Instantly Dated: Christmas Toys from 1983 – By Chris McQ

 

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It was the Winter of 1983 and your parents just picked up the new Christmas catalog. That means it was time to get down to business and figure out what toys you wanted. If you were like me, you would probably have gravitated towards the toys whose cartoons and commercials had been burned into your brain earlier that year.

G.I. Joe was the first action figure entry to lead the Sears catalog that year. In 1983, GI Joe was in high gear with the Headquarters Command Center. Off all the toys I ever opened up, I think this was the memory I treasure most, opening up on Christmas morning. If you got this back in 1983, “excelsior!” For those who weren’t that lucky, the epic parent fail for that year was right on the same page as the G.I. Joe toys, the Bi-Level Mountain Fortress set.

Also in full effect that year was He-Man. If you didn’t get Castle Grayskull last year, it was also a must have this year. The epic fail on the same page, Casle Zendo. This cheap castle came with rubber figures. I had this one in addition to Castle Grayskull. Obviously it didn’t get much play.

While we’re on this page of the 1983 Sears catalog, ya gotta give a shout out to Manglors, rubbery people that the manufacturer claimed could be taken apart and reassembled. Yeah, good luck with that. And Crystar, which was based on a comic book, and made by Remco. Definitely one of the coolest looking action figures out there.

This year, the Atari 2600 was still hot, and almost the only video gaming that I was focused on. But there were lots of other choices, like Atari’s new 5200, Colecovision, Intellivision and Coleco Gemini, which could play Atari 2600 games.

So, if I had to do it over again, I probably would have asked my parents to dig deep into their wallets and spring for a Colecovision because of its superior graphics, compared to the 2600.

Another toy I missed, but was always jealous of were these Coleco cabinet-looking portable games. I would drool when kids would bring them to school. I drooled again when I saw one for the first time in decades at the RetroWorld convention back in October in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Take a look at the 1983 Sears catalog and tell me what you got that year, what you forgot existed and what you would have asked for now that you know better.

Well until next time, remember, toys and stuff are great at Christmas. But what’s really important is spending time with our friends and family. To everyone out there. I hope you have a very merry Christmas this year.