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Wish Book Wishing

September 29, 2011

Oh, crap, it's a bookbag. This box behind me sure better be the Barbie Dream House.

It’s still one month until Halloween, which as you know marks the new official kick-off to the holiday season. 

Yet, I’ve now received 42 catalogs telling me the holiday season is already upon us. 

I’m a catalog junkie, I must confess.  My coffee table is completely littered with them.  I think I even have five versions of the latest from Pottery Barn.  (If you must know, each of them features a cotton duvet of a different winter floral fabric.  See?  Not redundant.)

And thanks to those catalogs, I now believe my quality of life would dramatically improve if only I had:  1.) His & Hers monogrammed silver business card cases, 2.) a pumpkin-colored boys turtleneck in size 2T, 3.) powder blue patent leather ballet flats, 4.) a tin of nacho cheese flavored popcorn, and 5.) a brown wicker cornucopia horn for my dining room table. 

Cornucopia, cornucopia, cornucopia, cornucopia.  That’s really why I need that.  I’ve been longing for the chance to say, “Yes, please place the bowl of mashed potatoes right there next to the cornucopia.”  Oh, wow, that sounds terrific.

What I did not yet receive in the mail (and what I would’ve absolutely, positively hoped to have received by now if this were 30 years ago) is the new Wish Book catalog! 

Now that right there was a catalog not to be wasted on a preschool papier-mache project.  Yes, I so loved to wheelbarrow that 700-page anvil into my bedroom every year.  Where I’d then spend days, perhaps weeks, pouring over, drooling on and dog-earing all the many things I wanted to beg, bargain and tantrum my way toward receiving.

Fortunately, there is a website that offers these beautiful catalog relics from the likes of JCPenny, Sears, Spiegel and Montgomery Ward (starting back at 1933) so you can peruse them page by splendid page

Now I’m not entirely certain that this website doesn’t somehow feed into a Nigerian scam operation — or (worse) Amazon’s online product referral engine.  But my instincts say these fellas are truly just that geeked over old Wish Book catalogs.

I concur.  What’s not to love here?

Okay, maybe not this:

I demand to know what this kind of crap is doing in a Wish Book.  Contrary to what her husband was (not) thinking, I bet no 1983 housewife in America was wishing for one of these.  (By the way, Sears wants you to know that these are “lounge gowns.”  So don’t get any crazy ideas in your head that they might be housecoats or muumuus.  God no!) 
Also, I’m sure not lovin’ this:
Sears says this fetching sweater hoodie works best if you start with a hairstyle like the one shown above.  That way, your hair won’t look much different when you pull off your hoodie, revealing . . . a gargantuan static head.  (My husband would want to remind me here that I bought him a fleece version of this three years ago.  And it has never seen the light of day.)
No, no, I firmly believe Wish Books should only be about the toys.  With perhaps a few Mickey Mouse phones thrown into the mix.  And a Garfield transistor radio.
Did you ever notice that the further you got into the Wish Book, the more ridiculous things got?  Yes, by the end I’m talking toys that made you dizzy-headed and caused your stomach to flip around like a tilt-a-whirl.  Cotton candy for the brain.  I’m convinced only five to six of these toys were even manufactured.  They were mostly just showroom models, not intended to actually be sold.  Yes, the only people who purchased these were those stinking rich, dollar-bills-used-as-fire-tinder type of people who had bought out everything else in the Wish Book for their kids and were plumb out of ideas. 
Well, you already have every Barbie doll, Barbie house, Barbie clothing item and Barbie vehicle made by Mattel since 1981.  I suppose this is the year for the Barbie yacht.  (Taking into account inflation, this toy would cost about $22,000 today.)
This is toy insanity!  Do not tell me you had any one of these.  I mean it.  Do not tell me.  I will go ape crazy with jealousy.  (Cripes, do you think Sears would still accept my order form for the snow cone machine?)
No kid should ever own one of these.  Seriously.  It’s just not safe.  Particularly not the clown/ventriloquist combo-doll.  No, not that one!  Bozo face + ventriloquist dummy eyes + Barbie hands.  Are you kidding me?
Who are the people . . .
. . . buying these things . . .
. . . and why did they not adopt me?


The Mother Ship has arrived.  “The Berry Happy Home” Strawberry Shortcake house.  Look no further for toy perfection.  Because this is it right here, folks.  I would’ve given my right leg wrapped-up pretty in a purple legwarmer for this thing.  And don’t even get me started about Raspberry Tart, Lem & Ada and the rest of the gang.  I think I speak for my old Strawberry Shortcake doll when I say completion at last.
My friend Lori actually purchased for herself as an adult the Lemon Meringue doll she had always wanted as a child but never received.  Talk about giving the middle finger to your unfulfilled destiny!  By the way, I whole-heartedly support rewriting your childhood.  But you’ve probably gathered that by now.
And speaking of unfulfilled destiny, now (12 weeks post-Wish Book ogling) let’s take a peek back at the Link family Christmas in 1983 for the moment of truth.
Wait a second . . . this box with a rattling sound seems promising.  Could it be a new Lego set?  The Operation game?  Mrs. Potato Head?
No . . . it’s a . . .
. . . 500-piece jigsaw puzzle of a Collie. 
Aw, thanks, Aunt Lela. 
Oh how I wish you could better see my expression in this photo.  Because the look on my face is worth a thousand words.  And the first few would be, “What am I, a geriatric shut-in?” 
Please note:  while you may spot a sweater hoodie or a lounge gown in there, you will never find a jigsaw puzzle in a Wish Book catalog.    
35 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather Green permalink
    September 29, 2011 6:12 pm

    This brings back so many memories! I WANT THAT YACHT!!!!

    • September 29, 2011 10:01 pm

      I know, that thing is unbelievable! It was actually labeled a “cruise ship” but I prefer to call it a yacht. Because that’s what Barbie would’ve called it.

  2. Davis permalink
    September 29, 2011 9:35 pm

    Thanks for my new Phrase of the Week. I shall be on the lookout in every conversation for a chance to work in, “What am I, a geriatric shut-in?”

    • September 29, 2011 10:04 pm

      Ironically, I love jigsaw puzzles today (and board games, as you now know). So I definitely know what I’ll be doing when I’m a geriatric shut-in. I can’t wait!

  3. September 29, 2011 10:51 pm

    This is a new favorite post!

    I had no clue that barbie had its own version of the GI Joe aircraft carrier…the top echelon of toydom. Often heard of but rarely seen.

    PS – i did wear that hoodie…probably twice…after it got really cold and you gave me that, “why aren’t you wearing that hoodie I got you?” look.

    • October 1, 2011 11:55 am

      Yes, both of those toys are definitely something of an urban legend.

      PS – if some cold winter day you’re out stranded by the side of the road, I promise you’ll be praying to the fleece hoodie gods.

  4. Doris Engel permalink
    September 30, 2011 7:08 pm

    This is really upsetting Angie…as I am the one who got the puzzle from my grandkids last Xmas! I know I’m getting OLD…but possibly a geriatric shut-in???! God help me!
    And today of all days for me to read this! Please try not to make me feel my age in your next piece! Thank you.

    • September 30, 2011 7:34 pm

      I hope you won’t be upset but I’m laughing out loud as I read this. Happy birthday!

  5. Jason Brown-Hoesing permalink
    October 1, 2011 9:06 am

    Kids Wheels, I loved those cars!

    I also remember the neighbor girl getting the my little pony castle and me saying “why do girls get all the fun toys?”

    • October 1, 2011 11:51 am

      I know this is probably bragging, but I happened to have owned the My Little Pony Pretty Parlor. You really missed out.

  6. October 2, 2011 6:42 pm

    My neighbor had that Barbie yacht, and I hated her for it! HATED. HER. Funny stuff here!

    • October 2, 2011 8:11 pm

      I’m glad to know there was once a sighting! I was convinced that it was some kind of yeti, only existing in folklore.

  7. October 2, 2011 7:17 pm

    I don’t think that’s a Barbie yacht. I believe it’s the Glamour Gals cruise ship. I only know this because I WANTED ONE SO DESPERATELY I still look for them on eBay sometimes. It’s the White Buffalo of my childhood.

    • October 2, 2011 8:06 pm

      Wow! You are good, Rebecca! I found the catalog page and it is in fact called “Glamour Gals Ocean Queen Luxury Cruise Ship.” It goes further to state, “…has 3 decks and 7 beautifully furnished cabins with portholes…lever operated elevator…radar communications antenna on the observation deck…” Holy crap.

      I am not making this up, people. I am not confusing this with a Princess Cruise Lines brochure. The Ocean Queen is the real deal alright. And it seems I will now have to join the hunt for it.

      • March 4, 2013 11:50 am

        Awesome read, made me laugh! I am glad and sorry to say that I had the Glamour Gals cruise ship, and yes, it was awesome! I even had the Ocean Queen crew to go with it! I do not know what happened to it, I should have taken better care of it, but I was only seven, and it had so many pieces to remove!!!!!! I didn’t know any better! It is selling on ebay for $1,200.00 sealed, NRFB condition;( which means I will never own it again.

  8. Timoree permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:27 am

    This stirs up bittersweet memories. Oh what I would have given for that Strawberry Shortcake Dreamhouse. Instead poor Strawberry Shortcake and Blueberry Muffin had to live in a Lincoln Log hovel constructed by my cousin Wes as my mother literally laughed at my dream to own that thing.

    • October 3, 2011 8:01 pm

      Oh, Timoree. I can feel the pain in your words. Although, I have to say, at least they had a roof over their heads. My poor Strawberry Shortcake (along with Orange Blossom, Angel Cake and Apple Dumplin’) slept in a plastic crate near my bed.

  9. Allison permalink
    October 26, 2011 3:47 pm

    Grandma bought me the ventroloquist dummy (Lester, #11 on the page) for Christmas. I received the gift not long after the first time I watched Poltergeist. I was terrified of it!

    • October 26, 2011 3:56 pm

      Oh, you poor thing! That’s dreadful! I previously wrote about seeing Poltergeist at age six and, while it wasn’t a ventroliquist dummy (yikes), my china doll Phoebe terrorized me after I saw that movie. I think if her eyes moved side to side like Lester’s, I would’ve been in bigger trouble.

  10. December 9, 2011 6:56 am

    This was a really fun walk down memory lane. I had the Mickey Mouse phone and snow man snow cone maker. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face as I start my day.

    • December 9, 2011 2:25 pm

      Stop it right there — you’re making that up. There is no way anyone had the Mickey Mouse phone AND the snowman snow cone maker. That is just unfair.

  11. January 21, 2012 1:49 pm

    I SO WANTED the BOAT!!

    • January 21, 2012 1:58 pm

      Yes, is that thing amazing or what? It would’ve made all of my Barbies’ dreams come true, too.

  12. April 25, 2012 7:17 am

    Where do I start? I know this is an old post but I couldn’t help but respond. I am sure now we must be related. Maybe fifth or sixth cousins twice removed, but there’s a link for sure. I should note for others who might read these comments that I am not the Lori mentioned in your post. Definitely not that Lori; if you read my hovercard you’ll see that immediately. Thanks for the link to the wishbook site. I will have to visit that. I won’t be able to look away now. My fingers will just automatically type in the web address when I least expect it. I will leave off with a mention of the one Christmas gift that has always puzzled me. All of my friends had these toy heads. Just the head of a doll. Do you remember these? They were hairdressing dolls. They had long blond hair with a detachable pony tail. For some reason my mom thought I would like one, but she bought some generic copy and mine had short brown hair and came with two barrettes and some bobby pins. For the life of me I had no idea what do with a hairdressing doll with a brush cut. So I did my best to look happy and surprised. Well, the surprised part was a bit easier, but it was the surprise that comes when you see something shocking, like an albino chimp. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, that was really fun.

    • April 25, 2012 8:47 pm

      Yes! I remember the doll head thing. You’re supposed to do its hair and then…what? It’s getting its hair done to go out…where? Just lay it in a doll car and see if Barbie can drive it around town, seeing that it doesn’t have arms or legs or even the ability to turn its neck around while parallel parking. I always wanted to put every one of my dolls or stuffed animals or figurines into elaborate soap opera-like sketches that I’d concoct in my spare time — so I can’t see how Doll Head would fit into this. Maybe it’s insensitive but we couldn’t slow down for her and her disabilities. But even worse than Doll Head is that you had Generic Doll Head. You poor thing!

      • April 26, 2012 6:25 am

        Poor me yes, but poor Doll Head. I couldn’t even bring myself to name her and I named everything, she’s no higher on the scale than that tomato shaped pin cushion we all had in home-ec. My sister pointed out last night that she had a tray at the base of her neck. I had forgotten about that. Add insult to injury, but couldn’t she provide storage for Barbie’s many tedious accessories while they’re out on the town? This would at least give her a secure place in Barbie’s entourage. Now that I think of it I could have used Doll Head’s neck tray to hold loose change and safety pins. But, still, there would have been something macabre about keeping a head on the dresser, too reminiscent of Salome and John the Baptist. I don’t know if you remember bible stories, but Salome was the over indulged step daughter (and also grand-niece) who is granted anything she wants as a reward for dancing for Herod at a party, and chooses (on the urges of her mom) to have John the Baptist’s head on a platter. (Just like every family on the street)She brings Herod the head on a platter at the end of the party and I imagine there was quite a hoop-la. What a great grand finale. I couldn’t help thinking of Salome when I waIked down the hall holding her out in front of me, always made me smile in loopy way just on reflex. Should have kept her for Halloween pranks, and church plays.

      • April 28, 2012 1:49 pm

        Oh, wow — the visuals of this “head on a platter” thing has just taken Doll Head to a whole new level. I thank you for that. No, seriously. I do.

        I love the idea of Doll Head’s secure place in the Barbie entourage due to Barbie taking advantage of her own shortcomings. This is just an amazing: “…could have used Doll Head’s neck tray to hold loose change and safety pins…”

  13. Sarah permalink
    May 2, 2012 6:25 pm

    Loved those 1977 Barbie Dream Houses…I too lament never owning one as a child. I could not figure out how Santa NEVER SAW what I circled repeatedly 97 times! As a result, I now own TWO 1977 Barbie Dream Houses so I totally get it!

    • May 4, 2012 8:30 pm

      Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I think I would’ve been game for being shrunk down to Barbie proportions just so I could live in one of those dream houses. A hot pink elevator in my house? Yes please!

  14. October 12, 2012 1:39 pm

    I had the Howdy Doody Dummy…freaky but cool. He always hypnotized me in the Sears Catalog.

    • October 13, 2012 2:03 pm

      Wow, lucky you! I would’ve felt like the coolest kid on the block if I had any one of those creepy dummies! So I’d likely gloat about it at school and then go home and hope I wasn’t murdered that night by tiny plastic hands.


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