So, I was looking through the electronic toys/entertainment portion of the 1979 Sears Christmas catalog and was quite honestly amazed at how many items I actually owned. My family was by no means rich, but my father was a technophile and so there was always money for the newest gizmo.
I've scanned a few of the pages and, as always, added my two cents. Enjoy.
For instance, I played Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 last night and walked away frustrated and stressed. Sure, I derived some enjoyment from making clean head shots and watching the realistic gore spray. Overall, it was immersive and realistic, but not especially "fun". Whereas, this game provided me with hours upon hours of unadulterated joy. I was mercifully oblivious to the fact that the technology was in the Stone Age,
The Merlin was under every boy's Christmas tree in 1979. My parents always dragged me to yard sales, and I have a distinct memory of always seeing Merlins for sale. In other words, it just didn't provide long term enjoyment. It had enticing commercials which made it seem like the answer to all your prayers, but the thrill was gone within a few hours..
I actually had this. Seeing it in this catalog brought back a flood of memories. It was my "big present" that year. Maybe this is where I got my enthusiasm for trivia (or maybe it's just a natural genetic defect). You plug the Quiz Wiz into the adapter and simply answer the questions in the book. Categories included: books, music, sports, movies, TV, superheroes, and The Book of Lists. Lots of fun, but once you answered all the questions, you may as well throw away the $5 "game" (about $15 today).
Everybody remembers Simon. It was unleashed unto the world at Studio 54 in 1978, and it quickly became a symbol of the decade (akin to the lava lamp, pet rock, and disco ball).
It's interesting to note that there were imitators a plenty that followed close on Simon's heels, but no lawsuits for copyright infringement. Perhaps, this is due tot he fact that Simon itself is an imitation of an early Atari game called Touch Me. The Atari game was wildly unpopular and the sounds were like a metal fork being scraped on ceramic.
Tiger Electronics, the gang that brought you the Furby, was among the first with the Simon imitation, called Copy Cat. The Copy Cat was bought by Sears and renamed Follow Me. You'll notice it's much smaller and shittier looking than Simon.
Man, who knew the Speek n Spell was so pricey? That's over $180 in today's dollars! It's more expensive than Mego's Talking Robot for chrissakes. My younger brother got it for Christmas as well as the Little Professor.
The level of interest in astrology and other occult practices in the 1970s truly astounds me. We were a superstitious lot back then.
Despite the occult fanaticism in the 70s, I still doubt this little number was very successful. It doesn't seem to provide much beyond your daily horoscope which can be found in the newspaper. And there's no way it actually "told you" the horoscope either; you still would have to look it up in the manual. No thanks.
I have no memory of a motorcycle styled game console. Was this popular? The idea of motorcross sounds like a cool alternative to Pong, and I would have totally dug the motorbike grip controller back in '79.
It's interesting to note that some of the most successful and well-loved games of today are not exactly high-tech in the graphics department. I was pathologically obsessed with Candy Crush, Words with Friends, and Ruzzle for months (until my damn tablet broke). My children are big fans of Minecraft which has (intentionally?) lousy graphics.
In other words, we've almost come full circle. Where it's not all about the graphics, and more about the actual gameplay. Am I mistaken?
(10-4, good buddy. Roger out.)