Growing up, nothing excited me more than the prospect of flipping through the annual Christmas toy catalogs, circling all the cool stuff I wanted. Before we had the Black Friday websites and smartphone apps, the major department stores would mail huge catalogs – these were special holiday editions, and the toys were just ripe for the picking. Page after glossy page, we were overwhelmed with glorious pictures of Power Wheels and the Crystal Castle, Barbie’s pink Corvette, Lady Lovely Locks, and Rainbow Brite with her adorable Sprites. (Is it just me, or did the 80s have some seriously cool toys?!)
Each of us (grandkids/cousins – I’m an only child, which may make better sense of my toy selections) would grab a crayon of choice (the only thing that seemed to work on those glossy pages) and we’d circle the items we wanted, then fold the corner of the page to make it easier to find. Once our items were marked, we’d anxiously await the day when we tore into the colorful paper and bows to see just what we got! Just a few of the popular toys of that year included Masters of the Universe, Cabbage Patch Kids, Teddy Ruxpin, and M.A.S.K…you can see where a kid would really be drooling over these catalogs! Christmas of 1986, not only was I making my wish list for Christmas, but I was preparing for my 5th birthday coming up the following week.
This added extra anticipation when searching through the catalogs.
I had it down to a science (some may say it was more of a con) – I’d select a small number of items that just happened to be bigger things – Barbie Dream House, Crystal Castle, Power Wheels, and maybe a few Barbie dolls or She Ra figurines. But 1986…oh boy…that was the year I asked for Cricket the Talking Doll.
Cricket was a combination of hard plastic, soft cloth, and technological goodness all combined into one adorable two-foot-tall girl. She had silky blond locks swept up into pigtails with bouncing curls and bright blue eyes. Much like Teddy Ruxpin, Cricket’s claim to fame was a hidden compartment in her back which was a cassette player – you slipped the cassette into the compartment (and after adding several “C” and 9-volt batteries) Cricket came to life, talking and telling you stories. Out of the box, she came with a pink striped sweater, pleated mint green skirt, yellow socks, and little high-top sneakers with adorable monogrammed laces.
Imagine my delight when I unwrapped the huge box for Christmas – I was beside myself!! I was so excited that I received this for Christmas – Santa (or my mom…how I came upon that discovery could be a post on its own!) came through for me! We loaded her up with batteries, and I was good to go – we were inseparable friends. (See, only child = best friends with talking toys.)
Things went swimmingly with Cricket – we were BFFs (she even said so herself!) and I know I took her as many places as I was allowed – bedtime included. This lasted all of a few weeks. EVERYONE wanted to play with Cricket…and eventually I grew extremely jealous that people were more excited to see her than they were to see me!
I was jealous. Of a talking doll.
It got so bad that I stopped playing with her all together. I abandoned my little friend, leaving her behind whenever I’d leave the house. I stopped brushing her hair, and left her little shoes untied; if she could’ve walked, I’d have tied her shoe laces together and secretly hoped she’d trip. I don’t remember the fate of Cricket – I am sure she was donated to a loving family or sold off in a garage sale. At the time I didn’t much care – I just wanted my audience back.