Archive for the 'Dark Tower' Category

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.

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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!

1981 Article on Milton Bradley’s Dark Tower

Dark Tower 1981

The money quote, from George Ditomassi, Milton Bradley’s Senior VP for Sales:

We wanted a game that would cater to a market that already existed—Dungeons and Dragons… Dark Tower will not attract the Dungeons and Dragons aficionado. But that’s a small, intense market. We wanted the next level down—people who had heard about D&D but who didn’t want to be Dungeons and Dragons freaks. [Italics mine]

The article is from September 27, 1981. More Dark Tower here.

Christmas Morning, 1983: Dark Tower and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Toys

Christmas 1983 Dark Tower

Ho ho ho. The first shot of the Christmas season comes from Brett Hudoba via Board Game Geek. The big, beautiful Dark Tower box is unforgettable, thanks to artist Bob Pepper. The game—I probably got it in 1983 as well—anchored a corner of my closet for many years.

The AD&D Sword & Dagger Set! In the wild! There were a few other sets, and you can see them all in the 1984 Placo Toys Catalog.

There are two AD&D LJN action figures in the shot: Northlord is guarding the plant, and Strongheart (above the Garfield plush) awaits release from his packaging.

The shirt appears to be homemade, the illustration taken from the Blue Dragon card in TSR’s Dungeon! board game. Ladies and gentlemen, you have entered the presence of the nerd elite.

Oh, and I had a version of that scratchy old chair.

Board Games: Dragonmaster (Milton Bradley, 1981)

Dragonmaster 1981

Dragonmaster 1981-2

Dragonmaster 1981-4

Dragonmaster 1981-3

Dragonmaster is a straightforward, trick-taking card game with a sword and sorcery theme. What makes it interesting is the spectacular art, which resembles that of another, better known Milton Bradley game from the same year, Dark Tower. Here’s a shot of the different screens in Dark Tower for comparison:

Dark Tower 1981

The same talented gent, Bob Pepper, illustrated both games. Pepper is probably most famous for his kaleidoscopic cover art for Forever Changes (1967), one of the greatest rock albums of all time. He also did numerous, ultra-stylized sci-fi/fantasy paperback covers from the late 1960s until the early 1980s, including a series of unforgettable Philip K. Dick covers for DAW. Less well known are his beautiful classical album covers—for Bartok, Schubert, Puccini, Bach. I’ll feature more from Pepper soon.

Once again we see the influence of the psychedelic movement of the 1960s on the fantasy renaissance of 1975 – 1985.

You can read a short interview with Pepper at Well of Souls, a Dark Tower fan site.

UPDATE: See a complete set of Pepper’s Dragonmaster cards here.

(Images via Board Game Geek)

Toy Aisle Zen (1980): Dungeons & Dragons Computer Labyrinth Game, Super Simon, Perfection, and More

Toy Aisle 1977-2

The D&D Computer Labyrinth Game was not a big seller, as you can see. It was expensive, and D&D hadn’t yet gone viral in the kid world. Here it is with Dark Tower in the 1981 Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog for $44.88.

1981 Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog P490

Super Simon was in the same catalog for $37.99. The non-electronic games pictured—Ideal’s Rebound, Galoob’s Pro Pinball, Perfection (scared the crap out of me when that board shot up)—were much cheaper.

The photo is alluring, but also frustrating: all of those aisles in the background forever unexplored, all of those endcaps flush with eternally unidentifiable carded toys.

(First image via Historic Images/eBay)

1981 Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog: Dark Tower

1981.xx.xx Montgomery Ward Christmas Catalog P490

Son of a bitch. I’d completely forgotten about Dark Tower until I saw this. It came out in 1981, but I don’t know when I got it (I can’t see my parents shelling out $40 for this thing). Maybe in ’82 or ’83, when I had settled into D&D. The TV commercial, starring a decrepit-looking Orson Welles, has become rather famous in the nerd world:

The game of “electronic wizardry” was considered pretty cutting-edge at the time, although I remember it getting pretty boring after only a few plays (probably because I had no one else to play it with). The tower rumbled around in my closet of toys for years, every so often switching on and spitting out those outlandish sound effects.

As I mentioned here, I don’t remember playing the D&D Computer Labyrinth Game (1980), which Dark Tower chased, probably because the price rarely went down on D&D stuff in those days. Even the modules were tremendously expensive. I remember ogling rows and rows of them in the hobby shop.

As for the Ouija Board, let’s be honest, nobody our age who saw The Exorcist (usually after the parental units absolutely forbid it) ever touched the goddamn things. To this day any mention of “Captain Howdy” drives chills through my body.

(Image via WishbookWeb)


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