1983 Sears Christmas Catalog: Lego Space, Crossbows and Catapults, and `Far-Away Worlds’

These are from WishbookWeb, an absolutely brilliant site where you can find beautiful scans of complete Christmas catalogs all the way back to the ’30s. Yes, my plan is to go through these catalogs (from the ’70s and ’80s, anyway) one page at a time and post the stuff I like and probably circled when making Christmas lists as a kid. (Click images to enlarge.)

Lego may be the single greatest toy line ever produced for kids, and Lego Space, in my opinion, is the company’s greatest achievement. We essentially built our own visions of life in space. Sure, the first time through we followed the directions and built what we saw on the front of the box, but after that the Legos went into giant Tupperware containers with hundreds of other Legos, at which point we relied exclusively on imagination. Unfortunately, Legos have always been too expensive. All the kids in my neighborhood would have to get together and combine Lego forces to produce our individual and collective masterpieces. Nobody ever went home with the same Legos they brought to the table. And that was okay.

I had a lot of fun playing (mostly with myself) Crossbows and Catapults, until all those goddamn caroms got lost. A hundred years from now, if the houses we grew up in are still standing, the inhabitants will still be digging these things out from the crevasses. And they would really fly, man, especially if you double-wrapped the rubber bands on the catapults.

It’s funny to see all the satanic D&D stuff (notice the Endless Quest books?) in a respectable catalog. I remember seeing the Star Frontiers ads in the comics of the day, but I never had it or played it (apparently some of the old folks still play it today). The Star Trek RPG came out in ’82, although I was too into D&D at the time to notice.

4 Responses to “1983 Sears Christmas Catalog: Lego Space, <em>Crossbows and Catapults</em>, and `Far-Away Worlds’”

  1. 1 leftylimbo March 16, 2012 at 8:56 am

    Aw hell, WishbookWeb is ridiculous, totally the type of internet haven that’ll have folks like us burrow into and live in. That’s ok, I have my sleeping bag. I discovered that a couple years back, and found my first BMX bike in there—I think it was a JCPenney catalog from 1979 or something. I’ll probably post it up sometime when I get the chance.

    My best friend had some of those LEGO space sets whose parts he kept in stackable bins in his room, alongside the other “basic” sets which featured the all too common red/blue/white/yellow color schemes. We’d try to build the most awesome custom space cruisers, and would always get frustrated when we had to resort to those clunky “basic” blocks to complete a ship; lol it would totally ruin the aesthetic.

    My favorite parts were always those little radar dishes with that translucent “light” cylinder thing you popped onto the rod or directly on the radar dish’s center (as seen on #26 Beta-1 Command Base, lol what a name). Funny how we could easily change up the “duty” of a radar dish from a surveillance unit to a space cannon in a second. Those other “web” style radar dishes were awesome too.

    Looking at that LEGO spread, it’s amazing how unbelievably blocky and dated those things look compared to the realistic engineering that goes into their sets these days—totally comparable to Atari’s blocky graphics being compared to the slick hyper-realism of today’s games. Man, have you seen the variety of parts and shapes available now? Wayyyy beyond anything that we had back then…yet we still spent hours creating our own universes and spacecraft with those blocky things until our moms told us it was time to eat.

    Ugh. Does the new generation somehow devolve as they use less and less imaginative brain power (the “filling in the blanks” nerve)? Is DEVO right? Or do they somehow benefit?

    LoL, Squad Leader from Avalon Hill Games. I totally got suckered into buying their Panzer Blitz game at Karl’s Toys and Hobbies in Fox Hills, thinking it was going to be awesome (it was expensive, too!). It ended up being way too technical and complex for me to enjoy at 10 years old.

  2. 2 Ed February 7, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Crossbows and Catapults! I am still trolling the thrift stores to replace my long gone set. I was always looking for advancements in rubber band technology when I had this game.

  1. 1 Immortals of Change Battle Set (1985) | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on June 5, 2013 at 2:21 pm
  2. 2 1977 Lakeside Toys Catalog | 2 Warps to Neptune Trackback on January 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

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