Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Instant Bonding Power

Perhaps for the first time in this series of posts about unusual items produced or licensed by TSR Hobbies during the height of D&D's popularity, I'm not going to be critical. Yes, taken out of context, the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Basic Adhesive Set sounds absurd. What you have to remember, though, is that this set was released in 1983 at the same time that TSR was making its own ill-starred foray into the world of 25mm miniatures. The Basic Adhesive Set should be understood as a companion to the Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Basic Paint Set released in the same year. They're part of an attempt by TSR to become a one-stop shop for all a D&D player's gaming needs. 

In principle, it's a fine idea and, had it worked, it might well have generated the company a great deal of revenue. Consider: this is the same year that Games Workshop published the first editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle and four years before the release of Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader, two games that became juggernauts of profitability the likes of which put even Dungeons & Dragons to shame (and may still do so for all I know). This is a case where I can't point and laugh, because TSR's instinct were genuinely good.

The problem was with the execution. I can't speak to the quality of either the adhesive or paint sets, because I never owned them. The miniatures, though, were terrible. The sculpts, particularly of the monsters, were poor and the casts were often flimsy. I remember that the weapons of the character miniatures broke easily. I don't know who was responsible for the actual production of the miniatures – whether it was TSR itself or some subsidiary company – but the line was not well received and ended within a couple of years. That's when Citadel acquired the license to produce official AD&D minis. In an alternate universe, TSR would have bought Citadel rather than Games Workshop and the company still exists today, with a chain of stores across the world, hawking the latest edition of the Chainmail Miniatures Battle Game, along with minis, paints, and, yes, adhesives.


  1. Do you think that if TSR had stayed focused on what made them the juggernaut (producing RPGs) they would have lasted longer? Anytime I see a brand or company trying to diversify, I just think that they are diluting what made them great. Not very many companies can do what Apple or Google or Amazon have done. Thanks for the nostalgia!

    1. Yeah, I'm thinking of RPG companies that ran their ship on the rocks trying to hop on the coattails of the CCG trend.

  2. I think TSR would have needed a good set of miniatures rules to succeed like GW did, even if they had bought Citadel. This is typical of TSR: jumping into a new market without considering practical aspects. Selling miniatures for war gaming works because you need lots of them, but selling them for tabletop RPG play is harder. And selling poor-quality miniatures is even harder.