Marx Lane
An Inventory of Marx Playset Figures and Accessories
Manufactured from 1951 to 1979

 
Addendum J-6 - Sears Shopping Center
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Figures
Accessories
Playmat
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Marx' Sears Shopping Center was more a promotional item than a playset.  Having had a close business relationship with Marx for many years, Sears reportedly asked the toy company to create the Sears set for its Jubilee Anniversary.  The result, sold solely in Sears' 1961 Christmas catalog, was a pleasant set with a 137 piece count that was targetted to both boys and girls.  However, it resembles the doll house theme much more than any playset theme.  There are no enemy to fight, no cannons, no wild animals, no airplanes, no rockets, not much of anything that appealed to boys' play.

According to Plastic Figure and Playset Collector magazine (PFPC) Issue 23, advertisements for the set proclaimed that "Any boy would be thrilled to own this set.  Children will love setting up displays..."  Though the tin litho store did include an auto service center, most of the set appealed more to the female shopping afficiando than the male Wild West/outer space/military fanatic.  As should have been expected, the set sold poorly and thus is difficult to find today.

There is some uncertainty as to how the Sears set originated.  While the Sears set was in its 1961 catalog, it is interesting to note that in PFPC Issue 4 a re-print of a Marx 1962 wholesale catalog lists a Shopping Center Play Set #3755.  The PFPC article points out that "...Marx quickly modified and changed the basic set to conform with the wishes of Sears who included a slightly different version, the Sears Store, in its catalog as an exclusive."  Apparently any modifications were slight, as the photo in the catalog looks almost exactly like the building in the Sears set.

The Sears set is featured in PFPC Issue 23 and Playset Magazine Issue 6.  Much of the information below is drawn from those two articles.



Figures

The set included fifteen 35mm scale figures, plus a hand cart that one of the poses is pushing.  Made in cream soft plastic, these figures were borrowed from other Marx playsets, such as airport and construction themes.  At 35mm, they are devoid of any significant detail, and none are among the company's better figures.  They do fit the theme rather well, though it is odd that the set has no sales personnel.  You would think that Sears would have insisted on such figures!  
1.  Man pushing seperate hand truck 2.  Man pumping gas 3.  Man with hammer and chisel 4.  Man carrying box on shoulder

5.  Man pushing broom 6.  Lady walking in coat 7.  Lady standing with girl 8.  Lady pushing baby carriage

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9.  Policeman on motorcycle 10.  Lady walking with bag and pusrse 11.  Girl with ice cream cone 12.  Man in uniform, walking

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13.  Man runnning with brief case 14.  Man in cap looking up



Accessories

At the center of  the Sears Shopping Center, of course, is the Sears building itself.  It is an impressive representation, made in the Marx' usual tin-plated, pressed steel with colorful lithography.  As with the figures, Marx borrowed from other playsets to create the building.  It sits on a half-inch high base measuring 26 inches by 15 inches that was used for many of the company's gas stations.  With minor variations, the building -- 22 inches wide -- used the same stamping as that used for several gas stations and the International Airport Play Set.

The front of the store has a large, clear plastic display window on the front with clear plastic, double-door entrances on either side of the window.  On one side of the building is the automotive center, and on the other side is a patio canopy borrowed from a Marx doll house to represent the garden shop.  A small second floor room at the garden shop side of the store houses the ever-present Sears credit and catalog sections.  

The back side of the building is open, and both the inside and outside are colorfully lithographed.  
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Sears Store - front side
 
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Sears Store - interior

Other than the Sears store, the prize of this set was the numerous small accessories, most of them unique to this set.  Ranging from five mannequins to a fishing tackle display, these are the fun pieces of the set.  They were made in hard plastic and in numerous colors, including white, green, cream, beige, brown, red, and silver.  Quite a colorful set.

Based on the use of many colors, I assume that they were made in several different molds.  Unlike most pages on this web site, I am presenting the accessories in store sections, rather than by mold number.  I believe that will be more useful, and anyway, I have been able to identify the mold numbers!

In addition to the items shown below, the set came with a sheet of decals.  The largest were Sears Allstate Auto Service decals for the service center's sign on a pole.  Smaller decals included brand names for such items as gas pumps, kitchen appliances, and the television, as well as small pennant decals announcing "SALE."  

          Clothing accessories
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1.  Dress mannequin, no head
2.  Shirt mannequin, no head 3.  Blouse mannequin, no head 4.  Mannequin in coat
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5.  Mannequin in dress 6.  Dry goods display (seperate top and base)

          Kitchen accessories
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1.  Freezer
2.  Sink 3.  Range 4.  Dishwasher
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5.  Refrigerator 6.  Clothers washer 7.  Clothers dryer 8.  Small appliance display
(seperate top and base)

          Hardware accessories

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1.  Rack of hand tools
2.  Table saw 3.  Drill press 4.  Lathe

          Furniture accessories

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1.  Couch
2.  Chair 3.  Television 4.  Coffee table
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5.  Floor lamp 6.  Vacuum cleaner 7.  Carpet sweeper

          Sporting goods accessories

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1.  Boat
2.  Rack with fishing tackle 3.  Outboard motor 4.  Golf bag and cart
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5.  Gun cabinet 6.  Rifle 7.  Mannequin scuba diver 8.  Sporting goods display (seperate top and base)

          Toy accessories

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1.  Toy table
2.  Train table 3.  Bicycle 4.  Wagon
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5.  Doll 6.  Rocking horse

          Garden and outdoor accessories
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1.  Picnic table
(5-piece)
2.  Umbrella table
(2-piece)
3.  Swing set
(3-piece)
4.  Swimming pool
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5.  Barbeque grill 6.  Power lawn mower 7.  Push lawn mower 8.  Stand of potted plants
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9.  Rack of garden tools 10.  Stack of fertilizer bags 11.  Patio top for garden section 12.  Wire poles for patio top
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13.  Loading platform for garden section 14.  Mesh fencing for garden section

          Automotive service accessories

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1.  Oval sign on post
2.  Gas pump 3.  Rack of oil cans 4.  Air hose machine
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5.  Trash can 6.  Battery charger on wheels 7.  Gas can with spout 8.  Battery display rack
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9.  Floor jack 10.  4-wheel skid 11.  Lube machine 12.  Tool box with cannisters
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13.  Oil drum 14.  Tire rack with three tires 15.  Water can 16.  Accessory counter

          Other miscellaneous accessories

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1.  Window display stand
(Eight inches long)
2.  Cashier counter 3.  Oval counter
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4.  Automobile 5.  Automobile 6.  Automobile 7.  Automobile
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8.  Automobile 9.  Automobile 10.  Street light 11.  Sears billboard with seperate paper insert


Playmat

Besides the metal store base, the Sears set came with a large polyethylene playmat about 36 inches by 27 inches.  Looking at a photo of it in PFPC, it appears that the mat include parking spaces and a landscaped entry area, so that the store would be set adjacent to the mat, not on top of it.  That would make the entire play area about 3 feet by 3-1/2 feet!




Contents of this web site may not be reproduced or duplicated for use on the Internet or for commercial purposes without permission by Eric Johns.