I was digging through stuff at my Grandpa’s house last weekend to see if there was anything I found sentimental and wanted to keep (he didn’t die, he’s just moving to a retirement home), and among the old photos, fishing paraphernalia, and random mothball-scented things, I found a 1993 Sears Catalog. I spotted it from a mile away and almost knocked my sister over who was looking through our Grandmother’s Christmas decorations trying to get to it.
Unfortunately it wasn’t a Christmas catalog. If it was, I would have snatched the whole thing and spent hours (days?) scanning the entire toy section. Alas, this was just a regular-type catalog which meant no toys. However, I remembered that even these boring catalogs still usually had video game sections and I quickly flipped past the pages of clothes, exercise equipment, and antique-looking computers to find them. I wasn’t disappointed.
Excitement In the Palm of Your Hand
A crazy illustration of Mario kicks off the four pages of video games before the catalog gets back into random 90s electronics. 1993 was a big year for gaming, and this catalog was shilling NES, Super Nintendo, Game Boy, and Sega Genesis games. I don’t know why I love seeing stuff like this so much, but everything is interesting to me.
I love seeing the prices, the attempts at cramming a game description into one sentence, and thinking about how confusing these pages must have been for parents trying to remember what it was their kids wanted. I wonder how many kids got Nintendos when they really wanted Super Nintendos? Or got games for the wrong console because their grandparents couldn’t make sense of these four pages of gibberish.
It also makes me realize what a weird relationship to video games I had as a kid. I had a few consoles (NES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, Game Gear), but I rarely ever got to buy games. I would get a game or two when I got a system, but from then on I was on my own. I rented games constantly during our many trips to Video Barn every month, but for the most part if I wanted to own a game I had to find it at a garage sale or just get lucky.
As an adult now who hates buying games for $60, I can see why my parents thought that way. Although, I rented games like Road Rash II and NBA Jam so much I probably paid for them many times over. Sigh.
You Must Steal the Gems Back From the Dragons
Could you imagine ordering games from a catalog like this with only the one sentence description to go on? They abbreviated Electro in the Spider-Man description for crying out loud. One thing that really strikes me is the variety in game prices, even on the same console. Today we’re used to seeing every game at close to the same price, but here there are big differences. Granted, the difference is probably due to the age of the game. For Sega Genesis, Marble Madness could be had for $40, while John Madden ’92 was a cool $60.
Meanwhile, I’m trying to track down a complete-in-box copy of TMNT: The Hyper Stone Heist for Sega Genesis on ebay and can’t seem to find one for less than $75.
The most important thing I got from these four pages of scanned nostalgia was a reminder that somewhere buried in the depths of my closet are two complete JC Penny Christmas catalogs from the early 90s, just waiting to be scanned. Dozens of pages of toys, video games, and sleeping bags ripe for commentary.
Hurry up Christmas.