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Then & Now: Game Room Essentials

Then & Now: Game Room Essentials

Wish Book

You're in the middle of dinner, and your kid starts bragging about their air hockey skills. You know you're better, but how can you prove it? That's easy! Settle it in the game room!

For decades, the game room has been the center of fun, friendly competition in many American homes—and the Sears Wish Book has helped fill it with pool, pinball and other games designed to bring out the whole family's inner champions. Here are some of our favorites from over the years.



Pool Parties

The game of billiards went pretty much unchanged for 400 years, but it couldn't hide from the 60s. The 1964 Sears Christmas Book brought pool full-circle with ELLIPTIPOOL: a circular billiards table that asked players to try new, ever-crazier angles to knock their balls into a single hole.

The billiards renaissance continued in the 70s and 80s with another game changer: transforming pool tables. Enter "The Exeter," a 3-in-1 that allowed up to four people to shoot pool, enjoy dinner on a real wood-grain dining top, and play high-stakes poker for dessert—all without pushing their chairs back. Classy and convenient! 

ELLIPTIPOOL in the 1964 Sears Christmas Book
The Exeter 3-in-1 in the 1985 Sears Wish Book (1)
The Exeter 3-in-1 in the 1985 Sears Wish Book (2)

Jungle Fighter in the 1989 Sears Wish Book
Nintendo & Real Ghostbusters pinball machines in 1989 Sears Wish Book

Having a Ball

For kids in 1989, the only thing cooler than Batman and New Kids on the Block was pinball. That winter, Sears ushered in the holiday season with Jungle Fighter, a game that promised "action-packed adventure through endless tropical rain forests!" Translation: independent replay, four bonus score channels.

Parents who didn't have the space for a full pinball cabinet could light up their kids' faces with tabletop versions. These came with automatic scoring, bright lights and exciting sounds, and included themes like Nintendo (complete with Mario and Bowser) and Ghostbusters, which could still hold their weight today, right?

Ice, Ice, Baby!

In the early 90s, the coolest sports weren't found on TV or in a stadium. They could fit in your garage. The 1991 Sears Wish Book brought hockey to a whole new level with table and air hockey games. For instance, Electric Face-Off Hockey used a fan inside the game board to create a cushion of air for lightning-fast blocks and shots on the miniature goals.

Its height was just right for bloodthirsty kids. The Electronic Air Blaster II, meanwhile, pit 4 friends (or enemies) against each other in puck-based mayhem, and every score triggered an electronic cheering noise. Intense!

Air hockey tables in the 1991 Sears Wish Book
Table hockey game in the 1991 Sears Wish Book


89" Sportcraft Lexington Billiards Table in 2017 Sears Wish Book
Sportcraft 7' Air Hockey & Table Tennis Table in 2017 Sears Wish Book
48" 14-in-1 Game Table in 2017 Sears Wish Book

The Next Level

Remember those game tables that gave you two or more activities in one? They’re back in a big way. Today's game room innovations, such as the 14-in-1 Combo Game Table, combines over a dozen games—pool, air hockey, and even chess—into a single piece of fun furniture. Professional-grade tables designed for the smaller frames and shorter arms of kids are all the rage, too.

While the air hockey tables have gained new bells and whistles and the foosball tables have become sleeker and more colorful, they all serve the same goal: bringing friends and family together. That and allowing friends and family to show one another who's the boss.

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