This year, Dad will have more than an indirect interest in opening Junior’s presents on Christmas morning. After many years of using Christmas as a facade to get his hands on the toys he ostensibly bought for Junior, the old man is finally coming out into the open. Realizing that Dad has more money to spend on his hobbies than Junior, toy makers across the country are tilting many of their products toward the adult market.
It’s no secret that Dad is sitting under the Christmas tree playing Casey Jones long after Junior has gone to bed, but this year AC Gilbert Co. has re-launched their realistic “HO” track train, the most popular size with adult hobbyists. The Wall Street Journal quotes Lionel chairman Larry Cowan as saying that more than half of the $ 65 million in trains sold each year is sales to “an adult buying for their own pleasure.”
Local toy stores, however, have left “HO” track trains to hobby stores this year, due to the sharp decline in prices in the electric train market. At least one store owner who doesn’t stock a lot of trains has run out of stock.
It won’t be surprising in many homes to see big elbows pushing children aside as the old man moves about in the games. Football, baseball and basketball photoelectric units sell particularly well this Christmas, according to the director of England Bros. ‘ toy department. More complicated games that require skill rather than chance are also aimed at the adult market. Parker Bros., the makers of Monopoly, have introduced a new game, Going to Jerusalem, for older children and adults. Tougher games like Scrabble, which strain players’ mentalities, are more popular with grandparents than children.
Most of the new games are based on TV shows. Beat The Clock, Two for the Money, You Bet Your Life, What’s My Line ?, Dollar a Second, and Truth or Consequences all sell in Pittsfield stores for $ 2.98 and $ 3.98.
Elaborate scale models of ships and automobiles that challenge the ingenuity of adults are also on display in local stores. Lord’s Toyland owns the Ideal Toy Co. model of the SS United States. England has stylish foreign car models as well as old-fashioned cars. The Sears catalog features a 31-inch mower ship model as “a smart accessory for daddy’s lair”.
Of course, it is well known that Dad will buy a toy and try to appease Mum by telling her that it is useful in the house. Taking advantage of this, Sears announces a set of telephones to be used for communication between the workshop and the home, and room to room as well as in children’s games.
This story within history is selected from the archives of Jeannie Maschino, The Berkshire Eagle.