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I-Spy

Um heap big list of stuff!One of those 1950s childhood artifacts that lingered on onto the 70s and beyond by sheer bloody force of will (see also: The Famous Five, Meccano, Jack Hargreaves), these little themed spot ‘n’ jot booklets covered the gamut of outdoor entities from birds to car registrations to the glamorous ‘on the pavement’, for eager spies to complete (no cheating now!) and send off to Big Chief I-Spy, Wigwam on the Green, Paddington. Yes, it was all very ‘delightfully un-PC they’ll be banning scotch eggs next’ if you really must bore the entire snug bar into oblivion, but let’s not let a tedious Jeremy Vine-style debate obscure that evocative, visceral thrill of… Er, looking at some things and then ticking a little box to say you’d seen them.

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Mags

    August 9, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Weren’t the taken over by Michelin in the 80’s I remember the tyre man on the cover. That being said I used to work in a bookshop until a year ago. Not a week went by without some parent/ elder relative asking us if they still did these books. Sadly, the answer is no.

  2. johnnyboy

    November 30, 2009 at 3:43 am

    There was a similary themed ‘activity’ that we played in the early seventies (the ‘we’ being my brothers in the back seat of an Austin Maxi) and that was a magnetized board game called ‘Spot-alot’. It consisted of a square board with a track on it and you each had a flat, magnetic car that you placed at the start (perhaps) and the object of the game was as one travelled along, you had a a set of cards randomly handed out to each soul and on each was an object, eg, haystack or elephant – yeah ok, horse and when you saw it you advanced a set number of squares until you had spotted (see!) all – or what was required – objects in the cards you held until past the finishing line and hence the winner. If I remember there were a couple of devilishly difficult things you had to ‘spot’, perhaps one being a windmill, but I don’t really recall what they were. I also think that each object had a difficulty score level too, so the more obscure the object the more rapidly one could advance along the track to the finish.
    Amazingly it was quite fun to play, but took a while to complete so only appropriate on those long journeys south of the border and of course it kept us relatively quiet at the back of concentrating-dad and fast-asleep mum, which I suppose was the whole point of the exercise. Sorely missed.

  3. helenahandcart

    December 7, 2009 at 11:51 pm

    I remember my mother pointing out a late middle aged antiques dealer in Camden Passage and saying “That’s Big Chief I-Spy”. It was like finding out that Santa Claus worked at Rumbelows.

    By the way, didn’t the Big Chief live at The Wigwam By The Water (or the Daily Mail office overlooking the Thames) or did he move later on?

  4. Richard Davies

    August 9, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    I’ve seen the Michelin ones fairly recently, maybe they only supply to certain shops.

    I’ve also got some similar books that were part of the Find 50 range, which were an Xmas present from a friend of the family.

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