I’m a total sucker for everything that has to do with the fantastic toy lines that were available in my youth in the 1980′s. I’m especially interested in everything that went on “behind the scenes” and by that I mean is when did these toy lines exactly hit toy stores here in Holland, where did these toy stores get these toys, who distributed them, what types of assortments were available, etc.
Transformers dealer catalog (1985) – MB
That’s why dealer/trade catalogs are so interesting. They contain extra information about a toy line that is not available in the consumer catalogs. Sometimes these dealer catalogs will also contain photos of prototypes, because these catalogs are often made at a very early stage, before the toys are available at retail. Sometimes they can also hold information about things that “might have been”, but did not occur, because of legal issues or other complications. I absolutely love that type of stuff.
Toy store catalogs from the 1980′s
“Toy Store Catalogs”
Another great source of information are toy store catalogs. As you might have noticed I’ve acquired a great deal of Dutch toy store catalogs from the 1980′s recently and I’ve posted some photos of those in the past couple of weeks.
There is a third source of information that I stumbled upon a couple of months ago and that is trade magazines! A trade magazine is, as the name implies, a magazine that is published for a specific industry. A trade magazine is made not for consumers, but specifically for the industry or type of trade it targets.
Article from a Dutch toy industry trade magazine
My first exposure to trade magazines came from my good buddy Maz from TF-1.com, who had acquired a few Dutch toy trade magazines from the 1980′s. The good guy that he is, he gave them away to me for free! These magazines contained tons of cool information about the toy industry in Holland and featured articles about Transformers, Masters of the Universe, M.A.S.K. and too much more cool stuff than I can recollect right now. It goes into detail about retail release dates of toy lines, broadcast dates of commercials for these toy lines and everything a toy store retailer needs to know to make a decision on which products to carry. I was in nerd nirvana!
Mattel trade advert announcing the launch of Mattel Netherlands BV (1985)
“The Hunt is On!”
As soon as I had read the two issues that Maz had sent me cover to cover, I was hungry for more! Maz had acquired these from the son of a purchasing manager for a large Dutch high street department store, who had acquired them at Dutch toy fairs in 1985 and 1986. Because these publications are trade only, they were never available to consumers, so it was virtually impossible to find these anywhere. Through a bout of luck I found out the original publisher of this trade magazine and contacted them to see if they had any back issues from the 1980′s.
Article on newest pre-Mattel MOTU line up in Holland (1984)
Not expecting to get any response, and if at all a negative one, I was contacted by a very friendly employee of said publisher. She said she would dig into their archives to see if they had anything left. The result was more than I had could ever have hoped for. I casually asked if they had anything from 1984 to 1987, because those are the years I remember buying and seeing the coolest toys when I was growing up. She came back to me a few days later and could offer me the complete runs of all four years, bound inside hard covers! Mega nerdgasm!!!
Bandai Dutch trade advert for their Robo Machine line (1985)
“The Start of a Good Weekend”
Last Friday the package with four volumes of Speelgoed+Hobby arrived and since then I have frantically been reading and reading. There’s tons of cool inside information on the toy industry in the Netherlands during those years, with lots of cool photos of toys, never seen before trade oriented advertisements and photos of toy stores from the 1980′s!
Interior of an Intertoys toy store (1985)
My mind is currently reeling from an information overload. I plan on taking all the interesting info and photos apart and publishing the most interesting info here as soon as I get a grip on all the info I have absorbed.
These four volumes weigh in at a total of 10 kilos (approx 20 pounds), so the poor mail man almost broke his back when he delivered these at my door. :-) I paid a pretty penny for these publications, but they are so totally worth it, because they paint such an accurate picture of the time they were originally published and contain so much nerdy info that will keep me going for a long time to come. I am very excited at the prospect of sharing the many cool photos and info inside these magazines here on my blog so stay tuned!
Speelgoed+Hobby magazines volumes 1984-1987