Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blast From the (Holiday) Past

I know many people will think this perverse, but I love holiday shopping. Normally I hate struggling with crowds, but once Thanksgiving has come and gone and the Christmas season is properly begun, I love getting out in the stores and malls, mingling with the happy throngs. Charlie Brown and Snoopy can whinge all they want about commericalism; I just adore the sounds and sights and smells and joggled elbows of the winter retail rush.

But this weekend, I didn't have to go to the mall to get my blast of holiday nostalgia: It was waiting for me at the local CVS:

It's the DiscoveryKids Color Me Rocketship, and it took me straight back to my childhood, when I had, courtesy of the ads in the back of my comic books (or maybe it was Boys' Life?), first a cardboard spaceship and then a cardboard submarine!

These cool — and huge — toys provided a lot of under-the-tree impact on Christmas morning for very little money (even in late-60s dollars), and were incredibly cool to play in. Not the most durable of toys, but they didn't require any batteries, and any toy you wear out through happy play beats the ones that break down on Christmas morning, or eat batteries like Pez, or never really work at all. Just the right amount cooler and fancier than an empty refrigerator carton, these corrugated ships of dreams presented the same blank imaginative canvas.

I hadn't thought about my childhood fantasy transports for years, but stumbling upon the drugstore Space Shuttle brought it all back. The new version is improved in some ways: The tab-and-slot construction is undoubtedly safer than the sharp-edged rivets of the 60s versions, and I don't recall the old interiors being as detailed and play-friendly as the new one. But maybe the best thing about the Color Me Rocketship is how powerfully it reminded me of my days as Buck Rogers and Captain Nemo in those back-of-the-comic-book marvels.

I doubt there are any pictures of me in my submarine or spaceship, but teh intertoooobz has pictures of everything, and if it weren't for the fact that my backyard didn't have a fence, this could easily be me and my "Polaris Nuclear Sub," right down to the hair color (not to mention the Polaroid print).


J. Leggio said...


I too had the rocket-ship. I think I wanted the sub real bad, but I was also reaching the age where I was deciding I wanted to be a real SCUBA diver, so I kinda focused on that (I certified at age 12 in 1970, and still maintain my original DACOR equipment).

Do you have high-res copies of the spaceship & sub ads? I'd really like to print them up and frame them for my office wall. You can email me at

TD said...

Video of the comic book sub, never used!