[30 December 2010]
Now that the Christmas season has passed and the gifts have already been received, let’s take a nostalgic look at popular gifts through the years. The 1970s saw a boom in electronic technology, but many presents were still pretty old school.
Atari Pong: Before Xbox, Nintendo 64, or Sega Genesis: there was Pong. While you can probably play it on your cellphone today, it was a huge gift in the 1970s. In 1976, they sold for about $55.
Tomy Blip: The box bragged that you could take it anywhere, because you didn’t need to hook it up to a TV set. Though it wasn’t quite the same as Pong, it marked the beginning of portable gaming. Blip was still sold in the 1980s, albeit at a deep discount. (This is when my mom got hers, which still somewhat works to this very day. Surprisingly the game is mostly mechanical and gives off a loud buzzing sound when in use.)
Atari 2600 Video Computer System: For a long while, it was the best-selling video game system ever. My parents passed theirs on to me, and that led to me wasting a lot of last summer on Ms. Pac-Man.
Sony Betamax VCR: VHS or Beta? Beta came first, but it was largely pushed out of the market by VHS. However, devoted purists currently argue that Betamax was far superior in quality.
Marx Big Wheel: Not all gifts in the 1970s were hi-tech; Big Wheels were popular for being safer and cheaper than a regular bicycle for younger kids. They come in many different themes and colors now, but the original was this four-color design.
Lite Brite: Today, you can buy four-screen cubed versions, but this is the original. Those little colored pieces of plastic always had a way of getting knocked off and rolling underneath the table, didn’t they?
Star Wars Action Figures: George Lucas made the then-unusual choice to request all of his films’ merchandsing rights when it came time to make a sequel in 1977. Thanks in part to toys like this, that was a very wise decision.
Charlie’s Angels Dolls: Most TV series were considered safe for children to watch, and girls could reenact their favorite moments from the show with these.
Six Million Dollar Man Doll (with Bionic Grip): Technically an “action figure”, this was the boys’ answer to those Charlie’s Angels dolls.