Late last night, while sat in bed (unable to sleep) I got out my phone and decided to have a look through eBay. I wasn’t looking to buy anything, I was merely browsing to help pass the time until my eye lids felt so heavy that only sleep would follow.
Sometimes, when I can’t sleep, I like to have a look through eBay with the specific intention of not buying anything. I’ll simply type in a subject (usually a nostalgia-inducing one) and then scroll away looking at the sorts of items people are flogging.
Last night, while search for old toys I came across something rather interesting – people selling old Argos and Index catalogues. At first this seemed rather bizarre to me – who would want an old catalogue? – but then I realised that old catalogues are little windows into the past.
I clicked on one of the listings – an Argos Superstore catalogue dated Spring/Summer 1995 – and headed straight to the image library that was being used to sell this item. There were six images in total, including three shots of interior spreads.
The three interior pages were of the toys section of the catalogue. Jackpot!
It was at this point that I realised just how good this type of eBay listing truly was. This listing – from eBay user mikeyjayhay – was a pure treasure trove of nostalgia!
Looking at the highlighted pages not only sent me on a trip back to my youth, but also gave me an insight into the prices and popularity of certain products from 1995. So, for example, a Super Nintendo + Street Fighter II Turbo was selling for £79; while a Super Nintendo + Mario All-Stars was selling for £89!
A bargain, right?
In comparison, individual SNES games sold between £34.99 (Secret of Mana) and £54.99 (Donkey Kong Country). When compared to the prices of games nowadays, those prices haven’t changed all that much, have they?
Back in ’95 Gameboys were still popular, but the original Nintendo (NES) was clearly in its dying days. Only one NES game was featured amongst a spread of Nintendo products and that was the ever-reliable Super Mario Bros. 3 which was listed for £12.99.
Imagine picking up a sealed, brand new, boxed copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 for £12.99! The stuff dreams are made of.
Other products that I could see on the sample pages included various watches (Power Rangers, Lion King, Sonic the Hedgehog etc), mini Boglins, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, Mighty Max sets, RoboCop figures, karaoke machines and Joe 90 toys! You may recall, the 1960s sci-fi series had a brief revival in the 1990s along with other Gerry Anderson shows (Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and Stingray).
The same seller who had listed the 1995 Spring/Summer catalogue also had another Argos Superstore catalogue up for auction, this time Autumn/Winter 1992. Anyone worth their salt will tell you that an Autumn/Winter catalogue is the crème de la crème of catalogues as it’s the one with all the best toys in it, so I had a look through this listing too.
Once again, this listing had six images to help sell the auction, with three of those images being interior pages from the catalogue. Of those pages, one was a double-page spread for SEGA items, including various products associated with the MegaDrive, the Master System II and the Gamegear.
MegaDrive games ranged in price from £19.99 (World Cup Italia ’90) up to £39.99 (Castle of Illusion), while the console itself + Sonic the Hedgehog sold for £127! The Master System II sold for £47.95, while games for this console ranged between £9.99 and £34.99.
The remaining pages featured in this listing highlighted character bedspreads (Forever Friends, Disney characters, WWF wrestling etc), along with Matchbox cars and MicroMachines. Incidentally, the original owner of this catalogue clearly liked cars as some of the toys had been circled (possibly as a helpful reminder for Santa).
After absorbing as much info from these listings as possible, I then decided to refresh my eBay search, this time opening things up a little wider with a search for Argos catalogues. Oh boy, did I get no sleep last night!
This search term took me down a rabbit hole as I discovered more catalogues for sale on eBay including a Spring/Summer ’84 Argos catalogue, an Index Autumn/Winter ’93 catalogue, an Argos Spring/Summer ’85 catalogue and various others. The listings included pictures of numerous products from their respective catalogues, including the Millennium Falcon (£22.95), Battlecat (£4.75), The A-Team Van (£14.99), Sony Playstation (£129), LEGO Fabuland Fairground (£15.95), Paul Daniels Magic Tricks set (£9.50) and more.
Oh to have a time machine.
An original Millennium Falcon (circa Return of the Jedi) for around £23?!
A brand-spanking new Battlecat from Masters of the Universe for less than a fiver?!
The bloomin’ A-Team Van for £14.99!
Perhaps what surprised me the most about all these listings was the amount on eBay. This wasn’t a one-off thing, there were plenty of catalogues, with some of the older catalogues carrying a fairly hefty price tag! Ah, the price of nostalgia.
What a great source of information from the past. Heck, I was even able to see (from scanning images of the store locator pages) where the Argos stores were once located in Manchester.
OK, so we’re in nerd territory here, but I found it interesting to know that an Argos store was once located on a retail park that is now on it’s last legs. In fact, said retail park – which once housed a Toys R Us too – is soon set to be turned into flats, so this bit of information is a reminder that retail once ruled.
In case you’re wondering, no, I didn’t bid on any of these catalogues. While I found them fascinating to look at, as mentioned above, this search was purely an exercise in browsing.
Still, what a find! The things you discover on eBay, ay?