Nancy Reagan Appears on ‘Diff’rent Strokes’, 1983

As part of her anti-drug Just Say No campaign, First Lady Nancy Reagan made a guest appearance on the NBC sitcom Diff’rent Strokes (1978-1986) on March 19, 1983. In the episode, titled “The Reporter,” Arnold Drummond (Gary Coleman), a reporter for his school newspaper, breaks a story on drug pushers at his school and submits it to a major city newspaper…

LJN Toys Catalog, 1987

Toy guns have existed in the United States for nearly 150 years, becoming a niche market in the ’30s and ’40s following the popularity of Hollywood gangster pictures and The Lone Ranger serial. After the U.S. entered World War II, the market became an industry, and sophisticated new designs proliferated until the late 1960’s…

Cannon Films Print Advertisements in ‘Variety’, 1979 – 1986

In 1979, Israeli film industry giants (and cousins) Menachem Golan and Yoram Globus purchased tiny independent American film production house Cannon Group, Inc. Cannon had spent the ’70s producing B-movies with occasional surprise hits (like the 1970 “hardhat revenge” tale Joe starring Peter Boyle). Golan and Globus saw in Cannon a way to gain a foothold in an American market that they’d long eyed entering…

Sinclair C5 Sales Brochure, 1985

Costing £399 plus a £29 delivery charge, the Sinclair C5 was a one-person electric transport launched in January 1985 by Sinclair Vehicles, a company formed two years previously by inventor and entrepreneur Clive Sinclair, the brain behind the ZX81 and ZX Spectrum home computers, which had driven the British home computer boom of the 1980s…

The Abominable Snowman Debuts at Disneyland, 1978

Walt Disney got the idea for the Matterhorn Bobsleds attraction while on location in the Alps during the filming of Third Man on the Mountain (1959). He bought a postcard featuring the Matterhorn, one of the three highest north faces of the alps, and wrote a one line message to Disneyland engineer and art director Vic Greene: “Vic, build this! Walt.”

Argos Catalogue Kettle Pages, 1976/1985

Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, retail catalogues were a familiar sight in savings-conscious lower-middle-class and working-class British homes. While companies like Kays, Littlewoods, and General Mills specialized in clothing and delivered customers’ purchases to their doors, Argos pioneered a new form of catalogue retail where customers made their order in one of the company’s high-street shops before waiting for their items to be brought out from the warehouse at the rear…

New England Whalers Victory March (‘Brass Bonanza’), 1976

In 1972, the World Hockey Association (WHA) was established to compete with the National Hockey League (NHL). The NHL, much like Major League Baseball in the early ’70s, was dealing with its labor market’s rebellion against the unjust reserve clause. The WHA offered players better salaries and an opportunity to sign contracts as free agents…

‘Spaceships of the Mind’ by Nigel Calder, 1978

Spaceships of the Mind was a book tie-in to a BBC series first broadcast in the summer of 1978 and hosted by pop science writer and television host Nigel Calder (1931 – 2014), who was part of the founding masthead of the influential pop science journal New Scientist (founded in 1956). The series consisted of three episodes, each focusing on a different aspect of space colonization, exploration, and survival as the field stood at the time…

‘Barlowe’s Guide to Extraterrestrials’, 1979

The work of what its creator called “a hungry youth with something to prove,” Wayne Barlowe’s 1979 Barlowe’s Guide To Extraterrestrials was published amidst a glut of grimoires of imaginary realities—Wil Huygen’s Gnomes had been released in 1976 and Stewart Cowley’s Spacecraft 2000-2100 AD in 1978, while 1979 saw the release of Cowley’s Aliens in Space: An Illustrated Guide to the Inhabited Galaxy (written under the pseudonym of Steven Caldwell), as well as David Day’s Tolkien Bestiary and Alan Frank’s Galactic Aliens