Nostalgia is a powerful thing, and it’s not just retro toys gaining steam, but retro retail as well.
A month after discovering previously unseen video from inside a Manhattan Toys “R” Us circa 1991, mysterious YouTuber btm0815ma is back with an incredible find. From the vaults comes a 25-minute reel of footage that was shot on film inside an undisclosed Toys “R” Us location on May 21, 1980. If the date sounds familiar, it’s because that is when 20th Century Fox released Lucasfilm‘s Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back into theaters everywhere. The footage features an ABC 7 reporter interviewing kids and parents in the action aisles amid shelves and pegs that were piled high and stocked deep with the latest toys from the Kenner Star Wars collection.
This reel is particularly interesting not just for its length, but for its content. The reporter interviews Toys “R” Us staff alongside parents and kids about the appeal of Star Wars, the quality of the toys, and the potential for Star Wars and its sequels to become “an evergreen property as long as they keep making movies for the next 25-30 years.”
If you feel the need to further scratch the itch for the “old days” of toy retail, btm0815ma has been uploading a massive collection of archival news reports and b-roll for nearly six years. The prolific uploader has nearly 5,000 videos in its library, but it’s a collection of recent videos that have really started turning heads. Their recent finds include vintage footage from Nintendo of America, CES, and the launches of Playstation 2, Microsoft’s Xbox, and the Nintendo GameCube, along with the 1997 U.S. launch of Bandai’s Tamagotchi at FAO Schwarz in New York City.
Want even more toy history? Look for our regular Flashback and Backstory features in every issue of the Toy Book.