Archive for the 'TSR' Category

Products of Your (Sexist) Imagination: TSR’s Heart Quest Books, 1983 – 1984

Heart Quest 1984

Heart Quest 1984-2

Following the immediate success of the Endless Quest books (1982), TSR released a new series directed at girls. The “Pick a Path to Adventure” tagline was changed to “Pick a Path to Romance and Adventure,” and endless quest became heart quest, because, ladies, your life’s journey ends in the kitchen, seeing as how “you want his love to fulfill your life.” I haven’t actually read any of the books, to be honest, because they’re so rare, but I can’t imagine the quality is high enough to make up for the shameful product. The books are obviously designed to resemble the Harlequin romances of the time, and each volume had “stepback” art, meaning the cover illustration is framed by a cut-out front cover. Turning the cover reveals the full page illustration.

Larry Elmore and Jim Holloway did the cover and interior art, respectively, for the first four volumes, and children’s author Linda Lowery wrote volumes three and five. You can find more information on the series here.

Dungeons & Dragons Playing Cards (Heraclio Fournier Vitoria, 1985)

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From Spain, where the animated series was very big and the kids ran around in D&D sweatsuits.

(Images via eBay)

TSR/RPGA Miniatures Carrying Case, 1980

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For serious nerds only! I’m not sure if it was a product for sale/giveaway or a DIY number. The way the foam is cut makes me suspect the former, but the logo is stamped on a piece of cardboard, so who knows? TSR founded the RPGA in 1980 to organize and run tournaments at conventions. If anyone has seen one of these before, let me know.

Item sold on eBay a while ago for about 15 bucks.

Star Frontiers Metal Miniatures: Robots (TSR, 1984)

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SF 1984-2

The minis are great, but it’s the brilliant cover piece by Trampier that caught my eye. I believe it’s original to this product. I did an image search to see if I could find the piece anywhere else and thought it really interesting that Jim Steranko’s cover for the Blade Runner Marvel Super Special repeatedly popped up in “visually similar images.” Notwithstanding the somewhat similar color schemes, I think Tramp’s work does have quite a bit in common with Steranko’s renegade sensibilities.

Tramp is rightly famous for his early AD&D work, but in my opinion his interior art for the Star Frontiers modules Mutiny on the Eleanor Moraes (1984) and The War Machine (1985) is just as good or better. You can see a few examples below courtesy of starfrontiers.com, an excellent resource and history site. Go there to browse the whole modules.

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Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dragonlance Miniatures (Set 1) (TSR, 1984)

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I first talked about Dragonlance way back here. I was obsessed with the books when they came out, although I reread Dragons of Autumn Twilight a couple of years ago and it didn’t really hold up. Not all that surprising.

I never got into the minis. I always found them interesting and would have liked to try my hand at painting a few, but they were too expensive. Making the sculpts is certainly an art form. The art on the box cover is by Jeff Easley from the Dragons of Flame module (1984).

Somebody give Toede a flame-throwing guitar!

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Coloring Book: The Crown of Rulership (1983) (Part One)

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A new adventure begins, this time with the creative team of David Anthony Kraft (writer) and Pablo Marcos (artist). The cover is by Earl Norem.

Kraft started at Marvel as the editor of FOOM in 1978 and had a memorable run on The Defenders. Throughout the ’80s he worked on promotional materials, coloring/activity books, and the Marvel Books imprint. He went on to found the influential Comics Interview, which ran from 1983 to 1995.

Peruvian Pablo Marcos emigrated to the U.S. in the early 1970s and got his first American comics work with Warren and Skywald publications before moving to Marvel. He is best known for penciling Tales of the Zombie and inking John Buscema’s Conan the Barbarian.

As for the story thus far in The Crown of Rulership, my only question is, why the hell is the map to the all-powerful Crown shoved in willy-nilly with all the other scrolls, and very much out in the open? Better yet, why hasn’t someone of lawful good alignment already secured the Crown, to prevent evildoers from doing the same?

More to come. The AD&D Characters Coloring Book, if you haven’t seen it, is here.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Ad, 1980

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The back cover of Fantastic Films #17.

The Art of the Dungeons & Dragons Fantasy Game (TSR, 1985) (Part One)

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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.

D&D Orcs of the Broken Bone

D&D Skeleton Figures of Sith

Dungeons & Dragons/TSR T-Shirt, Circa 1976

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A real beauty, presumably sold at The Dungeon Hobby Shop. The dragon illustration is by Bill Hannan, taken from the cover of Dragon #1 (1976) and later used for the cover of TSR’s Days of the Dragon Calendar (1980).

Item sold on eBay a while back for just over 20 bucks.

UPDATE (1/19/15): Thanks to some digging by Zenopus Archives at The Acaeum, Scott Moberly posted the below photo from Gen Con IX (August, 1976) showing Rob Kuntz wearing the shirt. I’ve changed the production/availability date on my post accordingly. (The Dungeon opened in April 1976, and Ernie Gygax confirmed that he remembers the shirt well.) I’ve got a Gen Con XI t-shirt here, by the way.

Gen Con 1976

1983 TSR ‘Products of Your Imagination’ Catalog

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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.


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