Archive for the 'Catalogs' Category

1983 Games Workshop `Catalogue of Adventure’

GW 1983

GW 1983-2

GW 1983-8

GW 1983-3

GW 1983-4

GW 1983-5

GW 1983-6

GW 1983-7

Thank you, Pitch & Putt, for posting the whole catalog. It’s glorious. The number of role-playing games and non-traditional board games available by 1983 is incredible, as Livingstone and Jackson admit in their introductory note. The games are based on every genre, and nearly every workable property (Judge Dredd, Dune, Starship Troopers, Watership Down, The Road Warrior).

As I mentioned here, GW’s approach was much more cerebral than TSR’s. They focus on the novelty and sophistication of role-playing (“the most original concept in commercially available games for hundreds of years”), diversity of rules systems, and sheer range of game titles.

Compare the GW catalog to this 1981 TSR catalog.

Christmas Morning, 1985: The U.S.S. Flagg

chrsitmas morning u.s.s. flagg

That’s right, suckers. There it is. Definitely the biggest playset ever made, and one of the baddest. Reader Don Allen sent this in just after Christmas last year. I’ve been waiting a long time to show it off. Don says:

Yeah, I was THAT kid. As you can see I also got the G.I. Joe Rattler and looks like some other small vehicle… My dad spent the night putting this thing together and putting the decals on, and I was pretty damn surprised in the morning. Wish I still had it!

When this photo was taken we lived in Bristol, Tennessee, so not sure where my parents picked it up from. Possibly Sears. I remember my dad saying they had a hard time finding one. As far as I remember, I don’t recall actually asking for the Flagg. I know they knew I wanted it as I loved G.I. Joe and real life aircraft carriers, so I’m sure when my dad saw it he knew I’d love it. So yeah, it was a complete surprise to get it! Sadly, I ended up selling this at a garage sale around 1994 or so. Wish I still had it. It was still 100% complete and in good condition, as this was always the centerpiece of my toy collection!

To get a better idea of just how big it is, here’s the Flagg in a brilliant Joe display in the 1985 Montgomery Ward Catalog.

MW Catalog Flagg 1985

Thanks for the awesome pic, Don.

Happy Holidays to All!

1979 The Lord of the Rings Merchandise Catalog


LOTR 1979

LOTR 1979-2

LOTR 1979-3

LOTR 1979-4

LOTR 1979-5

LOTR 1979-6

You can thank The Retro Art Blog for scanning and posting the whole catalog. Click on the link to see the rest. Belt buckle ($7.50) or t-shirt ($6.00)? I’m going Gollum buckle. You guys do what you want.

The introductory letter, aside from assuring us that “through unity we will overcome the forces of the Dark Lord,” mentions The Lord of the Rings Part II, scheduled for release during the spring or summer of 1981.” If only that dream had come true.

One day we should have a discussion about the separate Bakshi and Rankin/Bass productions (podcast?), and how poorly it was all handled by corporate forces.

1983 Imperial Toys Catalog: `Dragons & Daggers’

Imperial 1983

Imperial 1983-2

Imperial 1983-3

I assure you that any resemblance to Dungeons & Dragons is purely coincidental…

More awesome Imperial Toys hack jobs here.

1984 Placo Toys Catalog: Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Playsets

Placo 1984

Placo 1984-2

Placo 1984-3

I’ve never seen these before, but that’s not really a surprise. The mainstream expansion of D&D starting in 1983, when the action figure line and the cartoon were released, was a decadent mess. I have fond memories of both, but neither product broke new ground or had anything to do with D&D, and what’s worse, they lived in separate universes. It was a marketing disaster.

Had the cartoon featured the grittier action figure characters and Thundarr-like production and writing, D&D might have become a much different franchise.

I do get a kick out of the toy sets, and I think they’re interesting historically. Maybe I’ll be Warduke for Halloween.

1984 Daisy Toys Catalog: The A-Team and Hardcastle and McCormick

Daisy 1984

Daisy 1984-2

Daisy 1984-3

Daisy 1984-4

I talked about war toys. What about toy guns? We played guns a lot when I was a kid. We’d split up into teams and play in the hills, or we’d play in the house: the bad guy would hide upstairs and the good guys would try to sneak up and blast him before he blasted them. Identifying the “winner” was always problematic—“I got you, sucker. You’re toast.” “No way. I got you!”

The funniest thing about The A-Team, of course, was that tens of thousands of bullets were fired, but nobody ever died. Same with the G.I. Joe cartoon. Hardcastle and McCormick (1983 – 1986) was a small scale Mod Squad: A retired judge gets a car thief out of jail under the condition that the car thief helps the judge nail the criminals he was forced to free on technicalities.

Both shows represent a quintessential ’80s narrative: (1) the American legal system is irreparably broken, (2) traditional law enforcement is ineffective and/or corrupt, and (3) justice depends on reluctant-but-righteous vigilantes who live on the fringes of the society they are morally driven to protect.

After a number of fatal shootings, “realistic-looking” toy guns were banned in Los Angeles and New York in 1987. In 1988, Congress passed a law requiring that all toy guns “be identified with a `blaze orange’ tip over the gun’s nozzle.” The law is easily gotten around today.

More on this subject tomorrow.

(Images via eBay)

1981 TSR ‘Gateway to Adventure’ Catalog

TSR Catalog 1981

TSR Catalog 1981-2

TSR Catalog 1981-3

TSR Catalog 1981-4

TSR Catalog 1981-5

You can thumb through a PDF of the whole catalog at Recycled Thoughts from a Retro Gamer. You can also see the complete catalog at Mikey Walters’ Flickr. The images above are from eBay, where you can usually find a copy for $5 – $10.

The shirts are very cool, but apparently not very well-made. Here they are, courtesy of Grognardia.

D&D Shirts 1981

The D&D Basic Set advertised in the catalog is the just released 1981 edition, written by Tom Moldvay with cover art by Erol Otus. The images on the t-shirts on the top left are from Sutherland’s cover to the original Basic Set—written by M.D. and fantasy writer-promoter John Eric Holmesfrom 1977.

I found the Grognardia post via the Original D&D Discussion forums. Zenopus, who writes a terrific blog “exploring the underworld of Holmes Basic,” posted a number of different photos showing the famous Sutherland red dragon, including this beauty:

It’s from the magazine Games Merchandising (a retailer magazine), and shows the TSR booth at the Hobby Industry of America (HIA) 1981 trade show. Dig the red Face logo chairs!

TSR Booth 1981

1978 Milton Bradley ‘Super Staples’ Catalog

MB Catalog 78

MB Catalog 78-2

MB Catalog 78-3

MB Catalog 78-4

MB Catalog 78-5

MB Catalog 78-6

More and more, it’s the board games I want.

The live-action Amazing Spider-Man pilot premiered in September, 1977, and the series didn’t resume until April of 1978. The live-action Captain America TV movie was heading into production for an early 1979 release. Hence the “heaviest promotional support ever” for the games.

Starsky and Hutch was in the last year of its four-year run. The Scooby-Doo game is from ’73, and Casper is from 1959. Talk about staples. Scooby has turned out to be as enduring a character as Spidey.

I’m still not feeling the Star Bird. It’s so aseptic. Cool noises or no, ships by themselves have no personalities. I think a little plastic guy came with it, but it’s not the same. Same reason I never understood the Star Wars die cast vehicles.

The corporate letter is a nice prize: “I am certain that your sales will reflect a commensurate increase.”

(Images via eBay)

Tomytronic 3-D (1983)

Tomy 3-D 1983

Tomy SA-1

Tomy SA-2

Tomy SA-4

Tomytronic 3-D ranks very high up on my wanted-badly-but-never-got list. The games weren’t very good, in my opinion, but the gimmick was irresistible. For the very first time, kids could play a video game they didn’t own in complete privacy. It almost felt like we were doing something wrong.

At arcades there was always someone watching and/or waiting to play. Ditto for electronic handhelds on the playground. That sensation of always being watched, for me, was distracting. I wanted to explore whatever world the game was offering me alone and undisturbed. In retrospect, maybe it wasn’t a gimmick. Maybe the singular spaceship-binocular design was the game.

The downside was that every “pair of binoculars” was 30 bucks. That’s more than most of the non-brand LCD games, but almost $20 less than the big name tabletop arcade games. Here’s Tomytronic somewhat buried in the 1983 Sears Wishbook. I found nothing in the available 1984 catalogs.

Tomy 3-D 1983-4

There’s a good overview of the Tomoytronic 3-D system at Modojo that covers the privacy angle, along with technical details and individual games. And here’s a demo of Thundering Turbo. My favorite was Planet Zeon, the Star Wars clone, but the Tron-like Sky Attack was a close second.

(Images via Wil Falcon, eBay, and WishbookWeb)

1970 J.C. Penney Christmas Catalog: The Robots Are Coming!



Mr. Brain “puffs real smoke”!

Rudy the Robot “walks like a man—he even swings his arms.” (Yes, but can he leave the toilet seat up on purpose to annoy his wife?)

TV Robot has a screen in his chest that “shows a revolving universe.” I might have to puff real smoke before fully appreciating TV Robot.

Space Robot can be programmed for 5 different actions. If one of those actions is launching himself into space, I want Space Robot.

Mr. Amaze-A-Matic lifts stuff and pushes it around. Boo.

Explo Robotron “walks a few steps and then explodes into pieces. Put him back together and turn him loose again.” Sounds like yours truly at work.

Gofer Robotron moves forward with his serving tray when you drop a coin in his head. Boo.




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