Do I need an excuse to think about Christmas? Never. But when the thermometer in the car hit 40ºC recently during my monthly pandemic grocery shopping trip, I started longing a bit harder for colourful lights, glittery tinsel, and much cooler temperatures.
If I live to be 90 years old, you’ll still find me with a paper book in my hands, not a digital one. And there is a particular type of paper book that will forever hold a special place in my heart: The lowly catalogue.
A few years ago, I had so much fun poring over the 1992 and ’93 Sears Christmas Wish Books, seeing what I had gotten for Christmas as a kid, and making a wish list of things I wanted but didn’t receive. Today we’re going to thumb through the pages of another Christmas catalogue: The rare Warner Bros. Studio Store catalogue, Holiday 1999 edition.
The Warner Bros. Studio Store is a place that I wish I had been able to visit at least once in my life. Sadly, there were no brick and mortar stores in Canada, and in 2001, they all went out of business anyway. But fortunately, my mom and dad did manage to buy me a few things from their store via online and telephone in the late ’90s. And just what did the Warner Bros. Studio Store sell that I was interested in? Two words:
In 1996, Time Warner merged with Turner Broadcasting, and the latter brought with it all of the wonderful characters of Hanna-Barbera, including my favourite sleuthing scaredy dog, Scooby. So you can just imagine the plethora of Scooby merchandise that’s nestled between the 76 pages of this holiday catalogue.
But it’s not just about Scooby. The catalogue is also filled with many of our other favourite Saturday morning classic cartoon compadres: Sylvester and Tweety, Bugs Bunny, Fred Flintstone, Taz; and also Batman, Wonder Woman, the Wizard of Oz… and products range from the more affordable 3/$18 bean bag plushes to the more high-end exclusive $150 maquette statues, $68 Marvin the Martian lava lamps, and grown-up collectible watches that ranged anywhere from $28 to $85, if you fancy displaying your watch in Dorothy’s ruby red slipper.
What some people probably don’t realize is that I don’t collect just Scooby Doo. I have quite a general “toy” collection as well, as I still own pretty much all of the toys I grew up having as a kid. So don’t worry, while my wish list is definitely Scoob-heavy, there are certainly a few non-Scooby items that I’m going to feature today as well.
As we go along, I’m also going to mention what fun items I DO actually own; and I’ll specify which were childhood gifts that came directly from the store (back when you could order over the phone!), and which I’ve acquired on my own through resellers as an adult collector.
Let’s not waste any time getting into it, because right here on the first two pages are three Scooby Doo Christmas items, and I wish I had them all!
First up is an ornament that makes my Top 10 Scooby Doo Wish List: (A) Scooby-Doo/Scrappy Doo Sleigh. I see that $10 price tag and then think about how today it’s ballooned to $50+ and I can’t help but cringe!
The second ornament (C) Scooby Doo Jingle Bell Tail is just a sweet little Scooby in a playful pose, with Christmas balls on his tail, and holding some jingle bells in his mouth. Another $10 purchase in 1999!
We’ll hop over to page 3 now and check out (J) the super adorable plush Cartoon Character Personalized Stockings. A Scooby stocking is offered along with the most popular Looney Tunes characters, and given that it’s only an extra $5 to have a stocking personalized with your name? I’m honestly just looking around for someone to throw that $21 at.
Turning the page, we find two special Christmas/winter themed Scooby Doo bean bags — one I have, the other I don’t.
Both of these Scoobies, one sporting reindeer antlers and an “I Believe in Santa” sign, the other an irresistible Snowman Scooby, were catalogue exclusives. Out of the two, I’m so glad my mom picked the Snowman — he even has a little removable carrot nose!
Page 6 has some cute Looney Tunes Christmas tree accoutrements, as well as another Scooby stocking that’s for some reason more expensive than the previous plush version. But the real gems are on page 7, two Scooby items that are also on my Top 10 Wish List.
(E) A Scooby Stocking Holder that sits on the edge of a shelf or mantle and holds up your Christmas stocking, soon to be filled with goodies.
And a holy grail Scooby collectible: (F) The extremely rare Scooby Doo Animated Nutcracker!
I don’t even like nutcrackers, I find them quite creepy, and not the kind of creepy that I usually love. But for some reason, this 14″ tall Scooby Nutcracker has always called to me. I’ve never personally seen one actively for sale online before, but one day… one day I will own him. At $35 in 1999, he’s never been cheap. So I’m mentally preparing myself for the likely ravaging of my wallet that will be required to get him. (Future editing Wendy here — one went up on eBay this week and is so far out of my price range with the stupid shipping that I nearly cried — but FREE shipping in the US, of course. >-/)
As we continue happily flipping through the catalogue, reminiscing about Christmases past, I’m struck by how neat some of these items are. Page 11 features a 14″ x 24″ rubber “Here Comes Santa Paws” Scooby Doo Musical Doormat — just $18!
Think your baby would look cute in a pair of reindeer Tweety Bird slippers and a Looney Tunes onesie? You’re right — he would!
Also featured on page 12 is a VHS tape that I actually remember getting from Avon of all places as a kid: (E) “Scooby Doo’s A Nutcracker Scoob”. This is a very Christmas-y 1984 episode from The New Scooby and Scrappy-Doo Show that features my little buddy, Scrappy Doo! If I had a nickel for every time I watched this VHS as a child, I could have single-handedly saved the entire VHS platform from extinction!
I’ve never been much of one for character clothing, but if the man in your life fancied wearing a bowling Wile E. Coyote shirt while playing 18-holes with his Looney Tunes golf bag, then the Warner Bros. Studio Store had you covered!
Did you pass on your love of the Caped Crusader to your child? You didn’t, but you’re still trying really hard? It’s Batman and Friends to the Rescue!
Page 33 is filled with with so many super hero goodies, though none of them are officially on my virtual imaginary Wish List today. A huge selection of bean bag plushes, creative cookie jars, and even a DC Comics Justice League version of Monopoly. I call dibs on the Wonder Woman game piece!
Next up on my Wish List is (N) a really creative looking Sculptural Character Head Watch, featuring a film roll of Scooby expressions on the band, and a 3-D Scooby head covering the watch face.
Turning the page we find a splendid Glinda the Good Witch Tree Topper — with “glitter satin”, love it! — some ruby slipper ornaments, and a peculiar looking Batman Beyond Boot Stocking.
We also see the first page of the order form insert, which features character gift baskets, including, yes, of course, a Scooby Doo basket that I would have loved to get as a kid! (The little Cupid Tweety is adorable too!)
There’s a video, a bean bag, puppet top candy snacks (I did at some point find the push puppet topper — see below!), stickers, playing cards and a flashlight keyring. To me, $35 seems a little bit steep though.
I’m low-key obsessing about this adorable little plush Scooby hanger that came with these baby overall sets.
And now for a little Batman action! The title across pages 56 and 57 reads, “Dreams of Action Lit Up by Batman, the Dark Knight!” The Batman lamp (K) which projects the classic Batman signal looks incredible.
But it’s (D), the catalogue exclusive Batman Wall Mirror on page 56 that really catches my eye.
It features all the best Batman villains across the bottom: Penguin, Joker, Catwoman, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy, all illustrated in the most wonderful classic comic book style. It’s a work of art!
Page 58 is for musical plush. (D) is the Talking Scooby-Doo Fright Light plush — an item that I found locally at a yard sale some 10-ish years ago… for 25 cents. My Scooby is sadly missing his pants, but I mean, 25 cents!? I gave the guy $1 for it. “Are you sure?” he said? “Yes, yes, I’m sure. It’s worth a dollar to me!”
Across the way is a few more Scooby items, including two that made my Wish List today.
(G) Scooby Doo Miniature Radio Flyer Wagon, and the absolutely INSANELY priced Scooby Snack Tracks CD. I mean priced for resale today, btw. It’s literally JUST a music CD that features some of the songs and themes from the show. But pop over to eBay for two seconds and…
I didn’t get it from this catalogue, but I do, in fact, have the “Scooby Doo and the Witch’s Ghost” VHS that’s shown alongside the CD!
When I was 13 and this catalogue showed up in the mail (addressed to WENCY Brydge — Wency, really?? When have you ever met a girl named WENCY??), the spread on pages 60-61 was probably my favourite.
SO MANY BEAN BAGS!!
I’m just going to be honest, I still want ALL of these bean bags. The Baby Looney Tunes (though I was always disappointed that they didn’t have a Baby Lola), the entire Flintstones gang, including Gazoo and the Flintmobile, the Jetsons family (except where the heck is Astro??), and even a Granny, Jabberjaw, and Magilla Gorilla.
From these pages I have (G) Roman Scooby Doo, and (K) the whole Scooby Doo gang — including my sweet widdle Scrappy!
The main item from these pages on my Wish List, though, is (B) The Bean Bag Backpack Bus, that came with a really cute Scooby Doo bus driver beanie.
The next 6-page spread is devoted to the Hollywood classic, “The Wizard of Oz”. Some really neat items were available, though none are on my Wish List.
There’s about 10 more pages left in the catalogue, but just one more page that has a Wish List item.
Page 69 is an all-Scooby page with a giant pillow buddy (I have one similar but I don’t think it’s the same one — at least it’s not from the WB Store), sleeping bag, Mystery Machine luggage bag, a watch, figurines, and my Wish List item: (H) a catalogue exclusive Scooby Doo Bank.
The coins go in through Scooby’s mouth, and you can watch them travel down into his stomach, like he’s eating them! Considering the catalogue is from 21 years ago, this is another item that seems pretty overpriced at $44.
But they really did offer all kinds of goodies for cartoon fans of all ages!
And when we finally turn to the very last page, we find a few more items that my mom got me for Christmas that year.
I got both of the holiday-themed Scooby bean bags shown here: (D) Scooby Doo Pilgrim (for Thanksgiving), and one of my absolute favourites, (F) from the “Scooby Doo and Mil-Looney-Um Bean Bag Collection” a special dated New Year’s Eve Scooby Doo, complete with party hat, noise blower, and a “2000” ribbon. Seeing that my mom passed away in 2000, this little guy has always had a special place in my heart. ♥
This catalogue is by no means an exhaustive look at what was available from the Warner Bros. Studio Store during the holiday season of 1999. It’s just a smattering. But after all these years, I still enjoy pulling it out once in a while and slowly poring over all the pages for the 540th time. I have only one other Warner Bros. Studio Store catalogue, from Fall 1998, so as you can imagine, I treasure these pieces as an integral part of my extensive Scooby Doo collection.
It’s hard to find a paper catalogue these days, for toys or anything else. And that’s really such a loss. Paper catalogues are a fun nostalgic walk down memory lane, where we can perhaps, just for a moment, catch a glimpse of what we felt or who we were at a particular moment in time when life was a little simpler.
I always advocate for saving these little pieces of history because you never know when an unbearably hot summer’s day will leaving you longing for a little sip of holidays past.