Archive for the 'TSR' Category

Board Games: Dungeon Dice (Parker Brothers, 1977)

Dungeon Dice 1977-1

Dungeon Dice 1977-2

Dungeon Dice 1977-3

“ESCAPE… is all you think of when you live in a cold, dark dungeon.” Well, to be honest, some of us had other ideas about what to do with dungeons. Dungeon Dice was designed by Paul J. Gruen, who invented the Parker Brothers bestseller Pay Day in 1975.

TSR’s Dragon Dice (below) came out in 1980/1981, although TSR was selling sets of polyhedra dice prior to 1977.

Dragon Dice 1980

(Images via Board Game Geek, eBay, and Dragonsfoot)

Dungeons & Dragons TV Series Promotional Poster (1983)

D&D Promo 1983

D&D Promo 1983-2

The art is by a young Bill Sienkiewicz, and was used later for the cover of the board game Le Sourire du Dragon. Too bad the atmosphere and look of the promo didn’t make it into the actual series.

Executive producers David Depatie and Lee Gunther also worked on Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends and G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero.

(Images via eBay)

D&D/TSR Commercials (1982 – 1985)

These are all the TSR-produced commercials I’ve been able to find so far. They aired in (from top to bottom) 1982, 1983, 1983, 1984, and 1985. I’ve posted them before with the exception of the 1984 spot, which is very well done and advertises not only the red cover Basic Set (Frank Mentzer revision), but the Marvel Super Heroes and Adventures of Indiana Jones RPGs. The 1983 Star Frontiers commercial is my favorite.

Let me know if I missed any.

All My Children Game Commercial (TSR, 1985)

Because TSR wasn’t making enough money at the time—from $27 million in 1981-1982 to a projected $60 million in 1982-1983—the “products of your imagination” crew decided to lap up a license for the second most popular daytime soap. General Hospital, consistently first in the ratings, already had a game.

College girls (note the Yale flag in the dorm room) and yuppies are the clear marketing demographic.

“To be good, you’ve got to be bad.” Indeed. TSR had embraced the Reagan era. The shark had been jumped.

All My Children 1985

All My Children 1985-2

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Characters Coloring Book (1983) (Part Four)

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D&D Characters-12

D&D Characters-13

AD&D Characters BC

The fourth and final installment of the AD&D Characters Coloring Book. My favorite page in this lot: “Mercion is a good cleric. Scary things like skeletons are afraid of her goodness.” I think Zarak looks appropriately sinister, but isn’t he a little short for a half-orc?

Parts one, two, and three of the book are here, here, and here, respectively.

Milwaukee Sentinel Article (August 22, 1980): ‘It’s All a Game at Gen Con’

Gen Con 8-22-80-1

Gen Con 8-22-80-2

Here’s the 36-year-old Tom Wham, who designed the canonical Snit’s Revenge and The Awful Green Things from Outer Space:

I’ve been making up games since my dad game me a Monopoly set…

It’s a chance to create an alternate world where people can be things they can’t be in the real world. You can create a place in which you can have power over something.

Compare this to an H.P. Lovecraft quote I shared on Facebook yesterday: “There is no field other than the weird in which I have any aptitude or inclination for fictional composition. Life has never interested me so much as the escape from life.”

The article goes on to describe RPGs as “power-to-the-people” games, which I thought was a keen observation for the time.

There were 5000 attendees at Gen Con in 1980. In 2013, there were 50,000.

(Images via Google News)

Le Sourire du Dragon (Transecom/TSR, 1987)

Sourire 1987-1

Sourire 1987-2

Sourire 1987-6

Sourire 1987-3

Sourire 1987-4

Sourire 1987-5

According to French Wikipedia, the Dungeons & Dragons animated series premiered in France in 1984 (IMDb says 1987, as do other sources), and was rebroadcast starting in 1986. The series was called Le Sourire du Dragon (The Smile of the Dragon), as was the song used for the intro, sung by Dorothée. Listen to the full version here, and watch the actual intro here. It’s very sweet, but also kind of creepy, maybe because it reminds me of the Twin Peaks soundtrack.

The game was designed by François Marcela-Froideval, an influential figure in the introduction of RPGs in France. He came to the U.S. in 1982 to work for TSR, where he collaborated with Gary Gygax on Oriental Adventures (1985), among other projects.

Tignous is credited as the interior artist, and comics innovator Bill Sienkiewicz painted the cover. Sienkiewicz got his start on Moon Knight and The New Mutants, and went on to do mind-blowing art for Elektra: Assassin and the Daredevil: Love and War graphic novel, both of them written by Frank Miller.

See detailed views of all the game pieces and instructions at Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Encyclopedia.

(Images via eBay and Dungeons & Dragons Cartoon Encyclopedia)

Dungeons & Dragons Sweatshirt and Sweatpants, Circa 1985

D&D Sweatsuit 1983

D&D Sweatsuit 1983-2

D&D Sweatsuit 1983-3

D&D Sweatsuit 1983-4

The Dungeons & Dragons animated series was released in Spain in 1985, and didn’t debut in France and the U.K. until 1987. Spain also released some rather strange PVC figures of all the major characters in the cartoon.

Has anyone else seen a D&D sweatsuit before?



Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Pinball Game (Larami, 1983): ‘Dragon Duel’

DD 1983

DD 1983-2

DD 1983-3

I realize that the D&D name is not on the product, but it’s a TSR license and the art is from Larry Elmore’s cover for Pillars of Pentegarn (1982). A partial license would have cost less than a full, hence Dragon Duel. Made in Hong Kong. A product of your imagination.

UPDATE (5/28/14): I stand corrected. The AD&D name is on the box, per the pictures below:

AD&D Pinball

AD&D Pinball-2

AD&D Pinball-3

(Images via Gene and Troy’s Toys/eBay)

Gen Con XI Ringer T-Shirt (1978)

Gen Con T-1

Gen Con T-2

TSR and the Parkside Association of Wargamers (PAW) co-hosted Gen Con XI at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside. See an ad for the convention at Zenopus Archives. Can someone tell me what the symbol in the top grid stands for?

The shirt sold for $41 on eBay.




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