Buffalo in the ’80s: Electronic games from Hengerer’s, Brand Names

By Steve Cichon

Long before the days of smartphones and tablets, kids from toddlers to teens got their fill of electronic gaming not on iPhones and Kindles, but from Merlin and Simon.

Buffalo News archives

Just before Christmas 1981, Hengerer’s downtown store devoted a special section to electronic games, and it was enough to get News photographers in the door to check out the latest in what every kid wanted under the tree.

Buffalo News archives

If you got one of these games, even if you did scope it out live in the store — you likely circled it in your Brand Names catalog, too, just to make sure Santa knew whether you wanted the Coleco or Mattel hockey game.

Buffalo Stories archive

Buffalo Stories archive

According to these pages from the 1980 Brand Names catalog, most of these games cost between $35 and $50, which according to US Labor Department statistics, would cost between $101 and $144 in 2016 dollars.

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Steve Cichon

Steve Cichon is a proud Buffalonian helping the world experience the city he loves. writing about the people, places, and ideas that make Buffalo unique and special. The storyteller and historian has written six books, worn bow ties since the 80s, and is the News Director at WECK Radio. A 25 year Buffalo media veteran, Steve's contributed more than 1400 Buffalo History stories to The Buffalo News, worked at WIVB-TV, Empire Sports Network, and spent ten years as a newsman and News Director at WBEN Radio. He's also put his communication skills to work as an adjunct professor, a producer of PBS documentaries, and even run for Erie County Clerk. Steve's Buffalo roots run deep: all eight of his great-grandparents called Buffalo home, with his first ancestors arriving here in 1827.