Are you ready for the best thing you’ll see today? That’s right, it’s time for another round of ‘Middle aged woman looks at toys, instead of doing grown up things like mending’.


Our cover star is the NES, which comes with Rob, the shit disc-shuffling robot. (For more info on why Rob was such a failure, you might want to listen to this episode of the Retroist podcast.) That boy is shooting at Rob,  and also at his Nintendo, that’s how much he hates them.

As a Sega fan, I am pissed off they relegated the Master System to a postage stamp sized “also”. The fuckers.


This is more like it. Bossa Nova buttons as far as the eye can see. Also, the mighty Fisher Price tape recorder. The love of my small, 6 year old life.


For bonus points, please direct your attention to the Fiendish Feet I ate for breakfast.

A foreign curiosity on this page is the ‘Express-It’ school locker answering machine:


Since this is a UK blog, I feel confident saying none of us had lockers, and we were lucky if we had one friend to leave us a shit message, even if we did have a locker. Which we didn’t. Americans take note: The way we left messages in UK secondary school was by scratching the message into each other’s pencil tins/arms with a compass. And anyway, we didn’t have the money for this, having spent all our money on hair mascara and 10 Lambert & Butler.

Where do I start with this next page?


I don’t know, so I won’t. Everything here manages to be the Grandstand ‘My First Talking Computer’ without actually being it.


Let’s instead focus on the ‘Lil Entertainer’ child’s piano and mic kit; guaranteed to make any loving parent commit murder by 4.15pm on Christmas Day. Especially if combined with the ‘AM Wireless Microphone’.

lil entertainer

Imagine if you were trying to listen to Radio Leeds, and your devil spawn insists on singing Wham’s ‘Bad Boys’ over the top of it, complete with made up lyrics about their Barbies. Not speaking from experience or anything.


Board games! I love how one of these game is just ‘Therapy’. It’s like they knew.

Right, this being an American catalogue, I’m not familiar with most of these games, so let’s have a closer look:

  • ‘Hi-Ho Alphabet’
  • ‘Fast Fax’
  • ‘Super Jock’

I give up. None of these are Ghost Castle.


They’ve still got hot toys everybody.

I did have Teddy Ruxpin, possibly as a hand-me-down of my sister’s. There’s a rumour that if you put in a certain Metallica tape, Ruxpin starts yelling and his eyes go backwards. As yet unconfirmed.


Right, the Heart Family was rubbish, as everyone knows, so let’s look at the Mega Fun Happy Barbie Rich Kid Mansions:

barbie mansions

Hang on – Barbie’s Glamour Home is more than twice the price of Barbie’s Townhouse, despite Barbie’s Townhouse being bigger. This is possibly because of the ‘European styling’, whatever the hell that means. Coal hole? Sauna? French? Probably Barbie just talks funny, and that’s why it’s cheap.


On this page, I was going to talk about the Sweet Secrets bracelet, with real make up and mirror, as owning something like this was the height of child me’s ambitions. However…





Also, what was the UK equivalent of a ‘pep rally set’? Italia 90 stickers? Eric Bristow Mega Darts Fun Pack?

pep rally


Scooters and bikes, all well and good. But these twins:


They hid a dead body in that wendy house, and were really pleased with themselves, until someone found it and made them sit and write an apology letter to the victim’s family. They’re still not sorry.


Two things of note on this page. Firstly, art:


Please note that you have to pay three different amounts to get everything shown in the first picture. Bunch of knobheads. I don’t know what a ‘carrousel’ is, so I’ll just say that the case with loads of crayons in is clearly the best.

Underneath, we have Play-Doh Fun Factory, and Ghostbusters Play-Doh, complete with vehicle, and glow in the dark Play-Doh. just imagine, if you had an older brother, you could have hidden some of that in his pants, then told him doing ‘that’ makes your willy go radioactive. Fun times.


Secondly, a Flintstones knock-off Fisher Price garage. Nothing to say here, except that you apparently went into the Post Office and fell to your death.


A lot of cool stuff on this page, but let’s look at the Karate Kid playset:

karate kid

I’m probably wrong, but this looks like the ‘drum technique’ from Karate Kid 2. It probably isn’t, it’s probably a fun swing.

Wait, I must also draw your attention to this, just because:


Moving on…


Well OBVIOUSLY the best thing on this page is the ‘laser death glove’:

water glove

I don’t care if I’ve read it wrong, it is clearly a laser death glove. ‘Kill your enemies with lasers! Not suitable for under 4s.’


This is all Scalextric, except they can’t spell that in America, and neither can I because I had to Google it.

Hidden away in the corner of the page:

rod car

Imagine if you were a cool and rad boy in 1987, excitedly pointing at the ‘Scalextric Death Trap Set’, only for your mother to misunderstand and buy you that car for Christmas. That would explain why you hid her body in the wendy house.


This page is for your discerning child who’s less into beating the shit out of their friends while yelling “THUNDERCATS HO”.


Science labs are always good, but this is especially good for including a skeleton. Of sorts.


Fun fact: I regularly walk into things, just because I am an uncoordinated div. Why I love the idea of roller skates remains a mystery for the ages.


Finally, we have remote control cars. I was never allowed one of these. My parents, quite rightly, assumed I would have somehow found a way to crash it into myself and die. They were probably right.

Thanks to @phoebeceehaitch and @paulychilds on Twitter for putting me onto the wonderful Internet Archive.

If you’d like to help support this nonsense, check out my Patreon for loads of extra shit.

5 thoughts on “A look through the 1987 Toys R Us catalogue

  1. They’ve got my Master System! And my Atari 2600! The models I had! Not the shitty versions!
    I had those WWF figures. Never realised how shite they were.
    Although the Ghostbusters figures were brilliant. I had all of them, even had an Ecto-1, but I never did get a firehouse. (Just like I had the lethal-jointed A-Team figures, but never the van.)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. There were lockers in my secondary school, although I don’t remember any of us using them a massive amount. Mainly for dumping PE kits in, as I recall.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a locker in secondary school. It was more of a wooden cubby with a door., not like US tv lockers .

    More disturbingly there is a teddy ruxpin repair centre somewhere in london where they fix them up and refurbish them. Imagine being in that workshop at night yikes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wait, you put that thing on your school locker?

    And go away?

    And come back?

    And expect it to still be there?



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