A kind soul over at Uni Watch posted a link to the Wishbook Web Database, and... uh, holy fuck. Dating back to 1940, the creators of this site has scanned in thousands of pages of Sears, JC Pennys, Wards and other Christmas catalogues from way-back. The real juice for my 20-something self is the toy playset layouts from the 1980s Sears books. Anyone my age has to remember going though these things after school, circling everything they wanted, then feeling let down when Santa didn't bring a fraction of it.
But to look back on these are pretty awesome. Some highlights:
1983 Sears Star Wars page -- needs no introduction
1985 Sears He Man page -- The most underrated toy series of all time
1985 Sears Sectaurs page -- I lost my shit when Robot Chicken used these a few weeks ago, and now the memory is fully restored. These fuckers were bad ass.
1986 Sears M.A.S.K. -- OK, He Man gets enough respect, but maybe M.A.S.K. is the most underrated toy line ever.
1986 Sears Thundercats -- Thundercats were no joke, and next toy line bound to be raped into a summer blockbuster flick. Bill Duke as Panthro?
And some other cool shit... Even though in 1971 the New Jersey Devils didn't exist, and everyone knows that Grubby was a total bitch...