath on the door. The other one is from 1972 and has the Pooh characters on the cover. I posted some pages from that one, back in December of 2019.

    I remember Major Matt Mason! My brother had him and his friend, and a couple of the vehicles. I had (still have) Callisto and his gun or whatever that gizmo was. I think I got him for my birthday, and then someone else gave me another one for Christmas, so I have two "Callistos"!

    And there are those Hot Wheel Superchargers, stacked one on top of the other, just like we discussed in one of your earlier posts. Hot wheels were so much fun to set up and play with. Hours of fun! My brother and I still have all of our cars, track, and other accessories, but most of the cars are pretty beat up from being played with so much.

    Thanks for scanning these pages and sharing them with us, Stu!

    - TokyoMagic!

    1. I had the MMM Walker, which, as I remember it, could walk over just about anything. I think I've seen Callisto's gizmo described as a ray gun or a sensor. I prefer ray gun.
      Even beat up, those first gen Hot Wheels have value! Some people treat them like "barn find" cars. Some collectors even collect "kid paint" cars, that look exactly like what their name suggests. TO each his own, I guess.


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