Archive for the 'Board Games/Tabletop Games' Category

Black Magic Ritual Kit and Witchcraft Ritual Kit (Avalon Hill, 1974)

Black Magic 1974

Black Magic 1974-2

Black Magic 1974-3


Witchcraft 1974

Witchcraft 1974-2

Witchcraft 1974-3

Witchcraft 1974-4

Witchcraft 1974-5

The commercial popularity of the occult was no longer in doubt after the film adaptations of Rosemary Baby (1968) and The Exorcist (1973), and the identification of witchcraft with the sexual revolution dates from Sex and the Single Girl (1962), by Helen Gurley Brown, and films like The Naked Witch (1961). In the following 10 years, much more was said, prompted more by male fantasy than reality, about “swinging covens.” At the same time, Playboy and Cosmopolitan (Helen Gurley Brown became editor-in-chief in 1965) had become cultural touchstones, and Hustler launched in 1974.

These two extremely rare items play on all of the factors listed above. Billed as “how-to” guides as opposed to games, they’re very rare and very pricey when they come around. Based on what I’ve seen—the outstanding male and female witch standees, for instance—role-playing seems to be involved. You can find lots of photos at Board Game Geek (here and here), thankfully. All we need now are scans of the respective “Manuals of Interpretation.” The kits are “based on the research of Dr. Brooke Hayward Jennings,” who doesn’t seem to exist outside of these two products.

Tabletop Games: Black Hole in Space (Schaper, 1979)

Black Hole Schaper

Black Hole Schaper-2

Where else would a black hole be, Schaper? Actually, there was a never produced game based on the Black Hole movie (below, as seen in Marx’s 1980 The Black Hole catalog) that looks exactly the same, except Marx’s version makes sense and looks cool. I’m not sure why Schaper thought the silly thing would sell separated from the movie, especially when presented in that godawful box!

Black Hole Game 1979

(Images via eBay and Plaid Stallions)

Crossbows and Catapults: Battling Giant Minotaur (Lakeside, 1984)

Crossbows Giant 1984

Crossbows Giant 1984-2

Crossbows Giant 1984-3

I had Crossbows and Catapults, but I forgot about all the expansion sets. It’s obvious now that the game, while revolutionary in its way, was a simplified, physical expression of D&D. The problem with pen and paper role-playing is that you need time to play and people to play with. Toy companies began to exploit this limitation early on. Still, Lakeside’s “the fun is only limited by your imagination” is a crude mockery of TSR’s “products of your imagination” motto. You don’t need imagination to play Crossbows and Catapults. You just need what’s in the box.

There was apparently a set that included both the Cyclops and the Minotaur, and the sprawling box art (below) was scanned by some kind soul at Board Game Geek. The artist is Ken Kelly, who was illustrating LJN’s AD&D toy line at the same time. Kelly also did the art for the Crossbows and Catapults: Trojan Horse (1984) expansion set.

I wrote a piece on how Kelly changed the toy industry here.

Crossbows Box 1983

(Images via eBay)

Christmas Morning, 1981: Dark Tower and AT-AT

Christmas Dark Tower 1981

One of the more epic “big ticket” combos, via EyeSPIVE. That’s the U.K. version of the game, as seen here. There’s another Dark Tower Christmas, including some AD&D toys, here.


That’s it for me until next year, kids. Thanks to everyone who follows the blog, and special thanks to all of you who have left comments (here and on Facebook) and sent me appreciative messages. Merry Christmas to all!

Christmas Morning, 1969: Milton Bradley’s Barnabas Collins: Dark Shadows Game

Christmas 1969

Kid also appears to be dressed up as Barnabas Collins. Wrong holiday, kid! The first goth?

You can also see MPC’s Carry Case Castle on the bottom right. I’m not sure what the other box is.

UPDATE (12/21/15): I’m pretty sure the other box is MPC’s Space Control Center, seen below.

Space Control Center 1969

Space Control Center 1969-2

(Top photo via TimeWarp Toys)

Board Games: Bats in Your Belfry (Mattel, 1964)

Bats 1964




More beautiful toy art.

(Images via From Zombos’ Closet, Church of Halloween, and Crypt of Wrestling)

Board Games: Arkham Horror (Chaosium, 1987)




From Board Game Geek: “It’s possible for everyone to go insane and lose in this game.” Sounds about right. Beautiful Tom Sullivan cover and interior art—see more here.

(Images via Board Game Geek and this Latvian board game site)

`Hobbit T-Shirts’ and `Come to Middle Earth’ Ads in Rolling Stone (December, 1977)

Rolling Stone 1977

The Quest of the Magic Ring board game, seen below, was published in 1975 by Land of Legend, the placer of the ad on the right. You can see more photos at Board Game Geek. The first board game based on Tolkien’s work is probably Conquest of the Ring (Hobbit Toy and Games, 1970).

The ad image is via Butterfly Mind, where you can see more of the Rolling Stone issue. “Come to Middle Earth” and “Frodo Lives!” were slogans adopted by the counterculture starting in the late 1960s.

Quest 1975-2

Quest 1975-3

Board Games: The Mall Game (Richmar, 1977)






A gorgeous relic and one of the earliest board games based on a shopping mall. The game board actually looks like a then-contemporary mall directory. I worked in a couple of malls during and after high school and remember quite a few of these stores, especially Waldenbooks, where I spent a lot of time as a kid. Kaufmann’s was an east coast chain, and so was Circus World Toys.

Also check out two other mall-themed board games, Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Electronic Mall Madness (1989), the former based on the classic zombie film directed by George A. Romero.

(Images via eBay)

Board Games: Clash of the Titans Game (Whitman, 1981)





I had the Alan Dean Foster novelization, the action figures, and I think one of the Whitman jigsaw puzzles, but I didn’t know about the board game. Simple spin, move, and draw affair: Each player has to get his/her Perseus all the magical equipment he needs to defeat Medusa and the Kraken.

The cover art is a copy of the movie poster by Dan Goozee (note Bubo had to be moved so as not to be obscured by the title letters), but the interior and card art is original. I wish I had some better close-ups. I think Whitman used the same artist for the puzzles, which are hard to find.

(Images via Board Game Geek)




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