For those of you too young to remember, since Sears very cleverly got out of its century-plus-old catalog business in the early-nineties, just before the current catalog shopping fad hit...
The "Sears Wishbook" was an annual event! As one commenter put it,
"It’s such a coincidence you posted this, I recall many pre-Christmas plannings as a kid flipping through the Sears catalog and writing down page numbers and item letters to hand off to my parents in hope of getting some of the items for Christmas (and I would)..."
And on Boing Boing, the author of this project remarked, "For many, the Sears Wishbooks were the (then) modern day equivalent of A Christmas Story's Higbee's Department Store front window."
It's so true! For my sister and I, it was kinda like toy-voyeurism!! We weren't too concerned at the time about cost, since we believed of course that Santa would bring what he thought we deserved...
I just recognized my beloved "Fashion Plates" on page 539 that Santa brought me one year, along with the unicycle, pottery wheel and rock tumbler that I kept asking for, but that Santa--in his infinite wisdom--must have realized that the risk of personal injury, industrial-scale cleaning disasters and noise pollution were far too great to be worth it! :-)
Not to mention the Star Trek stuff I adored! (Okay, okay... I admit it! I was totally in love with Mr. Spock when I was seven. I don't know... he just seemed so intelligent and logical but secretly so deeply sensitive! What a dreamboat!! *sigh*)
I have to admit though that one thing that kind of stuns me now is how expensive some of this stuff was at the time! Wanna check? Here's an inflation calculator! The $150 remote-controlled airplane would cost something like $425 today and the Atari 400 personal computer (complete with the legendary cassette tape data input drive!) would set you back over $1550!
Want more fun from the ghosts of Christmases past? For my sister's (and Dale's!) generation, here's a 1986 "ToysRUs" circular! (I already spy Teddy Ruckspin!!)