Even as a kid, I was never a big fan of “simple” or abstract boardgames like Ludo, Snakes and Ladders, Sorry or even Chess… I far preferred games with a “narrative” and theme. The earliest of these I can remember falling in love with (and being obsessed with) was Waddingtons’ 1985 “Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs” (hereafter abbreviated to “LVotD”). This fantastic game really captured my imagination, both with its theme and components.
As a small child, I was *obsessed* with dinosaurs. I don’t know if that was common with other kids in the 80’s (long before Jurassic Park brought them back into the mainstream) but I could name all the different kinds and would regularly beg my parents to drag me to the nearest museum to see all the skeletons and fossils, and to buy various dinosaur books, toys, etc. When I found LVotD at a toy shop, I was overjoyed; I’m pretty sure it was a birthday present but I know that I’d picked it.
I stated elsewhere on this blog that Hero Quest and Space Crusade introduced me to many gaming concepts I would love as an adult, but the one thing that LVotD can claim over those is that it was first to introduce me to the idea of “miniatures” in boardgames.
LVotD didn’t come with cardboard standees or abstract pawns like most games, it contained molded plastic explorers and – more importantly – painted dinosaur figurines! These “dinosaurs” may look rather silly now with their garish paint applications and dated designs, but back then they were *awesome*. Little T-Rexes, a “swamp monster” and a huge plastic pterranodon that could pick explorer pieces up with its spring-loaded beak! The board was “3D” with plastic caves for the dinosaurs and a volcano with plastic “lava” pieces that would flow down and engulf explorers. A 3D cardboard temple was the goal, containing embossed plastic coins to represent treasure. The play value was fantastic!
It wasn’t until I was an adult that I realized the whole game was basically an unofficial boardgame of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Lost World”, with it’s 1920’s setting and concept of a valley where dinosaurs and ancient tribes still existed.
I must have played that game hundreds of times. Until Hero Quest came along, it was my favourite game to play. I still have my copy, though it’s sadly missing a few pieces (I bought a second copy a few years back, which also turned out to be missing a few parts but at least now between them I gave a 100% complete version).
I still play LVotD on occasion. It’s a fun game with younger players and still holds up for older ones. I really wish there was a modern reprint, just to make it easier (and cheaper) for new players to experience.
Years later in high school, I saw a Jurassic Park boardgame (a tie-in with the original movie) in a department store and bought it instantly. While not as much fun or having as many components as LVotD, it reminded me a lot of that game with it’s 3D dinosaur miniatures. Oh, and it was the perfect fusion of my childhood favourites, since the dinosaurs were made by Games Workshop… 🙂
(not my photos)
Awesome TV Ad:
For a fun video review of this game, check here!