32 Years Later I Get To Read This Dragon’s Lair Storybook!

Dragon’s Lair, the 1983 Laserdisc arcade game holds a very special spot in my heart. I have certainly gone on enough about it on The Retroist these last six years as well as the 10th episode of the Diary of An Arcade Employee Podcast.
Dragon's Lair ad
Why? Well, the easiest answer is I was totally captivated by the animation from Don Bluth and his studio but I also was at that right age to become enamored with the idea of becoming a valiant knight attempting to brave the perils of the Dragon’s Lair.

While it certainly has plenty of Players who seem to rail against the game…well…being a game on rails, I still find myself captivated by it today as when I first walked into my local Showbiz Pizza and saw the line of Players waiting their turn.

I think that the only real complaint I ever had about Dragon’s Lair was the lack of merchandising. It wasn’t until Dragon’s Lair 3D: Return to the Lair was released back in 2002 that we fans finally got our hands on some proper action figures!

So what merchandise was available for Dragon’s Lair in the early 80s?

  • There were some excellent buttons that fans could get from the Don Bluth Animation fan club.
  • Aladdin Industries Inc. released an incredible metal lunch box.
  • Dragon's Lair - Lunchbox - PJ Gamers - OVGE

  • The Don Bluth Studios published the Tele-Story Presents Dragon’s Lair storybook – which came with an audio cassette tape to listen to while reading the story.
  • A set of Dragon’s Lair flip books that you could yet again order through the Don Bluth Animation fan club back in the day.
  • Milton Bradley produced a board game based on the popular arcade title – which I just so happened to be lucky enough to get my hands on, thanks to a good friend and co-worker at the arcade.
  • There were some cheap toys manufactured by the Larami Corporation for Dragon’s Lair but these were just cheap plastic bugs and slingshots with the game’s logo stamped on the packaging.
  • I'm happy to say that I have the Dragon's Lair Sling Darts!

    I’m happy to say that I have the Dragon’s Lair Sling Darts!

  • I think one of the greatest Dragon’s Lair produced pieces of merchandise was Fleer’s exceptional sticker and rub-off game cards.
  • Dragon's Lair Stickers C

  • Last but not least Marvel Books – yes – as in Marvel Comics, released a series of coloring books and storybooks with images from the game as well as some minor puzzles and word searches.

I am happy to say that after 32 years I finally was able to get my hands on one of those Dragon’s Lair storybooks!

Are you finally going to talk about the Dragon’s Lair book?!

Yes. Calm down, friends. I was just giving you some of my personal thoughts and background info on the merchandising for the game. Yeesh. Dragon’s Lair: The Quest for the Stolen Fortune was designed by Paty Cockrum and Marie Severin – with the word games, mazes, and crossword puzzles created by Suzanne Weyn.

It finds Dirk the Daring being summoned to the Royal Palace where he is put on the trail of the dastardly and deadly Lizard King!
Naturally after the reader helps Dirk navigate the traps left behind by the Lizard King…
..they must attempt to vanquish the evil ruler.
Thankfully if a younger reader found themselves stuck they could always take a quick peek in the back of the book to get the answers they needed.
Now I know that I said I was lucky enough to get my hands on this book, the truth is I was only able to read through it when I dropped in at the arcade. You see, Shea ordered the book from eBay for one of our Players – a young boy who very much like I was at that age captivated by the Dragon’s Lair arcade game.

So I guess in truth my quest for these books still awaits!

Screenshot (34)

Milton Bradley Playskool Computer

My friend Sean over at the Commodore Computer Club is a kindred spirit indeed; not only is he (obviously) a fan of Commodore computers, but he’s also a collector of vintage computer or retro gaming-related toys. Recently Sean picked up this awesome retro gem:

I’ll let Sean describe the unit:

“This is a 1972 Milton Bradley Playskool Computer. The computer mimics the big mainframes of the day since this was years before microcomputers became generally available.

The box is in nice shape and it came with all six “programming” cards which can be inserted and dials turned to match up symbols on the cards. Basically the cards and dials are used to ask the computer questions and will give you the answers. Pretty cool!”

Pretty cool indeed, Sean! Thanks for sharing your latest acquisition with us. And don’t forget, if you are in the Portland or Vancouver area and interested in Commodore computers, check out the Commodore Computer Club’s meeting page, stop by one of the meetings and tell Sean I said “hey!”



Did you ever have one of Milton Bradley’s T.H.I.N.G.S.?

Me neither, but I always wanted one. T.H.I.N.G.S. stood for Totally Hilarious Incredibly Neat Games of Skill. They were little wind-up plastic games that came out in the late ’80s and had the same purposefully-outrageous vibe you’d find on Nickelodeon and in Saturday morning cartoons. They had bright colors, funny names (Astro-Nots, Eggzilla, Flip-o-potomus, Sir Rings-A-Lot, etc.), and outrageous premises. Just the kind of things, er, T.H.I.N.G.S., that 80s kids loved.

Each of the T.H.I.N.G.S. was a race against the clock. In one you had to assemble an egg around a dinosaur before he sprang from his perch, in another you had to rescue a group of astronauts before an alien got them, in still another you had to direct a knight as he grabbed rings.

Like so many things from that time, I never got to have, play, or even see any of the T.H.I.N.G.S. in real life. My only exposure to them was the TV commercial. And seeing the videos on YouTube, I probably would have been disappointed if I had gotten one. They seem quite noisy and they don’t seem to have much long-lasting entertainment value. I’d probably have gotten pretty tired of them pretty quickly, and if I did keep playing with them, it would be as a toy, not a game. Still, I wanted one badly back then, and to be honest, the little boy inside me who is infatuated with all purposefully-outrageous 80s things still wants one.

Atlantis - J. SE - BoardGameGeek

Dark Tower – Atlantis (1981)

A couple of days ago I posted the commercial for the Dark Tower board game and Retroist commenter, Marco, was kind enough to share his memories of the game from where he hails in the Netherlands. There the name of the game was Atlantis and my little bit of research has shown that there wasn’t any further differences to the game besides box art and the name.

I found out another reason this board game didn’t do well…Milton Bradley was sued shortly after releasing Dark Tower.

The all-knowing Wikipedia gives us this: “Dark Tower was the subject of trade secret litigation in 1985. Two independent game developers named Robert Burton and Allen Coleman submitted a game to Milton Bradley entitled “Triumph” that involved an electronic tower as the centerpiece. Milton Bradley rejected the game, but proceeded to release “Dark Tower” some time later. The inventors sued for misappropriation of trade secrets and won a jury verdict for over $700,000. The trial judge, however, vacated the jury’s judgement. Despite finding that Milton Bradley had likely “plagiarized the plaintiffs’ idea without so much as a by-your-leave” the judge proceeded to issue a directed verdict for the defendant because Burton and Graham had signed a contract waiving any contractual relationship (which arguably included any duty of confidentiality). The First Circuit Court of Appeals reversed, finding evidence that Milton Bradley entered an implied agreement to keep the game confidential and reinstated the damage award.”

A big tip of the hat to J. SE over at BoardGameGeek.Com for the photo of the Atlantis box art as well as a HUGE thanks to Marco for giving me the heads up on Atlantis in the first place!

Dark Tower - Jonathan Harrison - Board Game Geek

Dark Tower TV Commercial (1981)

I’ve stated before on the site that in my youth there was one board game that after seeing it’s TV commercial gripped my imagination and refused to let go. That game was the legendary Dark Tower by Milton Bradley. I never received one, I remember it being slightly expensive but that could just be my faulty memory banks, though I’ve been able to play around with one since…and I still want it.

For a young kid just getting started in TSR’s Dungeons and Dragons that commercial was right up my alley, besides it had Orson Welles in it!

I want to thank Retroist regular Magisterrex for uploading this fantastic commercial over on YouTube! Thanks to Jonathan Harrison over at Board Game Geek for sharing the box art to his own Dark Tower game.