1980 JC Penny Christmas Catalog – The Year of the Mime Model

I was looking around wishbookweb.com, which I love to do a disturbing amount, and decided to flip through the 1980 JC Penny Christmas Catalog. Here’s what I found.

First of all, it is very obvious this cover was just a photo-op (or painting-op) for Santa because what the hell is he going to do with that big brush smothered in red paint? Give the doll a Joker smile?

Phony Santa



Next, what a welcoming sight. You just don’t see many modeling opportunities for conjoined twins these days (or maybe since they aren’t identical they were voluntarily conjoined – was that a thing in the 80s?):

Rare Models


I would seriously not want to run into these two in a dark alley, or really anywhere. I guess my best approach would be to grab that big bow on the lady with the bun’s shirt – maybe swing her around with it:

1980 JCPenny Christmas page069

1980 JCPenny Christmas page106


I’ve mentioned this before, but it’s worth repeating – there are not enough photos in catalogs nowadays of kids who hate the product being advertised. I will never get tired of angry child models:

1980 JCPenny Christmas page203

You know what’s disappointing? Ordering your child a playhouse and when it arrives finding out that an important accessory isn’t included:

1980 JCPenny Christmas page391


And last, here’s another relic from early 1980s modeling – the mime-trapped-in-a-box pose.  With a fashionable outfit like this one, surely someone will come along and break her free – maybe the wrench wielding maniac?

1980 JCPenny Christmas page078

27 thoughts on “1980 JC Penny Christmas Catalog – The Year of the Mime Model”

  1. I remember having, and hating, tween-sized footie pajamas. I’m sure I looked like the older boy model when I wore them, especially since I sported that identical haircut. Why? Why the popularity of the full-body zip up footed pajamas in soon-to-be nubby fleece? SO HARD TO PEE.

  2. I’m thinking the two bitter broads in that ad were forced to wear footie pajamas and children. It all makes sense to me now…

  3. Well, my playhouse ALWAYS came with the lurking peeping Tom and Wrench wielding maniac! Are you saying you were deprived as a child and didn’t get those accessories? Oh man, now I feel bad for you. Wanna borrow my brother, then?

    Conjoined twins. All the rage in the 80s. How can you not remember that?

  4. Those boys are SO ANGRY. My guess is they auditioned to be the lurking peeping Tom or the wrench-wielding maniac and were DENIED.

    I am perplexed by the mime-girl. I can’t imagine that, even in the 80s, that would have made anyone want those clothes.

    Also, thank you for cutting off the ventriloquist dummies right above the playhouses, because I wouldn’t be able to sleep tonight otherwise. You’re a good blogger.

  5. The Stepford models in their $10 blouses are menacing and creepy. But the one that really caught my eye is the conjoined twin on the right; apparently the correct slippers to go with a full length velour robe are OPEN-TOED and HIGH-HEELED. So warm and comfy.

  6. My mother told me I couldn’t got to prom because of all the conjoining.

    The flipper bit made me snort so hard I think I broke a blood vessel so, thanks for that. The lurker was just the icing in the cake. Or more specifically, the blood all over my computer when my aneurysm burst.

  7. I’m so glad you did the 1980 catalog! I remember having a lengthy discussion of this particular catalog in the comments in the past. The mime girl falls in a series of CRAZY ASS poses. You have the awkwardly-holding-jacket girl on page 73, the yodeler on page 74, the what-do-we-do-with-our-hands girls on 76, then the mime on 78, the Disney ride automaton on 79, then a total clusterfuck on page 80. And THEN on 81, the girl who plays Stamos’ wife on Full House is in a sweater vest!

    All this while the photographer did lines of coke and said things like, “OMIGOD OMIGOD OMIGOD THAT POSE IS PERFECT! DON’T MOVE A MUSCLE!”

  8. OMG the glovemitts.

    And I guess I will go ahead and throw it out there that I totally remember the two different playhouses, and coveted the “boy” one because of the Disney characters, but was disappointed because it was so much uglier than the “girl” one.

    Because we didn’t mix “boy” and “girl” themed toys in the 80s, my parents tried to give me the box from their new microwave to convert into my own playhouse. I responded by sending my little brother down the stairs in an old Pampers box, toboggan style.

  9. Footed-Pajama Boy- “But mom, why do I have to be a model? Why can’t I be like other kids my age and drive a car and go to high school and wear age-appropriate sleepwear?”

    Mom- “You’ll have plenty of time for that when you’re older. Now uncross your arms and smile at the camera. You’re setting a bad example for your son.”

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