Raiders Of The Lost Outdoor Gear Catalogue

January 14, 2013


So as many of you may know, I part-time, sometimes, in my extra time, do some modeling.  Now I know what you’re thinking: “Wow, Byronic Man is so cool and glamorous!  He’s like James Bond and Jimmy Page and Indiana Jones and George Clooney and, I don’t know, hell with it, Charlemagne rolled in to one!”

You’re not thinking that?  Oh.  Would you like to?

For just a moment?

Not even…?

Okay, fine.

And you would be right to dash my illusions.  Last Spring I did a shoot for athletic gear, which I talked about in the post Skiing With The Attractivesons, and said I would include some of the photos when the catalogue came out.  This has turned out to be a lot more difficult than it should have been.

Now, it’s pretty standard practice to tell the actors or models that they’ll send you copies of the photos with you in them, and then roll their eyes when you’re not looking. It’s also pretty standard to not send you copies of whatever the finished product is.

But this was something new.

The family who looks nothing alike?  The toboggan rides with Santa hats?  Did I... did I dream that?

The family who looks nothing alike? The toboggan rides with Santa hats? Did I… did I dream that?

I kept my eye out for the catalogue, and kept not seeing it.  And not seeing it.  And not seeing it.  Finally, it was December and I thought that if the catalogue wasn’t out yet, they’re marketing department needed a little shake-up.  A little pot stir.  I called the company’s information line and asked for a copy of their Winter catalogue.

The woman on the line replied, “We don’t have a catalogue.”

“Uh.  Wh–. Um…  Yeah-huh.”

“No, we only have the online materials.”

“But… I’m… in it.  I mean… somebody was taking my picture…”

This was seeming like I’d been the victim of an epically weird prank.  Or the most thoroughly thought-out stalking. Ever.

Like the ski goggles?  $600.  Comes with GPS.  Also, four $100 bills, I'd assume.

Like the ski goggles? $600. Comes with GPS. Also, four $100 bills, I’d assume.

So nothing came of it.  I hung up.  I tried the company directly and couldn’t reach the guy in charge.  Finally, a couple weeks ago, I was having dinner with friends, and someone there worked for the company.  I asked him about it.  He actually had a couple copies of the catalogue.  I told him about my experience.

“Yeah,” he said.  “They don’t want people to know about the catalogue.”

I said that seemed like a questionable business strategy.  He said that the catalogues were so expensive to produce that they were trying to re-direct people to the online sales instead.  To recap:

  1. They shot the materials for the catalogue.
  2. Assembled the catalogue.
  3. Printed the catalogue.
  4. But didn’t tell anyone about the catalogue.
Ah, there's nothing like a hot cup of empty, in front of a fire that won't turn on so they'll add it in photoshop, on a May afternoon, is there?

Ah, there’s nothing like a hot cup of empty, and some fleece outdoor-wear in front of a roaring fire on a May afternoon, is there?

Boy, I just don’t understand how business works; because that seems, well, silly to me.

Flipping through the catalogue, there were a couple good shots.  Several key elements they left out – the plan had been to make the theme “High Performance” but they didn’t include any of the shots of me careening through the ski park’s parking lot in this very cool, very fast, car; my pretend family grimacing and clutching the seats in terror.  Lame.

So, not only is it not people running up to you on the street to tell you how wonderful you are, and being flown to exotic locales, it’s spending a month on the equivalent of a geocache hunt to find a catalogue that the company is trying to keep anyone from seeing.

Of course, it could be worse.




P.S. – Don’t forget to submit your entry for the caption contest!

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About The Byronic Man

Recently voted "The Best Humor Site in America That I, Personally, Write," The Byronic Man is sometimes fiction, but sometimes autobiography. And sometimes cultural criticism. Oh, and occasionally reviews. Okay, it's all those different things, but always humorous. Except on the occasions that it's not. Ah, geez. Look, it's a lot of things, okay? You might like it, is the point.

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79 Comments on “Raiders Of The Lost Outdoor Gear Catalogue”

  1. Go Jules Go Says:

    It’s like they think wizards don’t have feelings! (Yes, yes I am delighted you linked to that post at the end.)

    But my head’s as itchy as if I was wearing a santa hat in May. (I’m trying to say that this is a real head-scratcher.) And no car? Psh.

    The pictures are great, though. Totes pillowcase worthy.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That link was for you, my friend (*Wink/finger-point thing*)

      And I’m not ashamed of that wizard photo! I’m proud! Proud!

      Nah, that’s a lie. Seeing it was like a magical portal taking me back to jr. high while wearing out of fashion clothes.


  2. Tori Nelson Says:

    I should’ve figured you were a model. You have that Smizing (eye smiling?) thing that Tyra always hollers about.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I hadn’t heard of “smizing.” I’m glad you clarified what it is or I’d have had no idea how to take that (Is she saying I look like I have an obscure venereal disease?). I’ve only gotten the bargain-basement version “thinking about smiling, but don’t smile.”


  3. rossmurray1 Says:

    So the snow is artificial? Snotoshopped?


  4. Life With The Top Down Says:

    I really don’t understand the whole catalogue hoarding thought process. The pictures are great and your fake family are really a good-looking brood. The photo with the little arrow pointing to the goggles gave me a chuckle. It reminded me of those photos you see in motorcycle magazines where the half naked girl is spread eagle on a bike and then there is the little arrow to snap you back to reality..”you’re here to shop for a bike.” You’re officially …. a lure or snow bait.


  5. Elyse Says:

    An expensive catalog that nobody gets to see? Do my neighbors know about this? Because that would make it vital that the trophy wives around me get a catalog and buy all the items in it for their husbands, their children and themselves. Quick get me the marketing department…


  6. Michelle Gillies Says:

    Believe it or not this has been a common practice for a lot of companies for several years now. Some have completely stopped producing catalogues and only promote online. Others keep them mysterious and you can only get them if you can figure out how to order them. They usually only have a small portion of the stuff in them and always direct you to find more online. It all comes down to cost.
    By the way, all the snow around here right now is fake too.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      That’s interesting – the whole “You have to be cool enough thing to be a member, and the way you’re cool enough is if you’re a member” approach. It works, sad to say. Every time I spend too much at REI I’m reminded of that.


  7. mistyslaws Says:

    Yeah yeah yeah, obscure and never seen catalog, blah blah.

    But . . . can you introduce me to George Clooney? I mean, that’s what I got out of this post. That was the entire point, no?


  8. Michael Says:

    I’m sure that catalog is being researched. The company has top men working on it right now. Top. Men.


  9. mairedubhtx Says:

    I don’t get it. A catalogue for no one to look at? What good is it? How do they sell anything? Well, at least you got paid, right? You did get paid?


  10. musingsoftheamusingmuse Says:

    Congratulations, Sir, on your new tear sheets even if they were… secret tear sheets. 😉


  11. josefkul Says:

    Is there something above supermodel, because I feel like being featured in a magazine so exclusive it gets locked away in the same secret warehouse as the lost ark found by Indiana Jones could place you and your fellow snow models in just such a category. “We can never release this,” the photographer says “these pictures are just too good.”


  12. Lily Says:

    Drag you get all the ski shoots. One of my coworker’s daughters always gets swimsuit shoots and gets all the tropical shoots BUT they only pay for like a day or 2 (she usually stays extra!).


  13. TAE Says:

    Just rename the blog to The Attractive Man and own your unpublished but printed status.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      It’s actually painful for me to write about this stuff, because it always feels like I’m saying, “Oooooh, look at me, everybody! I’m so handsome that people pay to take pictures of me being handsome in their stuff!” As though I’m either flaunting it, as if it were meaningful, or – worse – being falsely modest. I finally decided, okay, it’s stuff that happened, it’s a blog… I’ll go with it.


  14. susielindau Says:

    Ironically, I got an SEO for “ski jacket” yesterday. I searched Google images to see what photo of mine could have brought someone to my blog. I only checked the first two pages and didn’t find anything. Hey, maybe your photos are posted there!

    I have never modeled anything nor have I been asked. Alas, you are much fairer than I, Byronic Man! 🙂


  15. thesinglecell Says:

    Yeah, I think maybe you need a new agent? You are making me, like, soooo glad I turned down that offer to be a supermodel. But I’ll look for you on the next box of cat food I buy. Maybe they’ll put your face on a tabby.


  16. Audrey Says:

    Ah, the science of marketing… Well, at least you look good in the photos.
    And you’re right, it just doesn’t have that “high performance” feel to it. Did you have to ski during the photo shoot?


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      No, we got up to the lift, then turned around. I brought my gear, just in case. Team B got to go into the woods with snowmobiles, skis and tow-ropes, so someone could get hauled along.


  17. Anka Says:

    Now that you have your long awaited print work will you be adding it to your portfolio? Or, as the industry calls it your “book”?


  18. rachelocal Says:

    Ever consider reality TV? I know America’s Next Top Model has had a college edition, plus size edition, and tiny model edition. I’m sure with these photos under your belt you’d be a shoo-in for American’s Next Top 30ish Male Model. (I’d keep the wizard photo under wraps, though.)

    You are FIERCE in those goggles!


  19. Catherine Johnson Says:

    Model looks and wit and wisdom, whatever next? A campaign trailer for real magazines :0)


  20. Jackie Cangro Says:

    Well this just bursts my bubble. Next thing you’re going to tell me is that the women in the Victoria’s Secret catalogue aren’t really all frolicking in their skivvies by a fireplace in a gorgeous log cabin.


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Oh, that’s all real. And any commercial where an “actual customer” tells you how great the product is, is just some random customer, not an actor who was given the product to make him, technically, a customer.


  21. twindaddy Says:

    Lots of money spent. No results. Trying to keep it a secret. Hmmm…was this financed with bailout money and coordinated by the government? Sure sounds like it.


  22. winopants Says:

    A secret catalog that has nothing to do with Victoria’s Secret? Weird


  23. becca3416 Says:

    Seriously? …SERIOUSLY? Too much attractiveness and talent. Can not compute.

    Look, I’ll come clean. The reason they have no more catalogs is because I stole them all. I had to hang your pictures in my locker. I have a rather large locker.


  24. aliceatwonderland Says:

    Well, at least you figured out an actual photographer was taking the pictures, and not some Golem character hoarding them all in his basement going “My precioussssss” while rubbing the pictures over his face.

    I actually do some pinafore modeling on the side, myself.


  25. Rutabaga the Mercenary Researcher Says:

    Now that’s bizzaro ~ maybe it was some weirdo that is just secretly hording pictures of you in his/her room…


  26. becomingcliche Says:

    Yes, Charlemagne. That has been bugging me. Thanks for helping me put my finger on it!

    The hats had to have been photoshopped, or the downhill speeding action was. Those Santa hats should have been blowing in the breeze!


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      I know, people are always like, “You remind me of… somebody… damn… it’s on the tip of my tongue…” And I say, “Charlemagne?” And they’re all, “THANK you!”

      And no, that’s real hats, really sledding. They’re cinched on really tight, and that’s only seconds in to the sled ride.


  27. pegoleg Says:

    THank you for reminding me of the Byronic/Galdalf experience. It makes my soul happy.


  28. artsifrtsy Says:

    I oversee a catalog design twice a year – seems crazy to go to all that effort to make something that you keep secret – wow.


  29. Laura Says:

    Some stores sell (or used to sell) print catalogues. I have a vague memory of shopping for curtains at Sears (or some store like it) in the early 2000s and wanting a catalog to take home, and discovering they weren’t free (I think they were $5.00).


    • The Byronic Man Says:

      Really? You had to pay for a catalogue? Wow. Corporate America (and England) found out we had a baby and we get catalogues for baby clothes daily now. That makes sense though, because on your own you’d go to somewhere cheap. But it’s physically impossible to look at pictures of cute baby clothes and not buy them.


  30. cookie5683 Says:

    Tag your it! Time for your award!


  31. Snebs Says:

    You look very disgruntled in the second one. “I don’t think Avatar is a good movie.”


  32. The World Is My Cuttlefish Says:

    I love that there is an empty pair of pants about to walk right over you. Product placement?


  33. Dana Says:

    I’m sorry. You lost me with that wizard photo link. What was this post about again?



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