More sensational Ken Kelly art. I wish I could see the originals for the whole line.
These are French boxes. Universal Toys owned both LJN and the Matchbox name at the time, and the AD&D toys were distributed in Europe by Matchbox.
(Images via eBay)
There’s “chain mail” on the Paladin helmet! All the sets and more, including Warduke gear, appear in the 1984 Placo catalog.
The Strongheart illustration is similar to that used on Coleco’s D&D Power Cycle (1984).
From 1981 (top) and 1983 editions of Reading, Pennsylvania’s Reading Eagle newspaper. It may seem like a drastic price cut, but that is a lot of longevity for an expensive toy. The game has a 1980 copyright date, but I’m pretty sure it came out in 1981 along with Dark Tower.
You’ll have to buy it if you want better scans. I’m broke.
Related to the above: I’ll be on vacation for a couple of weeks starting tomorrow. Happy 4th!
Many thanks to Anthony Savini and Cecily Tyler, director-producer and producer (respectively) of the one and only Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary, for the pics. Thanks also to Bill Meinhardt and Scott Brand. The cycle is part of their incredible D&D collection.
The box front is missing Bobby and Uni, but Strongheart, who appears in only one episode of the cartoon, is front and center. I’m trying to track down the artist.
More on the Power Cycle (“Exciting 3-D Dragon Head”) here.
The Art of the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Game focuses on the heavyweights of the day: Easley, Elmore, Parkinson, and Caldwell. Thankfully, there’s also quite a selection of Timothy Truman, who I think is generally underrated. Almost all of the art above, most of it Truman’s, is sourced as “product design,” referring to the AD&D LJN toys released in 1983.
Many of Truman’s illustrations made it onto the action figure and adventure figure (PVC) cards, including the popular first series releases Warduke (Evil Fighter), Elkhorn (Good Fighter Dwarf), Zarak (Evil Half-Orc Assassin), and Melf (Good Fighter Elf). The same illustrations appear later in Quest for the Heartstone (1984), a module that includes many of the characters from the LJN line (and others that were meant to be part of the line but didn’t make the cut).
Truman’s gnoll illustration (sixth image down) is originally from Return to Brookmere by Rose Estes (1982), an Endless Quest book. His Orc (third image down) appeared on the back of the Orcs of the Broken Bone adventure figure card (below). His awesome Skeletal Warrior did not, for some silly reason, appear on the back of the Skeleton Soldiers of Sith card. The less awesome substitute is below.
There’s a nice trio of inks by Jeff Easley (seventh image down), also sourced as product design. I’m not sure if or when they were published.
If you thought the D&D big wheel was a myth, think again. Coleco released a series of Power Cycles throughout the ’80s, this one among them, although I’ve never seen it advertised in any catalog. The pictures aren’t great, and the specimen is pretty beat up, but we can see that the cycle is fashioned in the image of—you’ll never guess—a dragon. I’m betting some sticker highlights have fallen off the face and probably the wheels (see what’s left on the nostrils and the wings). I love the colors.
The Elmore art on the back of the seat, from the box cover of the 1983 Basic Set revision, is the go-to image for all the licenses from 1983-1984, and there are three more pieces on the cycle’s dash. The two on the stem are also Elmore, seen here and here. I can’t identify the image on the very top—could be lenticular.
If anyone has an advertisement for the cycle, or pics of one in better shape, please let me know.
Published January 5, 2015
Catalogs , D&D , D&D Toys , TSR
On the first page of the 1981 TSR catalog, you’ll find the D&D Basic and Expert Sets, core role-playing products you’d expect to be front and center. In 1983, the toys come first. It looks like the action figure line wasn’t ready when the catalog went to press, because only the bendable monster and “adventure figures” (PVC) are seen here.
SPI games make an appearance on page seven because TSR acquired SPI’s trademarks in 1982/1983, as I mentioned here. Three of the computer games listed on the facing page are available at the Internet Archive: Dungeon!, Dawn Patrol, and Theseus and the Minotaur—(thanks for the heads up, Dungeons & Dragons: A Documentary). I’ve never seen or heard of Ordeal of Magic and Alien Conquest. Does anyone know if they were ever released?
Happy New Year, by the way.
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.
Early in 1984 a group of Wisconsin nerds dressed up in homemade ring mail took several fantasy flyers to the steam tunnels and played “Dungeon Frolf” for two consecutive days and nights. One of the nerds never came back, and it’s Larry Elmore’s fault!