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Recalling a Christmas without the ‘high-tech’

December 10, 2007

by Mark Ollig

As we head down the stretch to finishing (or starting) our holiday season gift shopping, some of us will consider purchasing a high-tech gift for our kids.

Have we become too accustomed to just looking at the popular electronic toys or games?

Do not get me wrong about this; I have a thing about technology, I can’t imagine living without the Internet or my cell phone, computers and other high-tech gadgets and toys.

Last Saturday as I was walking through a store, guess where most of the action was taking place?

You’re right. The holiday shoppers were huddled in the electronics department.

This week’s column was to be about some of the high-tech gifts that are popular this year, but before I get to those, let’s take a look back.

Here is a question I pose to those who fondly recall their childhood holiday gifts from years past . . . before gifts like the Microsoft X-box, Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, and Apple iPods became popular.

Looking back when you were a child, what toys did you hope to receive during the holidays?

When I was around 9 years old, I was hooked on a couple of popular science fiction television shows that I would watch every week.

One of those TV shows, which some of you will remember, was called “Lost in Space.”

Ah yes, the futuristic Jupiter 2 spaceship along with the family SUV, also known as the “Chariot” vehicle. The Robinson family used the Chariot to roam the surfaces of the planets they had crashed landed on.

The year was 1967 and for Christmas I was hoping my gift would be the Lost in Space toy collection.

This young boy was very happy when he opened the last gift from his parents, which was – you guessed it the Mattel Lost in Space toy collection.

It included all the parts which I immediately assembled on the living room floor amidst the other presents, gift wrapping paper and siblings.

The Jupiter 2 spaceship was nicely detailed, although it was made mostly out of Styrofoam. The set included all the plastic figures of the Robinson family, Major West, Dr. Smith and the “Robot” along with a couple aliens thrown in.

The Chariot was extremely realistic, just like the one on the TV show. The model could fit all the plastic figures in it and the electric motor drove it around the living room floor . . . and occasionally down the living room stairs.

Mattel Toy Company produced the replica of the Chariot, which was part of the Mattel Toys Lost in Space TV show play set.

Here it is years (decades) later and I am unable to remember what happened to that toy set.

Being curious, I went on eBay and found the original Lost in Space Chariot model I had received for Christmas in 1967.

Guess what I could buy it for? $500. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw that. This was just for the Chariot alone.

One of the two-and-a-half inch tall plastic figures from the same toy set sold for $75.

Another model toy I received in the late 1960’s at Christmas was the submarine toy model “Seaview” from the TV show “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.”

It was a very fine detailed yellow plastic model about a foot in length. It had a hidden rubber band inside that wound up and propelled the plastic blades, which allowed it to cruise through the water in the lake (or the bathtub).

Yes, indeed. I really liked that model of the Seaview and made sure I had it with me when watching the TV show.

Back to eBay I went to look up what that submarine model would sell for today. To my surprise one model had sold for over $450.

I could feel a headache starting. I began wondering where my model of the Seaview is today.

Was I starting to get a little depressed after seeing the dollar amounts my old toys were worth?

Yes. I could not believe the toys I had as a child were receiving a better rate of return than some stock investments.

You might be surprised when you go out and check what your own childhood toys are selling for these days. It is amazing the money people are willing to pay to once again have that favorite toy back.

Well at least I still have my original comic book collection.

It is very possible that many years from now, the toys you are giving to your children this holiday season may be worth a small fortune.

Moving forward in time to this holiday season, what popular high-tech gifts will some of our kids want?

Why, the Microsoft X-box, Nintendo Wii, Sony Playstation, and the Apple iPod of course.