It's been several years since I last wrote an article on this site and I've been looking for an excuse to make a new one and I think I've finally found one.
At the end of October in 2013, I was browsing through various eBay auctions and came across a very interesting item for sale for around $10; a Toys R Us catalog from November 1993.
For those who aren't familiar with me, one of my biggest hobbies is studying the 1990s, particularly 1993-1997, the era I grew up in from ages 3-8. One place in particular I remember very fondly from my childhood is Toys R Us, across from the old Carolina Circle Mall in Greensboro, NC. Other than one photo from 2004 taken two years after the store was abandoned, I have no photo record of the Toys R Us I visited as a child.
So you can imagine my excitement when I found this catalog for sale on eBay. I bought it immediately and it arrived about two weeks later. I scanned each page of the catalog into the computer and digitized the entire catalog. In this article, we will take a look at some notable pages from this catalog that I find interesting.
This is the first page you see when you open the catalog. Here, various VHS tapes are being advertise and already, I see a few I had as a child around this time, particularly 101 Dalmatians from Disney. What really sticks out in this ad is the section advertising the Thomas the Tank Engine tapes, which I was obsessed with in the mid '90s. I find it hard to believe that 20 years later, Thomas the Tank Engine is still popular among children, although it is obviously kind of different these days, particularly the fact that they now talk.
The next 20 pages or so are coupons for various toys, games, and video games. Don't bother trying to use these; they expired on November 30, 1993.
I'm male so I obviously didn't grow up with these, but I decided to include a few girl oriented toys in this article because I do remember seeing the ads for this stuff on TV back in the day. This particular page shows some various baby dolls. This was back when we had things like "Baby Check Up" and "Baby All Gone". If you watched Nickelodeon around this era like I did, the ads for these dolls were pounded into your mind.
More girl oriented toys, but this actually shows something I got for Christmas in 1993; the Fisher-Price All in One Kitchen Center. I was unaware at the time that it was targeted toward girls, but I got a lot of use from this when I was 4 years old.
I'll probably have rocks thrown at me for including this, but believe it or not, at least in my opinion, there was a time when Barney the Dinosaur was find to watch. In fact, in 1993/1994, I was obsessed with Barney and owned a Barney toy just like the one in this ad. I can't recall if mine was the talking one or not.
I'm unable to remember if I owned that Little Tikes Workshop or not because it looks very familiar. I know I owned the tools at one point. One thing on this page I did own was the Fisher-Price Flip Track & Rail Set, seen on the top right of this page. I got it for Christmas a year later from my uncle in 1994. I fell in love with that set and used it for several years. I might still have it, but if I do, it's probably deep down in the attic somewhere.
Yes, it's the Bumble Ball! In early 1994, when these things were becoming popular, I was determined to own one of those things. I remember my dad taking me to every Toys R Us and toy store in Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and Burlington trying to find one, but they were so popular that they were impossible to find anywhere. We finally found one sometime in 1994 and I played with it for awhile or so until I got bored with it. I actually did an eBay search for Bumble Balls sometime last year and discovered these things were going for roughly $40, so if you're lucky enough to still own one, hold on to it.
As a huge fan of '90s Nickelodeon, I had to include this page. Unfortunately, I never owned any of these products but I certainly remember seeing them, particularly the Nickelodeon Color Writer.
On the bottom right of this page is the Fisher-Price Tape Recorder, a tape player that many children in the '90s owned, myself included. Up until August 1994, our family owned two vehicles; a 1986 Nissan Pickup and a 1986 or 1987 Nissan Sentra. The pickup had a tape player in it whereas the Sentra only had an AM/FM radio built in. Sometime in late 1993/early 1994, my parents bought me the Fisher-Price Tape Recorder, but not to record with. Instead, I brought it in the Sentra with me to play tapes in it. I used it up until August of '94 when we bought a 1994 Honda Accord, which had a built in tape player. Also, I can't help but laugh my butt off at the goofy look on that boy's face on this page.
Two of my favorite movies growing up were the Home Alone films; 1 & 2. I remember all the hype when they actually released an actual Talk Boy tape recorder, exactly like the one seen in Home Alone 2. Unfortunately, it took me a good while to become the owner of one. I didn't get one until around 1998/1999. I used it into the early 2000s until the tape recorder decided to die on me. In my stupidity, I threw the tape away along with the recorder. I'm still beating myself up to this day for not saving that tape.
A look at '90s toys wouldn't be complete without some board games. I never owned any of the games on this page, mainly because most of these were for girls, but these are still a good time capsule.
This page includes yet another toy I got around this time only to use about 5 times or so; the Easel/Desk unit from Fisher-Price, which did an excellent job of taking up space in our living room. Also seen are various play-tents. I had none of those style ones but I did have several similar to these.
The bottom left of this page shows the Fisher-Price Grow With Me picnic table, which I got in the summer of 1993. This was one thing that definitely got A LOT of use throughout the years. I would eat my supper on it in the living room and eventually, the table was moved outside, where it got much better use.
I was very pleased to find this catalog advertising "Motocykes". In the fall of 1994, Montgomery Ward at Carolina Circle Mall was selling a white Motocyke that I fell in love with and I wanted that thing more than anything in the world. And for Christmas in 1994, I actually got one. I rode it for several years until I upgraded to a full-size bicycle in 1999. The Motocyke wound up being sold at a yard sale in 2002. I also recall Harley-Davidson making motorcycle style bicycles similar to this for a time in the mid '90s.
Did anyone else here own a Power Wheels Jeep? I had one exactly like the one in this ad (top right), except mine was red. I got it in early 1994 and drove that thing nonstop around my yard. And yes, mine came from Toys R Us.
Ah, R.C. cars. At least in my experience, these things were expensive and never worked right. I have a lot of painful memories of trying to get these things to move, but they would always get snagged on a tree root, caught in carpeting, and the remote range was never longer than an inch or two.
One type of toy that got me excited as a kid was anything involving cars. I'm talking stuff from Matchbox, Hot Wheels, Micro Machines, and others. This page features the Matchbox Motors and Matchbox Motorcity Car Wash, both I adored as a kid, but unfortunately, never had the privilege of owning. To this day, I still smile when I see those Matchbox toys.
Alright, we have officially entered video game territory. Unfortunately, I wouldn't own my own console until 1997, but the video game culture itself from the early '90s era still had an affect on me and it still does. This page shows the only video games I owned before 1997; the Tiger Electronic Games, if you can call them "video games". I remember getting these, thinking they'd be awesome only to discover it was nothing more than cheap plastic, and I didn't even own an actual console to compare it to!
I'll go ahead and say it; I love both Nintendo and Sega. Both have their unique awesomeness, but there's something about Nintendo that just makes me go "Wow". Again, I didn't own a console until 1997, but for years, I wanted a Super Nintendo, as seen on this page. I eventually got a Model 2 Super Nintendo for Christmas in 1997, but I do recall watching my older half-brother play with his Super Nintendo prior to this and being amazed, along with the ads for it on TV. Today, I now own a Model 1 Super Nintendo that I'm currently collecting games for. I even own a copy of Mario Paint, shown on this page, but the SNES mouse I have for it is broken.
And here we are on the Sega page; Genesis to be precise. Again, I love both Nintendo and Sega equally and I've recently grown attached to my Model 1 Genesis I got recently. My game collection is small as of right now, but I hope for it to grow as time goes on. This ad shows the Model 2 Genesis, which I really like but I much prefer my Model 1 Genesis with the VA6 board in it.
You STILL don't own a Sega CD?! Well, I'd be a hypocrite for saying that because I still don't own one myself, although I'm planning to get one this summer, once I find one at the right price. It's one of those things that didn't really succeed but I see a lot of hidden gold in it and I have friends who really love it. Also seen here is the Sega Game Gear, a portable system I've always had a fondness for. I got a Sega Game Gear new at Toys R Us in 1997 and believe it or not, I still own it and it still works perfectly, even the sound still works!
Here, we see the very elusive Model 2 NES from when it was first being released, complete with SNES style dog-bone controller. I still can't figure out why Nintendo decided not to include composite outputs on the Model 2 NES, seeing that composite video was really becoming well used in 1993.
And we have reached the end of this Toys R Us catalog from 1993. To be honest, I shouldn't be calling it a "catalog". Instead, I should be calling it a "time capsule" because whenever I open this book, there's always a massive explosion of '90s nostalgia, even nostalgia for my own childhood. I miss these simpler days of just walking through the quite Toys R Us here in Greensboro, without a care in the world.
Not long after I got the 1993 edition, I was fortunate enough to purchase the 1995 edition, which is also overflowing with nostalgia. Perhaps I'll make an article about it at some point. Right now, I am after the 1994 edition of the Toys R Us catalog because 1994 is my favorite year of the '90s, but unfortunately, the only one being sold on eBay right now is $80 which I don't want to pay for a simple catalog. If anyone knows where I can find the 1994 edition, please let me know.
Anyway, this concludes this look at the 1993 Toys R Us Catalog. I sincerely hope you enjoyed this trip back about 20 years and I hope you stay tuned for my future articles.