20 totally tubular pages from the 1983 Sears catalog
In the summer of 1983, Risky Business was big at the box office and "Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" was pumping out of stereos. Yet no company was quite in the dream business like Sears. The merchandise giant shipped thousands of its Wish Books to mailboxes around the country. Children would flip through the hundreds of pages, fantasizing about the many toys. It was a pretty great afternoon when the Sears catalog showed up.
Computer technology and fitness culture was taking over in '83. So, yes, you'll find a plethora of leg warmers, sweat bands and video games in those pages. Let's take a look at some of the best pages from the 1983 Sears Wish Book. The images come courtesy of the fantastic wishbookweb.com.
1. The aerobics craze was at its peak.
Can you name all six pieces from this six-piece outfit?
2. For a more formal aerobics look, go all velour.
Magenta was one of the official colors of the 1980s.
3. Even Barbie was Jazzercizing.
The Queen of Dolls had her own velour track suit, not to mention treadmill and bike.
4. Kids founds ways to work out, as well.
We're not sure how a slide builds muscle, but that's a workout we'd still love to do.
5. Guys were into magenta fitness, too.
This was one-stop shopping for the villain in every 1980s teen movie.
6. When guys got ready for the evening, they went for the stand-up comic look.
Suspenders: not just for Mork.
7. Garfield was more popular than lasagna.
There were no fewer than five pages of merchandise featuring the fat, orange cat.
8. No, really.
You could buy Garfield bedrooms, Garfield office sets, Garfield clothes…
9. Cartoon characters were part of telecommunication, too.
Today we have emojis. In 1983, we expressed our joy through Kermit phones.
10. But true progressives had cutting-edge cordless phones.
That top phone would be about $480 in today's cash.
11. Breakdancers needed boom boxes.
Giant piece of cardboard not included.
12. The CD still came with instructions.
"All you do is push the 'Open' button and the drawer slides out." This was mind-blowing at the time.
13. Camcorders fit in the palm of your hand… and on your shoulder… and hanging from your shoulder.
If you were filming a Revolutionary War–themed wedding, you had to carry the VCR with you.
14. Today, computer companies make watches. In 1983, watch companies made computers.
48K of memory power.
15. Though our watches were arcades.
See, smartwatches are not such a new idea.
16. True gamers took the arcade home.
The back of the catalog was filled with pages upon pages of Atari, Colecovision and Intellivision products. We wanted to focus on Milton Bradley's overlooked Vectrex machine, which flopped just as the home video game market was suffering a crash. Hard to believe that happened.
17. Remember Star Wars?
What ever happened to that franchise? Also, Sears, we hate to nitpick decades later, but that's Empire Strikes Back in the bottom photo.
18. Kids did go outside.
If anything could tear children away from Ataris, it was BMX bikes. The more padding on it, the better.
19. Speaking of padding…
If kids needed protecting when performing tricks on their BMX bikes, they could borrow shoulder pads from mom's outfits.
20. Sweaters were a full-body experience.
Sweaters, leg warmers, sweat bands, sweat suits… We did a lot of sweating in the 1980s.