Shit That's a Lot of Toys... (A Christmas Story)

When I was young, I always looked forward to receiving the Oriental Trading Company catalog in the mail.  The Oriental Trading Company catalog was magical.  You could get 200 toys for under twenty dollars.  Yes, they would probably be tiny, rubber pieces of fruit.  Or plastic whistles shaped like pianos.  And they would probably have faces.  And the faces would look like they were painted by a thumbless epileptic with a depth-perception problem, but you could get TWO-HUNDRED of them.  OH. MY. GOD.  How awesome would it be to have 200 toys?

My mom would hand us the Halloween or Thanksgiving edition of the Oriental Trading Company catalog and ask us to circle the toys that we wanted for Christmas.  She learned early on that if she waited for the Christmas edition to come out, we wouldn't get our toys until April and she would have to buy us emergency-replacement toys from K-Mart to keep us from leveraging the injustice whenever we wanted a puppy.

I spent hours studying the Oriental Trading Company catalog's glossy pages, trying to figure out how to obtain the most toys possible.  My mind raced with the possibilities:  "If my mom has one hundred dollars and I am willing to overlook the fact that my toys will probably be an assortment of random objects with monstrously deformed faces painted onto them, I can get... let's see... ONE THOUSAND TOYS!!!"





The situation became slightly more complicated when I reached the plush toy section of the catalog and noticed that I could get twelve zoo-animal puppets for twenty dollars.  I wanted the zoo animals.  I really did.  But for the same price, I could get almost ten times as many "assorted toys."  This was a weighty decision for a nine-year-old.



I would try to bargain with myself and work out exactly the right ratio of quality to quantity, but it is hard to argue with quantity and greed almost always won out.

On Christmas morning, I would feel so self-satisfied, knowing that I had maximized the number of presents I would get to unwrap.  I remember watching my sister unwrap the two or three expensive items that she selected from Oriental Trading Company and thinking "She's so stupid.  I'm going to get at least two-hundred times as many toys as her..."

Three days later, my sister would be playing contentedly with her super-deluxe farm animal play-set and I would be eyeing her with jealously, having run out of ideas for how to have fun with two hundred plastic banana-whistles.

29 comments:

BugginWord said...

Wow the memories of that magical catalog. Thanks to the Oriental Trading Co's catalog, I learned the meaning of "gross" - in every sense of the word.

Allie said...

BugginWord - YES!!!! I was going to mention how I learned the words "gross" and "dozen" from the OTC catalog, but I didn't think anyone would get it!

Stormy Cruz said...

Oh my God! I had almost forgotten about The Oriental Trading Co. Holy shit. That's how I learned that "gross" didn't just mean "yucky." Ah, memories.

Stormy Cruz said...

Dammit. Buggin beat me to it...

Allie said...

Stormy - It just reinforces the fact that you guys really *do* get me!

X said...

I still get the Oriental Trading Catalog. There's also a Rhode Island Novelty catalog which has nicer toys, but it's a little more expensive (but highly recommended!)

Amber said...

Oh yeah, I now get the OTC catalog because I ordered some light sticks for my wedding. I browse and think, "I want!!!"

I think it's hilarious that people reviewed plastic finger puppets (13 cents each folks). Don't they know that those toys are made by thumbless epileptics? They are totally discriminating by telling people not to buy.

A-holes!

Metallo Bianco Jewelry said...

Ha! A business woman from the beginning! That catalog is the best...I actually have to admit...I am addicted to catalogs. I know...I am ashamed.

Gigi said...

OTC? Never heard of it. Back when I was a kid (OMG! How old does THAT make me sound?! But I totally cancelled that out w/the OMG & and the fact that I'm typing this out on my phone-right?!) Ahem! Anyway - we used the Sears catalog - so I didn't get the opportunity to learn all that fancy math!

dogimo said...

Wild, wacky, unusual creatures who want to be friends with you.

It's the internet.

Veronica Marcetti Dimick said...

Wrap your mind around THIS -- I got one of those plastic monster finger puppets FOR FREE when I ordered something from perpetualkid.com. Believe it.

Never been there? You will love it so much that even when you are there you will be thinking "I want to go to there."

Ed Adams said...

Banana whistles go great with Barrel of Monkeys.

Kirsten said...

omg I loved the oriental trading company catalog. I totally learned what a gross was from it too. I used to want all the candy in it but my mom told me that it would show up all old and stuck together and melted and I'd die from it or something so she never let me get it.

Also, when I taught a few summers ago the head teacher let me order whatever I wanted from OT catalog as prizes for the students. ANYTHING I WANTED. Let's just say a few prizes went missing because they were so freaking awesome

Tony said...

I remember that catalog...My parents always threw it away, but I'd dig it out of the trash, and gaze upon the crazy toys and wish my dad wasn't a communist so that I could get some of those toys at awesome prices. Oh childhood memories...

BlackLOG said...

Having a birthday in early July, as a kid, is fantastic as it gives you half the year to plan what you want for Christmas followed by half a year to plan what you want for your Birthday followed by half a year to plan for Christmas then half....you get the picture. As an adult it sucks as I want to ski on my Birthday so unless I go to South America and risk getting kidnapped by wild eyed locals who are willing to cut you up and sell my body parts in batches of 200 to the South American Trading company for $20, it ain't going to happen.

CarrieAnn said...

I'm with Gigi. I used to go through the Sears catalog too (I'm not even 30, okay?!). But I discovered the Oriental Trading Co when I was planning my daughter's birthday party a few years ago. Loves. It.

Imnotbenny said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Imnotbenny said...

So after reading the first sentence of your post, I ran outside in the snow and shook my fist in the air and screamed:

"Why did I never get a magazine that sold Orientals?"

Then I shook my fist some more, but had to stop because without any thing to scream, it just kind of looks like you're having a weird stroke.

Then I read the rest and thought:

"Ahhh."

The End.

I just realized that this is not technically a comment.

The Real End.

Blaise said...

Man, that catalog is awesome! My mom-in-law-to-be gets that magazine (because I have the best mom-in-law-to-be ever!), I picked it up last month and was browsing and walking down memory lane.
Oh, and, you need to have more faith in us. Someone out of your hordes will always know what you're talking about.
Gross. 144, right? Yup, because when you're a kid, the end of the multiplication tables is the best.

Amy said...

1. I LOVED those finger puppets! I used to get to pick one whenever I went to the eye doctor as a kid.

2. On behalf of thumbless epileptics with depth-perception problems everywhere, I'm offended at your assumption that we would not be able to paint white cirles and or dots where appropriate. It's so simple a caveman could do it. Thank you, Geico. Sorry, cavemen.

3. I hate snow. Which isn't revelvant to your post except that I looked out the window as I read this and cried at the sheer volume falling from the sky and adding to the foot already on the ground.

Amy said...

P.S. While us thumbless epileptics can do most things we can apparently not spell CIRCLES. Ha! Did it right that time. Score!!

Sarah P said...

OMG. You even win on Christmas. It's like you're unbeatable.

Whitney said...

One time I ordered some classroom supplies from there and they sent me TWO DOZEN mini neon pink teddy bears.

Not only was I able to teach better but I was also able to assemble a mini bear army. Thanks Oriental Trading!

Brighton Mum-Teenage Angst said...

OH NO! I so missed out! I have never ever heard of OTC??!?! WTF! I'm going to blame this on my mum (nothing to do with the fact I'm in the UK!) It sounds so awesome, I want one...now I'm sad...:(

Hater Von G said...

Ive never heard of OTC until now, and I kind of feel like I never was given the chance to be a child.

tee said...

Every time I saw OTC in the comments I thought over-the-counter which made me think of prescription meds which made me think, let's go get some. But yeah, I take it your gifts never came from Santa? Or was the story that he outsourced his work from China?

Kim said...

Could. Not. Stop. Laughing.

Allie, you crack me up. Move to Australia, it's warmer where I live. And I have a whole BOX of little plastic toys cause my mum used to collect them from cereal packets.
I would share with you :)

miss. chief said...

holy moly I'm totally ordering 92 of those finger puppets. for shiz.

alkali said...

Random fact: The guy whose family owned OTC sold it and then blew $100 million of the cash on table games in Las Vegas -- he is now suing the casino for allegedly feeding his gambling addiction (google "Terry Watanabe Harrah's" for details)

Previously, the same individual was known as a prominent donor to gay causes (which is awesome; however, blowing $100mm on dice is not so awesome)