Archive for the 'David C. Sutherland III' Category

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Beach Towels (1982)

AD&D Towels 1982

AD&D Beach Towel 1982

AD&D Beach Towel 1982-2

Because if there’s two things that go together, it’s AD&D and the beach. And the towels must be used at the beach, because “beach towel” is printed right there at the top. Try not to lose your dice in the sand, gamers.

David Sutherland art appears on both towels. In fact, the two in the first photo belonged to Sutherland and appear at The Collector’s Trove. The second and third images are via eBay.

UPDATE: Zenopus (of Zenopus Archives) kindly sent in this photo of a third towel. (Thanks again, Z.)

AD&D Beach Towel 1982-3

It’s definitely from the same series, but I can’t tell who the artist is. I don’t recall seeing the design anywhere else. What monster do you think is guarding the treasure (‘X’ marks the spot), considering the adventurers are already tackling a red dragon?

Please contact me ( if you spot a different towel, or if you find close-ups of the giant centipede/dungeon towels.

UPDATE (6/30/14): The righteous “Mr. D.” sent in these detailed views of the dungeon crawl towel seen above. Great stuff.













DFC Toys: Demons of Castlelon Fantasy Action Playset (1982)

DFC Demons 1982

DFC Demons 1982-3

DFC Demons 1982-2

DFC (Dimensions For Children) put out at least six fantasy playsets in the early ’80s. You’ve seen Dragonriders of the Styx (1981), probably the first to be released, and the only one I’ve seen in a major catalog. This is the first time I’ve seen Demons of Castlelon. There’s another version called Dungeons of Castlelon—same figures and playmat, different box.

DFC Dungeons of Castlelon

As others have noted, the green snake figure looks suspiciously like David Sutherland’s Naga from the first edition Monster Manual.

Sutherland Naga

At some point, DFC started producing the figure without facial features or ears, no doubt due to copyright issues. UPDATE (1/19/14): Here’s a photo of both versions of the Naga, courtesy of Little Weirdos/Flickr.

DFC Naga

Other known sets include Fires of Shandarr, The Tower of the Night, and The Forest of Doom.

DFC Fires of Shandarr

DFC Tower of the Night

DFC Forest of Doom

DFC Forest of Doom-2

I’ll do separate posts on each set as I score better photos.

(Image credits: Demons of Castlelon: eBay seller The Lost Item Carousel; Dungeons of Castlelon: Tales from the Big Board; Naga: James Brady; Fires of Shandarr and The Tower of Night: Virtual Toy Chest; The Forest of Doom: Action Figure Archive)

TSR’s The Strategic Review (April, 1976)

Strategic Review April 76

Strategic Review April 76-7

Strategic Review April 76-8

Strategic Review April 76-6

Strategic Review April 76-3

Strategic Review April 76-9

Strategic Review April 76-4

Strategic Review April 76-5

Strategic Review April 76-2-2

Several pages from the last issue of TSR’s first magazine, including a brilliant two-page photo spread announcing the grand opening of the now famous Dungeon Hobby Shop. The Strategic Review would become Dragon magazine in June of ’76 (see the announcement on the top left of the second photo).

Huscarl gives a pretty comprehensive history of The Dungeon Hobby Shop (Ernie Gygax ran the place) at Wizards of the Coast. He talks about the “three-level dungeon built by Dave Sutherland,” showing “the same group of adventurers in nine vignettes as they fought their way down […] They slowly got whittled down along the way until, in the final chamber, just three of them confronted the demon lord of the dungeon.”

Dungeon Hendryx

Mary Hendryx with Sutherland’s dungeon. (Photo: Kevin Hendryx)

And below is a view of the shop counter. Behind Mary and Linda we’ve got

[…] a full range of Metagaming’s microgames, which were enormously popular around 1980; Advanced Wizard and Advanced Melee, two of the three rulebooks for Metagaming’s RPG The Fantasy Trip; a few bags of Snits! miniatures for Tom Wham’s Snit Smashing and Snits’ Revenge boardgames; and copies of the 1981 editions of D&D Basic and Expert (still my favorites). There’s also a fishbowl of `High Impact Dice’!
Dungeon Hendryx Simpson

Mary Hendryx and Linda Simpson. (Photo: Kevin Hendryx)

Beneath the Basic and Expert sets (Otus covers), you’ll see a “Gateway to Adventure” banner poster.

D&D Poster 1979

The photo links at the Huscarl post are down, unfortunately, but Al at Beyond the Black Gate has them on view here, along with some other spectacular shots, ads, and a beautifully illustrated Dungeon mailing envelope. (Another mailer and some order forms are at Tome of Treasures. Thanks to Zenopus for the heads up in this Grognardia post.)

(Strategic Review images via pikelett/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

D&D Cover Art: Lost Tamoachan (1979) and The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980, 1981)

Tamoachan 1979

Tamoachan 1979-2

Hidden Shrine FC 1980

Hidden Shrine BC 1980

Tamoachan 1981

Tamoachan 1981-2

You can see how much the D&D image/brand changed in the space of only two years. Lost Tamoachan: The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan was the bagged (unbound) tournament module used at Origins International Game Expo (known simply as ‘Origins’) in 1979. You’ll find the complete publication history at The Acaeum. (Copies are incredibly rare.) The cover art is by David C. Sutherland III, who did the original, and best, Dungeon Master’s Guide (1979) cover.

The module was renamed upon wide release in 1980, with front and back covers by Erol Otus. Without access to color, he relied on textures—the chiseled walls, the bolt of fire, the demon’s hair, the warrior’s armor. (On the back cover, it’s the combination of trees, ancient stone, translucent scales.) The Aztec art looks damn convincing, and the shadow of the wings on the walls is the kind of detail that separates Otus from other artists.

Otus did the front cover of the 1981 edition as well. Despite the gorgeous coloring and the thicker, more abstract figures that would become his trademark style, I think I prefer the earlier, more three-dimensional work. The back cover is by Jeff Dee. He uses Otus’s template for the scene, but gives it a Marvel Comics flavor. The innocence—some would argue the purity—of early D&D art, represented by the first and second editions of Tamoachan, would never be seen again.

Read some background on the module’s development at Wizards of the Coast.

(Images via Tome of Treasures and eBay)

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Instant Rub-Down Picture Transfers (1981)

D&D transfers

D&D transfers-3

D&D transfers-2

Wicked. These appear to be Trampier’s and Sutherland’s illustrations from the original Monster Manual (1977). And they’ve been marked down to 25 cents each!

Images are via the brilliant Monster Brains. Go there to see all of the transfers and other killer stuff.

D&D Erratum on Freaks and Geeks

I hate to nitpick at Freaks and Geeks, a brilliant, short-lived (why do the two always seem to go together?) show about the travails of teenagers in 1980, but the lads we see above would do no less. Here we see zen master Harris Trinsky holding a copy of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. The DMG first appeared in 1979, with cover art by David C. Sutherland III.

The version in Trinsky’s paws, however, with cover art by Jeff Easley, came out in 1983.

That’s 3 years after the scene takes place. Unless, of course, Harris traveled into the future and back again, which is well within his powers.

Later in the same episode, right before Harris tells Daniel he’d be a good DM, we see the first edition Monster Manual (1977). This cover is also by Sutherland. The Easley cover edition came out in 1983.




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