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  • Slot's n' Christmas...

    So I stumbled upon a site that has many years of digitized catalogs of Montgomery Ward, Sears, and some JC Penny.

    To satisfy my own curiosity, I thought I would take a look at some of the catalogs of my youth and see if my memories could be validated with what I was seeing inside the catalogs. However, this led to becoming interested in watching the evolution of slots and Christmas. It became an interesting journey, and one that I'm still making. I thought some of you might enjoy viewing the evolution of slot's n' Christmas, so hence this thread.

    I was surprised to see that slot cars were first introduced in the Montgomery Ward Christmas catalog edition as early as 1960. However, it only consisted of a whopping two sets!

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    And only ONE of those was electrically powered! AND... it was a Strombecker set with the infamous copper conduit rails:

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    Sears was slower off the line than Monkey Wards in 1960. They listed only ONE slot track, and it appears to actually be a Scalextric offering?

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    However, the big sales corporations were quick to catch on to a new fad, we'll take a look at the Montgomery Ward and Sears Christmas catalogs for 1961 next.

    Hope you enjoy this march through slotting's history in view of Christmas!

    Andre

    Andre Ming
    Poteau, OK

  • #2
    For Christmas of 1961, Montogomery Ward's still had only two pages of slot cars, but, offered more tracks. The sets look to be Eldon, and Strombecker with improved aluminum conduit rails. HOWEVER, something very significant first shows up: HO scale offerings:

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    Sears also only consisted of two pages of slot car offerings, and like MW, HO scale sets are introduced. The HO sets would prove to become very significant in the market history of slot cars. Sear's slot pages were only in black n' white. It seems that MW was quicker to grasp the value of color ads. I also note that the two main players for 1/32 sets in the Sear's 1961 catalog are Eldon and Strombecker.


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    SO, both MW and Sears were a bit slow off the line with slot cars, and 1962 would also prove to still be a bit conservative.


    Andre
    Last edited by LAMing; August 9, 2021, 09:35 AM.
    Andre Ming
    Poteau, OK

    Comment


    • #3
      For Christmas of 1962, Montgomery Ward would open the match with a mere two pages, but, they were both in vibrant color. It should also be noted that Strombecker introduced their stock car bodies AND Strombecker was starting to supply additional bodies with their sets. Added play value! The race was on! (If you'll pardon the pun!)

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      For Christmas of '62, Sears was also still being conservative, what with three pages of slot car offerings. Eldon had a selection of cost effective sets. Strombecker introduced their Hot Rod, Cooper, and Indy car, as well as a Corvette AND, a 4 lane tracks. It appeared that Strombecker worked a deal with Sears to brand their sets as "Allstate" for Sears use. Also note that Strombecker was tossing in some figures into the mix. AND, a new brand shows up: Marx!

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      Thus far the big stores were still being conservative... but boy would that change in a big way!! They saw there was money to made in slot cars... and 1963 would be HUGE!

      Stay tuned!

      Andre
      Last edited by LAMing; August 9, 2021, 09:58 AM.
      Andre Ming
      Poteau, OK

      Comment


      • #4
        For 1963, Montgomery Ward started upping their game... but still quite conservative at only four pages, BUT... some of them were spectacular! Strombecker was featured and for 1963 the new Strombecker XKE and Berlinetta sported WORKING LIGHTS for night time racing! Also, Strombecker introduced their 1/32 scale "BRM" F1 car. For us budding home set racers, the Christmas catalogs were getting very exciting!


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        IT fell to the '63 Montgomery Wards to supply me with my first electric slot set (had a battery powered one in 1960?). It was this featured Stombecker "A" set and it was indeed SPECTACULAR! SO much play value was packed in with the Lap Counter, extra body shells, headlights, and piles of accessories! Loved this set! As an 11 year old with a great imagination, I had SO much fun with this set!


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        Included in Monty's '63 Christmas catalog were also HO sets and two new players: Gilbert and Marx...

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        Monty's last slot page in their '63 Christmas catalog contained a description of the above sets... and merely a passing mention of a rather ground breaking 1/24 set by AMT!

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        So the slot car feeding frenzy was on, and Montgomery Ward intended to be a very active participant.

        HOWEVER... wait until you see what SEARS did for '63!! That's next.

        Andre
        Last edited by LAMing; August 9, 2021, 11:23 AM.
        Andre Ming
        Poteau, OK

        Comment


        • #5
          1963 was a BANNER YEAR for Sears and their slot car offerings. A staggering amount of product was offered to the hungry masses that were jumping into home set racing. Sears offered SO much, that I needed to post their 1963 Christmas catalog listings in a dedicated post! Let's get started!

          Sears was still a firm believer in using black and white to save costs, as can be evidenced by their first few pages...

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          Sears also offered the very innovative AMT "Turnpike" 1/24 set:

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          Then Sears switched gears and included a few color pages...

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          How's THAT for offering slot cars?? NINE pages filled with a variety of scales, makes, sets, accessories, on and on! Happy Days had arrived for home set slot racing!

          HOWEVER, as big as THIS was, wait until you see 1964! There's even a hat in the sales ring!!

          Stay tuned!

          Andre
          Attached Files
          Last edited by LAMing; August 9, 2021, 11:40 AM.
          Andre Ming
          Poteau, OK

          Comment


          • #6
            Another interesting thing to me when looking back at these catalogs is the prices. Adjusted for inflation, that set for $23 in 1960 would be around $200 today! That $43 set that looks like a Scalextric set would be well over $400 in today's dollars. That is getting into Arc Pro territory!

            Comment


            • #7
              Seeing the plane on page one here here is some interesting info of a model plane museum here in Texas !

              http://www.stanzelmuseum.org/

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks for sharing all these pages LAMing.....please keep them coming. Its a great nostalgic trip back to look at these catalogs. As a child, we used to get both Eaton's and Sears catalog at my house (in Canada), and I used to pour over both for hours. Seems like a simpler time, compared to today's pandemic world.
                Ralph
                Toronto, Ontario
                Canada

                Comment


                • #9
                  cdub:

                  It was an expensive hobby "back then", too!

                  pdb4952:

                  Ah, the airplanes in the catalogs are an entirely 'nuther story for me! I used to fly control line model airplanes and the plastic RTR planes in these catalogs are BLOW MIND.

                  RvE:

                  You're welcome! I suspect there are several of us old farts here that have great memories of the sets in the Christmas catalogs as well as those sets that we might have owned.


                  More installments to come!

                  Andre
                  Andre Ming
                  Poteau, OK

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    And now it's time for the BANNER YEAR of 1964! AMAZING offerings by both Montgomery Ward and Sears. HOWEVER... there was a new player that enters the picture (at least the first digitized catalog appearance): JC Penny!!

                    Boy did they ever come in with a bang!!

                    Enough blab... let's make a like frog and hop to it!

                    For starters, we see Strombecker again, but it appears that JC Penny really specialized in the offerings of Eldon...

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                    Five pages of slots! Looks like JC Penny wanted in on the money to be made!

                    Next up will be Montgomery Ward's 1964 Christmas catalog pages.

                    Andre
                    Andre Ming
                    Poteau, OK

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      MONTGOMERY WARD 1964...

                      SIX pages of sets and accessories! Here they are:

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                      And what appears to be MW's "flagship" for 1964: This great looking Strombecker set!


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                      Up next Sears. You're not going to BELIEVE the Sears 1964 catalog offerings!!

                      Andre
                      Andre Ming
                      Poteau, OK

                      Comment


                      • RvE
                        RvE commented
                        Editing a comment
                        I have never seen that Cox outdoor race set with the .049 powered cars. Very interesting. I used to have the 049 power dragster that ran along a string, and that beauty really ran fast. We could not beat it on our bicylces. Lots of cool stuff here.

                      • LAMing
                        LAMing commented
                        Editing a comment
                        RvE:

                        Same here! Never saw it before! As I've compiled these catalogs, I've seen many things I did not know were offered "back then". Some of it looked really interesting. Sure wish this stuff was available today!

                    • #12
                      And now we get to the HOLY GRAIL of the home set Slot Car World: Sears' 1964 catalog! FIFTEEN PAGES worth of slot car sets, cars, accessories, et al. It was AMAZING! The Sears 1964 Christmas Catalog was truly the pinnacle for home set racing. HO, 1/32, Marx, Strombecker, Aurora, Eldon... wow!

                      I'll be posting these up in two parts. Here's PART ONE:

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                      To be continued...

                      Andre Ming
                      Poteau, OK

                      Comment


                      • #13
                        SEARS Christmas Catalog 1964: Part TWO...

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                        As you can see, 1964 was indeed a banner year for the home set slot racing hobby!

                        1965 was also a mind blowing year, too!

                        Stay tuned!

                        Andre
                        Andre Ming
                        Poteau, OK

                        Comment


                        • #14
                          1965 was another banner year for home set slot enthusiasts. Many, many options were offered. In fact, if you notice, more and more "gimmickry" and foof begins to appear. Apparently, as the craze for slots begin to peak, the mfg'ers thought such was going to be needed in order to "one up" the competition. There were a LOT of players in the market for the slot car money!

                          We'll first take a look at JC Penny's offerings in their 1965 Christmas catalog.

                          New for '65 was Eldon's "Crash Car Set". I remember purchasing one of these on clearance ($9) sometime in '66 and it was actually a lot of fun! Of course, over the decades since then it's long gone... but have you looked at the crazy prices Eldon's anything "Crash Set" commands?? Insane prices!


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                          So, as we can see, JC Penny seemed determined to get their share of the slot car pie with some many nice offerings!

                          Up next will be the pages from Montgomery Ward's 1965 Christmas catalog!

                          Andre
                          Andre Ming
                          Poteau, OK

                          Comment


                          • #15
                            And now for Montgomery Ward's 1965 Christmas catalog pages! They were still bent on offering a good selection of slot car sets, cars, and accessories with eight pages.

                            Interestingly, MW was using "feature" pages in the first few pages of their catalog. This appeared on page 3. Note that it's HO scale? It could be that by this time already, the sales of HO were beginning to look more attractive than the much larger 1/32 sets?

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                            Then the rest of their pages from deeper within the catalog. First up is a simply great looking Eldon set with Eldon's stock car offerings at the time, along with Eldon's "Crash Car Set"...

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                            Strombecker was nicely represented with this nice set. Note that the "Clamshell" cars are starting to appear: The 904. Also appears the Cooper and the Indy Car were still in solidly in the lineup.


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                            And this SUPER looking Strombecker set, complete with two more "Clamshell" cars: The Ford GT and the awesome Cobra Daytona!

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                            Then there was the aforementioned "gimmickry" and foof....

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                            And a NEW NAME shows up: Revell! Revell made awesome sets with a very good track system, though becomes quite brittle as the years go by.

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                            And MW's last slot page had cars and accessories.

                            Astute eyes will note the first appearance of an item that many feel hastened the demise of the slot car hobby during that era. Do you see it? A "thingie" appears. In this case a Classic "Manta". Soon funky, futuristic, and silly looking cars would begin to populate the commercial tracks. Yes, they were FAST... and I guess that helped propel them in sales. However, history does seem to indicate there is a SOLID market for scale proportioned cars TO THIS DAY, and such cars have been greatly responsible for the renaissance of 1/32 home slotting.

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                            Next, the Mother Lode: The Sears 1965 catalog pages!!

                            Andre
                            Andre Ming
                            Poteau, OK

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