Saturday, January 08, 2011

Time traveling (and assembling a robotical army to conquer the galaxy) on a budget OR: The most fun I ever had with scissors and a kangaroo

Lionel Playworld 28 October 1984

Man I used to love clipping out Playworld coupons in the newspaper when I was a kid. They didn't print coupons in every ad so when coupons came up for robots it was like Christmas on GoBotron. Even more special and rare than toy robot coupons were the holy grails of Playworld discounts-$1 off anything in the store coupons. Oh man it was the wild west when that one came out. I'd go crazy thinking of the huge discount a dollar was. Back in the early 80s when action figures were no more than 4 bucks those 1 dollar coupons were a big deal! Plus they even let you use it with no minimum purchase so theoretically stuff that was under a dollar was free. If I could afford a time machine I would still print me up some Playworld coupons before I go back to 1985 because although I was only ten years old for that one year, I will always be a cheap bastardo forever.

09 October 1978
07 October 1979
07 October 1979
14 November 1979

What was awesome about Playworld was that they really put some effort into tailoring the appearance of each coupon to the merchandise it was for. So for example Micronauts coupons had line art of the Time Traveler on them and other lines had art representative of their figure selections. In a brilliant effort that got the maximum use out of these drawings they used art that was only meant for ads and made coupons out of it. I know Star Wars is so popular there's probably some country out there with Darth Vader on their dollar bills but Playworld was the first to have any form of currency with Muffett the daggett on it.

20 December 1985
10 November 1985
10 November 1985
12 October 1986

09 November 1986

Another reason Playworld coupons were so great was because they were for stuff you actually wanted! Unlike those Sunday newspaper coupon sections that had loads of coupons for crap I didn't care about like food and Thomas Kinkade collector plates, Playworld knew the kind of financial assistance my roboplastical military industrial complex needed was discounts on Cybertronians. From a business standpoint maybe erasing your profit margins on popular robots people would have bought anyways wasn't such a bright idea. Coupons are probably really only supposed to be used to trick people into buying stuff they don't want, so running coupons for Transformers was like getting Carrie Fisher's autograph on your Star Wars comics but finding out she'll only give it to you if you also let her lick your face. I was all, heck yeah! On the other hand, I always admired the business savvy of whoever made the Walgreens circulars where they ran coupons for Rock Lords and Moto-Botz. That's the way you're supposed to do it! Walgreens knew their selection was less Princess Leia and more like getting licked on the face by a Rancor Monster. It's almost like they were daring me to buy their crappy robots I otherwise would never in a million years even consider owning. I gotta admit those discounts were tempting, though. Walgreens coupons were beer goggles for toy robots enthusiasts-they even made me want to buy Rock Lords. Walgreen sure knew my weakness, though. Give me a big enough coupon and I'll try anything, I don't care how ugly your Rancor Monster is.

Walgreens 11/30/86
Walgreens 10/15/86


Since they were essentially creating incentives to buy crack, Playworld coupons had narrow windows of opportunity-most of them were only valid for 3-4 days. Maybe the deals were so good they realized these prices weren't sustainable if they ever wanted to make money supplying weapons and troops to toy robot army builders. There is also the possibility that Transformer coupons were an underhanded sales tactic and Playworld planned these sales anyways but by limiting the savings only to people who clipped the coupons they ensured that not a lot of people would take advantage of them. It's like having a sale but only for a select group of people who were reading your ads (which I guess is what coupons are anyways). Oh well while I'll never be able to fully comprehend great mysteries like time travel or toy robot coupon economics, I do know that Lionel Playworld was my favorite store. I think I'll print a couple of these out and cut them up then stick them in my pocket and never use them. That's pretty much what I used to do as a kid because I didn't have any money in 1985. I guess not much has changed in 26 years-I'm still a cheap bastardo looking at Transformer coupons. But I need to be prepared in case Christopher Lloyd or some other mad scientist shows up in my driveway with a pimped out DeLorean time machine and tickets to see Carrie Fisher at a bookstore signing Star Wars comics in 1984.

13 October 1985
12 October 1986


KingboyD said...

When I was much younger, I remember Playworld adds were always broadcast starting around Thanksgiving. There was never one near me (I grew up on Long Island and the closest one was about an hour away in Queens), but I never forgot those commercials. They always ended with "so low, low, low, low, low" in a progressively deeper voice. I always wanted to go to that megastore.

Weasel said...

Give me a big enough coupon and I'll try anything, I don't care how ugly your Rancor Monster is.

Uh, that... doesn't sound right. Or am I just really screwed up in the head here?

Evil King Macrocranios said...

There's a nice long tribute to the 1970s "So low, low, low," Playworld theme over at YouTube. I can usually tell what decade someone grew up by what Playworld jingle they remember-kids in the 80s had the "turn your frown upside down" burned in their heads.

You know, Weasel, I sometimes feel like I'm crazy after reading my blog. I've never heard of someone else feeling like THEY'RE crazy after reading my blog.


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Evil King Macrocranios was voted king by the evil peoples of the Kingdom of Macrocrania. They listen to Iron Maiden all day and try to take pictures of ghosts with their webcams.