I don’t know if you remember Consumers Distributing but when their catalog came to the house in the 80s, it was chaos as we all went through it to decide what we wanted for Christmas. I don’t know why I was thinking about that today but I remember really wanting some really bizarre stuff for Christmas over the years. In honor of the Ghost of Christmas Catalog Past, here is my list of things that I wanted for Christmas but never, ever got. Some for good reason. Actually all for good reason. If you have any gifts that you wanted as a kid but never got, let me know in the comments.
Tomy Omnibot :: In reality these probably were not that cool but back in the 80s, the promise of real life working robot kept me awake at night just dreaming of the awesomeness. Having just mentioned it now, I won’t be able to sleep tonight just thinking about the awesomeness that I missed out of. I had so many plans for this thing. A couple of years ago Market Mall had a retro toy place in it and one of these things sat in the window. Even as an adult it inspired some retro lust.
Vic-20 :: In grade 4, our teacher at Queensland Downs Elementary School was a bit of a computer geek and our classroom filled up with one Apple II, a bunch of Commodore PETs, an Atari 400 and other computers that we geeked out on. He had a Commodore 64 with a revolutionary floppy drive and gave this lecture once about if we worked hard, got a good education, made good investment decisions and had some luck, we too could afford a Commodore 64. While I had a Commodore 64 later in life (and I loved it), at the time, the Vic-20 was what we played with and I really wanted one. It was actually the star of our class Christmas play (it also crashed during the finale, wrecking everything) You know, after the spring of 1984, I don’t think I ever even saw one, let alone ever used one again.
Speaking of Mr. Taylor’s Grade 4 class, he was the one that brought in a robot into class. I think it was called Adam and it could be programmed to do a couple of things which seemed cool at the time. It probably explains that why I was so fascinated with Mr. Omnibot up there as well.
Timex Sinclair :: These may have been the cheapest personal computers that I have ever seen and I pestered my mom daily for one in 1985. Radio Shack at the Mall of Lawson Heights sold them. I think what sunk my quest to convince mom to get me one was she actually saw how crappy it was. Like Steve Jobs has taught us, the demo is really, really important. Of course if I had a Tomy Omnibot, it could have demoed it for me. For the record, that Christmas I got a Cooper XL7 helmet which despite what everyone said, looked pretty cool in it’s time.
Tony Hawk Skateboard :: Now I had bought a Dominion Firefly skateboard a couple of years earlier. For those of you who remember Dominion Skateboards, they were skateboards sold at Zellers and other big box retailers that were pretty cheap. Looking back at it, it took a lot of abuse and over the years I put some new wheels and trucks on it and it wasn’t a bad board. Of course it wasn’t a Powell Peralta and there was no way I was going to be accepted as a member of the Bones Brigade without one (I also had no really moves but that is irrelevant) A Tony Hawk Skateboard was a long ways out of the budget back in 1987 but I got a great generic skateboard for Christmas that year and with some really great old school stickers and some parts off my old deck, life was good. I was going to skate forever or at least until I discovered high school football. What cracks me up now is that I bought some Tony Hawk biking gloves this summer, Mark plays Tony Hawk games and refuses to accept that Tony Hawk was even alive when I was a kid. 20 years later I am still buying Tony Hawk products. When I am 80 I may be asking for the Tony Hawk Motorized Wheelchair.
GI Joe Skystriker :: I had a lot of GI-Joe toys over the years but I also thought the coolest toy was the F-14 Skystriker. I never ever had one but I had the GI Joe attack helicopter, a missile shooting jeep, the snowmobile, and a couple other really cool vehicles as seen on the page below. A couple of friends of mine had them and we never really played with it, it was like we were in awe of it’s greatness.
Metal Detector :: I totally forgot about this until Mark posted his Christmas wish list, I wanted a metal detector. I am not sure what I was hoping to get. Lawson Heights was still a new neighborhood so the likelihood of buried treasure or even spare change being found was slim but I remember thinking how cool it would be to have one. My grandfather had one so maybe that is where I got my inspiration from.
Sharp Wizard Organizer :: Continuing the computer geek fest, how cool would a pocket computer have been to my life. It included a memo pad, a telephone pad, calendar and scheduling with alarms and repeating events, multi-time zone clocks, and a calculator. I am not sure how useful it would have been in real life as a kid but then again, all of those Palm devices I owned were not that much more useful.
Gateway Handbook 286 :: In high school I was pretty much a nerd (which is different than now how?) and we used to love going through computer magazines as a group of nerds and talk computers. I remember the day when we first saw an ad in Computer Shopper for the Gateway Handbook. It was too expensive (I think it started out at $995 USD when it came out) to ask for but my heart beat a little faster every time I saw an ad for one.
I later owned a Gateway 486 and loved it. In a lot of ways, it was the world’s first netbook but it was before it’s time (and the web).