15 groovy, goofy toys that you could only find in the year 1977
Cher, Benji, CBs and custom vans were all the rage with kids.
All images: Sears / Wishbook Web
You can tell a lot about a culture by its toys. Beauty standards, economic realities, the sense of humor — it's all there. That's why these toys of 1977 are just so… Seventies.
It's probably the most hair you'll even find in a Sears catalog. Let's rollerskate back in time and take a look.
1. The Cher™ Beauty Center
In 1977, pop icon Cher was married to Greg Allman. They could have just as easily made a matching Greg Beauty Center with equally glorious hair. If they had made a Crystal Gayle bust, kids would have needed a much higher table. A counter, really.
2. John Travolta's Punchable Face
John Travolta was still a year away from true ubiquity with Grease just around the corner, but Welcome Back, Kotter made him an instant TV star. For those who wanted to sock the actor square in the jaw, Punch Me's offered this inflatable boxing toy. You could kick Kotter down low, too, if you were so inclined.
3. Donny & Marie Portable P.A. System
Be an Osmond with this easily carried annoyance engine. Perfect for loudly serenading your crush in the hallway with a poor rendition of "(You're My) Soul and Inspiration."
4. Baby's First Custom Van
The airbrushed artwork. The bubbled porthole windows. The shag carpeting. The plush, swiveling captain's chairs. The custom van was the pinnacle in comfortable cruising in 1977. Even toddlers dreamed of one day owning (and hopefully not living in) a blue Chevy beast like this.
5. Can Collection Rack and Display
It's never too early to start your kids on the valuable skill of collecting cans. Grocery cart not included. A stark reminder that the Seventies had seen a stark recession, inflation and an oil crisis. If you didn't have toys, you could at least get cans.
6. Deeply Tanned Dolls
When it came to tanning, folks preferred the "well-done" look in 1977. Nobody was worried about "Broad Spectrum" and SPFs. Sunblock? Pfft. More like, Suntan Oil, as in human Wesson. This was the peak era of Farrah Fawcett and Coppertone. Even the dolls, like Suntan Tuesday Taylor and her bronzed pal, were baked.
7. "Now" Look Ken
Ken let loose in 1977, with his white leisure suit and "stick-on moustache [sic] and sideburns."
8. J.J. Evans Plush
Children cuddled up in bed with the "Dyn-O-Mite!" comic relief from Good Times.
9. Not That ''Simon''
The electronic Simon game hit stores in 1978. You know, the light-up disc with the patterns of yellow, blue, green and red light? Well, before that battery-eater came along, the closest kids had was Simon Sez the dummy. Ventriloquism was huge. Willie Tyler and his Lester dummy were everywhere. It will not surprise you to learn that Jeff Dunham was an impressionable 15 years old in 1977.
10. A Pretend CB Radio
Smokey and the Bandit was the second-biggest film of 1977. Second to only Star Wars. The CB radio and trucking craze was at its peak. Toddlers were too young to operate a real CB, but this "Smokee CB" got them hooked on the fine art of tractor-trailer communication with fun bits of recorded sayings that could be triggered.
11. Disco Rock Amplifier
"Disco" and "Rock" were two warring factions of pop culture. The rock heads hated disco. Or did they? This "Disco Rock" guitar amplifier proved that there was a middle ground between the two fandoms — or somebody at the toy company came up with a really stupid idea.
12. Benji Radio
AM was more than just talk radio. That's where the good stuff could be found, the "AM Gold," if you will. What better way to listen to Seventies rock than through this wild-eyed plastic pooch?
13. Crunchy New Age Dolls
The hippie movement did not end in the Sixties. Flared pants, floral prints and unruly hair were a key part of Seventies fashion. You can see that reflected perfectly in the Sunshine and Happy Family dolls, granola-and-tofu-munching (we assume) characters who kickstarted the organic movement in Gen-X.
A sort of cross of Shmoo and Moomin, the pink blob Barbapapa originated in France in the early Seventies (barbe à papa, or "dad's beard," is the French term for cotton candy). The creature looked like Grimace's lost love interest.
15. Gag "Ear" Phones
Novelty items were an essential part of Seventies fun. The Pet Rock sold millions of, well, plain stones. Mork's suspenders and Ralph Malph's gag glasses split sides on sitcoms. Spencer's Gifts began popping up in malls. No wonder kids could pop this radio on their noggin, look like a Ferengi, and still be cool in school.