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Random Retro Riffraff #6: The Gnome Family


April 10, 2013 by J.C. Lillis

Today’s Random Retro is a trippy vintage toy ad from the 1979 issue of Life magazine. If you suffer from GRSD (Gnome-Related Stress Disorder), you may want to avert your eyes.

I can’t decide which is more alarming: the idea that these ooky off-brand Smurf imposters will “get you where your heart is,” or the fact that once upon a time, in a dank pastrami-scented office of some long-defunct ad agency, a copywriter passed muster with a line like “Collect them individually or in sets and take them gnhome.”

“Really, bitch?”


Also, “sold wherever toys are sold” is one of the bigger copout lines I’ve encountered recently. Why can’t I get away with writing copy like this? “Buy this book wherever books are bought.” “The book is about whatever books like these are about.”

“You’re adorable. Now die.”


So does anyone else remember these gnomes? I had exactly one. It smelled vaguely nasty, like a moldy inner tube, and I seem to remember the paint rubbing off in short order.

eBay tells me I could’ve gotten at least five bucks for it today if I’d hung onto it, so damn.


  1. The $5 wouldn’t have covered the therapy you’d need after having one of those things in your house. ;)

    And to think I’ve been struggling with a blurb the last two days. Next time, I’ll go straight to “The book is about whatever books like these are about.”

  2. Hopefully it wasn’t lead-based paint :P

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