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Today’s gifts become tomorrow’s treasure

Dec. 7, 2018
by Mark Ollig

We are entering the second week of December, which means the holiday shopping season is in full swing.

My children are now adults, so gift cards or a check is usually appreciated.

However; back when they were children, I stood with other parents in the aisle of a store staring at the games and toys sitting on the shelves, wondering which ones my kids would like.

One Christmas gift I gave my youngest in 1992 was the Talkboy Tape Recorder and Player. It was like the one Kevin McCallister used in the movie, “Home Alone II.”

My youngest was all smiles (I was, too) when opening this present and playing with it.

During the 1960s, many of us who were then kids looked through the toy section of the Christmas catalog and wrote our name next to what we wanted so our parents would see it.

When a television commercial of the toy we wanted appeared, we made sure our folks knew it by saying, “That is what I want for Christmas!”

At 9 years old, I was a faithful watcher of the TV show, “Lost in Space.”

This show took place in 1997, and featured the Jupiter 2 spaceship and its passengers – the Robinson family, pilot Major Don West, and the reluctant stowaway Dr. Smith, who frequently called the B-9 Robot, a “Bumbling Bucket of Bolts.”

Will Robinson, the youngest character, was about my age. I watched the show to see how he handled the various adventures aboard the Jupiter 2.

During the holiday season of 1967, I asked my parents if I could get the “Lost in Space” toy collection for Christmas. The commercial for it regularly appeared during every “Lost in Space” episode in November and December.

The evening of Dec. 24, 1967, after my family had finished dinner, everyone went upstairs to the living room and gathered around the Christmas tree.

I remember closely looking at the wrapped presents under the lighted, decorated tree located in the northeast corner, trying to determine which one might have the Jupiter 2 in it.

While opening the last Christmas gift from my parents, I could hardly contain my joy; the box cover read: Switch ‘N Go Lost in Space set by Mattel Inc.

After thanking my parents several times, I removed the contents from the box and placed them on the living room floor amidst the other presents, gift wrapping paper, and empty boxes.

The “Lost in Space” toy collection contained plastic figures of all the main characters from the TV show, including the robot, and the family pet named Bloop.

A toy model of the Space Chariot, which was a type of recreational vehicle they used to roam the planets they were stranded on, was also included.

The Space Chariot was nicely detailed and looked just like the one from the TV show. It used a battery-powered electric motor which propelled it around the living room floor that Christmas Eve.

The Jupiter 2 spaceship model was sturdy and well-constructed. Inside, it was arranged to hold all the character pieces, including the Space Chariot.

I remember while playing with this Christmas gift, I would look up and smile at my mom and dad, who would smile back, knowing they had made their 9-year-old very happy.

I also remember the holiday songs being sung by Bing Crosby off a vinyl record playing on the hi-fi (high fidelity) stereo console in the living room.

A gift I received the next year was the Remco toy model submarine “Seaview” from the TV show, “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea,” which I liked to watch.

It was a well-made yellow plastic model approximately 1 foot in length.

Winding the rubber band inside the submarine propelled the Seaview’s plastic blades (elastic motor propulsion), allowing it to cruise the high seas, a lake, a filled bathtub, or across the floor (it had wheels).

Today, some 50 years later, I still remember the fun I had playing with those toys; sadly, I am unable to recall what became of them.

Feeling nostalgic, I visited a well-known “buy-bid-sell” online store and found the same “Lost in Space” Chariot toy model I had received for Christmas in 1967.

It was selling for $650. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that.

The complete 1967 Mattel Lost in Space toy collection (in its original box and unopened) was being auctioned off with bids starting at $1,000.

The Remco 1968 Seaview submarine toy model (new in its original box with accessories) was selling between $1,200 and $2,000.

It seems the Baby Boomer generation is willing to pay serious money to get back their favorite childhood toys.

I also checked today’s value of the Talkboy I gave my youngest son in 1992.

I was shocked. The original 1992 Talkboy Tape Recorder and Player (in its original box) was selling for $650.

Granted, the toys you are giving your children this holiday season could someday be worth a lot of money, but their greater value will be the happy memories they brought and the moments you both were smiling at each other; that’s the real treasure.


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