27 December 2012

Binders full of bad ideas

This full page, glossy ad appeared on the inside cover of Dragon #55 in 1981. Apparently, someone at TSR (probably not E. Gary Gygax) decided on a new product line to synergize with the raft of rules books already produced by the company.

And that product was: Three ring binders.

This is around the time that the Moldvay/Cook basic rulebooks appear which were produced with holes for binders. I have noted that I did not meet many people who tore apart their rulebooks to put them in binders, but obviously some marketing genius at TSR had a vision.

I know, you are probably kicking yourself for not thinking of this product sooner. Note that this issue is from November, so you can rule out April foolery.

I can't be sure if any of these actually were sold. I did not see any on eBay, nor does a google image search return anything like the binder pictured here.

Could that picture of the product be any smaller? Couldn't the shirtless guy be holding it? What do you suppose is in that chest anyway? He sure has a dumb grin on his face. He looks like a surfer.

What was I talking about? Oh, right: binders.

$5 (plus $1.25 S&H) will get you one binder with 28 sheets of graph paper. Using google's shop function, I can find binders for a little more than $1 today (with crazy S&H fees).

What test marketing did they do for this? Was salmon really the color to lead with?

The moral of this story, kids, is no product idea is too stupid not be tried by someone in a successful company (which TSR most certainly was in 1981).

Maybe I need to revamp this RPG-themed binder idea as a kickstarter.