Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Fighting Fantasy geek-out

I posted a few months back about how influential the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks were to my teenage self, and how they paved the way for me to embrace fantasy. The article is here. I seem to recall threatening to post a picture of my complete Fighting Fantasy book collection, so here it is in all its glory... 

The above collection of all 59 books took several years to assemble and burned a hole in my wallet. As I mentioned before, some of the books are extremely rare and it's not easy to get hold of them. I had to import some from Australia and the US because they just weren't available in the UK (and when a copy did surface, the price rocketed). Still, it was worth it - I have to admit I feel rather geekily proud of my collection. 

I thought I'd also post pics of some of the rarer books, along with some of my personal favourites.

The first is number 40, Dead of Night. Awesome cover and a great adventure. Brilliant gothic illustrations by Martin Mckenna as well.  

The next is number 44, Legend of the Shadow Warriors. Not one of my favourite books, but the cover is extremely cool. OMG EVIL PUMPKIN HEADS. Note the names of Jackson and Livingstone are in shiny gold as opposed to matt black (not sure why some books were like this).

This one is number 31, Battleblade Warrior. Average gamebook, but lovely cover.

This one is pretty rare: number 56, Knights of Doom. Never actually played this one, but again a nice cover. 

The one that started it all, for me at least: number 50, Return to Firetop Mountain. Great adventure, with fantastic illustrations (as always) by Martin Mckenna. 

Number 59, Curse of the Mummy. Carries a very hefty price tag when it crops up on ebay. The last gamebook to be published in the original series.

Lastly, number 47 - The Crimson Tide. The bane of every collector's life, as for some reason this one is rarer than unicorn shit and subsequently very hard to get hold of. Not played it so I can't vouch for the actual quality of the adventure. One of the more obscure gamebooks though, being set in a Japanese-esque land rather than the standard medieval Europe lands of most of the other books. OMG IT HAS TEH SHARKMENS ON TEH COVER. Well, one of them is a shark...I think. Not sure what the one on the right is...a sealman? W00t. 


Mark C Newton said...

One word: awesome. Estimated value of said collection? Did you buy the 25th Anniversary WOFM with the 'bonus' material; whatever the hell it was.

James said...

Awesome indeed...

Estimated value...somewhere around £275. Most of the books between 1 and 50 are pretty common and cost between £3 and £4 on ebay. The anomalies are Tower of Destruction and The Crimson Tide, both of which - for some bizarre reason - are very rare and command higher prices (anywhere up to £25).

The books from 51 onwards become increasingly rare and expensive, as fewer copies were printed. I've seen very steep prices - one copy of Curse of the Mummy sold for just under £50...

25th Anniversary WOFM...wtf? Why do I have a horrible feeling I've missed something here?

Tbh I've not followed the re-released series much, though I really ought to...

Mark C Newton said...


WOFM 25th An. Edition

James said...

Thanks for the link, I may have to dig my wallet out...

ThRiNiDiR said...

Impressive! I've never played these and heard about FF a few weeks ago from The Book Smugglers (link. Congrats for completing the collection :)

RobB said...

Nice post, we didn't really get these on this side of the pond from what I recall. We had the CHOOSE YOUR OWN ADVENTURE series, which was fun for an 8-11 year old.

downtown guy said...

That's amazing. I don't think I read those as a kid, I was more into choose your own adventure.

Martin said...

.......Oh my god! Where do you live?!!! I wanna steal some of those gamebooks,..so I guess you shouldn't really tell me where you live.

But what you have there is something I used to dream about when I was a teenager. When they stopped production I used to go to every car boot sale, and all the charity shops, for years and years. And as much as I wanted them, they were only on sale for about 20p - The Crimson Tide (Bet that guy is kicking himself). I was completing my dream, but as I was nearing the end, the books started disappearing, nooooo, and I just couldn't afford those ebay prices!

So I'm still about 7 books short. I'll have to check ebay after this, hope there are still some kicking around.

I was wondering if you ever had dreams about trying to find the books. I can remember so many dreams where I walked into some old bookshop with cobwebs and stuff, and there would be this Fighting Fantasy #136 and I would wake up all excited that there were some new books, only to realize that there were still only 59.

I also have only played up to book #18, cos I used to be determined not to cheat. If I didn't have a good skill roll at the start I'd quit and start again cos it would just be impossible otherwise. It is always an amazing feeling to finish a book especially when even with maximum skill you can still quite easily lose your life by whatever happens with the roll of the dice.

Anyways, I can't believe I wrote so much, hope I didn't bore you, just never really told anyone before without them thinking I was a bit weird.

Martin said...

PS - Nice skull!

Alex said...

The appearance (or lack of) gold foil was down to different printings of the book. Essentially they went:

Wraparound cover (Book #1 only)
Coloured star in bottom corner (Books #1~7)
Green Zig-zag across top (#1~24)
Dragon box with no. on front cover (#1~36)
Dragon box with *no numbers* (#1~39)
Dragon box with no. on spine only (#1~51)
Dragon box with no foil (#1~59)

As has been pointed out, the print run for books #52~59 (1993~1995) were a lot smaller than previous books, although some did make it to 2nd or later impressions (such as "Revenge of the Vampire" correcting some errors).

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