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TSR Catalog Scans

So here it is, this weird artifact from the Hasbro archives. The 1981 TSR catalog, in all its geeky glory.

The entire TSR product line is covered in 7 pages: 1 for D&D, 1 for AD&D, 1 board games, 1 for modules, 2 for accessories, and 1 for other RPGs. The products available that year include modules (neatly organized by PC level) including the A series, G series, Village of Hommlet, Dwellers in the Forbidden City, Tomb of Horrors, White Plume Mountain, Expedition to the Barrior Peaks, and S4 Lost Cavern of Tsojcanth (coming in 1982!).

The catalog devotes 2 pages to board games, mostly by Tom Wham. The Fiend Folio is listed as the latest (5th!) book for the AD&D system. The back cover touts Boot Hill, Gamma World, and Top Secret. It's a catalog of an RPG Golden Age.

shellyinseattle thinks Morley the wizard is cute. I think he's a sign of corruption, of pandering to a mass market that never embraced the hobby, no matter how slick the catalogs became. A more honest mascot would have been the lizardman icon or the later dragon-S logo.

Creating the catalog was still a huge deal in the 90s when I worked at TSR: the idea was to put products in the best possible light, even though half of them hadn't been written yet, much less edited and typeset and illustrated. I imagine someone sweated over the same details in 1981.

The 1E flavor in the catalog strikes me as perfectly direct and unpretentious: the hobby was young and the marketeers had not yet taken over. When I compare the 8 and 16-page length of the classic modules with the latest 400-page behemoth, I see the joy in keeping it short and simple.


( 10 sutras — Your wisdom )
Nov. 15th, 2005 06:53 pm (UTC)
Those were neat to look at. Thank you!

... and reminds me that I need to call the zoo this morning and purchase a ticket for the Thanksgiving thing. I'm just worried about it being too cold :/
Nov. 15th, 2005 06:57 pm (UTC)
Hmmm... I think maybe it's time for good old Morley to get a cover on a magazine! ;-)
Nov. 15th, 2005 07:01 pm (UTC)
Yeah, and because you're you guys you'll get Wayne Reynolds to do it and it'll be frikkin sweet.

Nov. 15th, 2005 07:02 pm (UTC)
Neat! thansk for posting. :) i think i was 4 years old when this was published.
Nov. 15th, 2005 07:14 pm (UTC)
Wow, apparently I had totally blocked Morley from my memory. Now that I see him, yes, I remember. (I don't recall having any reaction at all to Morley as a kid -- whatever demographic he was supposed to attract, 6-yr old girls probably weren't it.)

I remember playing through Vault of the Drow. I'm betting we played others on that page.
Nov. 15th, 2005 09:42 pm (UTC)
Cool! Gives me a warm grin thinking about the ol' days. Fun.

Nov. 15th, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
Is it just me, or does it look like Morley's ass is about twice as wide across as his shoulders?
Nov. 16th, 2005 02:31 am (UTC)
Neato. Thanks for the repost. I never noticed until now, but the arch in the photo lacks a capstone or keystone. Must be held up by magic. :)
Nov. 16th, 2005 02:33 am (UTC)
Uhh, the arch comment was me. Sorry, I wasn't logged in.
Nov. 16th, 2005 03:43 am (UTC)
Tomb of Horrors! One of my all-time favourite modules. So ... very ... evil.
( 10 sutras — Your wisdom )

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