Trevor Comfort is one of our most talented and dedicated local car guys.
Trevor is also a collector and his memorabilia includes many items from a bygone era.
One of his latest acquisitions is an Eaton’s slot car set that was found in their famous Christmas catalogues 52 years ago in 1965.
Eaton’s was a Canadian department store that was similar to the Sears department chain and sold goods in Canada from 1869 until 1999. The 1960s were still very kind to Eaton’s because the department store and mail order giant was a big retail player in Canada during this decade.
Canada also enjoyed the presence of Simpson-Sears in most parts of the country because Simpson-Sears also offered mail order retail services to Canadians, along with a few retail outlets in Canada’s larger cities.
Most young car guys relied heavily upon the mail order catalogues and TV toy commercials to build their Christmas wish list during the 60s. A slot car set was definitely on the list for many of us who were bombarded with professional marketing to aid our choices.
The catalogues always posed the slot car sets in their best light, while the TV ads drove home the point with fast action and excited kid actors. The final point was actually non-professional and it was delivered by other real world kids in our circle who actually owned slot car sets and gave access to the tracks to car guy kids from this era.
Consequently, a slot car set was a huge ticket item for car kids in the 60s and eventually most of us had a track. The cooperation of neighborhood kids made the track even bigger for some of us when a merger took place and we joined slot car sets.
However, a slot car set was not the only way a car kid could identify as a car guy during the Christmas childhood portion of their lives. Tonka toys, road equipment and fire engines were also the stuff of Santa Claus wish list dreams for many car kids.
Some of the toys required batteries (not included by the way) but many were powered by a kid’s imagination, his hand, and access to sand to make the toys move in accordance with the kid’s game plan at the toy construction site.
The push toy worlds were the primary domain of younger kids who were able to use their undeveloped creativity in the sand box. An advanced kid toy was likely the miniature service stations found in Christmas catalogues because they also required an ability to read the collection of signs on them.
The toy service stations looked amazing in the Christmas catalogues because they presented an action-packed larger-than-life vision of these toys. The toy versions usually had more than one level to them and were a full service facility in that version.
Most car kids were granted a toy service station wish by Santa Claus and his willing accomplices but the thrill disappeared rather quickly when we realized there were few (or no) batteries required for the service stations. Meanwhile, slot car tracks and tethered remote controlled cars were pushing their way to the front of the line of our interest levels.
A toy service station’s inertia was its biggest problem when it was compared by a slightly older car kid to any Christmas catalogue toy item with an electric motor that moved it.
Particularly when it was an incredibly cool slot car set that first appeared in a 1960s-era Christmas catalogue and reappeared many decades later in the hands of a dedicated collector like Trevor Comfort.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.